Gone are the days when you could walk into a polling station, give your name and vote. For the first time from May, you will need to present some form of ID, usually digital, at a polling station. Examples include a passport, driving licence or old person’s bus pass.

The Conservatives have driven this through parliament because they think, in true Trump-like fashion, that there is widespread voter fraud in local and national elections. While there have been cases of voter fraud, there is no evidence that it is widespread.

The real reason is crude politics. The Conservatives have less support among younger voters, who are more progressive thinking and are less engaged with voting. The Electoral Reform Society also warned that the voter ID list the government has introduced gives few options for younger voters. This suits the Conservatives, who are desperate to maximise their vote in pursuit of their dream of being in government forever.

Many people are already disillusioned with the current political system and cannot see the point of voting. Some do not trust the anonymity guaranteed by the voting system.

It is important that everyone votes, by postal vote if needed. Otherwise, we get the politicians we don’t want or deserve.

From 4 May 2023 voters in England will need to show photo ID to vote at polling stations in most elections, including local elections, parliamentary by-elections, Police and Crime Commissioner elections, and recall petitions. From October 2023 it will also apply to UK general elections.

By the end of yesterday, 3,322 people had applied for a Voter Authority Certificate. It is early days and awareness of the need for voter ID is low, but at this rate it would take ten years for all those without an acceptable form of ID to apply for one.

It is generally thought that the greatest need for voter ID is among the youngest and oldest voters. As the graph above shows, what demand there has been to date is mostly from middle-aged people. That suggests a lack of awareness of the scheme in what should be target groups for publicity.

The Liberal Democrat MP for North Shropshire, Helen Morgan triggered a debate in the House of Commons last week on the introduction of voter ID (video). She told MPs: “This is using a sledgehammer to crack a nut, at an exorbitant cost to the taxpayer, and that it is a thinly veiled attempt to make it far more difficult for people to vote.”

On Thursday, the Lib Dems on Shropshire Council will call for the council to ensure that voters get enough information on the need for ID (details below).

The Voter Authority Certificate

Anyone who does not have one of the accepted forms of ID will be able to apply for free ID – known as a Voter Authority Certificate (VAC) through the government’s website. It is quite easy. You need your NI number and a decent selfie and five minutes later you application is complete. The VAC will then be sent to you by Shropshire Council.

Accepted forms of ID include a UK, European Economic Area (EEA) or Commonwealth passport; a UK, EEA or Commonwealth drivers’ licence; and some concessionary travel passes, such as an older person’s bus pass or an Oyster 60+ card. Voters will be able to use expired ID if they are still recognisable from the photo (full list of acceptable ID).

Registering to vote

Of course, anyone who wants to have their say at the ballot box must also be registered to vote. It only takes five minutes to register online at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote. I encourage people to do so if they’re not already registered and if they want to vote in a future Shropshire election.


Other councils are already campaigning to raise awareness of the need for voter ID, notably the Greater London Authority. This motion to be discussed on Thursday calls for the council to take similar action.

Motion received from Councillor David Vasmer and supported by the Liberal Democrat Group

This Council:

  • Notes that new Voter ID requirements, introduced by the Elections Act 2022, involve voters having to show photo ID before being issued with a ballot paper at all elections from May 2023 onwards.
  • Notes with concern that this new requirement creates a new barrier to residents exercising their democratic right to vote and may lead to some Shropshire residents  being disenfranchised.
  • Notes that a list of ‘accepted’ forms of photo ID has been published and that this includes fewer forms of ID held by younger and marginalised people.
  • Notes that voters can obtain a ‘Voter Authority Certificate’ from the Council if they do not have an ‘accepted’ form of photo ID.
  • Notes with concern the additional costs and administrative burden this will place on Electoral Services, and the risk of abuse towards poll workers from anyone denied a vote due to lack of ID.
  • Believes that this legislation is unnecessary, undemocratic and an example of attempted voter suppression

Council therefore:

  • Calls on Cabinet to review current electoral registration letters and public information campaigns to ensure that every effort is made to communicate these new requirements, to avoid any resident being disenfranchised.
  • Calls on Cabinet to include reference to the need to show voter ID and how to claim a Voter Authority Certificate on all forms of written communications including emails, letters and social media posts.
  • Calls on the government to urgently expand the list of ‘accepted’ forms of photo ID and to fully fund the costs to Councils of implementing this policy.
  • Requests that the Leader communicate Council’s views to Government and to our local MPs.
8 thought on “Rules have changed – time to ensure you have the right ID to vote”
  1. The UK has low levels of proven electoral fraud.
    There remains no evidence of large-scale electoral fraud in 2019.
    595 cases of alleged electoral fraud were investigated by the police. Of these, four led to a conviction and two individuals were given a police caution.
    This is across all elections including the General Election. ( Source The Electoral Commission)

    Without doubt the new regulations will disenfranchise some voters, and most likely voters who would never vote Tory and certainly a lot more than 595.
    So it would appear that the Tory Government have used a very big hammer to crack and almost non-existent nut…Ask yourselves why?

    1. Made an error above.
      The sentence “certainly more than 595” should rea ‘“certainly more than 6”
      595 were ‘alleged’. Only 6 proven.

  2. Do not forget to inform people via focus,door knocking etc that people can apply for a postal vote

    1. Your need to sign and give your date of birth applying for a postal vote. The same when submitting a vote. These are checked by the electoral team when the vote is recieved.

  3. Surely if checking date of birth is enough to qualify for a postal vote identity why isn’t it enough for the voting booth where all voters anyway have been checked from the electoral register and have received a voting slip.?

    1. There is no requirement to take the voting card to the polling station. Even if there was, you could hand you slip to someone else. I see no need to change but the need is political not a necessity.

      1. I agree with you it is political . Using concerns for voter fraud to introduce photo I’d when it was infinitesimal proves it.

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