back to article UK.gov to roll out voter ID trials in 2019 local elections

The government is to expand its controversial voter ID trials in next year’s local elections. sledgehammer reduces cement block to powder 'A sledgehammer to crack a nut': Charities slam UK voter ID trials READ MORE The trials require people to bring personal identification before they are allowed to vote, and were rolled out …

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  1. Locky Silver badge

    Heresy

    The last time Pendle was used as a legal first it didn't end well for some of it's constituents

    How a nine-year-old's evidence in a 17th Century witch trial led to the execution of 10 people

  2. Jeroen Braamhaar

    Erhm ... here in the Netherlands it's been commons for as long as I can remember you have to bring proof of ID (driving licence, passport or ID card) in order to be able to vote ...

    Quaint British.

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      We don't have ID cards.

      Not everyone has passports or driving licences.

      Hence, day-to-day life doesn't require it.

      You do have to be on the electoral register, though, which isn't easy without actually being the person in question.

      The problem is voter "impersonation" (i.e. pretending to be someone else and using their vote) not vote "fabrication" (i.e. someone pretending to be someone who doesn't exist and getting a vote). The latter is just ripe for abuse, but the former is just a really, really, really dumb things to do that ends in jail-time.

      1. Velv Silver badge
        Big Brother

        "We don't have ID cards.

        Not everyone has passports or driving licences.

        Hence, day-to-day life doesn't require it."

        While this may be true today, criminal activity is increasing leading to the need to prove one's identity, and if we don't end up with ID cards we will have de facto ID cards in Passports or Driving licences, with everyone requiring ownership of one or the other just to prove their identity even if they don't drive or go overseas.

        Not saying its right, just pointing out the world is changing, and voting is just another aspect that will change, like it or not,

        1. katrinab Silver badge

          Not everyone can drive, and some disabilities mean you are not allowed to drive.

      2. Spazturtle Silver badge

        "We don't have ID cards."

        What are you on about?

        You are required to show ID to attend an educational institute, get a job, receive benefits, rent a property, check into a hotel, drive a car, buy alcohol/knives/solvents, open a bank account, ect.

        ID is effectively mandatory in this country.

        1. RedCardinal

          You don't have to show ID to buy alcohol, knives or solvents unless you look underage. Also, I've never been asked to show any sort of id to book into a hotel in the UK.

          Last time I claimed JSA (a few years ago now), I don' recall having to produce id either (but I could be misrembering this).

          Also, there's big difference I'd suggest in having to own a passport or driving licence (i.e. photo id) and just having proof of residence (e.g. utility bills.)

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            "You don't have to show ID to buy alcohol, knives or solvents unless you look underage. Also, I've never been asked to show any sort of id to book into a hotel in the UK."

            I get asked for ID every time I visit Scotland and stay in a hotel (or hostel), even at the ones which seem to be being very "British" rather than enthusiastically "Scottish".

            "Last time I claimed JSA (a few years ago now), I don' recall having to produce id either (but I could be misrembering this)."

            As I understand it, you can't claim JSA or any other benefit without your NI number, which is a form of ID. I certainly needed mine for the brief period I claimed JSA, but that was 20 years ago.

            1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

              I keep my national insurance number in my head.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                "I keep my national insurance number in my head."

                Just as a matter of curiousity, what is this used for, how is it used, and what legal restrictions exist on how it can be used?

                We don't have these where I live...

                1. Lee D Silver badge

                  Not a lot.

                  It's not even that secret. It's not like a social-security number in the US which can be used to do things.

                  It's literally just a reference number to see if you've a) paid the appropriate compulsory "national insurance" (a.k.a. "stamp") as part of your paid wages, b) link it to your NHS number a bit (but your NHS number is very different).

                  Pretty much you can't do much with it, but it's a nice "joiner" between datasets, but it's only real purpose is to give it to your employer so they can pay stamp (which is just a tax, really) for you.

