Today is the deadline to apply for emergency photo ID for local May elections: Here's how to apply

A polling station sign Credit: PA

Wednesday marks the final day anyone without the correct form of photo ID to take part in next week’s local, mayoral and police commissioner elections can apply.

Every voter in England and Wales will be able to cast a ballot in at least one type of election on May 2.

But only certain kinds of photo identification will be accepted at polling stations and those without the correct ID will be turned away.

The widespread use of photo ID at elections was introduced in May 2023, it meant 14,000 people were not able to vote because they could not show an accepted form of photo ID, according to the Electoral Commission.

People who do not have any of the right forms of ID need to apply for a voter authority certificate by 5pm on Wednesday.

Which forms of ID will be accepted at polling stations?

Various forms of photographic ID in different categories will be accepted. Anyone without eligible ID can apply for a free voter ID document, known as a Voter Authority Certificate, here or by contacting their local council.

You will only need to show one of the following forms of photo ID. You must present the original version and not a photocopy.

  • Passport issued by the UK, any of the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, a British Overseas Territory, an EEA state or a Commonwealth country

  • Driving licence issued by the UK, any of the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, or an EEA state (this includes a provisional driving licence)

  • A Blue Badge

  • Older Person’s Bus Pass

  • Disabled Person’s Bus Pass

  • Oyster 60+ Card

  • Freedom Pass

  • Scottish National Entitlement Card

  • 60 and Over Welsh Concessionary Travel Card

  • Disabled Person’s Welsh Concessionary Travel Card

  • Senior SmartPass issued in Northern Ireland

  • Registered Blind SmartPass or Blind Person’s SmartPass issued in Northern Ireland

  • War Disablement SmartPass issued in Northern Ireland

  • 60+ SmartPass issued in Northern Ireland

  • Half Fare SmartPass issued in Northern Ireland

  • Identity card bearing the Proof of Age Standards Scheme hologram (a PASS card)

  • Biometric immigration document

  • Ministry of Defence Form 90 (Defence Identity Card)

  • National identity card issued by an EEA state

  • Electoral Identity Card issued in Northern Ireland

  • Voter Authority Certificate

  • Anonymous Elector's Document

Voter ID In numbers

An average of 1,003 applications for a voter authority certificate (VAC) were made per day in the week to April 22.

This was compared with 861 the previous week and 865 a fortnight earlier.

Some 40,718 applications for a VAC have been made so far this year, including 1,282 on Monday.

Here's how VAC applications in the most recent weeks break down by age:

  • Under 25 - 8%

  • 25 to 34-year-olds - 13%

  • 35 to 44-year-olds -19%

  • 45 to 54-year-olds - 21%

  • 55 to 64-year-olds - 27%

  • 65 to 74-year-olds - 8%

  • 75-years -old and over - 3%

What is happening at the local election?

Nearly 2,700 council seats in England are up for grabs across 107 local authorities on May 2.

At the same time 37 police and crime commissioners in England and Wales will be chosen.

Polls are also taking place to elect some of the most high-profile mayors in the country, including Greater Manchester, London and the West Midlands.

Why is voter ID needed now?

Photo ID rules were brought in as part of the Elections Act 2022, with the Government saying they are necessary to combat the risk of in-person voter fraud.

The requirements were first enforced at last year’s local elections in England.

An investigation by the Electoral Commission suggested at least around 14,000 people – 0.25% of voters – did not vote in those elections after being unable to show an accepted form of photo ID at their polling station.

Westwood, director of communication, policy and research at the Electoral Commission, which oversees all elections in the UK, said: “The deadline to apply for free voter ID is today at 5pm.

“Anyone who needs it should get their application in as soon as they can.

“The free ID helps ensure that everyone is able to take part in the May elections, even if they don’t currently have an accepted form of photo ID.

“It doesn’t take long to apply and there is information and support available from the Electoral Commission and your local authority.”

A similar study will be carried out this year, the Commission has confirmed.

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