20 Dec 2019
Extract from Government Statement on Queen’s Speech:-
- OTHER LEGISLATIVE MEASURES
“My Government will take steps to protect the integrity of democracy and the electoral system in the United Kingdom.”
The purpose of the legislation is to:
- Tackle electoral fraud and protect our democracy, whether people are casting their votes at the polling station or elsewhere.
- Make it easier for disabled voters to vote at polling stations.
The main benefits of the legislation would be:
- Strengthening confidence in our democracy by addressing the potential for electoral fraud in our current system, where the only test in a polling station is for a voter to state their name and address.
- Providing greater security for those who vote remotely by post or proxy and creating a deterrent for those who might seek to interfere in the democratic process.
- Removing potential barriers faced by disabled voters.
The main elements of the legislation are:
- Requiring voters to show an approved form of photographic ID in order to vote at a polling station in a UK parliamentary election in Great Britain and local election in England. Any voter who does not have an approved form of ID will be able to apply, free of charge, for a local electoral identity document.
- Banning campaigners from handling postal votes, introducing a power to limit the number of postal votes a person may hand-in, and establishing a
requirement on those registered for a postal vote to re-apply every three years (currently registration can last indefinitely).
- Limiting the number of people a voter may act for as a proxy to up to two electors, regardless of their relationship.
- Allowing a wider range of people (for example, carers who would not be entitled to vote in the election) to be able to assist disabled voters in a ‘companion’ role.
- Requiring returning officers to provide equipment to support voters with sight loss and other disabilities who find it difficult to vote.
Territorial extent and application
- The legislation’s provisions would extend and apply to the whole of the UK for UK parliamentary elections, which is a reserved matter, though the requirement to show ID to vote in Northern Ireland has existed since 1985. Some provisions also apply to certain other non-devolved elections in the UK, including Assembly and local government elections in Northern Ireland, and local elections in England.