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Voter ID trial to launch in Gosport at next local election

Voters in Gosport borough will need to show ID before they can vote next May, the Minister for the Constitution Chris Skidmore announced on 16 September 2017. 

As well as Gosport, Woking, Bromley and Watford have volunteered to take part in a trial in the May 2018 local elections, which will require voters to produce ID before being issued with a ballot paper. *

The form of identification to be used will be set by the councils, but this pilot scheme will involve trialling both photo ID and non-photo ID to see what is most effective and efficient. 

Next year’s trial is likely to be the first in a series of pilots 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. 
The move comes after reports of alleged electoral fraud through voter impersonation more than doubled nationally between 2014 and 2016, according to figures from the Electoral Commission. 

Many countries around the world have already made it a requirement to prove identity at a polling station. 

And it is already a requirement in Northern Ireland, where photographic ID has been requested since and previously paper ID was required from 1985. There have been no reports of voter impersonation since 2003. 

Voter ID was raised in a report on voting fraud by Sir Eric Pickles, published in August last year. 

The Electoral Commission has called for it for its introduction and the international election watchdog the Organisation for Security and Co-operation has said it should be “seriously considered”. 

Cllr Graham Burgess, Deputy Leader of Gosport Borough Council, said: "We're pleased to be taking part in this trial. There's no evidence of any electoral fraud or impersonation in our borough, but we're happy to help make sure that confidence is maintained in the national democratic process. 

“We'll keep residents informed and will let everyone know what they need to do as soon as the details are finalised.” 

Minister for the Constitution Chris Skidmore said: "For people to have confidence in our democratic processes we need to ensure that our elections are safeguarded against any threat or perception of electoral fraud. 

"The current situation of people simply pointing out their name without having to prove who they are feels out of date when considering other safeguards to protect people's identity. It is harder to take out a library book or collect a parcel at a post office than it is to vote in someone’s name. 

“I am very hopeful that by taking a careful evidence-based approach in these pilots we will be able to roll out ID in polling stations at future elections.” 

Claire Bassett, Chief Executive of the Electoral Commission, said: “We welcome the Minister’s announcement today as a positive first step towards implementing our 2014 recommendation that an accessible, proportionate voter identification scheme should be introduced in Great Britain. 

“Voters in Northern Ireland have been required to show photographic proof of identity since 2003, and we have the opportunity to learn from that experience. The Electoral Commission is responsible for carrying out an independent, statutory evaluation of the pilot schemes and we will publish our findings following the May elections, in the summer of 2018.” 

Find out more local information and details of the national scheme.

* Slough was originally in the group of councils taking part, but is no longer involved.

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