Andy Burnham calls photo ID for voters ‘a sledgehammer to crack a nut’

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said yesterday he would be in favour of removing the requirement for photo ID at polling stations due to the effect on marginalised communities.

Following a mayoral hustings event hosted by Manchester Evening News, MM asked the mayor how faith in democracy can be restored within the LGBTQ+ community as many are left unable to vote due to a lack of photo ID.

In Greater Manchester voters will head to the polls on Thursday 2 May to determine their next mayor and Andy Burnham is expected to return to office for a third term.

He said: “We’ve survived without ID at elections for decades – I personally think it’s a sledgehammer to crack a nut.

“It deters young people and marginalised groups. I would make an argument for removing it, I don’t see the need for it.”

Earlier this month research by charities Stonewall and the LGBT Foundation found that 96% of trans and non-binary people encounter at least one barrier to accessing photo ID and this is stopping many from voting.

New rules passed last year require voters to produce photo ID at polling stations and voting guidance states that the ID must be the same name as you have used to register to vote and must look like you – something that is causing concern for many.

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism has been investigating the effects of the new rules on the LGBTQ+ community and found that many people will not be taking part due to fear of confrontation at the polling station.

Mr Burnham also questioned the need for photo ID more widely, saying: “What problem is the photo ID actually solving? If there is voter fraud it’s small numbers and some say it’s more likely with a postal vote.

“I was in my local polling station last May and I saw it deterring people. I think it has a bigger effect deterring legitimate voters than it does in solving voter fraud.”

Photo credit @mcrjourno

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