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 …

  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 Silver badge

        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 Silver badge

      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...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So...

      My driving licence will probably be revoked by the next scheduled election. I no longer drive - but to get my over-70 three-yearly renewal requires my eyesight to keep meeting a minimum threshold.

      I can afford to renew my passport even though I never travel these days. - but there must be many pensioners for whom it would be a difficult expense.

      All my utility and banking suppliers etc are telling me to go paperless - and in some cases will charge me for continuing to want paper bills.

      1. smudge Silver badge

        Re: So...

        I can afford to renew my passport even though I never travel these days. - but there must be many pensioners for whom it would be a difficult expense.

        Do you have a photocard certifying that you qualify for free bus travel? My Mum - in Scotland - used to have one, and it was accepted as photo ID, even by Easyjet at Luton.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: So...

          "Do you have a photocard certifying that you qualify for free bus travel?"

          No. I walk everywhere I need in the town. A three mile radius is still within my physical capabilities. The bus services to villages where friends live are the one a day variety - so only a taxi is viable for the occasional dinner invitation.

          No point in causing a cost to the council for something I would never use.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So...

      @GlenP

      "...I have family who don't drive and have never travelled abroad."

      You and 3 million other people.

    5. TheMeerkat

      Re: So...

      Do they work? You can’t get a job without proving the right to work.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: So...

        "You can’t get a job without proving the right to work."

        Having a right to work doesn't mean you have a right to vote. Especially after Brexit.

    6. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: So...

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

      Just like my wife. Likewise, none of the bills are in her name either. Only her bank account is her name. So that's one bit of non-photo ID where two are usually required.

  5. Scott Broukell

    Should we also consider making voting compulsory, that way we might not be in such a pickle over things like Bexit etc. Just saying.

    1. SkippyBing Silver badge

      To be fair if voter turn out was as high normally as it was for the Brexit vote no one would be worried about making it compulsory.

    2. Tigra 07 Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      RE: Scott

      Australia has compulsory voting. You can be fined for not casting your vote.

      I actually like that system, since it shuts up those people we all know who complain about politics, but never bother voting. If you don't like the system, vote to change it, don't just complain.

    3. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Should we also consider making voting compulsory

      What would that achieve? People who don't care would either spoil their ballot or just tick a box at random. Neither would improve the quality of the results.

      1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

        @Phil O'Sophical

        People who don't care would either spoil their ballot or just tick a box at random. Neither would improve the quality of the results.

        And for people who do care, the field of candidates can be somewhat wanting. The solution is...

        [ ] None of the above

        edit: just realised @Scott Broukell has already remarked...

    4. Scott Broukell

      All valid points above and I suppose my suggestion is a rather blunt instrument towards political engagement, but just how do we get more people to use their votes, even if it means ticking `None of the Above'. My worries are two-fold really: implementing E-voting absolutely securely (if indeed that is a possibility) and tearing peoples eyes away from their wretched social media feeds in order that they can take a more educated, pinch of salt, with what they digest therein. But it all seems like a bit of a double-edged sword, because whilst these might be ways forward to greater engagement, they may also just be a means to nothing of the sort, rather allowing external influences to grab votes instead. I really don't know the answer and it bothers me.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Scott

      Yes, so long as there is a "None of the above" option.

      Then they might realise, like the rest of us did decades ago, that they don't actually have a mandate for most of the "improvements" they want to make.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      By all means, have compulsory voting so long as we also have a legally binding 'none of the above' option on the ballot, just to be clear, if the result is 'none of the above' then the other named candidates on the ballot are excluded from standing again.

      (I'd also suggest that as a 'none of the above' result could be taken as a rejection of the parties the candidates stood for, these parties should be also be excluded from any future ballot where this was the result. It might dissuade them from their nasty habit of putting their prize putzes up for election in what they regard as 'safe' seats where they think the sheeple will always vote for them).

      Edit: I've just noticed other comments on 'none of the above', I was going to remove this one, but still think that the option has to have some legal teeth, otherwise it's meaningless.

      1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        This is the problem with "None of the above": what do you do with votes for it? If it isn't the top choice then it is, to a large extent, much the same as just not voting, or a spoiled ballot. If voting is compulsory then it could be considered as an indicator similar to turnout, but would only have an effect if there were some minimal threshold for that vote, i.e. if the vote were invalid without at least 60% turnout.

