New Forest residents are being urged to make sure they are ready to vote in May by checking they have an accepted form of photo ID.
Showing a photo ID before being allowed to cast a vote is a new requirement at polling stations, introduced by the UK Government’s Elections Act which was passed last year.
From 4 May 2023, voters in England will need to show photo ID to vote at polling stations in local elections, Police and Crime Commissioner elections, UK parliamentary by-elections, and Recall petitions.
From October 2023 it will also apply to UK General elections.
The new legislation does not affect the postal vote process and those who choose to vote by post will not be required to provide voter ID.
Accepted forms of ID 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.
New Forest District Council are advising residents of the new law, what photo ID is suitable, and what to do if a voter does not have a suitable form of ID.
Kate Ryan, Returning Officer at New Forest District Council, said, “It is estimated that more than 95% of people already have a suitable photo ID and we have started to advise people of this new requirement so they are able to vote in May.
We have information on our website, in our residents emails, on social media, and posters. And we will also be sending a leaflet to every household in March.
“Our staff are being trained in the new requirements and we will have more staff at every polling station to help people with this change.”
Anyone who does not have one of the accepted forms of ID can now apply for a free ‘Voter Authority Certificate’ at voter-authority-certificate.service.gov.uk/ or by completing a paper form.
The deadline to apply for a Voter Authority Certificate to be able to vote in the May 2023 elections is 5pm Tuesday 25 April.
New Forest District Council information offices at Lymington, New Milton, Hythe and Lyndhurst have trained staff to offer help filling in the application, including taking a photograph.
The full list of accepted ID is available on the Electoral Commission’s website, along with more information about the new requirement and details of how to apply for the free voter ID, at electoralcommission.org.uk/voterID
Ailsa Irvine, Director of Electoral Administration and Guidance at the Electoral Commission, said, “Anyone voting at a polling station in England this May will need to show photo ID before they can be given their ballot paper.
It’s important that everyone understands what types of ID they can use, and how to apply for free ID if they need it.
You can find information about the new requirement and what to expect at the polling station on the Electoral Commission’s website.”
Anyone who wants to have their say in the elections this May must also be registered to vote. It only takes five minutes to register online at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote
Voters wishing to apply to their council for free ID should first make sure they are registered to vote.