You now need Voter ID to vote - but how does it work?

There are some things you need to know about the Government’s new Voter ID Law.

  • Posted Thu, Apr 6, 2023 12:00 PM

Unless you’ve been under a rock, you’ve probably seen and heard a lot of hustle and bustle in the last few weeks about our Student Elections. The turnout was fantastic - and so are our new candidates. But if you’re interested in voting in real-world parliamentary elections, there are some things you need to know about the Government’s new Voter ID Law.

Say what? 

That’s right - from April, you will be required to produce an accepted form of photographic ID in order to vote in any parliamentary election, including the local elections on May 4th. This all sounds fairly complicated, but don’t worry - that’s why we’re here to crack it.

The basics: 

In this context, “accepted photographic id” means a certain official document that you have, which may bear your name, your face, or (usually) both. 

The Electoral Commission website has a handy list of things that would be considered accepted photographic ID (or check out the list below). 

The most popular ones are passports, and photographic driving licences. In this case, it would have to be a passport or driving licence issued by anywhere in the UK, including the Channel Islands (if you are an international student from a Commonwealth country, you are eligible to vote - if you’re unsure, contact the Global team. You can also use your BRP card as an ID - if it is out of date, you can still use it, providing that the photograph still looks reasonably enough like you.).

If you don’t have anything on that list, you can apply for a Voter Authority Certificate. You can either do this on their website, or you can apply via post. 

If you do decide to apply by post, you can contact your local council to ask for one, or download a form. You will need to give them your name, your address, and your date of birth. If you have a National Insurance number, they’ll want that as well. If not, they may ask for some other bits, like a utility bill or a bank statement. They will also ask for a passport-style photograph - check here for guidelines on that.

The deadline for applying for a Voter Authority Certificate for the Local Elections on May 4th is Tuesday 25th April 2023 5pm - and you need to be registered to vote by Monday 17th April. If you are interested in voting, it might be best to get that sorted as soon as possible!

Voting by Proxy? 

If you can’t be present on the day of the Elections, you can register to vote by proxy. The person you nominate will have to have their own Voter ID, but will not have to show yours. You will need to fill in a form explaining why you can’t make it to the polling station, but you can get further information and help with that here. The deadline for applying for a Vote by Proxy is also Tuesday 25th April 5pm.

Going postal?

If you prefer to vote by post, that’s okay! You won’t need a voter ID in the same way - but there are guidelines for that too.

To apply for a postal vote, you can download the application form from this link. It should go into detail of how to fill in the application, but the application should also be self-explanatory, and will ask for information such as your name, address, and date of birth, as well as a signature. If you have any questions about this, contact the Electoral Commission, who may be able to provide further help. The deadline for applying for a postal vote for the Local Elections on 4th May 2023 is Tuesday 18th April 5pm, and you need to be registered to vote by Monday 17th April.

All good? Congratulations! You’re on your way to helping to shape the future of British democracy. Our Elected Officers would be proud.

(And if you’re really into democracy, the University has a vacancy for Student Governor - check that out here.)

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