        If NOTA were the "winning vote" then things get more complex. If you ask someone to choose between options and they reply "I don't want any of them", the obvious next question is "well, who do you want, then?". If they can't answer that question, is their opinion actually worth much?

        What about elections which allow a write-in?

        I wouldn't agree with using a NOTA result to disqualify the others, it would again achieve little since they clearly were unwanted that time and presumably would lose if they stood again. As for excluding parties, it's important to remember that in a respresentative democracy like the UK you vote for a person to represent you, not for a party. The party name wasn't even on the ballot until the Wilson government of the 70s. Blocking a party in one constituency because of one undesirable candiate (often chosen by a local group) also seems extreme.

        The reality of giving everyone a vote is that people will chose to vote, or not, for their own personal reasons, and we have to respect that. Forcing them to vote, or forcing change based on non-votes, is hardly democratic.

        1. Tigra 07 Silver badge
          Pint

          RE:RE:RE:RE...

          It would work better if people didn't simply vote, but ranked in preference the candidates. Then the lowest number of votes is eliminated until someone passes 50% and wins. Seems fairer than the current system.

  6. TRT Silver badge

    The big question is, does it have a bigger effect on voter turnout than the size of the problem it intends to correct (minus the amount of problem remaining even WITH the measures)?

    I mean, if it causes 2,300 people to not bother voting because of the extra hassles, prevents 40 of the 44 misrepresentation/impersonation votes, but allows 4 impersonations despite the measure, then it has a net dis-benefit AND costs many tens of thousands of pounds.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      We don't know, because in the last voter ID trial, nobody recorded how many people were turned away or how many people didn't bother voting because they couldn't get ID.

      Presumably if that data were recorded then it might have been found that the trials weren't a resounding success.

  7. Simone

    two forms of non-photo ID...?

    What would this be then... in today's society, not that of our grandparents.

    Live in a city (no car because it is expensive, cannot park it anywhere and the public transport is good enough), have young kids (holidays abroad are too much trouble) so have no photo ID. Bank, utilities etc. are all online, so don't have paper bills (*IS* one printed from the internet OK?); and most of those are in just one persons name from a couple (have you tried to get both names on the account?).

    These may be easy to solve individually, but there is a threshold where it is just too much trouble. That threshold is lower for certain groups of society, who then become disproportionately excluded from voting. What is the impact on democracy? We have seen what a cock-up the last lot of reforms were in the UK.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: two forms of non-photo ID...?

      We don't have democracy.

      We have a stacked system where, for those who have power, the last thing they want is democracy, transparency or accountability.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Voter Suppression - coming to a polling station near you - soon

      That's the whole purpose and intent !

      I refer gentle readers to yesterday's Guardian's article on the subject on how they do it in the USA:

      Rigging the vote: how the American right is on the way to permanent minority rule

      1. sed gawk Silver badge

        Re: The trial was a resounding success.

        Sadly, I don't think anyone cares to stop the slow motion coup taking place in this country, despite the obvious parallels with the US.

        This measure is intended to entrench the party of government in power by means of voter suppression.

        "On May 3rd 2018, 350 people were denied a vote in their local council elections. ... The minister hailed these trials of mandatory voter ID as a ‘success’. ... The scheme disenfranchised far more ordinary voters than potential wrongdoers: in a single day across the five councils, twice as many people didn’t vote due to having incorrect ID as have been accused of personation in eight years across the whole of the UK."

        www.electoral-reform.org.uk

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Voter Suppression - coming to a polling station near you - soon

        The guardian story misses anotherextremely important aspect to american voter suppression:

        In many areas(*), if you have a criminal record you're automatically disenfranchised - which when coupled with systematic overenforcement against poor and black communities compared to the same crimes performed by richer, whiter offenders - results in an ever greater level of voter suppression than people tend to realise.

        This has been ruled illegal under international law and the USA roundly condemned about the issue a number of times but it's shown zero interest in sorting it out.

        (*) Particularly in the US South.... Surprise Surprise.

        1. Richard Wharram

          Re: Voter Suppression - coming to a polling station near you - soon

          They also move the polling station in ethnic areas without telling anyone. Full-scale disenfranchisement.

