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Voter ID What? Voter ID Who?

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A birth certificate is just one option needed to be used in conjunction with another form of non-photo ID in only two councils…..

This year’s local elections will see the first voter ID pilot in Great Britain. It’s set to pilot in five councils: Bromley, Gosport, Swindon, Watford and Woking. The pilot has good intentions: to reduce electoral fraud. The government says that the move comes after electoral fraud has more than doubled between 2014 and 2016, according to a report from the Electoral Commission.

The trial, however, has already created controversy with a group of more than 40 charities, academics and campaign groups warning that it will disenfranchise many vulnerable people. This group has also highlighted that the actual number of impersonation allegations remains low. In 2016 there were 44 allegations of impersonation at a polling station — the type of fraud which the trials seeks to reduce — out of nearly 64 million votes cast.

That being said, the Electoral Commission has argued that the trial also seeks to reduce the public’s perception of electoral fraud, rather than just the incidences of it. Their 2014 electoral fraud review discovered that voters, those standing for election and those running elections have a “consistent and underlying level of concern about electoral fraud”. Claire Bassett, the chief executive of the Electoral Commission, said that there will be an independent, evaluation of the pilot schemes and that this will be published in the summer of 2018.

Controversy aside, another interesting part about the trial is that every council has different ID requirements, from the introduction of an ‘Elector Card’ in Woking to being able to bring someone with you to attest on your behalf in Swindon. We couldn’t find any single place that outlined what was going on across all five councils… So here it is:

“One form of specified photo ID Postal Vote Electoral Identity Letter/Certificate of Identity/Elector Card Poll Card Two forms of specified non-photo ID Debit/Credit Card
Bromley ~ ~
Gosport
Swindon
Watford
Woking

✔: This is the only thing you need to bring with you.
∼ : This can be used in conjunction with one other form of non-photo ID.
❌: This can not be used by itself or in conjunction.

In all councils one of the following forms of specified photo ID is the only thing you need. Original copies of documents only, no photocopies:

CORE Photo ID:

  • UK or EU passport (UK, Commonwealth, EEA)
  • Photocard driving licence, full or provisional (UK, crown dependency or EU)
  • Northern Ireland Electoral Identity Card
  • Biometric Residence Permit/ immigration document
  • European Economic Area identity card

I have self-dubbed these the ‘CORE’ acceptable forms of photo ID as they are accepted across all five councils but in each council there are many additional options described below. Also to note, the normal procedure of postal votes and proxy votes still apply, as long as the appointed proxy voter brings acceptable ID (as stated by each council).

Bromley:

There are five options in Bromley, including a new ‘Certificate of Identity’:

  • One form of these photo IDs:
    • One CORE photo ID
    • an Oyster 60+ London Pass
    • a Freedom Pass (London)
    • a PASS scheme card (national proof of age standards scheme)
  • Two forms of non-photo ID (one must show the registered address):
    • a valid bank or building society debit card or credit card
    • a poll card for the poll
    • a birth certificate
    • a firearms certificate granted under the Firearms Act 1968
    • the record of a decision on bail made in respect of the voter in accordance with section 5(1) of the Bail Act 1976
    • To see the other 10 acceptable forms of non-photo ID: http://www.bromley.gov.uk/info/200033/elections_and_voting/1177/voter_id_pilot
  • Postal vote
  • Proxy vote.
  • Lastly Bromley is introducing a ‘Certificate of Identity’. An application has to be completed and submitted in person by 5pm on Wednesday 2 May 2018. Along with basic information about the applicant, the application must also include “an attestation in writing from a person of good standing in the community (examples are given on the form) confirming that the applicant is the person named in the application.”.

Gosport

There are five options in Gosport, Gosport are also introducing a new ‘Electoral Identity Letter’.

  • One form of these photo IDs:
    • One CORE photo ID.
    • Disclosure and Barring Service certificate showing your registered address
    • MoD photographic ID card
    • MoD Defence Privilege Card
    • photo bus/travel pass from any Hampshire council
  • Two forms of these non-photo IDs: (one must show the registered address):
    • driving licence without photo
    • birth certificate
    • adoption certificate
    • marriage or civil partnership certificate
    • bank or building society debit/credit card
    • Issued within 12 months of voting day:
    • financial statement, such as a bank or mortgage statement
    • council tax demand letter or statement
    • utility bill
    • P2, P6, P9, P45 or P60
    • statement of benefits or entitlement to benefits
  • Postal vote
  • Proxy vote.
  • Lastly, Gosport have introduced an ‘Electoral Identity Letter’. Applications are online, and can be completed up to 5pm on polling day. Along with basic information about the applicant, applications must also include a scanned or photographed document of evidence. The website does not go into detail about what this ‘document of evidence’ could be, but after getting into contact with the Gosport electoral services team, I discovered that this can be anything that is distributed from a government body such as a letter from an NHS doctor, school or college.

Swindon

Swindon is succinct with these five options, but an interesting quirk is the last option. As a “last resort” an elector can bring someone with them to attest to their identity.

  • Poll Card
  • CORE photo ID
  • Postal vote
  • Proxy vote
  • An elector can bring someone with them to attest to their identity and allow them to vote. “The person attesting will need to be registered at the same polling station and have already voted themselves or have the ability to vote by presenting their poll card or other form of ID.”

Watford

In Watford there are these straightforward five options:

  • Poll Card
  • CORE photo ID
  • Postal vote
  • Proxy vote
  • Debit or Credit Card.

Woking

In Woking there are five options, also including the option that someone can attest for the elector.

  • One form of these photo IDs:
    • One CORE photo ID
    • Surrey Senior Bus Pass
    • Surrey Disabled People’s Bus Pass
    • Surrey Student Fare Card
    • 16 - 25 Railcard
    • Rail Season Ticket Photocard
  • Postal vote
  • Proxy vote
  • Woking are introducing a Local Elector Card. The application is fairly extensive, asking for a countersigned photograph from, the phrase comes up again, ‘a person of good standing in the community’. Woking also list examples of who those persons could be, here are the first five: “Accountant, airline pilot, articled clerk of a limited company, assurance agent of recognised company, bank/building society official.” Woking also ask for proof of identity and proof of residence. Examples of accepted proofs are listed on the form.
  • Someone can attest for the elector, if this option is chosen then an Attestation of Identity, must be completed which is available from Electoral Services on 01483 755855 or email electorcard@woking.gov.uk.

Is that clear? Good. We thought so. We look forward to seeing the aforementioned full evaluation report from the Electoral Commission out in summer. Lastly, if there are any electors in the pilot areas who don’t have any of the required ID, we’d like to hear from you.