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Over a Million Voters Risk not Having Voter ID on Election Day in ‘Completely Unacceptable Situation’

“It is clear that voter ID rules are having a disproportionate and damaging impact on our elections and should be scrapped by the next government”

Voters arrive at a polling station in London. Photo: Xinhua/Alamy Live News
Voters arrive at a polling station in London. Photo: Xinhua/Alamy Live News

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Over a million voters risk not having an accepted form of ID when they come to vote next Thursday, with only 57,000 applications being made for Voter Authority Certificates (VACs), the Electoral Reform Society has said.

This General Election is the first to require voter ID, introduced in 2022 under the Conservatives’ Elections Act, leading to fears that hundreds of thousands of voters are going to be turned away. Almost two million voters are estimated not to have an accepted form of ID.  

A survey earlier this month by pollsters WeThink found 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. 

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Government figures to 27 June, show that since the election was called on 22 May, just 57,418 applications for VACs were made. VACs can be used at polling stations as proof of identity by people who do not have any of the accepted forms of ID required to vote.

The deadline for VAC applications was 5pm on 26 June.

The official figures also show that there have been 214,051 applications for VACs since January 2023, when they were introduced. VACs don’t expire but they have a recommended renewal printed on them that is ten years after the date of issue.

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The Electoral Reform Society (ERS) has raised concerns about the ID issue, citing the problems experienced by voters at the 2023 local elections – at least 14,000 people were prevented from casting their vote – and at this year’s local elections. A decorated Afghanistan veteran was unable to use his veteran’s ID card and former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who brought in the law, was also turned away.

The ERS said the issue of veterans’ ID is a particular area where “there could be confusion” as the Government pledged after the local elections to add it to the list of accepted ID, but the Electoral Commission has said new forms of ID won’t be added to the list of acceptable ID for next week’s election.

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Darren Hughes, Chief Executive, for Electoral Reform Society said: “Voting is a fundamental democratic right and one person being stopped from casting their rightful vote is one too many.”

Hughes said the number of VAC applications is “dwarfed by the number of people thought not to possess any of the accepted forms of ID, which means over a million voters risk being locked out of participating in the general election.”

A completely unacceptable situation in a modern democracy. It is clear that voter ID rules are having a disproportionate and damaging impact on our elections and should be scrapped by the next government

Darren Hughes, Chief Executive, for Electoral Reform Society

Byline Times has heard first-hand about the problems facing voters this election through our VoteWatch election survey. Dozens of Brits have detailed issues obtaining ID with some unaware free ID is available.

Danuta Reah, from in Sheffield Hallam told Byline Times: “My granddaughter does not have a driving licence, a passport or an ID card.”

Jenny Symon, from St Helens South, told how her cousin is 19, “so this is the first time they can vote”. She added: “They have recently applied for their first passport but may not be with him in time for July 4.”

An anonymous voter in Torfaen, Wales told us: “I couldn’t afford a passport and don’t drive. [I] had to buy an official ID online.”

Robert Batsford, from St Austell & Newquay (Cornwall) wrote: “My son in law has no driving licence, no passport etc. – and he [gave] up trying to register.”

“I didn’t try [to get ID]. I can’t afford to replace my expired passport, never mind a holiday. I just applied for a postal vote to thwart the Tories’ attempt to prevent me from voting when they introduced their ridiculous scheme,” another anonymous voter said in response to the Byline Times survey.


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Another voter, who didn’t want to provide their name, said they had to “acquire a new and expensive British passport, which I don’t even want”, while a third anonymous voter made the points that “a few people have approached me as they were unaware that the local council could provide a photo id if [it was] applied for in time.”

Hughes added that, “at the very least”, the list of accepted ID should be “drastically expanded to ensure as many voters as possible can cast their ballot” and so there isn’t a repeat of the “farcical scenes earlier this year, where we saw army veterans and even the former Prime Minster who brought the voter ID rules in being caught out at polling stations”.

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