    3. Graham Cobb

      Re: two forms of non-photo ID...?

      The problem is even worse for some specific groups. For example, wives in some communities are even less likely to have photo-ID than their husbands, and are unlikely to be named on any utility bills -- their whole presence is in their husband's name. Why would we deny them the vote?

      Other groups such as homeless or frequently moving people or people in shared accommodation are likely to have no ID -- and likely to be poorer. Why would the Conservative government be trying to deny them a vote I wonder?

      It is just gerrymandering with a fig leaf created from a non-problem.

      1. Twanky Bronze badge

        Re: two forms of non-photo ID...?

        "their whole presence is in their husband's name. Why would we deny them the vote?"

        We *should not*, of course. However, it seems obvious to me that for many women who fall into that category this would effectively give their husbands two votes. I don't know how to square that circle. Perhaps if candidates tried to address the issues that the majority of people face it might help.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: two forms of non-photo ID...?

      "(have you tried to get both names on the account?)."

      That's how my wife got her new bank account. Not enough ID to open one in her own name, but one old bank statement plus marriage certificate was enough for her to open a joint account with me at my bank. Once it was all sorted, we wrote to the bank and asked for my name to be taken off that account. Job done, albeit with a little hassle. All of this was at the suggestion of the accounts manager at my bank.

  8. Len
    Thumb Down

    Lack of a secret ballot is a greater problem

    I complained to the Electoral Commission a couple of years ago that all ballot papers in the UK are numbered and that that number is recorded by the polling clerk against your name. That means that a person's vote is not secret and so it's not a secret ballot as is standard in proper democracies.

    They said it is done to tackle voter fraud and that I should just trust the government not to abuse it. I retorted that it is ridiculous that anyone can rock up to the polling booth without ID or even the polling card and claim to be anyone they have a name and local address of and vote on their behalf. Until a couple of years ago I lived across from my polling station in a building with a shared letterbox. I could have easily popped over in the morning and vote as myself, pop over around lunch time claiming to be my next door neighbour and pop back around dinner time claiming to be another neighbour. A polling clerk who sees hundreds of people a day would not notice a thing. How can someone claim to have numbered ballots to protect against voter fraud if anyone could vote as anyone?

    If requiring ID (or at a minimum handing in the actual polling card!) means that they can introduce a secret ballot I am all for it.

    1. SkippyBing Silver badge

      Re: Lack of a secret ballot is a greater problem

      '(or at a minimum handing in the actual polling card!)'

      Exactly, they go to the trouble of posting you a card it can't be that hard to make it an exchangeable token in return for which you get to vote. I mean obviously government's involved so it can be that hard and cost millions, but seriously no card no vote must be the simplest solution surely?

    2. Someone Else Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Lack of a secret ballot is a greater problem

      They said it is done to tackle voter fraud and that I should just trust the government not to abuse it.

      The mind boggles....

    3. ivan5

      Re: Lack of a secret ballot is a greater problem

      (or at a minimum handing in the actual polling card!)

      Maybe that would be a way of combatting the postal vote fraud - the polling card has to be included with the postal vote for it to be valid.

    4. Primus Secundus Tertius

      Re: Lack of a secret ballot is a greater problem

      The polling number is on the back of the ballot paper. When the papers are being counted, they are kept face-up so the candidates and their agents lurking behind those doing the counting do not see the polling number. Traditionally the only time the polling number is reconnected to the voter ID is when there are court actions over the vote.

      Postal votes are slightly different. As they are received in the days before the election, they are vetted by election staff and then put into a ballot box ready for counting. As a candidate myself, I have wondered what checks there are on that vetting. The candidates are not invited to oversee things for obvious reasons. Does the Electoral Commission do any overseeing here?

    5. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      Re: Lack of a secret ballot is a greater problem

      Whilst it would be possible for a nasty government to go through the ballot and work out exactly how people voted, it would be a hell of a lot of work. Easier to just use the canvassing returns to plan retribution. [although, having said that, I do hope the referendum ballots are still available so that we can work out who gets the one-way ticket to West Falkland]

      Anyway, the normal use of the numbering is as follows:

      1) If someone turns up to vote and they appear to have voted already (they are crossed off the list) then they are given a pink ballot paper which goes in a separate envelope.

