Proposals to make photo I.D a legal requirement for voters were announced in the Queen's Speech, despite low levels of voter fraud in the U.K.
It has been confirmed that the government intends to make photo I.D a legal requirement for all voters in general elections. The plans were announced during the Queen's speech on May 11, 2021. The government said that the legislation, which comes under the Electoral Integrity Bill, would "strengthen and renew democracy and the constitution."
The government made a 2019 manifesto commitment to the reforms, which they said would not have a negative effect on voter participation or turnout. They said that the plans would help to eliminate voter fraud, although the Electoral Commission, who backed the decision, has said there is no evidence to support that there were large scales of voter fraud in the U.K. The most recent data from 2019 found that there were 595 cases of voter fraud in the U.K, with four of those leading to convictions and two resulting in police cautions.
The commons noted that the current system should mirror Northern Ireland's, where all voters are required to carry I.D under the Electoral Fraud (Northern Ireland) Act 2002. According to the Belfast Telegraph, a study by the University of Liverpool in 2017 found that voter fraud was common in all parties in N.I, and had been "widespread and systemic since the foundation of the state", with numerous cases of organized voter fraud through stolen votes, mass voter impersonation, and intimidation.
The plans have received criticism from cross-party MPs and human rights and civil liberties groups. Liberty said that the proposals "threaten some of the most marginalized people in society". Research shows that the numbers of people carrying photo I.D. are limited. For example, government data found that 74% of people hold a full driving license, with white people were more likely than any other group to have the form of I.D.
The plans are expected to be implemented by 2023.