UK elections must remain accessible under new ID rules, says UK watchdog

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The UK Electoral Commission released a report on Wednesday revealing that the requirement to bring a voter ID at local elections in May had created new challenges for UK voters. The commission believes “urgent action” is required to address these issues ahead of the next general election.

Under the Election Act of 2022, UK voters are now required to bring a suitable form of ID to polling stations. This new law was implemented for the first time during local elections in May. A report by the UK Electoral Commission, which reviewed the results of the elections, revealed that 14 000 people had their ballot papers refused because they didn’t bring a valid form of ID to the polls. Only 57 percent knew about the Voter Authority Certificate – a free form of ID that could be used at polling stations. The commission stated that it was important to resolve these issues in time for next year’s general elections, which will be held sometime within the next 16-month period. This is because voter turnout is usually higher during general elections, and there is a threat that more people may be denied an opportunity to participate in the election because they do not have their ID.

In a statement on the issue, Craig Westwood, Director of Communications, Policy and Research at the Electoral Commission, said:

Elections in the UK are well run, and voters have high levels of confidence, but challenges need to be addressed across the system if that is to continue, and if barriers experienced by some voters are to be lifted . . . We are prepared to work with the government and the wider electoral community to address these issues and reduce risks for well-run future elections.