                  Without an NI number, you tend to end up on "emergency" tax codes, until they can establish what your number is. Which every employer, etc. can do with a simple request (often the tax office will tell THEM that they have the wrong NI number).

                  Unlike America, it's not that important, not information to keep deathly quiet and nor can you - like a friend of mine in America - just make one up and jot it down on your employment forms and have it go entirely unchallenged for decades...

                  1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

                    You can't even pay your tax with your National Insurance number, even though it is a requirement to be paid and appears on your pay slip and P60 (yearly salary statement). To pay your taxes you need your Unique Taxpayer Reference Number. But you still need to put your National Insurance number on your tax forms.

            2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              "I get asked for ID every time I visit Scotland and stay in a hotel"

              I stayed in an hotel in Scotland earlier this year and also last year with no such demand.

              1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                "I stayed in an hotel in Scotland earlier this year and also last year with no such demand."

                Same here. I've stayed in half a dozen or so in Scotland in the last year. Some were unmanned receptions (self-service computer check-in), some were chains like Premier Inn, manned and a couple of country side pub/hotels, none asked for ID.

          2. Nai

            I have a perfectly valid paper driving license

            that is currently valid for at least another 10 years

            and there is no photograph on it.

            And I (claim to) have no passport.

            So what "ID" am I supposed to show?

            1. alisdair@mapspartners.com

              One of about 15 options

              There is a long list of what you can use and if you haven't any you can get a free 'Elector's card'.

              I live in Woking and the pilot was devoid of the drama lots people in the media were threatening.

            2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              "I have a perfectly valid paper driving license

              that is currently valid for at least another 10 years"

              Me too! An on using it both as ID and on one occasion getting a courtesy car from a main dealer during a service, I've had to disabuse people of the notion that it's no longer valid. A main car dealer really should have no excuse for not knowing (she had to go get a manager to check).

              I've also used my company ID badge as proof of identity, and that's a pretty poor badge. Anyone could produce better at home :-)

              I've even had difficulty getting into some schools (very rarely), where I'm there by appointment, they called us to come repair the computer, I have the call details including make/model/serial number and the name of the person who logged the call.

              What generally happens is people are given examples of what are acceptable types of ID and that rapidly becomes, inside their own heads, the ONLY acceptable type of ID.

      3. Lars Silver badge
        Happy

        "Not everyone has passports or driving licences.

        Hence, day-to-day life doesn't require it."

        That is probably true in more or less the whole world.

        The fact that most European countries have the possibility to get an ID card doesn't mean you have to carry it with you all the time.

        @Jeroen Braamhaar

        A safe way to insult some of the Brits is to suggest they could learn something from some foreign country and it gets even worse should a foreigner suggest it.

        Look at how quickly that topic regarding the NHS is dropped here.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RYYi0kYB3_U

        BBC Politics Live 5/11/2018

      4. J.G.Harston Silver badge

        It's personation (assuming the identity of another person with intent to deceive), not *im*personation.

      5. gwp3

        We don't have ID cards...

        Indeed, it is a major characteristic of Britishness. Nor do we fly the national flag in our gardens.

        1. Sam Therapy

          Re: We don't have ID cards...

          Some numpties fly the national flag in their gardens. Round here it's usually the ones with Pitbulls.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: We don't have ID cards...

            >Some numpties fly the national flag in their gardens. Round here it's usually the ones with Pitbulls.

            Usually the St George cross (England flag) rather than the Union Jack though...

      6. katrinab Silver badge

        It is very difficult to get on the voter list if you are not on the National Insurace database, so I’m not really sure this is a thing that happens. Like the article says, there were very few cases of this happening.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Jeroen

      Erhm... that's because you were overrun by the Germans, not to put too fine point on it.

      But don't mention the war.

      No offence ;)

      1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

        Erhm... that's because you were overrun by the Germans, not to put too fine point on it.

