BORDERERS are in danger of losing their democratic right to vote in next year’s UK general election – if they fail to provide photographic proof at the ballot box.

Due to changes by the UK Government’s Department for Levelling up, Housing and Communities to prevent voter fraud people going to the polls must now produce photographic evidence before being able to cast their vote.

This change comes into force at May’s local elections in England and across the UK at next year’s general election, a date for which is yet to be set. It does not apply at local elections in Scotland or elections to the Scottish Parliament.

Liberal Democrat councillor Euan Robson, who represents Kelso & District, believes the change was the equivalent of “using a sledgehammer to crack a nut” and fears it threatens to disenfranchise many.

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He said: “What a lot of us are worried about is that come the general election there will be all sorts of folk that turn up that have absolutely no idea that they need photographic proof of identity and they will be disenfranchised.

“We need publicity across the board about this and I’m sure it will happen but it has been a bit of a sledgehammer to crack a nut. It’s meant to avoid impersonation when somebody turns up as so and so and they vote repeated times.

“I appreciate that it is an issue but it is very, very small. There has only been a handful of reported cases in years gone by. But it is important that the process is sound because my friend Michael Ward was a Labour candidate for Peterborough in February 1974, and he lost by 22 votes, that was the difference between him being elected and not being elected, so it important that the integrity of the democratic process is there but the approach is very heavy-handed.

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“I just feel people will turn up to the polls whenever the general election is and they won’t be able to vote.”

At a meeting of Scottish Borders Council (SBC) last week, Mr Robson asked an open question on what preparations the local authority was making for introducing voter identification.

In response, the executive member for service delivery and transformation, Mid Berwickshire councillor Mark Rowley, said: “Our staff have received training in respect of processing the voter authority certificate applications through the election registration officer’s portal, which has been designed and developed by UK Government at no cost to our electoral registration officer.

“In terms of engagement the Electoral Commission launched an awareness campaign in January which was aimed at the upcoming elections in England and the engagement officer will work with SBC’s communications team and various stakeholders to raise awareness locally and we’ll do all we can to maximise democratic participation.”