Only half returned to vote after missing ID in NK trial

A Voter ID trial saw just 68 people unable to vote in the May local elections in a Lincolnshire district because they didn’t provide suitable identification.

The Electoral Commission has carried out a full report into those taking part in the pilot this year, and figures have revealed that 145 of the 18,605 who attended polling stations in North Kesteven were initially turned away because they had no ID – with 77 returning to vote successfully.

The council was the only one in Lincolnshire taking part in the scheme this year.

A total of 6,573 people voted through post meaning a total of 25,178 votes for the election – a turnout of 31% of the 81,219 eligible voters.

It means 0.4% of voters were not issued with a ballot paper.

Ian Fytche, Returning Officer, said he was “very happy” with the pilot which he said “enhanced voters’ confidence in the security of the electoral process”.

He said further reviews needed to take place, but added: “From our experiences… we feel that the people of North Kesteven embraced the pilot arrangements, understood the new requirements on this occasion and were not dissuaded from voting.”

The Electoral Commission’s report is mostly positive, with findings including that a large majority of people have access to the required ID, though it recommends locally issued photo ID would mitigate any problems.

It says 93% of voters knew they would need ID with 59% getting information from the council and 36% from their poll card.

NKDC’s trial allowed 28 forms of ID to be used. Voters could also apply for a council-specific ID card.

Of those taking part, 90% used a photo-ID – of which 61% were drivers licences, 15% were passports and 11.5% were buss passes.

“Our experience of participating in this pilot has been fascinating and as we constantly seek to enhance and improve all of our process we are grateful to have had the opportunity of testing something of such importance for democratic integrity,” said Mr Fytche.

Voter ID is designed to help councils tackle voter fraud, though no incidents of such a crime have been reported previously in North Kesteven.

However, with over 1,000 people denied voting rights across the UK in various pilots, Labour has criticised the move. Cat Smith MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Voter Engagement, said: “It is now clear that the Government’s fixation with Voter ID is a blatant attempt by the Tories to rig the result of future elections by voter suppression.

“For years Labour warned that restrictive identification requirements will make it harder for people to vote. But the Government refused to listen, denying countless citizens a voice in our democratic process.”