      2) When the votes are counted, if the result is very close, i.e. majority less than the number of pink papers, the original papers are identified and removed, and the pink ones counted in their place. It's a lot of work!

      I've seen pink papers used. I was acting as Polling Clerk and a little old lady came in. She'd been crossed off. Oh shit! Have we made a mistake? Then went through the pile of polling cards and found her card. Someone had used it. Had she already voted? No, but she had last month. Previous election was over a year ago. Dementia? Anyway she got the pink paper.

      1. David Pearce

        Re: Lack of a secret ballot is a greater problem

        Governments have monitored voting to punish civil servants who voted the wrong way around the World. The chilling threat is enough to keep parties in power for a very long time

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        A nasty government working out exactly how people voted

        If it's technically possible they'll do it.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Lack of a secret ballot is a greater problem

      I worked as a central poll supervisor in our last federal election, which includes training for every single role in a polling station. These are very well defined, and *nothing* happens without two people supervising it... and specific people are responsible for the ballots for each poll.

      The people who verify your identity have no record of your ballot, and it is illegal for anyone to mark a ballot in any way that makes it identifiable.

      Advanced votes or votes at a different location are enclosed in an envelope with all the data to identify the voter, and to detect any duplicate votes. The inner security envelope that holds the ballot is not marked in any way, and is only opened after the polls close, by the poll clerk and assistant poll clerk for the poll in which your vote counts. These people never see the outer identity envelope which is filed elsewhere for audit purposes. The ballots are mixed in with all the other identical ballots before counting starts, so no one knows if a given ballot is received from an advanced poll, remote poll, or regular poll - all they know is that other people confirmed that the voter lived in the poll area that they are counting.

      Counting generally involves a poll clerk, assistant poll clerk or other electoral officer, and scrutineers from any of the parties that wish to send one (usually the biggest three to five parties in a riding), all of whom can observe (but not touch) the ballots and monitor the counting.

      Everyone working on the election is sworn to secrecy, and there are penalties prescribed for breaches.

      Interestingly, only the poll clerk can decide on whether a ballot follows the rules for validity or not. No one, not the Central Poll Supervisor, not the Returning Officer (whose powers vaguely resemble those of an old time captain of a ship at sea - the RO is the final authority for the conduct of the election in their riding - and no government official or politician can over-rule them) can tell the poll clerk what decision to take, though they can point to the regulations and instructions that may be relevant. The appeal of a poll clerk's decision is in the hands of a judicial review, if needed.

      There's a lot more, but it is quite possible to build a secure 'double blind' electoral process where nobody can tie a vote to a person.... and cheating the system is somewhere between extremely difficult and next to impossible.

      For example, no ballot is valid unless it is initialled by the poll clerk - who must do it exactly the same way on each ballot, as they hand it to the voter. The ballot boxes are sealed with signed and serial numbered seals to prevent opening them, and they are never unsupervised by the poll clerk or assistant poll clerk once they contain ballots, until they are opened and counted.... then they are resealed and placed in secure storage by the RO.

      All the ballots are counted and signed for at each stage where they change hands, and the numbers have to balance before and after the vote.

      I should dig out my training books and review the process, because I know I am missing some of the subtle details and precautions... but at the time I was impressed at how well everything was tracked and audited while maintaining complete secrecy of the actual votes.

      Fraud protection is very carefully decoupled from the actual votes, and is tied to the act of being identified as a voter and being handed a blank ballot.

    7. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Lack of a secret ballot is a greater problem

      Yes the numbers are there for auditing purposes - if required.

      Yes they're covered over before the paper is handed out.

      This is why ballot papers are destroyed shortly after counting if there is no challenge

      The very few cases of personation and multiple voting that have taken place in the UK in recent history (as in, the last 100 years) made no difference to results in any case as they did not happen in marginal seats.

      In marginal seats or where things are tight in results, _every_ ballot is carefully counted and recounted a number of times and voters vs rolls are audited to ensure there's no suggestion of hanky panky going on.

      There are enough checks and balances in the system that the far bigger risk (and the elephant in the room) is not voter fraud, but count manipulation - do NOT let electronic voting or counting take place, it's just too risky.

  9. Teiwaz Silver badge

    N.Ireland

    Has been a requirement to have ID to get your ballot paper there for some time.

    because of shenanigans, obviously.

