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Large Numbers of Brits are Still Misinformed About Voter ID – and It Could See Them Blocked from the Ballot Box

Exclusive polling reveals that four-in-ten voters wrongly believe they will just need a polling card in order to vote in the general election

People voting at a local election in the UK in May 2023. Photo: : PAL News / Alamy
If people don’t bring an accepted form of photo ID with them to a polling station they won’t be able to vote. PAL News / Alamy

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A common misconception among UK voters could see thousands blocked from having their say on July 4, exclusive new polling for Byline Times reveals.

The survey, conducted by pollsters WeThink, reveals that more than four in ten – 44% – of adults in Britain believe that presenting a polling card alone would be sufficient to cast their vote under the UK’s new voter ID rules. 

If they don’t bring an accepted form of photo ID, they would be turned away on polling day. 

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

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The poll also highlights a generational divide in voter awareness. Among those under the age of 40, the majority – 62% – wrongly assume that a polling card will suffice, compared to just 32% of those aged 40 and above. The disparity suggests that younger voters, many of whom may be participating in their first election, are most at risk of being turned away from voting.  

Labour voters appear most at risk of being turned away over the polling card issue. While 29% of Conservative voters wrongly believe a polling card is a sufficient ID to vote, that rises to 52% of Labour voters. Labour officials have been pushing postal votes in recent weeks, potentially to skirt around ID issues.

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As the election draws closer, political parties and election officials are scrambling to educate the public about the necessary identification documents. The Electoral Commission is spending large sums on social media ads alerting people to the photo ID requirements, the first time they have been imposed in a General Election. 

The poll also delved into other key aspects of the upcoming election, including voter trust in political parties and the likelihood of tactical voting. 

When asked which party they trusted more to protect democracy in the UK, 36% of respondents chose the Labour Party, while 17% picked the Conservatives. 

Tactical voting, the strategy where voters support a candidate they wouldn’t typically back to prevent a “lesser evil” from being elected, appears to be surging this election too. 

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The poll finds that 36% of respondents would consider voting for a party other than their first choice to prevent another party from winning in their constituency. This trend was particularly prominent among Liberal Democrat (50%) and Green Party (53%) supporters. The figure is lower – 42% – for Reform UK supporters, who might otherwise be seen as “tactical” Conservative voters. 

Other key findings:

The voter ID rules – which Jacob Rees-Mogg MP has admitted were a form of ‘gerrymandering’ to bolster the governing party – currently exclude several forms of ID used by young people, including Young Persons’ Railcards and some forms of student ID.


Accepted forms of photo ID

You can use any of the following accepted forms of photo ID when voting at a polling station. You will only need to show one form of photo ID, but it needs to be the original version, and not a photocopy or a digital version, the Electoral Commission website notes.


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