Will I need photo ID to get a postal vote?

Doug Cowan, Head of Digital

Posted on the 10th February 2023

Slowly, the country is waking up to the fact that the government have changed the rules for who can vote. Voters on the 4th of May who want to take part in local elections across England will need to bring one of a specific list of photo IDs picked by the government.

The government have launched an expensive public information campaign, but polling for the Byline Times found that 60% of voters do not know they will be unable to vote in England’s May 4 elections if they don’t have one of the government’s ‘valid’ forms of photo ID.

Voting in polling stations

Elections are generally very well run in the UK – there are extremely low levels of electoral fraud and people have high confidence in voting. In 2019, there were only 33 allegations of impersonation at the polling station, out of over 58 million votes cast.

Public confidence in the running of elections is the highest since 2012. According to the Electoral Commission’s latest tracker of public opinion, 87 percent said voting, in general, is safe from fraud and abuse, and 90 percent that voting at the polling station is safe.

Voters without ID can apply for a postal vote

Voters can apply for a postal vote and send it off, or even drop it off at the polling station by hand, without having to show any ID.

Uneven access to the polling station

One of the main reasons we have been campaigning against voter ID is that access to ID uneven in the UK. Many countries in Europe that have voter ID schemes also have universal free (or low cost) ID cards that the UK does not.

In the UK, the government’s own commissioned research found that those with severely limiting disabilities, the unemployed, people without qualifications, and those who had never voted before were all less likely to hold any form of photo ID.

We have already highlighted that the acceptable forms of ID are predominantly held by older people. Research also shows that the elderly and disabled are more likely to vote by post.

The strong correlation between age and income with voting habits has caused some commentators to describe the whole thing as looking like an attempt to rig our elections.

Deadlines, Deadlines, Deadlines

Every deadline that the government create is another hoop for voters to jump through. Easy if you have the time available, but harder if you are struggling to just get by. If you don’t have ID and want to take part in May’s elections you will need to

And then either buy the required form of ID or

For the Voter Authority Certificate, you will need a digital passport-quality photo, your application may be rejected if you submit an unacceptable picture. Things such as a shadow behind your head, glasses or objects in the background can all result in photos being rejected.

We need to be combatting the huge challenges that undermine our democracy, not putting up paywalls around polling stations.

Add your name to our call to cancel the voter ID scheme

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