        The most ID demanding country in Europe has never been Germany. It has always been France - even pre-WW2. I would not expect a Brit to know that bit of history though.

      2. A.P. Veening

        ID

        "@Jeroen

        Erhm... that's because you were overrun by the Germans, not to put too fine point on it."

        Nope, that only came when having some kind of ID became mandatory around 2,000 AD. We can blame the Germans for a lot, but not for that.

      3. 3man

        Actually, a Dutch friend of mine told me that the Netherlands gov's love of record keeping long pre-dated 1939 and it actually facilitated the abuses that occurred under the Nazis. As his father was detained by the Gestapo I would imagine he knew a little more about it than most.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Ihre Papiere, bitte

      Ask your grandparents what that means, Jeroen Schaamhaar.

    4. A.P. Veening

      Netherlands

      Besides that, we receive that poll card automatically by mail about six weeks prior to the election. Without a poll card, you just don't vote. And that system with poll cards has been in place since way before I was born in 1965, one of the advantages of a functioning (legal) inhabitants registration system.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Netherlands

        "Besides that, we receive that poll card automatically by mail about six weeks prior to the election. Without a poll card, you just don't vote. And that system with poll cards has been in place since way before I was born in 1965, one of the advantages of a functioning (legal) inhabitants registration system."

        Same here in the UK, except you don't actually need to take your poll card with you. It's easier if you do, of course. I can;t see any reason why the poll card can't just be the voter ID anyway. Voter fraud is pretty low and in general the only people able to take anthers poll card and vote on their behalf are people who live in the same house. I can't see why more expensive poll cards with unique barcodes and a tablet with an app at the polling station are needed. The poll cards already have unique IDs on them anyway, ie registration number and the voters name and address.

    5. Sam Therapy

      Not so quaint. There's no legal requirement for us to carry ID, so this is a backdoor way of forcing the issue.

      If we're going to have mandatory ID, we should also have a proper, written constitution and a Bill of Rights.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "If we're going to have mandatory ID, we should also have a proper, written constitution"

        We do. It's not just written in a single place. It starts with Magna Carta (which, admittedly, successive govts, especially recent ones, try to ignore) and including "and a Bill of Rights."

        You want a Bill of Rights? OK, here you are:

        https://www.legislation.gov.uk/aep/WillandMarSess2/1/2/introduction

  3. Semtex451 Silver badge
    Big Brother

    We should count ourselves lucky not to be forced to carry National ID cards around with us.

    Ah everyone beat me to that.

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Really? I do not see anything particularly lucky about it, but I have to deal with both systems on a regular basis so I am naturally UNbiased.

      There is a PRICE to pay for not having a working national identity database.

      It may be small. Like the multi-billion cost of multiple failing attempts to have a working unified social security system as well as the cost of constant drip of funds between the cracks in the existing systems.

      It may be bigger - like deporting back to Jamaica hundreds of people who have lived here for 40 odd years and are cittizens because there is f*ck all record for them and the disparate databases held by different departments cannot agree who they are.

      It may be even bigger. For example, I just asked my UK bank what it would take to open accounts for the kids. They returned with a list of 4 documents AND an ID. As a comparison - the only thing I did to do the same thing on the continent was supply a national identity number. Having that combined with the identity theft aspect is a cost to government, businesses and individuals. Day, to day to day.

      All of that is for a gimmick which does not really make you more free. 'cause the law is very clear on that - while you are not supposed to be carrying an ID, the police is entitled to request that you attend within a week (if memory serves me right) your local police station and identify yourself. Not doing so is a criminal offence. So much for not having "Papieren, bitte". Itn reality, it is just "Papers by end of the week prole".

      1. Allan George Dyer Silver badge

        @Volands's right hand - "Papers by end of the week prole"

        I recall being told that too... but I've never worked out, if you don't turn up and identify yourself, how do the police know who they want to arrest? It probably only works in villages where everyone knows each other, where it isn't needed.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          "I've never worked out, if you don't turn up and identify yourself, how do the police know who they want to arrest?"