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: N.Ireland

      Vote Early, Vote Often

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We don't want YOU to vote.

    In the US, many localities have mandated a state issued ID card for voting because they know that a certain demographic will not or can not obtain such an ID because of the requirements to obtain one. Effectively preventing a certain class of people from voting in the name of security..

    1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      Re: We don't want YOU to vote.

      Not that our trustworthy and honourable Tories would ever consider something like that.

      1. Rusty 1

        Re: We don't want YOU to vote.

        Don't single the Tories out in your accusation - Labour would jump at the chance to do this too.

        1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

          Re: We don't want YOU to vote.

          @Rusty 1: I think Pen-y-gors is older than you. Old enough to remember the Poll Tax and the significant drop in voter registration at the following election. IOW, the Tories actually have form on this one.

  11. Crisp Silver badge

    In other countries

    They just use a pot of bright purple dye.

    You dip your finger in the dye to mark your ballot paper and then post it. Anyone with a bright purple finger can't vote again.

    1. Flatpackhamster

      Re: In other countries

      In the UK the corruption is in large part down to the postal voting system.

      1. EnviableOne Bronze badge

        Re: In other countries

        In the UK the corruption is in large part down to the postal voting system. Non-existant

        FTFY

  12. Robert D Bank

    I don't understand why they don't introduce phone voting as an option. Just a reworked a version of any telephone banking that's been around for decades would do it. You get sent a pin in the post or email and when you call in you can change it. After you've cast your vote you can call to verify it is as you chose and not been fiddled with, or even change it later up to a certain cut off time. Not 100% bullet proof obviously, still some could be coerced to vote a certain way in some households, and the deaf wouldn't be served by it. But most people including the elderly can always access a phone from anywhere.

    1. Anonymous C0ward

      Being able to verify or change it makes that system more exploitable!

  13. Someone Else Silver badge
    Stop

    Infection from abroad

    I see our Left-Pondian Republicon bullshit has infected Merry Olde as well. On behalf of your former Colony, I apologize. I'd like to say it won't happen again, but I cannot make that promise. We're in the process of disinfecting our house, and I'd recommend you Right-Pondians get busy and do that same, lest the infection do the same level of damage as it as (and continues to do) here.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Awesome...

    ...disenfranchisement by stealth.

    Like many things in election theory, it sounds great.

    But when it comes to practice, never underestimate the ability of those with a sinister motive to use things like this to their advantage!

    1. AMBxx Silver badge

      Re: Awesome...

      Whereas using electoral fraud as a means to get your candidate elected (Tower Hamlets), is more acceptable?

      1. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

        Re: Awesome...

        I wonder if you read the story.... especially the 44 counts of voter fraud bit

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Awesome...

          44 accusations. 1 conviction.

  15. easytoby

    Postal option?

    I thought the biggest risk was associated with postal votes. But I cannot see anything on the release about that?

    So my assumption is that this is a drive towards universal ID cards again, not securing voting.

    I am a big fan of the convenience of postal voting, as I am often working away from home.

  16. Zippy´s Sausage Factory
    Devil

    Has anyone done a survey of how many Tory voters have photo ID compared to Labour ones?

    Just asking...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I doubt there's much in it for passports. Driving licenses might favour the wealthier, who you could assume to be Tory, but bus passes would go the other way. Does the proof requested for voting differ much from that required for, say welfare or unemployment benefits?

      Overall I'd be surprised if there's much difference.

  17. Thesheep

    Numbers

    The amount of effort spent on this is astounding. There was 1 (one) conviction following the general election in 2017. Of the eight cautions given out, 2 were about postal voting, four were about registration, and the other two were about candidates. So twice as many candidates as actual cases of voting fraud at the polling station.

    https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0006/239973/Fraud-allegations-data-report-2017.pdf

    Frankly if they put as much effort into things where a real number of people were involved (for example Universal Payments) or if they REALLY need to focus on democracy then there is a whole question about how referenda are conducted...

  18. onemark03

    The UK is clearly being softened up (like the proverbial frog in the proverbial pot of warm water) for the introduction of national ID cards at some stage in the future.

    1. Chloe Cresswell

      Yeah, I wonder if any proposed new system will tell me the same as the last attempt - that I need 2 IDs.

  19. John Robson Silver badge

    What a ridiculous concept...

