Tag Archives: voter ID

Compulsory Voter ID – sensible security measure or deliberate disenfranchisement?

Did you know that the Government has a manifesto commitment to bring in compulsory ID for Parliamentary elections?  They plan to require us to show some sort of ID before we are issued with our ballot paper in a polling station. 

The idea was piloted in five Boroughs in the recent council elections, and the Government is now looking for pilot sites for next May’s elections. The Cabinet Office and the Electoral Commission have both published evaluations of the pilots. There is also an excellent report from the Electoral Reform Society setting the issue of voter ID in the context of other priorities for electoral reform.

I took part in a project, funded by the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust Ltd, to find out how voters experienced these pilots.  We contacted Lib Dem and Labour campaigners in the five Boroughs and asked them to survey their residents and to give us their own views. We received responses from 21 campaigners and 329 residents from four of the five Boroughs (Woking, Bromley, Watford & Swindon). We also held a fringe meeting at Federal Conference, where Peter Taylor, the Liberal Democrat Mayor of Watford, spoke about the Watford experience.  

The Five Pilots

The five Boroughs piloted different approaches: Woking, Bromley and Gosport tested various forms of photo ID requirement, although in Bromley and Gosport two forms of non-photo ID were also allowed; Swindon and Watford piloted a requirement to bring a poll card which was electronically scanned, with Watford also allowing other ID in the absence of a polling card.

Voters Turned Away

The Electoral Commission evaluation states that, according to the Returning Officers, 1,036 people attempted to vote without the correct ID, and that between 326 and 350 did not return later in the day, an average of 0.23% of all polling station voters.  The “did not return” rate varied between councils, with 57% of those initially turned away not returning in Woking (where the ID requirements were strictest) and about 27% not returning in Bromley and Watford. 

Campaigners in our survey gave some examples: 

“A gentleman  with a Surrey Senior Bus Pass was refused a vote because his Bus Pass had two names and apparently his name on the Electoral Register contained an additional name”. (Campaigner from Woking)

“I heard of …one person turned away despite having a digital copy of a bank statement, he was told to go home and print the statement out.” (Campaigner from Bromley) 

Voters put off due to the need for ID

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 31 Comments

Local Liberal Democrats join leading charities to condemn Bromley voter ID pilot

In the upcoming local elections, for the first time ever, Bromley residents will have to produce verifiable ID at polling stations to cast their vote.

The Borough has volunteered to take part in a pilot scheme which, if successful, could see this scheme rolled out across mainland UK. The move follows a Conservative government report which claims such moves are necessary to prevent voter ID fraud.

On the face of it, this doesn’t seem unreasonable. Many other countries insist upon ID before you can vote. Surely people can do the same when voting here?

But here’s the thing – millions of people in …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 22 Comments
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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarDavid Raw 12th Dec - 7:19pm
    Well that cheered me up no end as we approach Christmas. As fracking enthusiasts might say, 'The earth certainly moved for me'. It's just the...
  • User AvatarMeher Oliaji 12th Dec - 6:42pm
    Thank you Joseph Bourke for reminding us that the question will be determined by the Electoral Commission, and that it will need to be free...
  • User AvatarGlenn 12th Dec - 6:34pm
    The question will be decided by the sitting government and main opposition parties. Not by pressure from a hard-core of Remainers trying to overturn both...
  • User AvatarDavid Davis 12th Dec - 6:21pm
    'The PM's deal or stay in the EU on the current terms', that's my simple, binary choice. But should it be advisory, like the first...
  • User AvatarJoseph Bourke 12th Dec - 6:03pm
    it's a good question. The government has the privilege of drafting a referendum question and the electoral commision the responsibility of deciding if the question...
  • User AvatarDavid Davis 12th Dec - 5:56pm
    Useful article and comments. I've just posted a similar comment on Facebook when copying Ed Davey's Lib Dem message calling the Tories 'utter hypocrites' for...