A new law from the UK government now requires showing a photo ID at polling stations before being able to fill out your ballot paper.
Local elections, where West Norfolk borough councillors and Downham Market town councillors will be standing for election, are coming on 4th May this year. This will be the first election where the new rules apply.
The new requirement, which the government would say are intended to cut down on voter fraud, means voters now have to have to bring one of a selection of acceptable photo ID to polling station to show before being allowed to vote.
Passport, driving licence, Blue Badge, Older or disabled person’s bus pass, or an over 60s Oyster card, among others, will be accepted. See the Government’s website for a full list. Expired documents will be accepted if staff at polling stations decide you still look like the photo.
For those who do not have a valid ID, the government have opened up a new scheme to allow people to register for a free “Voter Authority Certificate”, which requires you to submit a digital photo of yourself and your National Insurance number. You can apply for this new voter ID online.
The Electoral Reform Society, who campaign for better democracy in the UK, argue that the new rules will put additional burdens on younger voters. They say that the list of accepted IDs “are predominantly held by older people”. They point out, for example, that the Over 60s Oyster card is accepted, but the 18+ Oyster card is not.
In terms of preventing fraud at the polling booth, the most recent data from the Electoral Commission shows that in 2021, before this new scheme was in place, there were zero convictions of election fraud across the country.
Lorraine Gore, elections Returning Officer at the West Norfolk Borough Council said: “If you need any help with applying for free ID or want to request an application form, you can contact the electoral services team on 01553 616773 or by e-mailing [email protected].”