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UK government to introduce criticised voter ID law this year

·1-min read
Local elections in Britain

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's government will introduce a new law this year to crack down on the potential for voter fraud and intimidation by including rules requiring voters to prove their identities, a move critics said could deter people from casting ballots.

Currently, voters need to only give their name and address to be able to vote, but the government says additional measures are required to make the system fairer by also tightening the rules for absent voting and prevent voter intimidation.

"Stealing someone's vote is stealing their voice. We must go further to protect and modernise our precious democracy," Chloe Smith, minister for the Constitution and Devolution, said in a statement.

"Our robust package of measures will stamp out the space for such damage to take place in our elections again and give the public confidence that their vote is theirs and theirs alone - no matter how they choose to cast it."

But civil liberties groups have criticised the plans, saying the would discriminate against those voters, often from ethnic minority and working class backgrounds, who lack photo identification or dissuade others to take part in elections.

The government has said the legislation would make clear that local authorities must provide a "voter card" free of charge and that a broad range of documents would be accepted.

(Reporting by Elizabeth Piper; editing by Costas Pitas)

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