Valid photo ID is a must if you want to vote in 2024 General Election

Last week the Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak announced the long speculated disillusion of Parliament and the much-anticipated General Election will take place on the 4th of July 2024. Many political pundits have already spoken on the historic nature of this particular General Election, which will either result in the largest majority an opposition party has been awarded, or one of the greatest electoral come backs in history. Yet what is often disregarded is perhaps the most important historical first, that this will be the first General Election that will require voters to present a valid photo ID in order to be allowed to vote.

Introduced as part of the Elections Act of 2022 during Boris Johnson’s tenure as Prime Minister, the law has created new regulations surrounding the conduct of Britain’s electoral system, photo IDs being a key part of this. This act also to a lesser extent puts an end to the Fixed Terms Parliaments Act of 2011, which would have otherwise required the Prime Minister to call for the upcoming election on January 5th 2025 after its five year fixed term expired, but as has been demonstrated this is no longer legally binding. More importantly though, not having a valid photo ID will prevent you from voting in this coming election, which is why we should familiarise ourselves with the new procedure.

For some of us we already know how this works, as the new regulation was recently tested in a series of local elections on the 2nd May, with varying levels of success. The Electoral Commission having reported, “that awareness of the need to bring ID was high and that 0.25% of voters who tried to vote at a polling station in May 2023 were not able to because of the voter ID requirement, equivalent to about 14,000 people. It also found that around 4% of non-voters said they did not vote because of the ID requirement.” Yet this was at a local election, which saw an average turnout of 20%-30%, less than 10% in some specific areas, so this margin for error could become significant at an election potentially involving over 50 million voters.

So to be clear, you will require a valid photo ID to be presented to the poll clerk before you’re issued with a ballot paper. The following IDs will be accepted:

  • A passport issued by the UK, any of the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, a British Overseas Territory, an EEA state or a Commonwealth country (including an Irish Passport Card)
  • A driving license issued by the UK, any of the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man or an EEA state
  • A biometric immigration document
  • An identity card bearing the Proof of Age Standards Scheme hologram (a PASS card)
  • A Ministry of Defense Form 90 (Defense Identity Card)
  • A Blue Badge
  • A national identity card issued by an EEA state
  • An Older Person’s Bus Pass
  • A Disabled Person’s Bus Pass
  • An Oyster 60+ Card
  • A Freedom Pass
  • A Scottish National Entitlement Card issued in Scotland
  • A 60 and Over Welsh Concessionary Travel Card issued in Wales
  • A Disabled Person’s Welsh Concessionary Travel Card issued in Wales
  • A Senior SmartPass issued in Northern Ireland
  • A Registered Blind SmartPass or Blind Person’s SmartPass issued in Northern Ireland
  • A War Disablement SmartPass or War Disabled SmartPass issued in Northern Ireland
  • A 60+ SmartPass issued in Northern Ireland
  • A Half Fare SmartPass issued in Northern Ireland
  • An Electoral Identity Card issued in Northern Ireland
  • A Voter Authority Certificate or a temporary Voter Authority Certificate

It should also be noted that even if any of the listed IDs you posses are out of date they can still be accepted by the poll Clark so long as they are an officially recognised ID and bear a similar likeness.

If you do turn up at your polling station without a valid ID, not only will you be prevented from voting, you will not be allowed to leave the premises until you have filled out a form detailing the reasons why you didn’t have an ID – which is a hassle for yourself and the poll clerks working there.

According to the government this new regulation is intended to strengthen the integrity of the vote by preventing cases of fraud, ignoring the fact that the Electoral Commission reported only 164 alleged cases of fraud in the 2019 General Election, with only one been investigated by the Derbyshire Police going to trial, which is a rate of fraud of 0.00000345%.

The Truth is that this law is sadly another Americanised import that UK politicians seem desperate to make the norm. Thankfully they have encountered a larger degree of democratic resistance amongst Britain’s political institutions, hence why the list of accepted ID’s is so thorough and not restricted to just driver’s licences or passports, which disproportionally prevents the young, the poor and the old from voting. Nevertheless this is still a dangerous precedent to set as it’s now the Home Office’s responsibility to determine which IDs are accepted to not, engineering a circumstance where one by one each of the accepted IDs could stuck off until eventually only a voter ID card issued by the government is allowed.

In this respect it is also important to ask your local candidates to reverse this requirement otherwise we could see the death of universal suffrage by a government which at some point in the future would be fully able to choose who can vote or not.

William Kelly is a Politics and International Relations student at Liverpool Hope University