Thursday 2 March 2023
You may have already heard that the Government has introduced new rules meaning you need to show photographic identification (photo ID) when voting in person at a polling station. This is a national change implemented as part of the Elections Act 2022.
In this special edition of our newsletter, we'll explain what the new rules are, what ID you can use to vote in person, and how to get free photo ID if you don't already have it.
What are the new photo ID rules?
The UK Government has introduced a requirement for voters to show photo ID when voting at a polling station in some elections. This new requirement will apply for the first time in England at the local elections on Thursday 4 May 2023.
The new rules will apply to:
- Local elections
- Police and Crime Commissioner elections
- UK parliamentary by-elections
- Recall petitions
From October 2023, the new requirements will also apply to any future UK General elections.
In Devon, there are district and city council elections on Thursday 4 May, so you will need an accepted form of photo ID if you want to vote in person.
What forms of photo ID can I use to vote?
You may already have photo ID that is acceptable. You can use any of the ID types listed below, but remember to take it with you to show at the door, otherwise you may not be allowed to vote.
You can use any of the following:
- a 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
- a photographic driving licence issued by the UK, any of the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, or an EEA state
- a biometric immigration document
- an identity card bearing the Proof of Age Standards Scheme hologram (a PASS card)
- a Ministry of Defence Form 90 (Defence Identity Card)
- a Blue Badge
- a national identity card issued by an EEA state
- an Older Person’s Bus Pass
- a Disabled Person’s Bus Pass
- a Freedom Pass
- an Oyster 60+ Card
The full list of accepted forms of photo ID are on the Electoral Commission website, or you can call their helpline on 0800 328 0280 for more information.
Some other forms of photo ID, such as student cards and young person's railcards, are not accepted for voting purposes.
If you don't have any of the accepted forms of ID, you can apply for a free Voter Authority Certificate. Full details are in the section below.
You can use your photo ID if it's out of date, as long as the photo still looks like you. The name on your ID should be the same name you used to register to vote.
How do I apply for free photo ID?
You can apply online for a free voter ID document, known as a Voter Authority Certificate, if:
- you don't have an accepted form of photo ID
- you're not sure whether your photo ID still looks like you
- you're worried about using an existing form of ID for any other reason, such as the use of a gender marker.
If you want to vote in the local elections on Thursday 4 May 2023, the deadline to apply for a Voter Authority Certificate is 5pm on Tuesday 25 April 2023. You need to be registered to vote before you apply for a Voter Authority Certificate.
When applying for a Voter Authority Certificate, you will need to provide your:
- date of birth
- National Insurance number
You should apply using the same name that you used to register to vote.
When completing your application, you will need to submit a photo. The requirements for the photo are similar to the requirements for a passport photo.
To be accepted, the photo you provide must meet certain requirements in terms of style, quality and size.
What if I don't have internet access?
If you, or someone you know, needs a Voter Authority Certificate but doesn't have access to the internet at home, all of Devon's Libraries have computers which you can use free of charge to complete your application. Library staff may be able to help you if you require assistance, subject to their capacity to do so.
Alternatively, you can complete a paper application form and send this to the electoral services team at your local council. If you want to request a paper application form or need any help with applying for a Voter Authority Certificate, contact your district or city council.
Voting by post is not affected by the new photo ID requirements. The deadline to apply for a postal vote for the local elections in May is 5pm on Tuesday 18 April and you must already be registered to vote. You can apply for your postal vote on the Electoral Commission website.