May 2019 voter identification pilot schemes

Summary

At the local elections, people in ten areas had to show proof of who they were (ID) before they could vote in a polling station.

We looked at what happened in these areas and have explained what we found.

What we found

We found that a large majority of people already have access to the forms of ID used in these pilots. We also found indications that some groups of people can find it harder than others to show ID.

There were no significant issues in any pilot area with the administration of the election.

The experience of taking part in the pilot scheme appears to have had a positive impact on people’s perception of the security of the polling station process.

The pilots have provided further evidence, but they do not allow for definitive conclusions to be drawn in all areas; several important questions remain about how an ID requirement would work in practice, particularly at a national poll with higher levels of turnout.

Before introducing a requirement for elections in Great Britain, the Government and Parliament should consider carefully the available evidence about the impact and proportionality of different approaches on the accessibility and security of polling station voting.

This evaluation

Voters at polling stations in Great Britain do not need to show ID to vote. At the May 2019 local elections, the UK Government asked for volunteers amongst Returning Officers, to run pilots to test requiring people to show ID at polling stations.

Ten areas agreed to run pilots:

  • in two areas, people had to show a specified form of photo ID;
  • in five areas, they could choose to show either a specified form of photo ID or two pieces of specified non-photo ID; and
  • in three areas people could show either their poll card or a specified form of photo ID.

This is the Electoral Commission’s independent evaluation of the 2019 pilot scheme. It explains what we found to be the impact of asking people to show ID in these elections.

Our evaluation follows a smaller scale voluntary pilot scheme at the 2018 local elections, which we also evaluated, and the existence of a photo ID requirement for voters at polling stations in Northern Ireland since 2003.