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Electoral Integrity

Volume 645: debated on Thursday 19 July 2018

Today, the Cabinet Office published its evaluation and it shows that Bromley, Gosport, Swindon, Watford and Woking delivered successful voter ID pilots. We know that because the evidence shows that the majority of voters who turned up to vote without ID returned later with ID without problem. When surveyed, polling station staff overwhelmingly judged that they had been able to successfully deliver the ID requirements in their polling stations, with 99% satisfaction rates among administrators in four of the five local authorities—Bromley, Swindon, Woking and Gosport—and 97% in the fifth, Watford.

Locally issued ID was made available free of charge whenever an elector was unsure they were able to produce the required ID. In one local authority, this was issued to 10 people who were homeless. They were also able to use the ID to register at the local jobcentre. The amount of voters who felt the security of elections improved increased consistently in the areas where electors had to show photographic ID. Confidence and satisfaction in the process of voting itself significantly increased post-election day where voters had to show photographic ID.

Overall, voters’ views of election day were largely positive across all of the pilots and the main reason for not voting was that people were too busy or had other commitments.

Alongside the Government’s evaluation, the Electoral Commission will publish their evaluation on the voter ID pilots today.

Peterborough, Slough and Tower Hamlets tested additional measures to improve the security and integrity of the postal vote process and ensured that additional guidance on preventing electoral fraud was given to every postal vote applicant. The local authorities found value in the pilot as an elector engagement exercise, given the positive feedback they received from electors in reaction to being contacted.

Electoral fraud is not a victimless crime. We owe it to voters to ensure they know their voices are being heard and their right to vote is being protected. We have worked with the Electoral Commission and Crimestoppers to support the “Your vote is yours alone” campaign that ran alongside the local elections to encourage the reporting of suspected electoral crime.

The improvement we will make to the security and integrity of our voting process in Great Britain will bring us in line with many other countries where voters provide confirmation of their identity and where there is a reasonable expectation that someone’s vote should be properly protected and that doing so guards democracy and confidence for everyone.

Indeed, within the United Kingdom, the experience of Northern Ireland, where paper ID has been required since 1985 and photo ID since 2003, illustrates that there should be no issue for voters—once the requirement has become established.

I am absolutely clear that requiring voter ID in polling stations is a timely and reasonable measure that will sustain confidence in our voting process and we are inviting expressions of interest from local authorities to run further pilots at the local government elections in May 2019.

We are committed to improving the security of everyone’s votes, strengthening our elections and ensuring that people have confidence in our democracy, while putting equality and inclusivity at the centre of our electoral system.