Watford Borough Council is one of 11 local authorities across England confirmed to take part in the 2019 Voter ID pilots, requiring voters to present ID before casting their ballot...
Watford Borough Council is one of 11 local authorities across England confirmed to take part in the 2019 Voter ID pilots, requiring voters to present ID before casting their ballot.
The pilots, which Watford Borough Council also successfully participated in this year, are part of the government’s commitment to legislate on voter ID requirements and improve security in the elections process.
The first pilot in May 2018 was a huge success for Watford, with voter turnout reaching record levels for the mayoral and local elections alone. 39.27% turned out to vote in the mayoral election, whilst 39.28% voted in the ward elections. On the day, only 42 people are known to have not voted because they did not have their poll card or alternative ID – this is just 0.34% of the number of people who voted at polling stations.
Elected Mayor of Watford, Peter Taylor, said: “I’m pleased that so many residents responded positively to the pilot last year. The process we had in our last local elections resulted in increased turnout, greater confidence in the system and there was no evidence of any negative impact on certain groups. We are particularly keen to ensure that voter ID requirements have a really positive impact on the election process. Over the next few months we will be working closely with the community, to raise awareness of what identification is needed before voting.”
Managing Director and Returning Officer for Watford Borough Council, Manny Lewis, said: “We are taking part in this pilot to support the continued integrity of the voting system and ability of eligible voters to cast their votes without difficulty, as they did last year with Watford having the highest ever turn out for mayoral and local elections alone.”
Minister for the Constitution, Chloe Smith MP said: “I am pleased to see Watford Borough Council taking part in the 2019 pilots. Their participation will help us gain a deeper understanding of how voter ID will work on a wider scale ahead of a national rollout, and see what works best for voters. We want people to have confidence that our elections are safeguarded against any threat or perception of electoral fraud. People are already required to show ID to pick up a parcel from the Post Office, rent a car, or apply for benefits and this is a common sense next step to securing the integrity of our elections.”
Watford is once again testing using poll cards with technology as a means of identification, while other local authorities will test other methods of ID.
The Cabinet Office is engaging with a broad range of charities and civil society organisations - including members of the Accessibility of Elections Working Group - to ensure that the overall policy reflects the needs of all voters in the UK