Voter Identification

Speaker’s Committee on the Electoral Commission – in the House of Commons on 17th November 2022.

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Photo of Owen Thompson Owen Thompson SNP Chief Whip

If the Commission will publish guidance for returning officers on the implementation of the Voter Identification Regulations 2022.

Photo of Vicky Foxcroft Vicky Foxcroft Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions)

What discussions the Committee has had with the Electoral Commission on the publication of guidance for returning officers on the implementation of the Voter Identification Regulations 2022.

Photo of Cat Smith Cat Smith Labour, Lancaster and Fleetwood

The commission will publish guidance for electoral administrators on the implementation of the voter ID requirements in phases over the next three months. It was unable to publish detailed guidance before the introduction of secondary legislation, which has been subject to significant delays but is now before the House. It published initial guidance on planning for the implementation of the Elections Act 2022 in August; further detailed guidance will follow on voter ID, which will cover the application process for the free voter authority certificate and polling station processes. It will publish a handbook for polling station staff in early 2023.

Photo of Owen Thompson Owen Thompson SNP Chief Whip

Although it is encouraging that the legislation has finally been produced, the delays were clearly lengthy, which has had an impact. We all want to see the smooth running of any elections, so I ask the representative of the Speaker’s Committee what consideration it has given to the impact of the delays in the legislation and the effect that will have on administrators of elections and voters themselves.

Photo of Cat Smith Cat Smith Labour, Lancaster and Fleetwood

The commission has highlighted that delays to secondary legislation leave limited time for electoral administrators to implement new voter ID processes and for voters to ensure that they have acceptable forms of ID. Delays increase the risk of ineffective or inconsistent implementation, which could affect public confidence in elections. The commission will run an advertising campaign and work with local authorities and partners to ensure that voters are aware of the ID requirement and what they need be able to do to vote, but it reports that delays to the legislation have had an impact on its work.

Photo of Vicky Foxcroft Vicky Foxcroft Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions)

In response to voter ID pilots in 2018 and 2019, the Electoral Commission found that some groups might find it harder than others to provide photo ID, such as the millions of people living with a disability. Has the committee carried out an equality impact assessment of the voter ID regulations to ensure that these groups are not being excluded?

Photo of Cat Smith Cat Smith Labour, Lancaster and Fleetwood

The commission’s research has identified groups, including some disabled voters, who are less likely to have an approved form of voter ID or may need additional support to navigate the voter ID requirement. It is working with the electoral community and partners, including the Royal National Institute of Blind People, Mencap and Disability Rights UK, to reach disabled voters to ensure that they understand what they need to do to be able to vote. Understanding the impact of policies on different parts of society is essential. It is, however, for the Government to assess the impact of their own policies. The commission understands that the Government have carried out an equality impact assessment on the voter ID provisions.