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Voter ID – Levelling Up Committee Chair presses Electoral Commission on voter turnout data concerns

2 May 2023

Clive Betts, Chair of the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (LUHC) Committee has pressed the Electoral Commission to clarify the decisions taken on voter data collection and to explain how they will provide accurate data on voter turnout at the upcoming local elections on 4 May (Chair letter to Electoral Commission, 28 April).

A significant number of local authorities plan to use meet-and-greeters stationed outside polling stations to support the implementation of voter ID. The Chair’s correspondence on the issue followed confirmation by the Electoral Commission (on 27 April) that meet-and-greeters would not be tasked with counting the numbers of those they turned away.

The Electoral Commission has responded today (2 May) to the Chair’s latest correspondence.

Clive Betts, Chair of the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (LUHC) Committee, said: “The Electoral Commission has confirmed that we simply won’t know how many people will have been turned away in a queue outside a polling station because they do not have the requisite ID.

“It appears that the Government has designed a system which denies the prospect of sensible and co-ordinated information collection and makes it almost impossible to judge the true impact of the introduction of voter ID.”

“We are barely days away from voters going to the polls. The Electoral Commission should spell out what other arrangements they can make, at this late stage, to record all the individuals without appropriate voter ID that may be turned away, at any point, on 4 May.”

“The Minister has confirmed that the data collected by the Electoral Commission will represent a significant part of the government’s evaluation of the implementation and impact of voter ID. How can the Government hope to draw any credible conclusions on the roll-out of voter ID, or learn vital lessons for future elections, when the data is inaccurate?

“The Government, having introduced the voter ID policy, needs to look again and properly recognise the importance of assessing and understanding the impact of these regulations.”

On Thursday, Clive Betts, LUHC Committee Chair, had raised an Urgent Question in the House of Commons on arrangements in place to record the number of voters who attend at a polling station and are denied a vote because they are not in possession of valid ID.

Today, the LUHC Committee has also published Government correspondence (28 April), from Rachel Maclean MP, Minister of State for Housing and Planning, following up the Urgent Question and setting out further details on data collection relating to voter identification.,

Clive Betts had written (on 26 April) to John Pullinger, Chair of the Electoral Commission, to raise concerns about the accuracy of data due to be collected on voter turnout at the upcoming local elections on 4 May.

The Levelling Up Committee has been reviewing the implementation of voter ID in connection with the upcoming local elections as part of an on-going inquiry into electoral registration.

Further information

Image: PA