Now take your ID when you go to vote
VOTERS in five areas of England are to be required to show ID for the first time in an election next year, in an effort to cut fraud.
If successful, the trial could be extended across the country.
The Electoral Commission recommended in 2014 that voters should be required to prove their identity before casting a ballot.
Some 44 people in the 2016 local elections were caught trying to use another individual’s vote, known as ‘personation’ – up from 21 in 2014.
Pilot tests will be held at local elections in Woking, Gosport, Bromley, Watford and Slough in May 2018, with photo and nonphoto ID being trialled in different areas to see which works best.
The east London borough of Tower Hamlets, which has been the subject of almost half of all electoral fraud claims in the past five years, told ministers it could not introduce voter ID in time for next year.
Instead it will run a separate pilot examining the security of postal votes, including spot checks to ensure people know they have voted and live where they say they do.
It follows an investigation into voter fraud by former Tory chairman Sir Eric Pickles. The report identified 18 local authorities which had had significant problems with electoral fraud in recent years.
Voters in Northern Ireland have had to prove their identity at polling stations since 1985, with photo ID required since 2003. There have been no cases of personation in the province since 2003.
Constitution minister Chris Skidmore said: ‘For people to have confidence in our democratic processes we need to ensure our elections are safeguarded against any threat or perception of electoral fraud.
‘The current situation of people simply pointing out their name without having to prove who they are feels out of date … It is harder to take out a library book or collect a parcel at a post office than it is to vote in someone’s name.’
The Electoral Commission’s Claire Bassett welcomed the move and said findings would be published next year ahead of a possible national rollout.
But Lib Dem MP Tom Brake said: ‘This is a completely unnecessary move that risks undermining our democracy.
‘Evidence from around the world tells us forcing voters to bring ID won’t stop determined fraudsters, but is likely to lead to even lower turnouts amongst young people and minority groups.’