Voters will need to show photographic ID in order to vote in person at polling stations at May’s Leeds City Council elections.
Following the introduction of the Elections Act, which was passed by the government last year, anyone wishing to vote at a polling station will need to have a form of accepted photo ID to show to be able to vote.
This requirement comes into effect starting with the local elections in Leeds on Thursday 4 May, and will also be a requirement for any future general elections which take place after October 2023.
There are worries the move could leave thousands of people disenfranchised, with Labour and the Liberal Democrats nationally calling for a delay and say the scheme is likely to disfranchise large numbers of people at a time voter impersonation – the offence it is intended to counter – is barely a problem.
A government spokesperson argued against complacency when it comes to ensuring the country’s democracy remains secure. They said everyone eligible to vote will have the opportunity to do so and 98% of electors already have an accepted form of identification.
Leeds Council is today urging people to make sure they have an accepted form of ID. These include a UK, European Economic Area (EEA) or Commonwealth passport; a UK or EEA drivers’ licence; and some concessionary travel passes, such as an older person’s bus pass or an Oyster 60+ card. Voters will be able to use expired ID if they are still recognisable from the photo.
Leeds residents who do not have one of the accepted forms of ID can now apply for one for free online via electoralcommission.org.uk/voterID or by completing a paper form.
In-person applications can also now be taken at community hubs and libraries across Leeds. This can be undertaken without the need for an appointment, but anyone wishing to apply this way will need to ensure they have their National Insurance number with them. For more information on the local support available visit www.leeds.gov.uk/your-council/elections/voter-id.
The deadline for Voter ID applications to be able to vote in person at the local elections in May is 5pm on Tuesday, 25 April 2023.
This new requirement currently only covers those who wish to vote in person at a polling station or through a proxy in person, it does not affect those who vote by post.
Elections Returning Officer and chief executive of Leeds City Council Tom Riordan said “With this change coming into force at the local elections in May, we would encourage everyone who intends to vote in person at a polling station to check and make sure they have an acceptable form of ID, so they avoid the risk of having problems or being turned away on election day.
“If you don’t currently have a form of ID which will be accepted, you can apply for one for free via electoralcommission.org.uk/voterID. Applying early will help us have everything ready in time for May’s local elections. It is important to make clear this is only for those who wish to vote in person on the day, and anyone who votes by post does not need to do anything differently.”
More information about the change can be seen on the Electoral Commission’s website at electoralcommission.org.uk/voterID.