Voters will now need to show some form of photo ID as proof of identity in order to vote under the new Government rule. The new rule, which is set to take effect from May 4 in England and Wales during local elections, was introduced as part of The Elections Act 2022 that was passed by the Parliament in April last year.
According to the Electoral Commission, photo ID will not be required at all elections, but will be required to take part in local, police and crime commissioner, and parliamentary by-elections, as well as recall petitions. The rules will also apply to UK general elections from October 2023.
The new move however, raised concerns that it would disenfranchise some voters, especially the vulnerable. Labour MP Cat Smith said: “Concerns have been raised from across the House and from charities and campaigning organisations that disabled people, older people, younger people and people without the spare cash to buy that passport or driving licence are going to be disenfranchised.”
Meanwhile, Brendan O’Hara (SNP) highlighted the incidence of personation was low saying, “voter fraud at polling stations barely reaches the height of minuscule…We have to ask: what is the problem they are seeking to solve?”
Voters in polling booths are not currently required to provide any kind of identification before getting a ballot paper, unlike voters in Northern Ireland. Despite the opposition, the Electoral Commission said their study shows that there is minimal evidence that ID requirements in the country have reduced turnout, and allegations of personation have been eliminated.
Here’s everything you need to know about the accepted forms of photo ID that you need to bring before you cast your ballot and what to do if you don’t own one.
Accepted forms of photo ID
Below is a list of some of the accepted forms of photo ID.
- 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
- Driving licence issued by the UK, any of the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, or an EEA state (this includes a provisional driving licence)
- Older Person’s Bus Pass
- Disabled Person’s Bus Pass
- Oyster 60+ Card
- Freedom Pass
- Scottish National Entitlement Card
- 60 and Over Welsh Concessionary Travel Card
- Disabled Person’s Welsh Concessionary Travel Card
- Proof of age
- Biometric immigration document
The full list of accepted proof of ID can be found on the Electoral Commission website. Voters only need to show one form of photo ID and it needs to be the original document and not a photocopy.
What to do if your photo ID is out of date
Those who still have a photo ID but it is out of date, they can still use it as long as the picture looks like the voter and the name on the ID is the same name used to register to vote. Otherwise, voters can apply for a free voter ID document, known as a Voter Authority Certificate, on its website based on several reasons:
- you don’t have an accepted form of photo ID
- you’re not sure whether your photo ID still looks like you
- you’re worried about using an existing form of ID for any other reason, such as the use of a gender marker
- You need to register to vote before applying for a Voter Authority Certificate