Proof of identity should be required from voters before they can vote at a polling station, just as people provide ID to collect a parcel, Electoral Commission Chair Sir John Holmes has said. His comments came ahead of trials of such a new rule at five councils at forthcoming local elections in England on May 3: Bromley, Gosport, Swindon, Watford and Woking. Concerns about disfranchisement of people who did not have passports and driving licences could be addressed through the introduction of a free elector’s card with photo, as already used in Northern Ireland, throughout the rest of the UK, Sir John told the annual conference of the Association of Electoral Administrators in Blackpool.
He estimated some 3.5 million people did not currently have photo ID and the cost of extending the elector’s card would be £3 million.
“I want to stress that we have been pressing for this change not because we believe that personation is necessarily a major problem now. But the opportunity for fraud of this kind is clearly there and it is very hard to detect,” Sir John said.