More than three million UK voters have no form of photo ID

The government is making photo ID mandatory for voting but 11 million people do not have a passport or a driving licence.

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Almost 8 per cent of the UK electorate – some 3.5 million people – do not own any form of photo ID, according to Electoral Commission estimates.

3.5 million voters have no form of photo ID
Electors' access to photo ID (%)
Electoral Commission

A controversial government plan to make photo ID mandatory for people who wish to vote in general and local elections featured in today’s Queen’s Speech.

Critics have warned the move puts millions at risk of not being able to vote. Limiting acceptable ID to passports and photographic driving licences would mean even fewer people would have the required ID, since almost a quarter of voters – 11 million people – do not have a driving licence or passport, according to 2015 research by the Electoral Commission.

The government insists the requirement is necessary to deter electoral fraud. Yet in 2019, just 595 cases of alleged electoral fraud were investigated by the police, of which only four led to a conviction and two led to police cautions. 

Critics say the ID requirement could disadvantage certain groups, including poor and ethnic minority voters, who are less likely to have access to the appropriate forms of ID. According to the latest data from the Driving and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), just 53 per cent of black people and 61 per cent of Asian people over the age of 17 held a full driving licence – compared to 77 per cent of the UK population.

[see also: The Queen’s Speech points to a 2023 general election]

Aisha Majid is a New Statesman Media Group data journalist. 

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