Raising awareness of the new voter ID requirement

Blog content part 1

With a month to go until local elections take place across England on 4 May, the Commission is in the final stages of its campaign to raise awareness of the new requirement to show photo ID in polling stations. 

Helping voters to understand the democratic system is an important part of the Commission’s role – indeed, it’s in our founding legislation. We have been working hard since January to help voters across England to understand how this policy change applies to them: do they have one of the accepted forms of ID, or do they need apply for free voter ID? We know that public awareness of the change rose from 22% to 63%, between December and late February. How have we been contributing to that shift? 

We developed a new campaign, known as ‘Note to self’. You can see our TV advert here and an example of a poster.

Example voter ID campaign poster

Pink sticky note on a blue background with handwritten text that says 'Remember to 1. Register to vote 2. Check my photo ID 3. Vote at a polling station. QR code below the sticky note, and text below the sticky note that reads: No ID? You can apply for free voter ID. Find out more at electoralcommission.org.uk/voterID or call 0800 328 0280.
An example of one of our voter ID campaign posters

Blog content part 2

This was the result of a staged design process rooted in audience insight, including focus group testing with over 1,700 people.

Our audience is primarily set as all voting-age adults in England, with a focus on areas having elections, and we know that the most effective way to reach them is through paid advertising and through coverage in the media. From 9 January through to polling day, we are spending over £4 million on paid advertising to raise mass awareness across a wide range of channels including TV and radio, ‘out of home’ billboard and posters, other digital display advertising, regional newspapers, social media, and in-game advertising. And, our media team has been working with journalists across print, broadcast and online to increase the amount of coverage of the change and, where it appears, to make sure it is factually correct.

We know from UK Government and our own research that the vast majority of voting age adults (around 96%) hold an acceptable form of photo ID. But the same research also identified demographics less likely to have eligible ID. A number of these – white people, the unemployed, and those with low education and qualifications – can also be reached effectively by our mass advertising. Others face significant or compounding barriers, such as the over 85s, disabled people, trans and non-binary people, homeless people, and the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities. 

Partnership working – more than we have ever done before – has helped us to reach these audiences to a greater extent than we could ever have done using advertising and the media alone. For each group, we have worked in partnership with a charity partner to co-create resources for the audience in question. These have all then been published and made available for those charities and others to use, to spread the message. These have been downloaded thousands of times.

As always, local authorities remain key partners for us, deploying resources that we create centrally into the communities that they are best placed to know and to reach. We have produced a range of resources across print and digital formats, using the same creative as the advertising. These have also been picked up by others – from government and arm’s length bodies through to parties and candidates – to further extend the message.

After the elections, we will be evaluating how voter ID worked at these elections; and similarly, we’ll be looking at how well our campaign worked, so that we can ensure we build on experience ahead of the next set of elections. But for now, and with four weeks to go until polling day, we’re staying focussed on the challenge and continuing to raise awareness of the need for voter ID.