29 April 2024

What is voter ID?

What is voter ID? image
Image: Yau Ming Low / Shutterstock.com

Voter ID is now required in many elections across the UK. But what is it and how does it work?

When is voter ID required?

Voters need to show photo identification at polling stations in certain elections. These include:

  • UK parliamentary elections, including general elections and by-elections
  • Local elections in England
  • Police and Crime Commissioner elections in England and Wales

What type of ID is accepted?

One form of photo ID is required. It needs to be an original version – not a photocopy.

Accepted forms of ID can be found here. Voters with no valid forms of photo ID can apply for a Voter Authority Certificate.

When was voter ID introduced?

In April 2022, Parliament introduced the voter ID requirement under the Elections Act 2022. Voters were first required to bring photo ID during local elections in England in May 2023.

What impact did the voter ID policy have during the 2023 elections?

A report by the Electoral Commission into the May 2023 local elections found that around 14,000 voters who went to a polling station were unable to vote because they did not have valid ID.

It said there was generally high awareness of the requirement, but that awareness was lower among those who did not own valid ID. Low awareness of the Voter Authority Certificate was also an issue.

The commission also noted that disabled people and the unemployed found it harder to vote because of the ID requirement.

It warned that issues could be worsened when significantly higher numbers of voters head to the polls at a General Election, which must take place by 28 January 2025.

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