• Saturday, July 20, 2024

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Voters without photo ID urged to get alterative

Deadline to apply for free certificate is June 26

New laws requiring voter ID were introduced last year. (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)

By: Alexander Brock, Nadia Lincoln and Anne Gouk

SEVERAL areas across Birmingham and Northamptonshire each have thousands of registered voters with no qualifying ID – potentially denying them a chance to vote in the upcoming general election.

New laws requiring voter ID were introduced last year, with the local elections in England on May 4 last year being the first in Britain to require voters to show identification before being issued with a ballot paper.

However, exclusive data from Survation and Royal Holloway, University of London, suggests that more than 1.9 million people are registered but lack appropriate ID to vote – some four per cent of all those registered.

However, the proportion is much higher in some areas.

In both Wakefield West in West Yorkshire and Liskeard Central in Cornwall, an estimated 39 per cent of registered voters don’t have ID, affecting thousands of people.

Figures also suggest Quinton in Birmingham has 16,423 registered voters without qualifying ID – around 21.5 per cent.

Thousands of people across Northamptonshire could also be turned away from voting because they don’t have a valid form of ID.

In the Kingsthorpe North ward of Northampton, an estimated 15 per cent of constituents could face not being able to cast their ballot due to the new rules, affecting more than 1,300 people.

Similarly, in Daventry West 13.3 per cent of people (1,152) would currently be unable to vote, along with another 1,178 in Higham Ferrers, totalling 13.2 per cent of the constituency’s electorate.

Chris Hanretty, professor of politics at Royal Holloway, University of London, said: “The vast majority of registered voters have photo ID, but a small proportion don’t, and that small proportion gets bigger in some areas.

“If just a few of these voters without ID turn up to vote, we can expect lots of stories about people being disenfranchised.”

Voters can use passports, driving licences, Proof of Age Standards Scheme (PASS) cards, Blue badges, and some concessionary travel cards.

People without an existing acceptable form of voter ID can also apply online or by post for a free Voter Authority Certificate (VAC).

The deadline to apply for a VAC in order to vote in the parliamentary general election on Thursday, July 4, is 5pm on Wednesday, June 26. People can fill out the forms for free online or apply by post.

West Northamptonshire Council also has an option to arrange an appointment to apply in person in their council office locations, for people who may need further assistance.

In its statutory report, produced in September 2023, the Electoral Commission found some people found it harder than others to show accepted voter ID, including disabled people, younger voters, people from ethnic minority communities, and the unemployed.

The commission and others recommended the list of allowable ID be reviewed and consideration be given to making the voter ID rules more accessible to the most affected groups.

However, ministers rejected calls for additional types of ID to be added to the list, saying the implementation of voter ID was “conducted efficiently with very few voters initially turned away”.

(Local Democracy Reporting Service)

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