The UK Government is proposing changes to require voters at polling stations to show photo ID before they receive their ballot paper. This new requirement would apply at:
general elections in Great Britain
local elections in England
Police and Crime Commissioner elections in England and Wales.
Anyone who does not have one of the required forms of photo ID will be able to get a free voter identification document from their local council.
It is important that the UK’s electoral system is both secure and accessible.
There are already checks in place to confirm a voter’s identity if they are voting by post. But there are no similar checks in place at polling stations in Great Britain to prevent someone claiming to be someone else and voting in their name. This makes polling station voting in Great Britain vulnerable to fraud.
In Northern Ireland, there has been a requirement to show ID when voting since 1985, updated to photo ID in 2003.
The UK has very low levels of proven electoral fraud, and voters should feel confident about their vote. But we know from our public opinion research that it is an issue that concerns some voters. Two-thirds of people say they would feel more confident in the security of the voting system if there was a requirement to show ID.
At the 2018 and 2019 local elections, the UK Government trialled voter ID in a number of areas in England. We carried out independent, statutory evaluations in both years. Based on the evidence collected, we identified three key areas that need further consideration before voter ID is introduced:
A voter ID requirement must deliver clear improvements to current security levels
It should improve public confidence in the voting system by protecting voters from the risk of personation – this is when someone votes in someone else’s name.
Any new requirement must address the likely impact on the accessibility of the voting process
This must be considered for all voters, particularly those from lower socio-economic groups, those with disabilities, and the unemployed.
The free local voter document for people who don’t have photo ID will be important in keeping elections accessible.
The government will need to set out how it would make sure that applying for the local document is easy and accessible for people who need it.
The introduction of a photo ID requirement must not prevent people from voting.
The introduction of any ID requirement should be realistically deliverable for electoral services teams at local councils
It should be introduced with manageable timescales and proper funding.