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ID checks to be announced for voters

21/12/16

Ministers expected to accept almost all recommendations of Pickles report on electoral fraud

Ministers are expected to back proposals for polling stations in Britain to require voters to produce identification, media sources apparently briefed by the Government have reported.

An announcement is expected in the new year that the government intends to accept nearly all the recommendations of a report by former communities secretary Eric Pickles into electoral fraud.

In August, Pickles’ report called for “proportional” efforts to require identification following the discovery of widespread fraud in the Tower Hamlets mayoral election. He recommended: “The Government should consider the options for electors to have to produce personal identification before voting at polling stations. There is no need to be over-elaborate; measures could enhance public confidence and be proportional.”

Practical solution

Producing a driving licence, passport or utility bills “would not seem unreasonable to establish identity,” Pickles said. “The Government may wish to pilot different methods. But the present system is unsatisfactory; perfection must not get in the way of a practical solution.”

Ministers are reportedly unsure whether the new identity measures will require legislation. Voters in Northern Ireland must already show ID to vote and a voluntary elector ID card is available to those who do not have access to other forms of identification. The Electoral Commission has proposed a plan to introduce ID checks at polling stations which would cost between £1.8 million and £10.8 million.

At the time of the report, the Electoral Reform Society described Pickles’s proposals as “using a sledgehammer to crack a nut” and said they could reduce turnout. However, with an increasing enthusiasm for identity verification emerging from Theresa May’s government, such concerns are likely to be passed over.

 

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