The UK Government is to pilot schemes in which voters will have to present identification before casting their ballots in elections. Should these be successful, the reform will be rolled out ready for the 2020 General Election.
The move follows a report by former Communities Secretary, Sir Eric Pickles, which explored voter fraud. The report was described by the Electoral Reform Society as a “sledgehammer to crack a nut.”
As part of the checks, voters will be made to produce a document such as a driving licence, passport, or utility bill to prove their identity. Currently, such ID checks are undertaken in Northern Ireland and in other countries across the world. There are concerns, however, that the change could mean creating an additional barrier to voting, particularly if voters do not have such forms of identification.
The Electoral Commission have welcomed the announcement and have said they have proposals for ‘voter cards’ as a form of identification which they estimate will cost between £1.8 million to £10 million to implement.
The recommendation for voter IDs was welcomed by WebRoots Democracy earlier this year, as “some safeguard in this area is better than no safeguard at all.”