Voters required to show ID in anti-ballot fraud scheme trial

Voters may soon have to show ID before casting their ballot Credit: PA
  • Video report by ITV News Deputy Political Editor Chris Ship

Voters will have to show proof of identification before they are allowed to vote in a pilot scheme aimed at reducing electoral fraud.

The scheme is to be introduced in certain trial areas in 2018, before a decision is taken on whether to roll out the measure to the whole country.

Under the new rules, voters in the chosen pilot areas will be required to bring ID to prove who they are before voting, something that is already a requirement in Northern Ireland.

In other measures to reduce electoral fraud, election officials and police will be given new powers to tackle intimidation of voters by activists.

And political activists will be banned from collecting postal votes for submission, a practice known as "harvesting".

Constitution minister Chris Skidmore said the new measures "will protect anyone who is at risk of being bullied, undermined or tricked out of their vote - and their democratic right".

The reforms, which are supported by the independent Electoral Commission, were among recommendations contained in a report in August by former cabinet minister Sir Eric Pickles.

The report was commissioned in the aftermath of the mayoral ballot in the east London borough of Tower Hamlets, which was overturned in 2015 over a number of corrupt and illegal practices.

Different council areas will trial different types of photo ID including driving licences, passports or utility bills to prove addresses.

But the government has ruled out the creation of a new form of photo ID for voting.

Electoral Reform Society chief executive Katie Ghose said: "While we should take all instances of voter fraud very seriously where they occur, mandatory voter ID is a sledgehammer to crack a nut. The Government should think very carefully before introducing barriers to voting.

"There is simply no evidence to suggest that electoral fraud is widespread across the UK. Where it has occurred it has been isolated and should be tackled locally.

"Raising barriers to democratic participation could just put people off voting - and evidence from the US shows that it's generally those already most excluded from the political process that are worst affected by strict ID laws.

"The Government should think again and look at all the evidence on voter ID before deciding to use this blunt instrument."