    "Voters in Mid Sussex, Watford and North West Leicestershire are testing pre-issued poll cards, which are seen as a less restrictive solution. If someone turns up without the card on polling day, they must present another form of ID."

    Hey - at least the above is vaguely reasonable.

    I suspect that the 44 counts are those where the 'right' person has turned up later in the day. How would impersonations of people who just didn't bother to go themselves be detected? Do we count it when people say 'Oh yes, silly me, I've had a busy afternoon' and leave?

    I happen to know many of the people who man the local polling booth - so I'm pretty confident that I could only vote once, and no-one else could vote as me - but having to bring the card they posted me isn't a huge problem.

    Having to bring photoID is a much bigger ask - even non photo ID is tougher now. I happen to have had a lot of dealings with various government departments recently, but I but those letters are "not a utility bill"..

  20. VicMortimer
    Big Brother

    Bad idea

    This is obviously modeled after some American states, where voter suppression is in full swing this election season.

    Voter ID schemes are not about fraud. They're about keeping "those people" from voting. You can sometimes even catch our Republicans being candid about what they're doing.

    Don't fall for it. And note that these schemes are always pushed by the "conservative" party, because disenfranchisement works in their favor.

  21. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
    FAIL

    I am well and truly fucked if they want ID

    I am registered under a legal alias as is entirely my right under current English Law.

    An alias for which there is no supporting documentation other than the fact that I use it for electoral registration. The only documentation I could produce is a sworn affidavit saying 'this is me'.

    I guess I should be preparing myself for a visit to the Supreme Court.

    1. Paul Martin

      Re: I am well and truly fucked if they want ID

      It's also possible for someone (eg. under police protection) to be an anonymous voter, listed only as a number on the electoral roll. No name, no address: just a number.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    about time

    About time this was done, should also put a stop to postal voting except for the old and infirm. Clear to see the lefties not keen on it as their fake votes will no longer be counted

    1. Tempest 3K

      Re: about time

      Aah, so you are one of the people who'd like to stop me voting because I'm frequently in a different part of the country for work (often on short notice). Postal voting means I don't have to worry about what may happen work wise on polling day.

  23. volsano
    Happy

    Canvassers too

    Remember if any canvasser comes to your door or stops you on the street -- insist on seeing two forms of id, including passport.

    Even - perhaps especially - if you recognise them as a well-known politician.

  24. This post has been deleted by its author

  25. but what do I know?
    Big Brother

    Barcodes

    - the most expensive option - and totally unnecessary as the human holding the scanner can read the voter card (unless this is a precursor to a fully automated voting/citizen management system?)

  26. Alan Brown Silver badge

    Social clensing

    Technological "solutions" bundled up for non-"problems" whose primary effect is to dissuade younger and poorer people from voting (because they frequently don't have photo ID such as a driving license, or utility bills in their names, etc)

    I wonder which political parties this might tilt the playing fields in favour of?

  27. 3man

    Actually, this isn't a solution looking for a problem. The problem the government has is that some kinds of people are less likely to vote for them. The solution is that producing the kind of ID required by these measures is more difficult for these kinds of people and so it will lead to a suppression in their turnout.

    If you want to know where this idea came from, look across the Atlantic at the Republican Party who regularly use these tactics to target minority groups, mostly in Southern states.

  28. clyde666

    Sledgehammer for the wrong nut

    As others have pointed out, the only problem is with postal voting.

    There are many checks around the system, and the parties are generally very relaxed about it the way it is.

    BUT - postal voting is entirely different. There is really no scrutiny from the political party system around postal votes. There are so many loopholes.

    Apocryphal stories abound about nursing homes etc, where bundles of postal votes are filled out wholesale by the manager with no oversight.

    There are recorded examples of areas with large military bases where the voting register swelled by thousands in the runup to an election or referendum.

    One serious problem from my POV concerns the counting of postal votes. In polling booth scenario, there is a register of voters which gives numbers of actual voters at any station, which is compared to the numbers of ballot papers in the box. This count is overseen by reps from all the parties. Pretty transparent and a lot of work for anyone to corrupt.

    However the postal votes are dealt with by council workers away from the count. With the percentage of postal votes now being very high, that is a huge problem area for satisfying democratic concerns.

