Issue - meetings

Voter ID

Meeting: 19/06/2023 - Council (Item 9)

9 Voter Identification pdf icon PDF 555 KB

Report of the Electoral Registration Officer


The Executive Director for Finance, Assets and Regeneration introduced the report, which followed a Council motion in December 2022, requesting an investigation of the risk of disenfranchisement  as a result of the government’s new voter ID requirements.  The reports articulates the actions being undertaken to comply, and the recommendations to appoint three deputy electoral officers and use £20k of the Elections Equalisation Earmarked Reserve to further promote the voter ID requirement in future elections.


In response to Members’ questions, officers provided the following responses:


-       door-to-door canvassing tends to be for those people who have not returned their household enquiry forms and officers will rely on information received from canvassers as the forms are returned to understand whether those are the people less likely to have appropriate ID; 

-       rather than second-guess how many people in Cheltenham may be disenfranchised, we need to rely on the Electoral Commission report later this year about the broad national picture;

-       secondary legislation in October will require postal voters to provide further, verified information, adding an layer to the process and requiring them to reapply each time.  This which will result in further work for both the elections team and postal voters;

-       everyone who may be affected will be contacted, with all details included on the form.  People will also be able to apply for postal votes on line, which will make it more accessible;

-       while it is true that the council is having to pay for this government initiative, New Burdens Funding cannot be used to cover all costs as this is specifically for staff training.  The council has funding earmarked for this type of activity.  Some of the extra expenditure will be covered by New Burdens Funding, but if the authority wants to do more, it will be at its own expense;

-       regarding funding, money is put into the reserve each year, whether or not there is an election, so if the cost of an election is calculated as £60k, £30k is put into the reserve one year and topped up the following year to cover the £60k costs.  Sufficient funding is therefore available to support the actions outlined in the report;

-       the authority always holds extra funding in reserve to deal with multiple elections (e.g. for the county, police commissioner etc);

-       anyone can apply for a Voter Authority Certificate, but they will be asked by the portal if they have any other form of ID.  If they have, they will be informed that they don’t need a certificate; if they say they haven’t, their application will be pushed through;

-       it wouldn’t be feasible to have a photo booth in every polling station, and in any case, certificates must be applied for six working days before polling day, but it may be feasible to see if one can be installed at the Municipal Offices, where members of the public can apply in person for a certificate;

-       officers will consider what training may be  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9