Campaigners call on government to ‘get a grip’ of voter ID rollout or risk polling day chaos in May

Campaigners warn of ‘botched rollout’ of voter ID and call for government action as national Voter ID awareness campaign launches yet voters still unable to register for free ID.

The call from the Democracy Defence Coalition – a coalition of leading pro-democracy campaign groups comes as the Electoral Commission launched its national awareness campaign to inform voters of the new requirements for voting in this May’s elections [1].

Yet, as the Guardian revealed in December, despite the campaign launch the government site to allow voters without ID to register for a free ID card is still to be launched [2].

The failure is just the latest sign that the hasty rollout of the policy, which will apply for the first time in May’s local elections, could cause tens of thousands of voters to be turned away from the polling station.

In November it was revealed that the Electoral Commission had privately warned the government that its plans for implementation of the controversial policy are neither “secure” nor “workable” by May’s elections with others, such as the Local Government Association and the AEA expressing concerns over the speed in which ministers have forced the policy thorough [3].

Mark Kieran, Chief Executive Officer, Open Britain and spokesperson for the Democracy Defence Coalition said:

“Experts, electoral administrators and the Electoral Commission have warned about the risks of rolling out voter ID in haste, yet ministers have continued to push ahead.

“Now, with the public awareness campaign to inform voters of these new measures launching today, we still see no sign of the government website to request a free ID. The government continues to risk disenfranchising millions of voters through its own mismanagement.

“This is just the latest sign the government is setting up our elections to fail with its unnecessary voter ID policy. Far from improving the integrity of our elections, a badly botched rollout of these new rules risks significantly undermining them.”

Tom Brake, Director of Unlock Democracy  and spokesperson for the Democracy Defence Coalition said: 

“The government needs to get a grip over this policy or risk causing unnecessary chaos at polling stations across the country when millions turn out to vote in May. Ministers must provide the necessary funding to local authorities to guarantee that the public is given proper time to acquire the necessary ID and that no voter is turned away from the ballot box. If they fail to do this the integrity of our elections is at serious risk.”