Voting is one of the most fundamental rights that you have in the UK. The ability to elect those who will represent us in government is something that we should all cherish and protect – especially women as we didn’t have the right to vote until 1928. By using your vote, we have the power – as citizens – to elect representatives who will make decisions that affect our daily lives and shape our children’s future.
If we don’t use our vote, we essentially surrender our voices and allow others to make important decisions for us. I know, sometimes it feels like your vote is wasted, or ignored, or it doesn’t matter – and you aren’t alone in feeling like that if a party that you didn’t vote for succeeds into power. But it is an opportunity to address social and economic issues that impact our communities, such as healthcare, education, and the environment and also our families – housing, benefits, and childcare especially. Ultimately, voting is a way to participate in the democratic process and shape the future of our society.
Why is Voter Photographic ID being introduced in England?
There is a lot of controversy around the new Voter Photographic ID law. From 4 May 2023, you will be required to provide identification (in addition to your Polling card) for:
- Local elections
- Police and Crime Commissioner elections
- UK parliamentary by-elections
- Recall petitions
And from October 2023, you will be required to provide photographic ID for General Elections too. The biggies.
The current Conservative government have introduced changes to Voter ID as they claim that electoral fraud is a problem that is undermining democracy. Electoral fraud is a serious offence – but since 2010, there have only been 2644 cases reported to the police and in the majority of these cases, no further action was taken because there was insufficient evidence.
The Labour Party have called out the proposed scheme and said it is tantamount to “vote rigging”, as it could result in the exclusion of marginalised communities and prevent millions of people from participating in the electoral process. In contrast, the Scottish and Welsh governments do not believe that voter identification is essential and have no plans to enforce it during local and national elections in their respective countries. The Runneymede Trust commented: ‘People from black and minority ethnic groups are less likely to be registered to vote, vote and be elected. Many voters do not have photo ID, and that ownership of ID can differ by socioeconomic groups, with citizens from BAME (Black and minority ethnic) communities at a particular potential disadvantage. The current proposals suggest a negative disposition towards voters at a time when trust in politicians and the democratic process is quite low.’
It’s estimated that around 2 million people do not have acceptable forms of ID to vote; that’s a big problem for democracy – so if you don’t have photographic ID, now is the time to act.
First things first – are you registered to vote?
If you’ve moved house recently or never registered to vote before this is the first step you need to take.
To register to vote online, you need just five minutes and your National Insurance number and you can register here now via the Gov.uk website. If you can’t register online, you can download a paper form. If you’ve moved house, you should register to vote again.
You don’t need to register to vote before every election.
If you have changed your name for any reason, you can either:
- contact the electoral services team at your local council and request a change of name form
- register to vote again
What forms of photographic ID can I use to vote?
From 4 May 2023, the following forms of photographic ID will be accepted (taken from the Electoral Commission website):
- Passport issued by the UK, any of the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, a British Overseas Territory, an EEA state or a Commonwealth country
Driving and Parking
- Driving licence issued by the UK, any of the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, or an EEA state (this includes a provisional driving licence)
- A Blue Badge
- Older Person’s Bus Pass funded by the Government of the United Kingdom
- Disabled Person’s Bus Pass funded by the Government of the United Kingdom
- Oyster 60+ Card funded by the Government of the United Kingdom
- Freedom Pass
- Scottish National Entitlement Card
- 60 and Over Welsh Concessionary Travel Card
- Disabled Person’s Welsh Concessionary Travel Card
- Senior SmartPass issued in Northern Ireland
- Registered Blind SmartPass or Blind Person’s SmartPass issued in Northern Ireland
- War Disablement SmartPass issued in Northern Ireland
- 60+ SmartPass issued in Northern Ireland
- Half Fare SmartPass issued in Northern Ireland
Proof of age
- Identity card bearing the Proof of Age Standards Scheme hologram (a PASS card)
Other government issued documents
- Biometric immigration document
- Ministry of Defence Form 90 (Defence Identity Card)
- National identity card issued by an EEA state
- Electoral Identity Card issued in Northern Ireland
- Voter Authority Certificate
- Anonymous Elector’s Document
You will only need to show one form of photo ID. It needs to be the original version and not a photocopy.
What if my ID is out of date?
You can still use your photo ID if it’s out of date, as long as it looks like you.
The name on your ID should be the same name you used to register to vote.
What if I don’t have any ID?
You can apply for a free voter ID document, known as a Voter Authority Certificate, if:
- you don’t have an accepted form of photo ID
- you’re not sure whether your photo ID still looks like you
- you’re worried about using an existing form of ID for any other reason, such as the use of a gender marker
You need to register to vote before applying for a Voter Authority Certificate.
Don’t lose your voice in the next elections – ensure you are registered to vote, and ready with photographic ID. And if you want to voice your disdain over the new Voter ID laws – like us – sign the petition here.
Share this with friends and family now to ensure that no-one loses their voice!