Petition Scrap the Voter ID requirement introduced in the Election Integrity Bill
Starting it the 2023 Local Elections, the government plans to force every UK voter to present ID upon voting. This is a grave breach of the democratic process and will make it harder for those on lower incomes and people of colour to vote, as these groups are less likely to possess an official ID.
There were 34 allegations of voter fraud in the 2019 election, and one case of proven fraud. Out of 48 million registered voters. There is no need for us to add an extra layer of bureaucracy and complexity to the voting process. Our elections are the only thing which allow us a true say in our government; voting should be the most open and inclusive process possible.
The Petitions Committee decided not to debate this petition
The Petitions Committee have decided not to schedule a debate on this petition.
The Committee recognised the support that the petition had received. However, the issue raised by the petition has already recently been debated in Parliament on 13 July, which you can read here:
The voter ID requirements are contained in the Elections Bill that was introduced by the Government on 5 July this year.
Read the Government's announcement of the Bill here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/elections-bill-introduced-in-parliament-today
MPs will be able to debate the voter ID requirement as part of the various stages of the Bill, and we'll make them aware of this petition ahead of debates on the Bill. We'll also send updates on the main stages of the Bill to people who signed this petition.
Find out more about the Elections Bill: https://bills.parliament.uk/bills/3020
Find out more about how laws are made: https://www.parliament.uk/about/how/laws/
This response was given on 25 May 2021
Voter identification is part of the Government’s body of work to strengthen the integrity and security of our elections. We will not remove voter identification requirements from the Elections Bill.
Read the response in full
The Government was elected on a manifesto that committed to protecting the integrity of our democracy, by introducing identification to vote at polling stations. The Government has since announced that we will be bringing forward these measures as part of a wider initiative to tackle electoral fraud and give voters confidence in our elections.
Electoral fraud is a crime that strikes at a core principle of our democracy - that your vote is yours, and yours alone. Strengthening the integrity of our electoral system will give the public confidence that our elections will remain secure well into the future.
Showing identification to prove who you are is something people of all walks of life already do everyday. It is a reasonable and proportionate approach to extend this practice to voting and to give the public confidence that their vote is theirs, and theirs alone.
Everyone who is eligible to vote will continue to be able to do so. The list of approved photographic identification will not be limited to passports and driving licences. A broad range of documents will be accepted, including, for example, various concessionary travel passes, PASS cards, Ministry of Defence identity cards and photocard parking permits issued as part of the Blue Badge scheme.
In addition, expired photographic identification will be accepted as long as the photograph is of a good enough likeness to allow polling station staff to confirm the identity of the holder.
New research published by the Government shows that 98% of voters already own a photographic document that is on the list of acceptable types of identification under this policy. The figure was between 96%-99% across all age groups and regions and found that 99% of people from ethnic minorities owned an accepted form of identification. This research can be found at: https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research-briefings/cbp-9187/
Where a voter does not have one of the approved forms of photo identification, local authorities will be required, by law, to provide a Voter Card free of charge. An independent review of electoral fraud conducted by Lord Pickles highlighted the events of cases such as Tower Hamlets - in which the 2014 Mayoral election was declared void by corrupt and illegal practices - as evidence of vulnerabilities in our system which must be addressed.
Personation - assuming the identity of another person with the intention to deceive - is very difficult to prove and prosecute but it is by no means a victimless crime. There are frequent anecdotal reports of personation, including most recently during the 2021 local elections. Often, it only comes to light if and when the real voter tries to vote later after the crime has been committed.
That is why voter identification is so important, as it virtually eliminates the risk of personation occurring in the first place.
Even the perception that our electoral system is vulnerable to fraud is damaging for public confidence. Data from our pilot evaluations in 2018 and 2019 show that the requirement to show identification increased voter confidence in the process. Both rounds of voter identification pilots also demonstrated our ability to collaborate very successfully with local authorities and support them in delivering voter identification that works for voters.
Voters in Northern Ireland have been required by law to show paper identification since 1985 and the Labour Government introduced photo identification at polling stations across Northern Ireland in 2003. The experience in Northern Ireland illustrates that once the requirement has become established and is part and parcel of the voting process, the vast majority of voters complete the voting process after turning up at the polling station. This is also the case in many countries around the world, where voter identification works with ease.
We will continue to work with the Electoral Commission and other stakeholders, including charities and civil society organisations, to make sure that voter identification works for all voters.
Other parliamentary business
MPs to debate the introduction of voter ID
MPs will debate the introduction of voter ID on Tuesday 13 July in Westminster Hall, a debating chamber in the House of Commons.
This will be a general debate. General debates allow MPs to debate important issues, however they do not end in a vote nor can they change the law.
The debate will start at around 4.50pm and last for up to an hour. Watch it here this Tuesday: https://www.parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/67778941-ab20-47a6-9cf2-a2f5cb07619e
You'll be able to read a transcript of the debate a few hours after it happens: https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2021-07-13
Find out more about how debates work in Westminster Hall: https://www.parliament.uk/about/how/business/debates/westminster-hall-debates/
MPs to debate proposed voter ID laws
MPs will debate the Elections Bill on Tuesday 7 September in the main House of Commons chamber.
The Bill includes proposals to require voters to show voter ID in polling stations for UK parliamentary elections, local elections in England and police and crime commissioner elections in England and Wales.
Watch the debate, which should start after 12.40pm on Tuesday 7 September: https://parliamentlive.tv/commons
Read the Bill and follow its progress here:
Read research from the House of Commons library about Voter ID here: https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research-briefings/cbp-9187/
What is Second Reading?
The Second Reading of a Bill is the first opportunity for MPs to debate the general principles of the Bill. At the end of the debate, MPs vote on whether they think the Bill should proceed to the next stage of the process for making new laws and changing existing ones, known as Committee Stage.
Find out more about Second Readings: https://www.parliament.uk/about/how/laws/passage-bill/lords/lrds-commons-second-reading/