Voters will now have to produce photo ID before casting their votes at elections.
The Electoral Commission has launched a public awareness campaign urging voters across England to ensure they are ready for the changes now in place for voting. This comes into force on May 04 this year, in time for the local elections.
It will then be a legal requirement for people in England and Wales to show their identification at polling stations across the country.
Broadly the new law will apply to those eligible to vote in local elections, Police and Crime Commissioner elections, UK parliamentary by-elections, and recall petitions, and from October this year it will also be mandatory for UK General elections.
Craig Westwood, Director of Communications at the Electoral Commission, said: “May’s elections may seem a distant thought, but it is worth voters taking note of the changes now, and checking they have appropriate ID. That way, when polling day arrives, all they must do is remember to bring it.
“Those who don’t have an accepted form of ID will shortly be able to apply for free ID. We are working closely with local authorities and civil society organisations to support those less likely to have ID, so that nobody misses the opportunity to have their say.”
Accepted forms of Photo ID will include passports and driving licenses issued in the UK: any of the Channel Islands; the Isle of Man; or an EEA state; most types of local travel pass; a Blue Badge; identity cards bearing the Proof of Age Standards Scheme (PASS) hologram; and several other government issued documents.
It is being advised, however, that only one form of ID will need to be shown, but it must be the original version, not a photocopy.
The Electoral Commission states on their website that if whichever form of photo identification is used is out of date, it will still be acceptable if it still resembles the person presenting it, and the name must match the one registered to vote.
They also advised that if the voter does not have ‘an accepted form of photo ID’ or does not feel comfortable with their ID they can apply for a free voter ID document, known as a Voter Authority Document. In this case, if the person is registered to vote, this can be obtained by contacting their local authority or calling 0800 328 0280 for an application form.
Mr Westwood added: “Our campaign aims to build awareness of the change amongst voters and remind them to bring ID on polling day. Those seeking more information on accepted forms of ID and the free ID should visit the Commission’s website for more information.”