4.5% of voters without ID apply for certificate

By Martin Ford | 27 April 2023

Less than 5% of people thought to lack valid ID have applied for a voter authority certificate ahead of next week’s elections.

Just 89,502 applications had been made before the deadline  - representing 4.5% of the estimated two million people who do not possess photo ID required to vote in person.

Fears of a last-minute surge that could swamp council staff did not materialise, reaching a national high of 4,877 on the final day.

However, the Association of Electoral Administrators (AEA) has reported a spike in postal vote applications this year, which is thought to be partly linked to the new voter ID rules.

AEA deputy chief executive Laura Lock said: ‘This may, in part, be due to people taking advantage of time away between consecutive bank holiday weekends, but in many areas political parties have been actively promoting absent voting options.’

Concerns remain over staff recruitment - a long-standing trend that has become more acute this year.

Ms Lock added: ‘Recruiting and training replacement staff becomes more problematic this close to polling day and election teams are working incredibly hard to keep numbers up for 4 May.’

Chair of the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee, Clive Betts, has written to Electoral Commission chair John Pullinger to raise his concerns about the accuracy of data collection.

Mr Betts said recording the number of people turned away at the desk - rather than by any greeters outside polling stations - ‘presents a clear risk to the credibility of any recorded data and therefore any assessment of the true impact of voter ID on voter turnout’.

A spokesperson for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said voter ID was necessary to ‘keep our democracy secure’ and ‘prevent the potential for voter fraud,’ and the vast majority of voters already had an accepted form of identification.

They added: ‘The Government has also been working closely with local authorities and other partners to raise awareness, including a widespread public information campaign led by the Electoral Commission.’

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