In April 2022, the Elections Act 2022 was passed by the UK Parliament. The Act will require voters in Great Britain to show photo ID before being issued a ballot paper in polling stations at UK Parliamentary elections, local council elections and referendums in England and police and crime commissioner elections in England and Wales. This will also apply to a proxy voter, someone voting in person on someone’s behalf.
Voter ID is designed to prevent ‘personation’, the crime of pretending to be someone else when you vote. The Government acknowledges levels of fraud are low but argues that every ballot matters, and that voter ID will protect voters from having their vote stolen.
A new free voter document, called a Voter Authority Certificate (VAC), will be made available for those without any other form of photographic ID. The detailed draft secondary legislation required for the applications process was laid in Parliament on 3 November 2022, and approved by both Houses of Parliament in December 2022.
Why introduce voter ID?
Since 2014, the Electoral Commission has recommended that ID should be required in Great Britain before voters are issued with a ballot paper. In December 2015 the Commission published a report on delivering and costing (PDF) a voter ID scheme. One of its key assumptions was that photo ID would be required but also cautioned that accessibility was fundamental and any scheme should be backed up by a free voter card for those without an alternative.
In August 2016 the then Government Anti-Corruption Champion, Lord Pickles, published a report on electoral fraud. It highlighted the trust-based nature of polling station voting and recommended that the Government should consider voter ID. He suggested the Government pilot various options before introducing a system nationwide.
Pilots were held in 2018 and 2019. The Government declared them a success following its own evaluations and committed to introducing a voter ID scheme. The Government said that the overwhelmingly majority of people were able to vote and “there is no indication that any consistent demographic was adversely affected by the use of voter ID.”
The Local Government Information Unit criticised the Cabinet Office evaluations as being an “optimistic interpretation of extremely limited evidence” and that only “marginal information is available on the demographic makeup of the pilot areas”.
The information above has been taken from the below link:
You can apply for a Voter Authority Certificate by:
Online via the Government's GOV.UK Portal - https://www.gov.uk/apply-for-photo-id-voter-authority-certificate
Completing a paper application with a colour photo enclosed by post sent to your Local Electoral Services Department- https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/apply-for-a-voter-authority-certificate-by-post-if-youre-living-in-the-uk.
You can also download the form in large print. Alternatively, you can contact your Local Electoral Services Department to request a form in braille or easy read by visiting: https://www.gov.uk/contact-electoral-registration-office.
The deadline to apply for a VAC is Tuesday 25th April 2023.
More information can also be found on: https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/i-am-a/voter/voter-id/applying-a-voter-authority-certificate.