Thank you for contacting me about voter ID.
A secure electoral system is a vital component of a healthy democracy, and the public must have confidence that our elections are secure and fit for the 21st century. Asking voters to bring ID to their polling station is an important way of achieving this and the Electoral Integrity Bill will put such a requirement into law.
Voter ID is not new. Northern Ireland had required paper ID at polling stations since 1985, and photo ID since 2003, introduced by the last Labour Government. It has proved to be effective at tackling fraud and has not curtailed election turnout.
Identification to vote has been backed by the Electoral Commission and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, which state that its absence is a security risk. At present, it is harder to take out a library book or collect a parcel at a post office than it is to vote in someone else’s name.
In pilot schemes in 2018 and 2019, the overwhelming majority of people cast their vote without a problem and the success of the pilots proves that this is a reasonable and proportionate measure to take, and there was no notable adverse effect on turnout.
The Electoral Commission also stated 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, and on their confidence in it...Polling station staff were satisfied with how polling day went and were confident that they could manage the process of people showing voter identification at future elections." Under the Government’s proposals, anyone without an ID will be able to apply for a new free one, meaning that no voter will be disenfranchised.
Recent data shows that 99 per cent of people from ethnic minority backgrounds had a form of ID that would be accepted under the proposals, as did 98 per cent of people who identify as white. A total of 99 per cent of 18-29 year olds hold the relevant ID and 98 per cent of those aged 70 and over do too.
I can assure you that the Government is working to ensure that all eligible voters continue to be able to vote. Work is ongoing with charities and civil society organisations to communicate changes and improve the proposals where necessary. The legislation will make clear that local authorities will be required to provide an identity card to anyone who needs it. A Cabinet Office evaluation of the Voter ID pilot scheme in 2019 also found that locally issued ID had a positive benefit for homeless electors who were able to use it to access other local public services including a local job centre.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.