Make Votes Matter demonstration against plans to make ID compulsory in polling station

  • Protestors gather in the rain in St Peter's Square to protest the Election Bill, the right to publicly protest and to lower the voting age

Political activists gathered in St Peter’s Square to defend democratic rights they say are under threat from government plans in the Elections Bill.

Protesters came together at the Emmeline Pankhurst statue to protest against the introduction of voter ID in polling stations, highlighting the links with Pankhurst’s demands for women’s right to vote.

According to the Census, 17% of the overall population do not have a valid photo ID, which minimises the opportunity for every citizen to exercise their democratic right to vote. 

“Let us not be under any illusion. Democracy in the UK is under great threat right now,” one of the organisers said the demonstration.

“The election bill is one part of a pattern of deliberate removal of democratic rights.”

The activists also expressed their objections to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which they claim restricts the right to gather publicly to protest and to campaign for the right of 16 year olds to vote.

A protestor told the crowd: “Join me in saying yes to making our votes count. Yes to a fair voting system. Yes to a safer, happier and stable future for all of us,” to which the crowd cheered in response. 

The protest by Make Votes Matter began at 12pm in torrential rain. The group says it is “national movement for proportional representation.”

Their petition, which they were campaigning for, calls for a Citizens Assembly “so that people can be the ones to decide how our democracy works”.