To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what recent discussions he has had with (a) Age UK and (b) other organisations representing older people and people with dementia on the potential effect of introducing mandatory voter ID on the ability of such groups of people to be able to vote.
Requiring proof of identity to vote in a polling station will strengthen the integrity of our electoral system, and give the public confidence that our elections are secure and fit for the 21st century.
Both Electoral Commission and Cabinet Office evaluations show that the voter identification pilots were a success and the overwhelming majority of electors cast their vote without a problem. There was no indication that any consistent demographic was adversely affected by asking for identification to vote.
Photo identification has been required in Northern Ireland since 2003, when introduced by the last Labour Government. Labour Ministers told Parliament: “The measures will tackle electoral abuse effectively without disadvantaging honest voters.... [ensuring that] no one is disfranchised because of them ” (Hansard, 10 July 2001, Col. 739) and “the Government have no intention of taking away people’s democratic right to vote. If we believed that thousands of voters would not be able to vote because of this measure, we would not be introducing it at this time” (Lords Hansard, 1 April 2003, Col. 1247). There has been no adverse effect on turnout or participation by such groups since then.
The Government has taken due regard to the public sector equality duty. We will continue to work with the Electoral Commission and other stakeholders including charities and civil society organisations to make sure that such reforms are inclusive for all voters. I have met with charities representing those who are elderly, suffer from dementia, are LGBTQ+, are BAME and other groups. For any voter who does not have one of the required forms of photographic ID, a local elector ID will be available, free of charge, from their local authority.
ID is already requested normally and reasonably in many areas of life, including by many constituency Labour parties, who require voter identification to vote in Labour Party selection meetings. The Labour Party’s NEC also mandates two forms of ID for any members joining an association which is in special measures.