The Coalition Is Trying To Sneak Through Another Voter ID Bill Before The Federal Election

"Government should be looking at solutions for voting access, not introducing racist laws that create even more barriers for participation."

Voter ID 2022

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Amid the already chaotic parliamentary sitting week, a Liberal Senator has been trying to slip voter ID requirements back into the political agenda ahead of the upcoming federal election.

Voter ID laws backed by One Nation and the Coalition caused controversy last year, with widespread concerns they would isolate vulnerable groups from democratic processes if passed by disqualifying people unable to meet identification requirements from casting their vote.

Senator James McGrath, who has been consistently vocal on the topic, brought the proposed legislation before Senate again after it was shut down in December. On Wednesday, he introduced the ‘Electoral Legislation Amendment (Voter Identification) Bill 2022’, in his capacity as a private senator to “remedy flaws and vulnerabilities in our electoral system”.

His speech in the Senate chamber failed to offer safeguards to address concerns raised last year, bar a throwaway line to say “a voter will never be denied the opportunity to vote”.

“We don’t think there’s any chance it can pass into law with only hours left of the Parliamentary sitting week — but our democratic rights are too important to be thrown around in political games like this,” said Aboriginal-led justice coalition Change the Record.

Liberal MP Jason Falinski said the bill would likely make a reappearance after its first iteration was dropped in the Senate last year, promising tweaks made in consultation with groups that “may find themselves more likely to be adversely affected by it” — including Indigenous communities, people experiencing homelessness, people living with disability, people living in remote areas, and domestic violence survivors.

“Voter ID bills are a naked attempt at disenfranchisement that should be categorically rejected in this country,” said GetUp’s First Nations Justice Campaign Director Larissa Baldwin in a statement. “Government should be looking at solutions for voting access, not introducing racist laws that create even more barriers for participation.

“Voting is our democratic right. We fought this bill with huge public outcry just a few months ago — the Morrison Government can expect the same force. We will not stand for dirty politics trampling on First Nations voting rights.”

The Morrison Government is yet to table an official election date, but it is expected to fall on May 14 or 21.