Exercising your right to vote is one of the cornerstones of democracy – and it is vital that the integrity of the election process is protected as much as possible.
Local government elections are taking place on Thursday 4 May. This will be the first time that registered voters have been required to present photo ID at polling stations to allow them to be issued with their ballot paper.
It is a requirement that will also extend to national general elections and by-elections from this year.
For that reason, Wirral Council – supported by the Electoral Commission – is embarking on an educational campaign to raise awareness of this significant change.
The campaign will not just encourage people to ensure they are on the electoral register, but also tell them what form of photo ID will be accepted at polling stations on election day.
One of the ways in which Wirral’s electoral team is aiming to tell people about the change is through a series of informal public drop-in sessions taking place next week.
BirkenEd’s Place, a new community space located at 8-10 Borough Pavement in Birkenhead’s Grange Precinct, will host sessions starting from Monday 3 April until Thursday 6 April. The sessions will run from 9:30am to 4pm.
The Electoral Commission acknowledges that the new requirements have the potential to create barriers to some people to be able to register their vote. They may not have a passport or drivers’ licence, which are the standard forms of photo ID accepted in this country.
Instead, one of the things that Wirral’s electoral team will be able to help people with at the drop-in sessions is how to apply for a free Voter Authority Certificate ahead of the election on 4 May.
These certificates can be used by anyone who doesn’t already possess one of the other accepted forms of identification and are straightforward to apply for – people just need to provide their name, address, date of birth and National Insurance number, along with a passport-style photograph of themselves.
Even if someone does not already have a passport-style photograph, the team will be able to take a suitable photo at the drop in session. The deadline to apply for a voter authority certificate for this election is 5pm on Tuesday 25 April 2023
The drop-in sessions can also help people to register on the electoral roll to be able to vote in local and national elections in the first place – they will just need the same basic details as listed above.
More information about the changes to how this year’s elections are being administered and how individuals, groups and organisations in the community can access support to make sure they are ready to vote can be found at electoralcommission.org.uk/voterID
Alternatively, the Electoral Commission has set up a helpline, 0800 328 0280.
As well as further information, the advice and resources available on the website and helpline can be accessed by people who are likely to need support with the new voter ID requirement, including:
- Disabled people
- Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities
- Older people
- People experiencing homelessness
- People who are registered to vote anonymously
- Trans and non-binary people