The Morrison Government’s Proposed Voter ID Laws Will Isolate Vulnerable Communities

Advocates fear new legislation that's "straight from Donald Trump's playbook" is nothing more than voter suppression.

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Advocates have warned that newly proposed election laws will disenfranchise vulnerable groups in a US-style suppression system.

The changes will make it harder for people without a fixed address to cast their votes if they can’t show ID documentation, and is feared to push out and punish First Nations communities, people experiencing homelessness, people living with disability, and domestic violence survivors.

“False and misleading claims of voter fraud are straight from Donald Trump’s playbook — this is nothing more than voter suppression,” First Nations Justice Campaign Director at GetUp! Larissa Baldwin said in a statement, describing its potential enactment as “punitive”.

The controversial bill is an attempt to squash voter fraud in the lead up to the next Federal election, and was introduced to Parliament on Thursday, and mimics debunked discussions of a “rigged” election in the 2020 US election after Joe Biden won the presidency.

If passed in Australia, people will have to show a driver’s licence, Medicare card, or bank statement at the ballot, and if unable to, would require a second person to verify the voter’s identity, or submit a ‘declaration vote’ overseen by polling officials, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

“There are many First Nations people who don’t have access to this kind of ID or would struggle to find this kind of ID,” Wiradjuri man and Indigenous Policy Research Fellow James Blackwell told the newspaper. “Some Aboriginal people don’t have access to birth certificates or were born on Country and don’t have those kinds of records, he said, emphasising the added stress this adds to linking Medicare services, or formal ID paperwork.

The latest stats by the Australian Electoral Commission show that Indigenous enrolment rates are only 79 percent as of the end of June.

“Australia has a dark, racist history of denying First Nations people the vote, and these proposed laws are a very real threat to the right to vote for people living on country,” said Baldwin.