          And even if you do, what does it mean? Who am I? Who are you? The answers to those questions are relative.

          I can turn up with a copy of my birth certificate. I can equally turn up with a copy of someone else's birth certificate providing it gives a DoB roughly the same as mine.

          I can turn up with a piece of photo ID. What does it mean? Just that I persuaded someone to attach a name to a photo of me or someone who looks reasonably like me.

          Utility bill (what's that in the days of online billing?)? I got what I claim to be my address printed on a letter heading that looks as if it might have come from a utility company. Utility company billing base stock is scarcely a secure base stock; the base stock for the birth certificate is - and it clearly states it's not a form of identification.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        while you are not supposed to be carrying an ID, the police is entitled to request that you attend within a week (if memory serves me right) your local police station and identify yourself. Not doing so is a criminal offence. So much for not having "Papieren, bitte". Itn reality, it is just "Papers by end of the week prole".

        While true, the above is not complete. The Police need a reasonable level of suspicion to demand such. They can't just stop you and ask for ID for wearing a loud shirt, or having a beard.

  4. GlenP Silver badge

    So...

    Not everyone has a form of acceptable photo ID, I have family who don't drive and have never travelled abroad.

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: So...

      Same as my brother.

      No photo ID, but he has a bank account, a mortgage, loans, telephones, etc. and operates a normal life.

      You just have to hope that they will accept things like your birth certificate etc. and - as the article says - two forms of non-photo ID instead.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So...

        "You just have to hope that they will accept things like your birth certificate etc. and - as the article says - two forms of non-photo ID instead."

        If the Windrush "Scandal" has proven anything, it's that this assumption simply does not hold.

        This is a solution looking for a problem. Voter error, whether fraudulent or otherwise, is effective nonexistent in the UK. You should treat any and all measures that restrict access to voting in the name of reducing fraud with the highest levels of suspicion.

        1. Flatpackhamster

          Re: So...

          https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/dec/19/tower-hamlets-postal-voters-monitored-pilot-scheme

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lutfur_Rahman_(politician)

          There is a huge scandal with postal voting, overwhelmingly amongst the most diverse of our beautiful rainbow coloured nation of diversity.

          I blame colonialism and structural oppression.

          1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

            Re: So...

            "There is a huge scandal with postal voting"

            And how is forcing someone to show photo id at a polling station going to stop that?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So...

      >> Not everyone has a form of acceptable photo ID

      I don't have a passport and I have an old style paper only driving licence.

      1. SkippyBing Silver badge

        Re: So...

        'I don't have a passport and I have an old style paper only driving licence.'

        I believe the solution there is to take the old style paper driving licence and a utility bill or bank statement. As it says two forms of non-photo ID are acceptable.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: So...

          >> it says two forms of non-photo ID are acceptable

          From my reading of the press release, there are 4 models being tested. One of the models appears to only accept photo IDs:

          >> Voters in Pendle, East Staffordshire and Woking will be asked to show photo ID before they are given their ballot papers.

        2. John70

          Re: So...

          I believe the solution there is to take the old style paper driving licence and a utility bill or bank statement. As it says two forms of non-photo ID are acceptable.

          What if you have gone paperless billing/statements and don't own a printer to print them off?

          1. Richard Parkin

            Re: So...

            They don’t accept printed versions of online bills sometimes.

            1. 's water music Silver badge

              Re: So...

              They don’t accept printed versions of online bills sometimes.

              That's ok I always hand-write mine

          2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: So...

            "What if you have gone paperless billing/statements and don't own a printer to print them off?"

            OTOH if you have a printer you can "print off" any bill or statement you care to invent.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: So...

          @SkippyBing

          "As it says two forms of non-photo ID are acceptable."

          Until it isn't...

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