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Ex-Army Officer Who Served in Afghanistan ‘Blocked from Ballot Box’ After Veteran ID Rejected

One ex-Army MP branded the situation “ludicrous” while even Conservatives seemed to despair

Photo: Adam Diver serving in Afghanistan before he left around five years ago

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A decorated former army officer who’s served in Afghanistan and Northern Ireland has been turned away from voting as his veteran photo ID card was refused as ‘unacceptable’. 

Adam Diver, 48, a British Army veteran who was awarded a Meritorious Service Medal (MSM) for his service over 27 years, has now spoken to Byline Times about his ordeal when trying to vote in Thursday’s local elections in Fleetwood, Lancashire. 

The campaigner for veterans – and the first recorded person to swim from England to the Isle of Man – told this outlet: “I was going to vote after dropping the kids off at school…When I arrived at the polling station, there was no one there except the staff.

“One of the staff members said, “What’s this?” and I replied, “It’s my veterans ID.” She then said, “I’m not sure you can use this.””

Diver responded by explaining that he got the ID for his long-standing service in the military. The clerk called another member of station staff over, and “soon there were three of them looking at the card.”

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All of them said “No”, Diver said, indicating that it couldn’t be used. “They were all apologetic, but it was a surreal and strange moment for me,” he told Byline Times

“I felt deflated and invalidated for my service. I still feel rubbish about it, hours later. I served for 27 years, and the staff still said no. I thought if you could use it anywhere, you should be able to use it for voting.

“Initially, I felt angry, but now I just feel deflated. I’m concerned that other veterans might not know about these rules. I run veterans groups and have conversations with them every day,” he added. 

Diver now works with veterans groups to support ex-soldiers. Photo credit: Adam Diver

Former veterans minister Johnny Mercer MP replied on X: “I am sorry about this. The legislation on acceptable forms of ID came out before the veterans ID cards started coming out in January this year. I will do all I can to change it before the next one.” 

Writer James Bloodworth mocked Mercer’s reaction saying: “Help, we gerrymandered the wrong demographic.” 

Diver added that whether he tries again to vote today depends on whether he has the time. “I served in Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Iraq, and Afghanistan. I have a good conduct medal, and I’ve done my time. I would have thought that getting an ID for it meant you could use it.

“I didn’t know there was another process. I had swapped my army ID for the veterans card and assumed it was valid for voting. I left the army in 2019 or 2020 and never thought to question it.”

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Former army major and now Liberal Democrat MP Richard Foord commented that the situation was “ludicrous” and “an example of the damage that the Conservatives’ botched voter ID rules are wreaking.”

“People who’ve served our country should not be barred from exercising their democratic right,” he said. 

A Government spokesperson told Byline Times: “Our intention is for the new Veteran Card, which was rolled out in January 2024, to be added to the official list of recognised identification – and we are already consulting on this. Defence Identity cards for serving Armed Forces members are already accepted.

“The introduction of the requirement to show photographic identification for voting in person across Great Britain is in line with longstanding arrangements in Northern Ireland and elsewhere, and has been recommended by international election watchdogs, including the Electoral Commission.”

The Government says the “vast majority” of voters have acceptable photo ID and can cast their vote. The Elections Act 2022 allows for ministers to add extra forms of recognised identification without needing to pass primary legislation, though the Government has rejected previous requests to expand the list to cover younger voters.

An Electoral Commission spokesperson responded to Adam Diver’s post on social media: “The Ministry of Defence Form 90 (Defence Identity Card) is an accepted form of voter ID. The Ministry of Defence Form 100 is not an accepted form of voter ID. You can find the full list of accepted ID [online]… 

“The Government chose forms of ID which met certain security requirements. Specific questions about why some ID is not accepted is a matter for the UK Government. We are responsible for raising awareness of this change to the law.”

Byline Times needs your help to investigate disinformation and electoral exclusion as we head towards the 2024 General Election.

We’re asking for your help to keep track of dodgy campaigning this election, so if you spot anything that bears investigation, please email us at votewatch24@bylinetimes.com.

Presenter and democracy campaigner Carol Vorderman said the situation was “sad” and added voter ID was a “Conservative scam.” 

“Since 2019 (Inc GE) more Tory MPs [have been] kicked out of parliament due to “misdemeanours” than Voter ID fraud cases,” she said. There was only one proven case of so-called ‘personation’ fraud in the 2019 General Election. Eighteen MPs are currently suspended for a variety of alleged misdeeds. 

Ipswich Conservative MP Tom Hunt was forced to beg for someone to cast a proxy vote on his behalf after forgetting his ID, according to a leaked WhatsApp. He told the Mirror: “I’m a dyspraxic MP…one of the top characteristics is unfortunately we just tend to lose things from time-to-time…when you’ve got a complicated life split between two places it makes it challenging.”

MP and ex-Conservative cabinet minister Jacob Rees-Mogg has previously admitted voter ID was a “gerrymandering” scheme designed to help the Conservative party – while adding that it had potentially “backfired” due to older people sometimes lacking identification. 


Spotted something strange or face issues voting in the local elections? Fill in our VoteWatch survey. If you have a political story or tip-off, email josiah@bylinetimes.com.

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Josiah Mortimer also writes the On the Ground column, exclusive to the print edition of Byline Times.

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