Elections Act 2022

The Elections Act 2022 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, introduced to the House of Commons in July 2021, and received Royal Assent on 28 April 2022 

The new Elections Act will make a number of important changes to how some elections work in the UK. 

Everyone will be required to present voter ID before they are issued with a ballot paper at UK parliamentary and local elections in England. This will be familiar to voters in Northern Ireland, where it has long been in place. The primary forms of identification requested in polling stations will be passport and driving licence. Scottish and Welsh local and parliamentary elections will be unaffected. 

Is this an attack on democracy? 

 Critics maintain this is a form of voter impression since the crime of impersonation at polling stations is almost nonexistent and the people most likely to be put off voting are those least likely to vote Conservative. Also, the act allows the government to set the Electoral Commission's 'strategy and policy' critics argue that this undermines the political independence of the Commission.  The provision which removes the 15-year cap on overseas voting gives voting rights to permanent ex-pats- who have tended to be conservative supporters and does not regulate the campaigning or funding of any overseas voting. Finally, the act replaces SV for mayoral elections -  which again should benefit conservative candidates.

Voter Identification (ID)

The law will require you to show photo ID when you want to vote at a polling station when there is a Parliamentary or Police and Crime Commissioner election. This could be an approved form of photo ID, such as a passport. Expired ID documents will be accepted if the photo is still a good likeness of you.

The most commonly used ID include:

Many countries have compulsory voter ID requirements – but they also tend to have compulsory national identity cards. Strict voter ID is problematic in the UK because even the government’s own research suggests that 9% of the public do not have up-to-date and recognisable photographic ID.

Those less likely to have the required ID include people with severely limiting disabilities, the unemployed and those without educational qualifications. Trans and gender non-conforming (GNC) people are substantially less likely to have the requisite ID.

Pilots of voter ID at local elections in 2018 and 2019 also found that many citizens were unable to vote because they either lacked the necessary identification – or refused to provide it out of principle.

Those without a form of ID will be able to apply for a free ID card from their local authority, the government says.

Who has the right to vote is also changing. The government has abolished the 15-year limitation on eligible British citizens living overseas to be registered to vote in relevant elections in the UK – a win for ex-pats. But with the other hand, it takes away the right to vote and standing of some EU citizens who live and pay taxes in the UK.

There are new complex regulations too. Those EU citizens who were living in the UK before January 2021 and hold lawful immigration status will retain their rights in some elections. Other EU citizens will only have such rights if the UK government negotiates a reciprocal deal with their home country.