UK to make voters’ ID mandatory in local polls
London: British voters will have to present ID proof at polling stations during local elections as part of the government’s effort to crack down on electoral fraud, the media reported on Tuesday.
Chris Skidmore, British Minister for the Constitution, announced the trials would start from 2018, said a report in the Independent.
The move for more stringent controls at the ballot box comes in response to a government-commissioned report by Eric Pickles, the “anti-corruption champion” and former communities secretary.
While there is already a requirement for the public in Northern Ireland to present photographic ID before they vote, no such procedures exist in the rest of Britain.
Pickles suggested in his report that a driving licence, passport or utility bill “would not seem unreasonable to establish identity”.
The independent Electoral Commission has for long been advocate of introducing ID at polling stations in Britain, previously warning that electoral fraud has the “potential to undermine confidence in the electoral system if not addressed”.
Other recommendations accepted by the government include considering how “nationality checking” may be used to prevent false registrations, requiring electors to re-apply for postal votes every three years and ending the “dubious practise of postal vote harvesting” by political activists.
In order to eradicate intimidation of the public at the ballot box, Pickles also recommended that the government provide powers so that the police can establish cordons sanitaires at polling stations where necessary.
Although the scale of voter fraud is not thought to be widespread, the Cabinet Office said it was planning to bring forward new guidance for electoral registration officers who conduct the polls.
“The government’s view is that electoral fraud is unacceptable on any level. I want to protect the right of everyone to have their say and participate in our democracy,” said Skidmore.
“The new measures we are announcing on Tuesday will protect anyone who is at risk of being bullied, undermined or tricked out of their vote – and their democratic right,” he added.
Claire Bassett, Chief Executive of the Electoral Commission, welcomed the government’s announcement of its intention to pilot measures to increase security at polling stations.