On Thursday, May 4, residents from across West Devon will make their way to their local polling stations ready to cast their vote in the local election. However, unlike other years, voters will now be required to produce photographic identification in order to cast their vote. 

Earlier this year, the government introduced new rules which mean from May 4, 2023, voters would be required to show photographic ID in order to vote at polling stations in local elections, Police and Crime Commissioner elections, UK parliamentary by-elections and recall petitions. And from October this year, this will also be required at UK General elections. 

But why has this change been made? 

Since 2014 the Electoral Commission has recommended that ID should be required in Great Britain for voters to be issued a ballot paper. In 2016, the Anti-Corruption Champion at the time, published a report on electoral fraud, highlighting the trust-based nature of polling station voting and thus recommending the introduction of ID. 

Pilot schemes in 2018 and 2019 were declared a success by the government, leading them to commit to introducing the ID system. 

Finally, in January 2023, a policy paper published by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities, stated the requirements to produce photographic identification are “common” in democracies across the world, including most European countries and is “widely acknowledged as an effective system for preventing electoral fraud”

This change has not gone unnoticed however, with many criticising the decision, arguing it could discriminate against certain groups, such as disabled people, Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities, older people, people experiencing homelessness, people who are registered to vote anonymously, and Trans and non-binary people. Many have also argued that this could cause unnecessary difficulties at polling stations. 

What do you need?

Currently there are several forms of accepted photo ID for voting at a polling station, these include a full or provisional UK driving licence, a Blue Badge and a UK passport. The full lit can be found below: 

  • a UK or Northern Ireland photocard driving licence (full or provisional)

  • a driving licence issued by the EU, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, the Isle of Man or any of the Channel Islands

  • a UK passport

  • a passport issued by the EU, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or a Commonwealth country

  • a PASS card (National Proof of Age Standards Scheme)

  • a Blue Badge

  • a biometric residence permit (BRP)

  • a Defence Identity Card (MOD form 90)

  • a national identity card issued by the EU, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein

  • a Northern Ireland Electoral Identity Card

  • a Voter Authority Certificate

  • an Anonymous Elector’s Document

    What do you think of the changes? Let us know by emailing [email protected]