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Special Investigation: Voter ID – More Voters Denied a Vote in Local Elections than Total Convicted of Impersonation Fraud in Recent Years, Byline Times Finds

This newspaper has spoken to people who fell foul of the new mandatory voter ID requirements in May’s local elections

Tim Jackon’s taxi licence was rejected as a form of ID, leaving him without a vote in May’s local elections. Photo: Tim Jackson

SPECIAL INVESTIGATION: voter idMore Voters Denied a Vote in Local Elections than Total Convicted of Impersonation Fraud in Recent Years, Byline Times Finds

This newspaper has spoken to people who fell foul of the new mandatory voter ID requirements in May’s local elections

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Byline Times has spoken to more voters who were turned away under Britain’s new mandatory ID elections law last week than have been convicted of in-person voter fraud in nearly a decade.

While no official figures have yet been announced on the numbers turned away in last week’s mega-round of English elections, this newspaper has surveyed around 150 people in England who had elections in their area.

Of that relatively small number, six found themselves shut out of the democratic process due to the new voter ID requirements, while two refused to vote on principle.

Mandatory voter ID was introduced to improve trust in the electoral process and safeguard against fraud, according to the Government. Since 2019, there have been just four proven cases of fraud, resulting in one conviction and three cautions, as shown by Electoral Commission figures. There have been just three convictions since 2014 according to Researchers for Fair Elections.

Widespread reports of problems at polling stations last Thursday may now actually have damaged trust in the democratic process. 

One voter, Judith Hider, found that she had misplaced her passport last week – only realising on polling day. Despite having been previously informed that her senior railcard would suffice as a valid form of photo ID, she was turned away from her polling station in Elmbridge, Surrey. 

“I do not have a photo driving licence or any other photo ID,” Ms Hider told Byline Times.

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Tim Jackson, from Colchester (pictured), experienced a similar setback. He presented his Hackney Carriage photographic driving licence at the polling station – only to be told that it was not acceptable for voting purposes. Taxi licences, unlike DVLA-issued driving licences, are issued by local authorities but do not appear on the Government’s list of acceptable IDs.  

Equally concerning is the experience of Stephen Old, from Crosby in Merseyside. Despite presenting his Over 60s Merseyrail travel pass, complete with his photo, he was denied a vote.

“I was told in quite a sneery way that this could not be accepted,” he said. “The woman asked if I had any other form of ID. I said no. I have recently been in hospital with heart problems and had not been well enough to get another form of ID… The staff at the polling station were quite patronising.”

In Peterborough, Christopher Nelson abstained from voting altogether due to having an expired passport. He was not aware that expired forms of ID can still be used if the image is of a reasonable likeness to the voter’s current appearance. 

More Revelations of Voters Turned Away forLacking Photo ID in England’s Local ElectionsJosiah Mortimer

Leeds resident Megan Waugh chose not to vote in protest against what she perceives as immoral legislation. She didn’t apply for photo ID as she felt that doing so would legitimise a law she believes locks out voters. 

Two million people are understood to lack valid photo ID in Britain.  

“I don’t have any photo ID,” she told Byline Times. “I knew that I wouldn’t be able to vote but I went to my polling station because I wanted to make sure that my inability to vote without photo ID would be registered… I could not bring myself to apply for photo ID because I felt that I would be legitimising a deeply undemocratic piece of legislation that I think should be immediately revoked.”

Her partner and their 18-year-old son had the same difficulties – lacking photo ID – and were “disenfranchised”. Ms Waugh branded the introduction of voter ID as a “toxic and negative bit of political manoeuvring”.

One anonymous voter in Surrey accidentally left their passport at work and had nothing to present at the polling station that evening.

Another testimony, from Lewes in Sussex, provided more evidence that even when citizens have ID, voters can still be turned away. Ginny was nearly barred from voting after a poll clerk was “very suspicious” that her middle name – which was on her passport – was not listed on her electoral register. This was despite the photo and her first and last names matching.

“She was obviously inclined not to allow me to vote, until a young woman appeared who said it was obvious that I was the same person, so I was eventually allowed to vote,” she said. But her daughter was turned away from her polling station in rural Sussex for not having ID, she added. 

Adam Burgess, from Colyton in Devon, took a stand by also refusing to vote on principle – viewing the policy as an attack on free elections. “I didn’t go to the polling station which I regret, as I would’ve preferred to register my non-vote there and raise the ID issue with them,” he told this newspaper.

For him, the policy is a “blatant attempt at voter suppression”. Mr Burgess believes Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer must “commit to reversing draconian laws” such as this and anti-protest legislation. 

Worryingly, the testimonies received by Byline Times represent significantly more people than proven cases of impersonation fraud over the past four years – despite the need to tackle voter fraud being given as the reason for the introduction of mandatory ID by the Government.

Hannah Goldwyn Simpkins, founder of the group Researchers for Fair Elections, said: “These testimonies are a sad reflection of how citizens have been denied their right to vote. We’re starting to see clear evidence that these ID requirements are out of proportion to the issue of voter fraud.”

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She noted that, in the UK, there have been just three convictions of voter impersonation since 2014 and that the testimonies received by this newspaper alone show that “there were more people blocked from voting under these new rules than have been convicted of voter fraud in the last nine years”.

“At a time when people already feel disconnected from politics, surely the Government should be making it easier for citizens to participate in democracy not harder,” she added.

Researchers for Fair Elections are also collecting experiences of voters locked out due to the voter ID policy.  

Tom Brake, director of Unlock Democracy, said that the testimonies “demonstrate precisely why photo voter ID must be scrapped”. 

“Far from improving the integrity of our elections, photo voter ID has been highly damaging to our democracy,” he added. “We are calling on all parties to commit to revoking this costly, unnecessary and discriminatory law.”

Labour MP Dawn Butler told Byline Times: “It is obvious that this Tory Government wanted to disenfranchise voters. As a country, we should not be scared of democracy.” She added that ministers want to “hold onto power using whatever they can”. 

Quizzed about how the Electoral Commission would assess the number of voters who turned away before they even got to the polling station because of a lack of voter ID, the Prime Minister’s spokesperson previously said that “there are many reasons people choose to turn away” and that “it’s impossible to measure this with any accuracy”.

The official added that there will be national, representative, public opinion surveys conducted to assess how many people were put off voting by the voter ID requirement. 

Cases of proven personation fraud in Britain according to Electoral Commission data:

Four proven cases of personation since 2019 (inclusive): one conviction and three cautions.

Were you affected by the voter ID legislation in the local elections? Did you witness something that needs highlighting? Get in touch by emailing

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