Electoral experts call for delay to Voter ID launch
It is no longer realistic to successfully introduce Voter ID in May 2023. That’s the message sent to new Secretary of State for Levelling Up, The Rt Hon Greg Clark, from the Association of Electoral Administrators (AEA).
In a letter today (11 July 2022), the AEA state that with key policy detail still to be confirmed, and secondary legislation yet to be published, the Elections Act 2022 implementation timetable needs urgent review.
Given Royal Assent in April, the Act introduced the requirement for electors to show photo ID in polling stations at UK Parliamentary elections, all elections and referendums in England, and police and crime commissioner elections in England and Wales.
While a high-level policy paper was published in January 2022, council Returning Officers are still waiting for confirmation about which existing forms of photo ID documents will be accepted.
There has also been no further information about the proposed Voter Card service, due to launch in December. Local authorities are expected to produce the card free of charge for electors who do not have any of the other permitted forms of ID.
Peter Stanyon, AEA chief executive, said: “Voter ID needs to work from the moment it launches. If it doesn’t, we risk electors being deprived of their right to vote. Nobody running, or participating in, UK elections wants that.
“We have been concerned for some time that introducing Voter ID in May 2023 is too ambitious. In May we advised the former Minister that for a ‘no-fail’ service like elections, implementation timelines were optimistic at best, undeliverable at worst. Since then, the situation has deteriorated.
“The complexity of introducing Voter ID has been underestimated. Digital development needs time and testing to get right. Council election teams also need to recruit extra, and train all, polling station staff on Voter ID and other new processes, like postal vote handling restrictions. Every elector must be treated consistently whichever polling station they cast their vote in.
“Add inevitable delays caused by bringing a new Ministerial team up to speed, moving Voter ID introduction back is the only prudent option.”