Voter ID - Commons Urgent Question

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 11:50 am on 3 May 2023.

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The following Answer to an Urgent Question was given in the House of Commons on Thursday 27 April.

“It is vital that we keep our democracy secure. This Government stood on a manifesto commitment not only to protect the integrity of our elections but to enhance it. On that basis, this Government won a majority. We have introduced legislation to implement that commitment and we are now in the process of delivering on our promise. Voter identification is central to protecting our electoral system from the potential for voting fraud. Its implementation at the local elections next week brings the rest of the UK in line with Northern Ireland, where people have had to bring photographic ID to vote in elections since 2003. I remind the honourable Member for Cardiff West (Kevin Brennan), who is chuntering from a sedentary position, that that legislation was introduced by the then Labour Government under direct rule.

The data collection processes for polling stations are set out clearly in the Elections Act 2022 and the Voter Identification Regulations 2022. Polling station staff will record details of any electors turned away—should there be any—for the purposes of complaints or legal challenges and, in the short term, to provide data to evaluate the policy, which will be conducted by the Government and the Electoral Commission in line with the legislation that was voted on, debated and passed by this House.

The Electoral Commission has published suggested templates of the necessary forms and has updated its guidance in the polling station handbook to reflect the new processes. As required by legislation, the Government will publish a number of reports on the impact of the voter identification policy. Our intention is that the first of those reports will be published no later than November 2023. The data collected will be a significant part of that evaluation.

There are few tasks more important in public life, as I am sure every member of a political party represented in this House and the general public would agree, than maintaining the British public’s trust in the sanctity of the ballot box in our democratic processes. We on the Government Benches take that duty very seriously. I look forward to our first experience of the policy in polling stations in Great Britain on 4 May.”