    1. Lars Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Sledgehammer for the wrong nut

      "BUT - postal voting is entirely different."

      Why would that be, I go to a post office, and I identify my self, vote, pen and paper, and the rest is the same.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Sledgehammer for the wrong nut

        "Why would that be, I go to a post office, and I identify my self, vote, pen and paper, and the rest is the same."

        What country are you in? In the UK, you apply for a postal vote, the postal ballot form is posted to your home address, you (or someone, that's the point!) fills it in and posts it back. At no time do you visit a Post Office or are verified in any way.

        <EDIT> Ah, oh bollocks. I just noticed your icon. You got me, you git!

  29. Geekpride
    Thumb Down

    Deja vu

    This is trying to strip me of my right to vote. I do not have a driving licence or a passport, and there is no legal requirement for me to do so. The version of this ID scheme that requires photo ID would mean I would have to pay for a provisional licence to be able to vote. Doesn't "paying to vote" sound an awful lot like a poll tax? Haven't we been here before?

    Instead of capitulating and paying for ID, I'd rather run the risk of incurring much greater costs by bringing a legal challenge for removing one of my fundamental human rights.

    1. onemark03

      Re: Deja vu

      It seems to me that your greater problem would be with an ID card.

      If for the sake of argument we were all required to have national ID cards, the issue of no passport or driving licence would not arise and you would still be eligible to vote.

      Or have I misunderstood you? I hope not.

      1. Geekpride

        Re: Deja vu

        I'm generally opposed to mandatory ID cards, but that's a whole separate issue. Suggesting mandatory ID cards to solve the practically non-existent problem of personation a polling stations is just insane.

  30. Chris the bean counter

    Postal votes is where the fraud happens

    Massive fraud by canvassers and organisations especially at local authority elections.

    Postal votes should be heavily restricted to disabled and government employees overseas.

    Fraud is always more tempting when not in person.

  31. John 62

    Northern Ireland

    You have needed photo id in NI for years. If you don't have a driving licence, passport or any other photo id, you can get one supplied by the Electoral Commission for Northern Ireland

  32. DuncanLarge Silver badge

    About bloody time!

    Ever since I started voting when I came of age I have always wondered who would permit such an insecure system that is so open to abuse. I'm the guy who knows how computers work and will protest against electronic voting machines or counting machines but I simply could not believe that I wasnt even required to prove that I had possession of the vote card that came through my door!

    Anyone who knows my name and address can feel free to use my vote. Jesus, why not leave our houses unlocked when we are out, blindly trusting that only persons who live there would dare to enter...

    As long as they have no way to correlate myself with my vote and dont record/store/count it electronically I'm game.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: About bloody time!

      " I simply could not believe that I wasn't even required to prove that I had possession of the vote card that came through my door! "

      For the very simple reason that margins in virtually every seat are such that unless a lot of personation is happening then it won't make a blind bit of difference to the results - and if it _is_ happening at that level then it invariably manifests sooner or later in the audits as multiple votes.

      It's hard enough to get people out to vote. Any form of discouragement is counterproductuve. I have long-serving regional returning officers in my family and they assure me that there are random audits of polling stations and the electoral commissions in virtually every country _do_ investigate rumours of such things - bearing in mind that the chances of any conspiracy remaining secret rapidly approach zero as the number of people exceeds one.

      The actual number of such rumours which are found to have substance is very low, vs someone boasting about multiple votes (1-2 every year, they get caught and get slapped around in courts), or stealing postal votes (which is _vastly_ different to polling booth fraud and happens to leave an evidence trail as postal votes are _not_ secret and are kept for a long period after the poll - precisely because of their susceptability to manipulation)

      Even with that, the incidence of postal vote fraud is so low that it statistically never affects results - in a marginal or close result those votes are going to be _very_ closely scrutinised and any which seem to have the same handwriting are likely to come in for extra special attention (would-be fraudsters are never particularly smart about what they do - if you really want to game an election you do it by gerrymandering, voter bribes and flat out manipulation of the scrutineers or the counting mechanisms)

  33. Alan Brown Silver badge

    The actual driving reason behind this

    It's an extension of the voter ID push in the USA, which is directly descended from the events of 1920 in Ocoee, Florida

    https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/9agk73/that-time-white-people-burned-and-pillaged-a-black-community-on-election-day

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