Green Party Councillor Ellie Chowns has spoken out about her concerns regarding the upcoming local elections on May 4, which is the first elections in England to require voters to present photo ID.
Chowns called the decision “horrendous” and believes it will exclude many people from the democratic process.
“I think it’s going to really exclude many, many people,” said Cllr Chowns. “As I understand it, you can use an older person’s bus pass, but you can’t use a young person’s bus pass. It seems fundamentally unfair, and what we’re trying to do when we’re out door knocking is reminding people that they’ll have to take photo ID to the polling booth.”
She believes that the new requirement is just another barrier that has been put in place to prevent people from exercising their democratic right.
She added: “There’s absolutely no evidence that there was any issue or problem with the previous voting system,” she said. “I think there were lots of issues with the overall electoral system that we’ve got, not least that it’s first past the post.”
The Green Party councillor also pointed out the financial barriers that could prevent people from obtaining the necessary ID, making voting easier and more convenient to people with more money and time.
Chowns agrees that the requirement could suppress the votes of younger people who are less likely to have the necessary ID: “That case has been strongly made, and I think that it certainly very much risks suppressing the votes, particularly of younger people who are less likely to have the ID required.”
Herefordshire Council have released a video reminding all potential voters that from May 4, 2023, voters in England will need to show photo ID to vote at polling stations in some elections.
This will apply to: local elections, police and crime commissioner elections, UK parliamentary by-elections, and recall petitions.
From October 2023 it will also apply to UK General elections.
If you don’t have accepted photo ID, you can apply for a free voter ID document, which is known as a voter authority certificate. Find out more about accepted forms of photo ID, how to apply for a free voter authority certificate, and what to expect on polling day. Information about the voter ID rules can be found on the electoral commission website.