Wednesday 21 February 2024
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Nottingham

Nottinghamshire opinions split over new voter ID law for May local elections

Some voters in a Nottinghamshire market town say they will not be put off by new voter ID laws at next month’s local elections.

However, some concerns have been raised about elderly residents not having access to suitable forms of identification or the ability to obtain them.

The Government will enforce the requirement for the first time at the local elections on May 4.

All Nottinghamshire district and borough councils and the city council will hold polls on this day to elect councillors for the next four years.

Voters in Nottinghamshire will need photo ID at the May 4 election

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Voters turning up to polling stations will be asked to prove their identity before being able to cast their vote.

Without a valid ID, such as a passport, driving licence or other Government-issued documents, voters will be turned away.

The change is part of the Government’s Election Act, which is aimed at reducing the potential for voter fraud.

It’s the first time ID cards will be required for English elections having been trialled across the country in recent years.

The move has led to a mixed response from voters in Kirkby-in-Ashfield, who mostly say they will not be deterred by the change.

However, concerns have been raised that others may be put off if they are not aware of how to access valid IDs.

Anthony Hatton, 73, who lives in the town said: “I’ve already got a passport so it won’t put me off.

“But it might put others off because you’ve got to go through a right faff to try and get something like a passport.

“Older people might also be put off because not all know how to use computers.”

Craig Dooley, 64, who lives and shops in the town, is also concerned by the move and said: “It will hinder certainly older people.

“It’s a political decision because I can’t remember any voter fraud occurring.

“I suspect it’s so people on the lower end of the social spectrum are put off from voting.”

But Jenny Williams, 58, who also lives in the town, believes it’s is a good decision.

“It means nobody can go and vote for you,” she said. “People do go and vote on behalf of other people.

“Nothing would put me off voting. I’ve always voted because women died so we can do it.

“I try and listen before I vote because if you vote randomly, it’s wasted.”

And Mark O’Neill, 36, owner of the Fresh 4 You Bakery on Lowmoor Road, also thinks it’s a good idea.

He said: “These days, a lot of people carry ID cards and I think it’s a lazy generalisation to say old people don’t carry ID or can’t access it.

Mark ONeill 36 owner of the Fresh 4 You Bakery on Lowmoor Road Kirkby in Ashfield
Mark O’Neill, 36, owner of the Fresh 4 You Bakery on Lowmoor Road, Kirkby-in-Ashfield

“A lot of them are tech savvy and have a mobile phone, so they can get one.

“It won’t put me off and I’m quite surprised voter ID wasn’t already a thing.”

Councils across Nottinghamshire are taking steps to ensure residents can easily find other schemes if they currently do not have valid ID.

A free voter authority certificate (VAC) can be obtained either on the Government’s website, in person at a council office or by posting a printed form to their local authority.

Voters will need to provide their name, address, date of birth, national insurance number and a photograph.

These will then act as a valid form of voter ID and do not have an expiry date.

Voters have until 5 pm on Tuesday, April 25 to apply for this certificate for use in the May election.

However, if this deadline is missed, voters can apply directly to their council for a temporary VAC.

This requires the same information alongside the name of the council and the date of the election and is only valid for the May 4 poll.

On the new rules, a Government spokesperson said: “We cannot be complacent when it comes to ensuring our democracy remains secure.

“The vast majority of people already have a form of acceptable identification.

“However, we are actively supporting the very small proportion of people who may not and expect even more people to apply for a free voter authority certificate as we near the date of elections.”

More information on voter ID can be found on the Government’s website here: https://www.gov.uk/apply-for-photo-id-voter-authority-certificate

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