Margaret Greenwood MP has raised concerns in parliament that those people of voting age who have poor literacy and digital skills may find it more difficult to comply with requirements to show photo ID in order to vote in polling stations at future elections.
The Wirral West MP was speaking during an Urgent Question in parliament as Labour described the government’s voter ID plans as ‘a thinly veiled attempt to make it far more difficult for people to vote.’
From 4 May of this year, people will need to show photo ID when voting in person at polling stations in some UK elections or referendums, including local council and mayoral elections, UK Parliament by-elections and Police and Crime Commissioner elections in England and Wales.
This means that people will need to take photo ID to the polling station in the local elections in May.
The requirement will be extended to UK general elections from October of this year.
Passports or driving licences can be used. A full list of accepted photo ID, one of which people must take with them to the polling station, is available via this link: https://www.gov.uk/how-to-vote/photo-id-youll-need
If you do not have a type of photo ID that allows you to vote, you can apply for a Voter Authority Certificate for free, either online or by post.
To apply online, people will need a recent digital photograph of themselves and either their National Insurance number or an accepted document such as a birth certificate, bank statement or bill to prove their identity. To apply by post, people will need to fill out and send a printed copy of the application form to their local electoral registration office.
You can find more information about how to apply for a Voter Authority Certificate here: https://www.gov.uk/apply-for-photo-id-voter-authority-certificate
If people in Wirral need any assistance, or if they want to request a copy of the application form to be sent to them, they can contact Wirral Council’s electoral services team at email@example.com or on 0151 691 8046.
There were reports in the press earlier this week that take-up of Voter Authority Certificates has been low among those who will need them in order to vote, particularly among elderly and young people. This has led to concerns that many may miss out on the chance to vote at forthcoming elections.
Recent data showed that, as of Sunday 20 February, just under 21,000 applications for Voter Authority Certificates had been submitted in total – this is only around 1% of the estimated two million voters who do not possess an already accepted form of photo ID.
Just 2.4% of these 21,000 applications were from people aged 75 or older, while fewer than 6% were from people aged under 25.
This led to Labour securing an Urgent Question on the matter in the House of Commons.
Speaking afterwards, Margaret Greenwood MP said, “It is a matter of real concern that, of the estimated two million people who will need a Voter Authority Certificate in order to vote, only around 1% have applied for one.
“It is estimated that more than three million people over the age of 65 have no access to the Internet, and more than seven million adults have very poor literacy skills.
“These people will face barriers to exercising their right to vote that most of the population will not. That is unfair.
“It’s really important that people don’t miss out.
“I would urge anyone who has friends or family who may struggle to acquire their photo ID to support them to do that. Alternatively, they could support them to secure a postal vote, for which no photo ID is needed.
“I know that people desperately want to have their say in forthcoming elections. The government should be making it easier for them to do so, instead of putting up barriers.”