Agenda item

Assessment of the Impact of Voter ID on Plymouth residents and elections team


Giles Perritt (Assistant Chief Executive) introduced the report and highlighted the following points:


a)    The report was a result of a recommendation from the meeting of City Council in March 2023;

b)    Due to Plymouth’s size, analysis had been limited, so information from the Electoral Commission and the All Party Parliament Group had also been included;

c)    Initially 176 people were not able to obtain a ballot paper on request, but subsequently around half then returned with appropriate forms of ID and issued a ballot paper, so 86 people were not able to vote because they weren’t able to provide appropriate ID;

d)    Although 86 was less than 0.2% of the electorate, it was still 86 people who were not able to vote as a result of the requirement of ID;

e)    The Electoral Commission had stated that some people who did not normally vote had cited perceived difficulties relating to the requirement of Voter ID as the reason they did not vote;

f)     Some people only voted in general elections, turnouts had always been significantly higher compared to that of local elections, and so it was expected that some people would not be fully aware of Voter ID requirements at a general election in the future;

g)    The report included a summary of the activity the council undertook in terms of advertising the need for Voter ID for the local elections in May 2023, along with a huge effort to raise awareness from local political groups;

h)    A considerable amount of time was spent on training polling station staff to enable them to deal with an issues that arose;

i)     The recommendations within the report had been drawn together from the findings in Plymouth as well as from the reports from the Electoral Commission and the All Party Parliament Group;

j)      Staff training and communications to the public would be continued.


Supported by Glenda Favor-Ankersen (Head of Electoral Services), in response to questions it was further explained:


k)    The second tranche of the Elections Act was to include a requirement for Voter ID if you wanted to vote via post;

l)     Offering those who were not able to vote as they had no ID would be hard as it could lead to confusion or further frustration, as they would still not be able to vote in the election they had attended a polling station to vote in, but it could be done;

m)  The elections team were very grateful to the politicians, canvassers and stakeholders who had worked with them to raise awareness around the requirement for Voter ID;

n)    Posters were placed at polling stations in the lead up to the election, and on election day, relating to Voter ID requirements, as well as information going out with Council Tax bills, three emails going out to those who had an email address registered with the elections team (67% of the electorate) as well locally paid for radio station adverts;

o)    No tender ballot papers had been issued at the last election;

p)    The rejection rate of postal votes was very low in comparison to the rest of the country at 1-1.2%, and most rejections were due to people either leaving the date of birth blank, or putting the date they completed in the box, rather than their date of birth;

q)    Declarations were going to be brought in for 2024 for anyone delivering a postal vote to a polling station on election day, as well as a limit of how many could be handed in;

r)    Face to face training was done with polling clerks and presiding officers to ensure they were all following the same instructions, and this training included scenarios relating to Voter ID requirements;

s)     If a facial likeness was questioned, there were three levels of people it would go through for a decision;

t)     The Government were expected to release statistics on the number of people who were refused a ballot paper as their Voter ID did not have a photo with a likeness;

u)    A report on the statistics showing the number of people refused a ballot because they had no ID, compared to those who were refused a ballot paper because they brought an invalid type of photo ID would be to provided to the Committee.


The Committee agreed to:


1.    Note the briefing and reports at Appendix B (All Party Parliamentary Group on Democracy and the Constitution: ‘Voter ID - What went wrong and how to fix it’) and Appendix C (Electoral Commission report on the May 2023 local elections in England);

2.    Endorse the findings and recommendations of the Electoral Commission and the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG):

·         Recognise that the current system of Voter ID has the potential to reduce the number of eligible voters who are able to vote at the next General Election;

·         Review the current list to broaden the range of accepted ID documents and identify any additional documents that could be included;

·         Focus on forms of ID that would support people who are least likely to have documents on the current list, including ethnic minority communities, disabled people and those who are unemployed;

·         Ensure that changes to the list of accepted forms of ID should be confirmed in legislation in time for details to be included in public awareness materials and activities, and in guidance for polling station staff ahead of polling day;

·         Ensure appropriate training for polling station officers to maximise the opportunity for those that are eligible to exercise their vote;

3.    Postal vote information being offered to anyone who attended a polling station, who was not able to vote due to not having a valid form of Voter ID.


The meeting was adjourned for 10 minutes for a short break at the end of this item.

Supporting documents: