Long-awaited details of the government’s voter ID scheme have now finally been released including details of which IDs will be accepted at the polling station.
With no alternatives for voters who turn up on the day without the required ID or voter certificate, this list is all-important.
Accepted forms of photographic identification for voting in the UK
The following documents will be accepted as long as poll workers think the photo is a good enough likeness.
- A passport issued by the UK, any of the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, a British Overseas Territory, an EEA state or a Commonwealth country
- A driving licence issued by the UK, any of the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man or an EEA state
- A biometric Immigration document
- An identity card bearing the Proof of Age Standards Scheme hologram (a PASS card)
- Ministry of Defence Form 90 (Defence Identity Card)
- A Blue Badge
- A national identity card issued by an EEA state
- An Older Person’s Bus Pass
- A disabled person’s Bus Pass
- An Oyster 60+ card
- A Freedom Pass
- A Scottish National Entitlement card issued in Scotland
- A 60 and Over Welsh Concessionary Travel card issued in Wales
- A Disabled Person’s Welsh Concessionary Travel Card issued in Wales
- A Senior Smart Pass issued in Northern Ireland
- A Registered Blind Smart Pass or Blind Person’s Smart Pass issued in Northern Ireland
- A War Disablement SmartPass or War Disabled SmartPass issued In Northern Ireland
- A 60+ SmartPass issued in Northern Ireland
- A Half Fare Smart Pass issued in Northern Ireland
- An Electoral Identity Card issued In Northern Ireland
- A Voter Authority Certificate or a temporary Voter Authority Certificate
Expired documents, such as passports, will also be accepted.
Acceptable forms of ID are predominantly held by older people
The list, contained in recently tabled secondary legislation, includes passports and driving licences and a range of travel cards – predominantly those held by older people. This has prompted concern that younger people without ID will find it comparatively harder to vote.
Many of the forms of ID, like the 60+ Oyster Card, require other forms of ID to acquire – so will make little difference to those who don’t have ID in the first place.*
During the passage of the Elections Act we successfully campaigned to extend the list of acceptable IDs. A cross-party group of peers passed an amendment that would have seen student IDs, library cards, bank statements and other easily accessible forms of ID accepted at polling stations. These options would have provided an important backstop for voters who don’t have more expensive forms of identity documents, like passports, and who may not have been able to access the voting certificate option.
The government’s decision to repeal this amendment during the final stages of the bill means that voters now have far fewer options on polling day.
New identification rules for 2023’s local elections
The government intends the new identification rules to be in place for next year’s local elections. For voters in Scotland and Wales, and in local areas that aren’t holding elections in 2023, these new rules will come into effect for the first time in what is likely to be a general election year.
Electoral administrators have already warned about the pressures they face to ensure that the scheme can be implemented in time for next year. Government delays bringing forward key secondary legislation means that final details won’t be legally in place until less than four months before the election. This month we called on the Political and Constitutional Affairs Committee to launch an inquiry into the implementation of voter ID and the impact of these delays.
Alongside concerns about implementation, the Association of Electoral Administrators have raised their fears about the impact on volunteer polling staff who will be forced to make decisions on who should be turned away from the polls.
For anyone following the US mid-terms this week, the importance of voter faith in election processes and outcomes is clear. Putting our electoral system under this sort of pressure risks undermining one of the most important aspects of democratic life – that voters and candidates accept that the process was fair and the results are true.
We have long argued that voter ID is an unnecessary distraction, but the risks involved in getting it wrong are significant.
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