What photo ID do you need to vote in UK elections?

Voter ID

This entry was posted in For you, News on by .

As you may have heard, from 4th May 2023, voters in England will be required to present a form of accepted photo ID when casting their vote in the following elections: 

  • Local elections
  • Police and Crime Commissioner elections
  • UK parliamentary by-elections
  • Recall petitions

From October 2023, this will also apply to all UK General elections. 

The introduction of these new rules has sparked debate about their impact on voter turnout and accessibility, with concerns raised about potential barriers faced by certain groups of people, such as elderly and low-income individuals who may not possess the necessary ID documents.

Here at DRN Law, we’ve got together to explain the types of photo ID that will be accepted under the new rules and examine the potential implications of these changes to the voting process in the UK. 

When is the next election?

The next elections that will be affected by this are the local elections, which are set to take place on the 4th of May, 2023, in England. 

What type of photo ID will be required?

Various types of photo IDs will be accepted at polling stations as valid forms of identification. These include passports, driving licences (including provisional licences), bus passess for older or disabled persons, and Oyster cards for individuals who are over the age of 60.

It is worth noting that you can use an out-of-date ID, provided you are still recognisable in the photo. 

What if I don’t have any forms of valid photo ID?

For the upcoming local elections on the 4th of May, you must have already applied in person, in order to be eligible to vote. The deadline in England for this was the 17th of April. If you had registered, then you also needed to apply for a voter authority certificate. The deadline to apply for a ‘voter authority certificate’ was 17:00 BST on the 25th of April. 

For any future elections, barring the upcoming local elections, you can apply for a voter authority certificate in advance, to avoid requiring a valid photo ID. 

Why has voter ID been introduced?

The government has said that the new measure will reduce the number of votes being stolen and the prevalence of electoral fraud. 

What are the criticisms of voter ID?

There are numerous criticisms of mandatory voter ID. Although most people have some form of accepted photo ID, an estimated two million people don’t. Many people, including the opposition, have raised concerns that the new rules risk ostracising a large percentage of the population. 

The Electoral Reform Society claims that the new rules are ‘an expensive distraction’ and create a ‘barrier to democracy – for some’. They point out that research indicates that more disadvantaged groups are less likely to possess photo ID, and cite the government’s own research, which identifies the following demographics as being among the most likely to lack valid identification.

  • People experiencing homelessness
  • Disabled people
  • Trans or non-binary people
  • Those from Gypsy, Roma or Traveller backgrounds

Meanwhile, others argue that the new rules are discriminatory against the younger population and, potentially, ageist. They highlight the fact that the elder population can use their 60+ Oyster cards as valid photo ID, while the younger generation is unable to use railcards or student Oyster cards.

Finally, The Electoral Commission claims that the prevalence of electoral fraud is low and that there is “no evidence of large-scale electoral fraud”. 

Now that you know the types of photo ID that are required for future elections, it’s important to make sure you have the necessary documentation to exercise your right to vote. We encourage you to check you have one of the accepted forms of photo ID and, if not, apply for a voter authority certificate in advance. 

Here at DRN Law, we’re committed to providing exceptional service and outstanding service to all of our clients. With a reputation for fantastic client care, our legal teams are proactive, informed and down-to-earth.  Need our assistance? Get in touch here.