Lack of information on voter ID slammed by committee

Labor senator Don Farrell. Picture: Dion Georgopoulos
Labor senator Don Farrell. Picture: Dion Georgopoulos

The Morrison government's controversial voter identification bill could be dead in the water, with a bipartisan committee flagging its implementation could water down human rights.

A joint parliamentary committee has slated proposed changes to electoral laws, which would see voters needing to identify who they are at the polling booth in a bid to prevent electoral fraud.

The Coalition's proposal is to reduce the risk of electoral fraud, while groups opposing the bill have dubbed it racist and an attempt to suppress votes from minority groups such as Indigenous communities.

Pauline Hanson's One Nation has backed the bill, however, Labor, the Greens and members of the crossbench are planning to vote against it.

The committee found identification rules could hinder an Australian's legal right to participate in an election, claiming its implementation could impact existing human rights laws.

"There is a risk that this measure would impermissibly limit the right to participate in public affairs and the right to equality and non-discrimination," the report states.

It also said there was a lack of information on whether the implementation would effectively reduce the risk of voter fraud.

"The minister's response did not address the question as to how voter identification requirements would be effective to prevent people from voting multiple times at different locations," it reads.


"No evidence has been provided as to whether voter impersonation has been a problem during previous elections.

Labor senator Don Farrell vehemently opposed the bill introduced by the prime minister, claiming it was a barrier to the right to vote and it "ain't broke" so "don't fix it".

"His proposed voter ID laws would force 17 million people to prove their identity before casting their vote and are a deliberate attempt to undermine confidence in Australia's robust electoral processes," Senator Farrell said.

Finance minister Simon Birmingham touted it as a "light touch" measure to boost the rigour of the election process.

The joint committee also found the majority of multiple votes were results of clerical errors.

The report said the relevant minister did not proportionally consider the impacts it would have on voter turnout, lamenting it was the onus of the government to ensure the integrity of the electoral process.

"While public confidence in the electoral system is an important objective in a democracy, the minister has not provided any evidence that demonstrates a lack of public confidence, other than referring to 'media commentary and social media speculation' regarding multiple voting," the report said.

The proposed legislation is still before the parliament.

This story Voter ID laws slammed by bipartisan parliamentary committee first appeared on The Canberra Times.