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Telegraph Columnist Says Voter ID Issue ‘Just Bonkers’ After his Wife was Told to Return With Marriage Certificate Before She Could Vote

Discrepancies between married names and maiden names on IDs caused problems for some voters, but not others on Thursday – suggesting the rules were not applied consistently

New voter ID laws require voters to bring photographic ID to the polling booth. Photo: Stephen Frost / Alamy
New mandatory ID laws require voters to bring photographic ID to the polling booth. Photo: Stephen Frost/Alamy

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Voting in the local elections was a lottery for some across the country on Thursday due to ID checks at polling booths, with even the former Prime Minister caught out.

Boris Johnson – who introduced the mandatory requirement when he was in office – was turned away after showing up without his ID. Meanwhile, Conservative MP Tom Hunt had to apply for an emergency proxy vote.

As Byline Times reported, Adam Driver, a decorated former Army officer who served in Afghanistan and Northern Ireland, was also turned away as his veteran photo ID was deemed “unacceptable”. Another voter, Matt Dix, from Leeds, couldn’t vote because a volunteer did not recognise him from his ID as he had since grown a beard, this newspaper reported.

It appears, having spoken to numerous voters across the country, that voter ID legislation is being interpreted differently at different polling stations.

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Another person to have raised concerns – in a story indicative of the problems around the introduction of mandatory voter ID – is Telegraph columnist Jim White.

The writer’s wife, Arabella, had trouble voting because her maiden name, Warner, appears on some documents – such as her driving licence – but her married name, White, appears on others, including her voter registration form. Mrs Warner was told at Oxford City Centre that her ID wasn’t acceptable and that she could not vote unless she returned with her marriage certificate.

Mr White told Byline Times: “So you’ve got to go and dig your marriage certificate out! If this is the voter fraud that they’re trying to stop, it seems very bizarre and I thought that this must be happening a lot.

“There must be loads of women who use their maiden name for some things and their married name for others. I know for my wife it was a pain in the arse at [our children’s] school, and for medical stuff, having a different name from her children – so she would use her married name for that.

“I just think that nobody thought this through. It just seems bonkers.”

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Mrs Warner added: “The chap was very nice and, when he’d finished asking the questions, suggested that I should go to the town hall and get my name changed on the voter registration. He said I should do it quickly because ‘there’s going to be another election soon’.”

She told Byline Times that, when she returned to vote later in the day, she spoke with the same official who informed her that he had “raised the issue with (the) main election organiser who was popping into polling stations seeing if there were any problems”.

Mrs Warner added: “When he had told them what had happened, they said ‘another one’.”

Married names caused friction for another voter down the road in Banbury, but she was allowed to vote without producing a marriage certificate – again, suggesting that the rules around voter ID are being interpreted differently according to location.

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Charlotte, who declined to give her surname, had to answer some questions but was then allowed to vote. She explained what happened to Byline Times, saying: “I had my polling card in my maiden, name not my married name, and I showed them my ID in my married name, and they said that was fine.”

Tellers at Orchard Community Centre polling station told this newspaper that they had to see a likeness between the ID and the voter in case of a discrepancy between the married and maiden name – which was in contrast to the New Inn Hall Street polling station in Oxford which insisted that Mrs Warner produce a marriage certificate.

Another problem highlighted on the day was that of voters who had sent their ID off to complete paperwork.

Frankie, a teacher due to start a new job and undergoing a DBS check, had no other form of photo ID as she did not have her passport to hand. She was unable to vote.

“I understand the reasoning [behind voter ID] in terms of fraudulent votes, but statically speaking the number of fraudulent votes is so low considering most people don’t feel strongly enough to turn out and, actually, it does just feel like the people’s voice is being squashed in any way possible,” she told Byline Times.

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