Nadia Whittome – 2022 Parliamentary Question on Voter ID and Turnout Levels

The parliamentary question asked by Nadia Whittome, the Labour MP for Nottingham East, in the House of Commons on 1 December 2022.

Nadia Whittome (Nottingham East) (Lab)

Whether the Committee has held discussions with the commission on the potential impact of the introduction of voter identification on young people’s ability to vote.

Cat Smith (Lancaster and Fleetwood)

The Electoral Commission has not identified young people as a group that is more likely to need additional support to navigate the ID requirements. Its research found that 2% of 18 to 24-year-olds said that they do not have an acceptable photo ID, which is in line with the average for all age groups. In January, the commission will begin public awareness work to ensure that all voters are aware of the ID requirement, and that those without ID know how to apply for the free voter authority certificate.

Nadia Whittome

The regulations listing documents that will be accepted as voter ID were not in the Elections Bill, but, instead, were in secondary legislation. If MPs had had the opportunity to scrutinise that, many of us would have opposed the clear discrimination that sees a far more limited range of acceptable ID for younger voters compared with older voters. Has the Electoral Commission a view on whether such a limited range is appropriate and were its views sought in the process of compiling a final list?

Cat Smith

The list of acceptable ID was included in the Elections Bill. There is of course secondary legislation before the House on 12 December and I encourage my hon. Friend to take part in the debate on the Floor of the House. The commission did provide feedback on the Bill’s content, including on the list of accepted ID, but it is for the Government to decide which forms of ID are on that list.

Alexander Stafford (Rother Valley) (Con)

Obviously voter ID is an important topic, but can the commission ensure that nobody loses out and that this will not take a single penny out of the pockets of people who cannot afford to buy ID?

Cat Smith

The commission has consistently made the case before the roll-out of voter ID requirements that, should they be rolled out, there should be a free voter authority certificate available via local authorities. The legislation to make provision for that was laid before the House recently and will be debated on the Floor of the House on 12 December.