For 2023’s local elections, all voters will need to bring a form of photographic identification to vote.
The government has now confirmed in secondary legislation which photo IDs will be accepted, in a list which leaves few options for younger voters. We have long argued that voter ID is an expensive distraction. The scheme is expected to cost up to £180 million over a decade. And all this when there was just one conviction for personation in 2019 – a year in which over 58 million votes were cast.
As well as putting an unnecessary burden on the public purse, we have highlighted that voter ID risks creating barriers for voters on lower incomes. Joseph Rowntree Foundation research supports this showing that it has the potential to disenfranchise 1.7 million low-income voters. Many of the accepted forms of ID come at a cost meaning better off voters are more likely to be able to access them.
What can you use for ID instead of a passport?
The following documents, and expired versions of them, will be accepted as long as poll workers think the photo is a good enough likeness. A quick look at the costs of accepted IDs shows very few are cost-free.
*The PASS Scheme accredits a number of for-profit and not-for-profit ID cards with their own separate branding. These include IDGO, TOTUM, My ID Card, Young Scot, ONEID4U, CitizenCard as well as the Bracknell Forest e+ card and Milton Keynes Council Cards.
Many of the ‘Free’ forms of ID require a paid-for form of ID, such as a passport, in the application process.
How can I get a free electoral ID (Voter Authority Certificate)?
The government has legislated for a free voter ID certificate for those without any of the listed forms of ID. Applications are now open and will remain open until the 25th of April. Apply via GOV.UK and your local councils will post you a certificate – Apply on GOV.UK.
Although the certificate is free, accessing it may not be cost-neutral for everyone. Those without internet access at home may need to pay for travel to a library to access a computer or take time off work to match library opening hours. As the Joseph Rowntree Foundation highlights:
“It’s not easy, or necessarily going to be a priority, to apply to your local authority for a free Voter Card if you’re working in an insecure job with irregular, unpredictable and long hours, or juggling multiple jobs to make ends meet while also managing caring responsibilities and health needs.”
Delays to legislation mean councils have very little time to prepare for these changes and notify voters of what they need to do if they don’t have ID before the elections in May.
At a time when many more people are struggling to pay bills and make ends meet, putting a paywall around the polling station is a damaging move for our democracy.
Add your name to our call to protect your right to vote