Briefing: Our evaluation of voter ID pilots

Summary of the briefing

Date: May 2019

For: MPs

Full briefing

This briefing has been prepared ahead of the pilot schemes trialling identification requirements for voters at polling stations, which are taking place in ten local authority areas at the May 2019 local elections. 

Background

As in 2018, the pilot schemes have been set up by the UK Government under Section 10
of the Representation of the People Act 2000. The RPA requires the Electoral
Commission to evaluate and report on any pilot scheme.

2018 pilot scheme evaluation

The key findings from our previous evaluation were:

  • Overall, the voter identification requirements trialled in May 2018 worked well and the pilots provided useful initial evidence about how a voter identification requirement in Great Britain might work in practice.
  • But they also highlighted areas where further work is needed to provide evidence which can address concerns and answer questions about the impact of identification requirements on voters.
  • We recommended that the UK Government should encourage a wider range of local councils to run pilot schemes in May 2019 and that these should include a mix of rural and large urban areas, and areas with different demographic profiles.

Our approach to evaluation

We intend to collect and analyse a wide range of data and information.

Public opinion surveys

These will be our main route for assessing whether the ID requirement deterred or prevented people from voting on 2 May. The surveys will also provide measures of the extent to which the application of an ID requirement affected public attitudes to fraud and confidence in the system. We will be able to compare survey results for the pilot areas before and after the elections as well as between the pilots and other areas running polls without an ID requirement.

Data from polling stations

Data on the different ID used and the numbers unable to vote will be recorded directly by polling station staff on 2 May and collated and analysed by the Commission. 

Accessibility feedback

We have written to over 170 organisations and groups representing people who have additional accessibility requirements, and who could therefore be disproportionately affected by the pilot, asking for views and evidence.

Data from police forces

This will include data on any fraud allegations and cases in the pilot areas. it is of course not possible to know what would have occurred at these elections in the absence of the pilots and comparisons with reported levels of fraud at previous polls or in other areas is difficult due to differing circumstances across years.

Review of ID security

We will make an assessment of the different levels of assurance provided by the different types of ID trialled.

Turnout and postal voting data

We will look at previous comparable election turnout in the pilot areas to explore any differences relative to 2019. We will also collect detailed data on postal voting to assess any effect as a result of the pilots. Levels of turnout fluctuate year-on-year as a result of a range of factors, even between the same types of elections.

Polling station staff survey

All polling station staff in the pilot areas will be surveyed to gather information on their experience of administering the pilot.

Interviews with Returning Officers and electoral administrators

We will interview the key staff involved in the pilots soon after polling day to gather their views on the delivery of the pilot and any issues they encountered.

Feedback from candidates

We will provide a route for any candidate in the pilot areas to give us their views on the pilot scheme.

Observers

Commission staff will observe at polling stations in each pilot area. The Commission also accredits observers at UK elections and we will be highlighting to each of them how they should provide any feedback on the pilots. We intend to publish our evaluation report in July 2019.

About the Electoral Commission

The Electoral Commission is the independent body which oversees elections and regulates political finance in the UK. We work to promote public confidence in the democratic process and ensure its integrity.

The Commission was set up in 2000 and reports to the UK and Scottish Parliaments.

To hear more or request a meeting contact our Public Affairs team at publicaffairsteam@electoralcommission.org.uk.

Diweddarwyd ddiwethaf: 17 Hydref 2019
Adolygiad nesaf: 6 Mehefin 2020