Plans for ID to be shown in order to vote in a polling station have been proposed because the independent Electoral Commission advocated voter ID requirements in 2014, following a review into voter fraud and the potential for voter fraud.
I respect the robust and completely independent work the Electoral Commission do and trust their judgement on this matter.
As many of those opposing this measure state, the Electoral Commission did say “there is no evidence to suggest that there have been widespread, systematic attempts to undermine or interfere with recent elections through electoral fraud." However, they fail to point out that the Electoral Commission also wrote “we should move to a system where voters are required to produce identification at polling stations. We gathered substantial evidence during our review that the lack of a requirement for ID is both an actual and a perceived weakness in the system.”
It was also concerned that polling stations might become more vulnerable to fraud as efforts have been implemented to make postal voting and voter registration more secure.
Finally, the Electoral Commission’s conclusions on recent trials of voter identification requirements year are worth considering. They stated that they “worked well” and “nearly everyone in the five pilot scheme areas who went to vote in their polling station was able to show ID without difficulty.” The Electoral Commission concluded that “The number of people who did not vote because they couldn’t show identification was very small.”
The Electoral Commission also found from these trials that “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.”
There are already voter ID requirements in Northern Ireland, and people are asked to prove who they are in order to collect a parcel from the post office, claim benefits, rent a car or travel abroad. Many people are therefore surprised that no ID is required for something as important as voting. On this the Electoral Commission in 2014 “little evidence to suggest that the identity-checking scheme applied in Northern Ireland presents difficulties for people in terms of accessibility.”
These measures will be fully outlined in a forthcoming Elections Integrity Bill. This Bill has not yet been published, and when it is I shall look at it very carefully. I have already been in touch with the Cabinet Office about their plans to request more specific information on the types of ID that will be accepted. In response, I was told, “The list of approved photo ID will not be limited to UK passports or driving licences, a broad range of documents already in use will be accepted, including, for example, concessionary travel passes - bus passes, Proof of Age Standards Scheme (PASS) cards, Ministry of Defence identity cards and photocard parking permits issued as part of the Blue Badge scheme. For any voter who does not have one of the required forms of photographic ID, a local elector ID will be available, free of charge, from their local authority.”