Elections watchdog to review need for voter ID at polling stations

Electoral Commission says it is tackling fraud concerns after May’s local elections

The Electoral Commission is to review whether voters should produce identification at polling stations amid continued concerns about electoral fraud. It said it was disappointed the government had not conducted its own review.

The review was announced as the elections watchdog published its reports on May’s local elections, in which it highlighted voters’ concerns about the potential for fraud. Allegations of fraud in Tower Hamlets, east London, are under investigation by the Metropolitan police. Post-election polling found that about a third of voters felt that fraud had taken place in the 3 May elections, at least “a little”.

The government is introducing individual electoral registration to tighten up the voting process, but the commission said it would see whether further changes were necessary.

The commission chair, Jenny Watson, said: “Electoral fraud can involve serious criminal offences and has the potential to damage public confidence in our elections. That’s why we’re pleased the government has introduced legislation to tighten up voter registration.

“But more needs to be done and we’re disappointed that the government has not taken forward our recommendation to review the case for ID at polling stations. We will now carry out this review ourselves.”

The commission said the May elections – for the mayor of London, London assembly, English councils and local mayors – had gone largely smoothly, with polling showing 89% of voters saying they were well-run.

But the watchdog highlighted problems in London, arising from failures in the new electronic counting system, which led to delays in the results being announced.

Watson added: “Problems encountered at the count must be addressed to prevent them occurring at future elections. We’ll be asking the greater London returning officer to thoroughly review the evidence in our report to make sure this happens.”


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