Thank you for writing to 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 has 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. Most other democratic countries in the world require some sort of Voter ID - and for very good and obvious reasons.
Identification to vote has been supported strongly by the Electoral Commission and international election watchdogs. 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; there was no noticeable adverse effect on turnout.
The Electoral Commission, which carried out/commissioned appropriate research, 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 appropriate ID will be able to apply for a new free one, meaning that no voter will be disenfranchised. Acceptable ID will include not only passports and driving licences but almost certainly senior (and disabled) bus passes and rail passes etc.
Woking Borough Council participated as a Voter ID trial area in the 2018 and 2019 local elections. There was no discernible reduction in turnout in those elections and I recall that independent research was done that showed that people had much more confidence in the security and validity of the ballot as a result of the Voter ID measures.
Thank you again for writing to me.
With best wishes.
Jonathan Lord MP
Member of Parliament for Woking