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Government commits to new round of voter ID pilots at next local elections

Steps to boost confidence in our democratic process and safeguard elections against fraud have been set out under plans to extend the requirement to show ID when voting.

The decision builds on a manifesto commitment to improve the security and resilience of the electoral system and follows successful pilots by five councils during the local elections in May, which found people were supportive of having to show ID before voting.

Minister for the Constitution, Chloe Smith MP, said:

“The success of the voter ID pilots proves that this is a reasonable and proportionate measure and voters were fully aware of the changes on polling day.

“We plan to continue to pilot ID at next year’s local elections so we can explore further what works best for voters. I encourage councils to get involved and work with us to pilot in their area to help us promote greater confidence in our democratic processes.

“Our evaluation shows that the overwhelming majority of electors who turned up to vote did so with the right documents and had confidence in knowing how to cast their vote.”

An evaluation of the pilots, published by the government today (Thursday, 19 July), found turnout was unaffected, and the main reason for not voting was that people were too busy or had other commitments.

Instead confidence in knowing how to cast a vote increased post election day in Woking, which asked voters to bring photographic ID, and in Watford where a poll card had to be shown.

Satisfaction with the process of voting also increased in Woking and in Gosport where electors could bring photographic or non-photographic ID.

When surveyed, polling station staff across the pilot authorities agreed or strongly agreed that they had successfully delivered the ID requirements in their polling stations (99% of cases in Woking, Bromley, Gosport, and Swindon, 97% of cases in Watford).

Together these findings confirm the government’s assessment that the current situation of people simply pointing out their name without having to prove who they are during elections is out of date as it remains harder to take out a library book or collect a parcel at a post office than it is to vote in someone’s name.

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