Voter ID: Millions of Young People Could be Turned Away From Polling Stations
An exclusive new poll finds that most voters under 40 remain unaware of a new law requiring them to show photographic ID in order to vote
Millions of young people could lose their chance to vote in this year’s elections, according to an exclusive new poll for the Byline Supplement showing that most people under 40 are still unaware of a new law requiring them to bring photographic ID to polling stations.
Under the new law, which has been dubbed ‘legalised voter suppression’ by opponents, voters will be compelled to show a piece of Government-approved photographic ID before being allowed to vote.
However, an exclusive new poll conducted by pollsters Omnisis, finds that with just 10 weeks to go until polling stations open for the May local elections, 52% of all voters under 40 remain unaware of the new requirements.
The youngest cohort of voters are the least likely to be aware of the need to show ID. 63% of voters between the ages of 18 and 24 are as yet unaware of the new requirements, according to the poll. This compares to just 34% of those over the age of 40.
The lack of awareness among young people is particularly alarming given the limitations placed on which forms of ID will be accepted at polling stations.
As Byline Times has previously revealed, while multiple forms of ID, such as pensioner bus passes, are included in the official list of accepted IDs, young people’s bus passes and other forms of ID widely used by young people have been excluded.
The poll also found that the number of people without photographic ID may be significantly higher than official estimates suggest.
Previous Government research suggested that two million voters do not currently hold a piece of photographic ID.
Figures from the Government’s own official website suggest that just one per cent of these have so far applied for an ID under the Government’s newly-launched free scheme.
However, according to our poll almost one-in-five of all voters (17%) say they do not currently own a piece of photographic ID - a much higher number than indicated by the Government.
Reacting to the findings, democracy campaigners told Byline that the Government should now think again.
“With just ten weeks until polling day, it’s worrying that awareness of these new voter ID rules remains so low”, Dr Jess Garland, Director of Policy and Research at the Electoral Reform Society said.
“The effects of the government's rushed roll-out are clear for all to see. Millions of people lack the necessary ID to cast their vote and many are likely to still be unaware of the steps they need to take to ensure they can cast a ballot on election day. Unless this changes we risk May’s election being one of chaos and confusion at the polling station.
“One voter turned away is one too many. The government must think again about this policy and ensure that every legitimate voter can cast their ballot to protect free and fair elections across the UK.”
Asked by Byline about the apparent lack of take-up for the Government’s ID scheme, the Prime Minister’s spokesman said that there was still “significant time” to make voters aware of the changes.
“There still remains significant time for people to register and we would encourage them to do so that's why we have a marketing campaign worth 1.7 million pounds to raise awareness”, the spokesman told Byline.
“We are confident that this is the right approach to guard against any abuse of our democratic process.”
Asked if the Government has identified any actual abuse of those processes, given official figures show just a handful of convictions for in-person voter fraud over the past decade, Sunak’s spokesman replied that “as we've said consistently this is about guarding against the potential for abuse”.
Sleepwalking into a Scandal
Both the official Government figures and our poll findings suggest that with just 10 weeks to go until voters go to the polls, there is still an alarming lack of awareness about the new ID requirements.
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