Indigenous and poor people who are less likely to vote LNP could be disenfranchised under Queensland’s new voter ID laws, critics say.
Queensland voters will be the first in Australia to be required to show ID, but critics say indigenous and poor people will be disenfranchised.
The new laws are linked to controversial changes to declarations for political donations.
The public sector union Together says the new requirement for voter ID at polling booths is an attempt to help the Liberal National Party at the 2015 state election.
“Clearly, this is an attempt to disenfranchise those within society who may be voting against the LNP, both in terms of indigenous communities across the state and those people who are least likely to have access to ID,” secretary Alex Scott told reporters.
University of Queensland law professor Graeme Orr disagreed that the new laws would help the LNP, but argued they would disadvantage “more vulnerable” older and rural voters who forgot to bring identification.
“If I’m a rural person and I have to drive half an hour or 50 minutes to a polling booth and I forget my wallet, I’ll have to drive back and get it,” he told AAP.
He also argued the new laws would create an inconsistency with postal voting, which doesn’t require ID.
“People who vote by post tend to be more conservative and often older people – they don’t have to provide voter ID, they just sign a document,” Professor Orr said.
Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk said there was no example of voter fraud to justify the changes.
“This is clearly an attempt to stop the votes,” she said.
Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie said voters who lacked any form of ID, with or without a photo, would be allowed to sign a declaration at the 2015 state election.
“We want to make sure that we just completely try and end all forms of voting fraud,” he told reporters.
The federal government is reported to be looking at replicating Queensland’s new voter ID model, which also operates in some parts of the US.