Got any ID?

5 Mins

May local elections are coming soon, along with new laws requiring voters to provide photo ID polling stations in England, Scotland and Wales. 


Are voters ready for this?


From May, everyone intending to vote in person will have to prove who they say they are with one of a limited range of acceptable ID.


You can also apply for a free voter document known as a Voter Authority Certificate. Although in January when the Electoral commission launched a publicity campaign for this, the application portal wasn’t ready. The Guardian has also reported that just 0.5% of the people who are likely to need this document have actually applied for it.


Introducing voter ID follows a pledge in the Conservative manifesto to tackle voter fraud and a 2014 recommendation by the Electoral Commission.


Following pilot schemes, the Government said, “there is no indication that any consistent demographic was adversely affected by the use of voter ID.” But that has been contradicted by the Local Government Information Unit, who argued it was an “optimistic interpretation of extremely limited evidence.”


The primary concern is that voter ID requirements will have a disproportionate impact on certain groups, such as the elderly, some ethnic minorities, disabled citizens and traveller communities. A restricted list of acceptable ID that allows bus passes for older people but not a young person’s railcard has also caused controversy.


Opposition parties have suggested this is being introduced to suppress votes from people less likely to vote Conservative. Indeed, there were no proven instances of ‘personation’ at polling stations last year, suggesting voter fraud isn’t a major problem in the UK.  


Despite these concerns, the government is going ahead, so it will be interesting to see if and how this new voter ID law has any impact at polling stations this May.


Do you support voter ID?