The new requirement to show a specific photo ID at polling stations, which kicks in on the 4th May in certain parts of the country, is the biggest change to how we vote in a generation.
It’s going to come as a surprise to many voters – a poll published on the 13th January 2023 found that just 33% of people were aware of this requirement.
With the Government’s own figures suggesting that over 2 million people do not have a valid photo ID, this could lead to over a hundred thousand people being turned away from polling station. So far at least, the government’s Voter Authority Certificate (VAC) is likely to make little difference, with just 10,000 applications so far.
For those who do not have a photo ID such as a driving licence or passport, you can apply online for the Voter Authority Certificate. Otherwise, you can apply for a postal vote, as these do not require a photo ID.
Views about the necessity for photo voter ID may differ, but there is a consensus on the importance of elections running smoothly and eligible voters being able to vote.
So I would urge your readers to contact their local MP.
Firstly to ask their MP to contact the Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to ask him to fund an all household mailing, so that everyone knows about photo voter ID.
Secondly, to ask their MP to ask Mr Gove to confirm what target the government has set for the sign-up of those without valid photo voter ID to a VAC.
I believe that the Government should be aiming to ensure every eligible voter is not barred from voting, due to a lack of a photo ID.
The integrity of our elections depends on it.