Swindon will take part in a national Voter ID pilot at this May’s local elections.

The pilot will require residents to bring their poll cards with them to enable them to place their vote in the local elections on 3 May 2018.

The purpose of the pilots, which are being run by the Government’s Cabinet Office and the Electoral Commission, is to reduce electoral fraud and they are being run in four other local authorities (Watford, Bromley, Gosport and Woking).

Although Swindon does not have an issue with electoral fraud, national figures from the Electoral Commission indicate alleged electoral fraud through voter impersonation more than doubled between 2014 and 2016.

Councillors agreed to take part in the pilot, following the Council meeting in November last year.

A number of countries around the world have already made it a requirement for people to prove their identity at a polling station. It is already a requirement in Northern Ireland, where ID has been requested since 1985. There have been no reports of voter impersonation there since 2003.

The pilots are being overseen and funded by the Government and are the first in a series to allow the Electoral Commission and Cabinet Office to evaluate the impact of asking for ID before a decision is taken on whether or not to roll it out nationally.

Registered voters who wish to vote at a polling station will receive a poll card by the end of April. The poll card is the quickest and most convenient way to vote because each poll card will be unique to each registered voter and contain a barcode which will be scanned at the poll station to make the experience faster and more efficient for voters.

If on the day, voters lose or forget their poll card they can still vote if they bring any one of the other forms of ID listed below:

  • Passport (UK, EU, Commonwealth)
  • Photocard driving licence including a provisional licence (UK, Crown Dependency or EU)
  • Northern Ireland Electoral Identity Card
  • Biometric Immigration Document
  • EEA Identity Card

To maximise the number of residents bringing their poll card or another form of ID and successfully placing a vote, the message will be heavily publicised across Swindon over the coming months.

Cllr David Renard, Leader of Swindon Borough Council, said: “Our voting system has not been changed in over 100 years so I think it is only right the Government looks to update the way we vote.

“We regularly have to show ID to prove our identity for many things in life such as boarding a plane or receiving a parcel so I think it is entirely appropriate we ask voters to do the same to make sure our democracy is protected.”

Further information on the Voter ID trial can be found on the Council’s website: www.swindon.gov.uk/VoterID

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