Rural councils should get the chance to influence voter ID rollout

By Paul Shevlin | 16 January 2019

Craven DC has been asked by the Government whether it would be interested in applying to take part in a voter ID pilot during its next local elections on Thursday 2 May.

This would mean all voters would be asked to produce proof of identity in order to be able to vote.

The concept of voter ID has been controversial, but evaluation of pilots in 2018 has found that turnout was unaffected and satisfaction with the process of voting increased in a number of places.

My belief is that a voter ID pilot in Craven would allow our district to shape the way voter ID is rolled out nationally, as is likely to happen in the future.

It’s important that rural authorities such as ours get the opportunity to influence the process. We are currently carrying out a consultation with our residents to find out their views on the pilot. While this consultation has yet to conclude, the majority of respondents so far are in favour of the pilot going ahead.

However, we are still gathering responses and consulting with members before making a final decision.

If we did run a pilot, residents would need to provide either one form of photo ID or two forms of non-photo ID, one of which could be a poll card at the polling station before they were able to vote.

We would provide alternative methods of ID free of charge to individuals who do not have the correct ID, ensuring that everyone who is registered has the opportunity to vote.

I understand not everybody will be happy with the concept of voter ID and there will be concerns that it will prevent people from voting. However, there is a clear direction of travel from Government on this and we must accept it.

These pilots, due to take place across 11 local authorities this year, will help provide an insight into the best way to ensure the integrity of the voting process in the future.

Paul Shevlin is chief executive of Craven DC

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