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Late last year, plans were announced to introduce identification requirements at polling stations. Namely, if you want to cast a ballot, you might need to present a passport, driver’s licence, or some other form of photographic identification.

From that decision, we might be justified in thinking that the integrity of our ballot-boxes is genuinely under threat: the hidden menace of voter impersonation looms large throughout our country, there exists a non-trivial effort to undermine election results, de-legitimise the institutions themselves and threaten the mandate of elected politicians.

Except combing through the Electoral Commission’s records on voter fraud convictions shows that simply isn’t the case. Despite the fact that more than 135 million votes were cast between 2011 and 2015, there were a vanishingly small number of convictions for polling station voter impersonation – only three, as far as I can tell.

That gives us a fraud rate of slightly more than one in 45 million. Put another way, finding a vote that has been illegally cast in someone else’s name at a polling station is literally three times rarer than winning the lottery.

The dearth of any serious evidence of rampant polling station voter impersonation is acknowledged by Sir Eric Pickles in his report last year into electoral fraud, entitled Securing the Ballot. In his report, one of the key recommendations of which was that driving licences or passports should be used as identification before voting, he admits: “Despite the low numbers of allegations… absence of evidence does not mean this practice is not taking place.”

“Low numbers of allegations” makes sense once we think about the actual logistics of corrupting an election this way. To steal ten ballots this way and remain undetected, the thief would first need to know the names of ten registered voters. Then, they would need to know where their victims’ polling stations were located. With this information, they would need to visit the stations ten times in the same day, voting under a different name each time, and somehow not be noticed. Finally, they would then need none of their victims to arrive and attempt to vote themselves later on.

And for all of their effort: the finding of names, the repeated impersonation, the time-consuming return to the polling station over and over again, the nail-biting hope that no civic-minded victims unexpectedly decide to vote themselves; the election-thief would have stolen merely, and precisely, ten votes.

Is it any surprise that this type of fraud barely takes place? For this method is not only fraught with uncontrollable risks, but also grossly inefficient. A whole day’s work for ten measly votes?

Far more sensible would be to intimidate voters into voting how you want them to, perhaps with threats of divine comeuppance. Or, taking advantage of voters with poor command of English, convince them to send off forms asking for a postal vote. Then, when the votes arrive, you can steal hundreds, not tens, of ballots. This is what happened in Tower Hamlets in 2014, and it is worth being reminded that photographic voter identification could not have prevented even a single one of these votes from being stolen.

And if we do adopt the changes, there is a real danger to demanding voters present their passports or driver’s licences in order to vote. For one, 17% of English and Welsh people do not have passports. More than half of those in the bottom quintile of income own neither a car, nor a van, nor any type of transport for which they would need a licence, and it is hardly inconceivable that there is some overlap between these two categories of people.

Suggestions that people would be motivated to obtain passports or licences in order to vote fundamentally misunderstand why they are obtained in the first place: we have electricity bills because we buy electricity, not because we want to be able to use them as proof of address.

The only result of this change would be that if someone remembers to register, and if they remember to vote, they may then be turned away because they lack two forms of identification for which they have no use.

And all for the purpose of eradicating something rarer than a winning lottery ticket.

Zac Spiro is a member of Bright Blue. The views expressed in this article are those of the author, not necessarily those of Bright Blue.