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.
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.