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Voter ID FAQs

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Why has voter identification been introduced into polling stations?

It is following the 2019 central Government manifesto pledge to 'protect the integrity of our democracy, by introducing identification to vote at polling stations.' The Elections Act 2022 has made this pledge law across England for elections from May 2023 onwards.

Will photocopies of identification documents or pictures on mobile phones of identification documents be accepted?

No, photocopies or copies of images on mobile phones or other electronic devices will not be accepted as photo-editing software could be used to edit documents and, therefore, could be subject to fraudulent alteration.

What happens if I cannot provide acceptable photographic ID at the polling station?

You will be advised to leave the polling station and to return with one of the acceptable forms of ID to allow the polling station staff to issue a ballot paper.

Will expired identification be accepted?

Yes, expired documents will be accepted as long as the photograph on the document still resembles a likeness of the elector.

What are the photograph requirements when submitting an application for a Voter Authority Certificate?

Anyone wanting to apply for a Voter Authority Certificate must provide a suitable photograph either through the Gov.UK application process or submit one with a paper application which meets the following requirements:

  • A Close-up photograph of the head and shoulders 
    • without any other items or persons in the background
    • without any covering of the head unless worn for religious beliefs or medical reasons. 
  • In sharp focus and clear (not blurry) 
  • In colour and taken against a plain, light background
  • Free from redeye, shadows and not in the reflection of windows or mirrors
  • Resembles a true likeness of the applicant without alteration.

The applicant photo must show them:

  • Facing forwards
  • With nothing covering the face
  • Looking straight at the camera
  • With a plain facial expression 
  • With eyes open and visible (e.g. no sunglasses or being covered by hair).

My name on the electoral register and my photographic ID are different, what do I do?

Apply to Change of name on the electoral register.

If your name has changed and it has not been changed on the Electoral Register, you may be asked to provide additional supporting documents, such as a marriage or civil partnership certificate that provides evidence of the name change.

If the spelling of your name is spelt incorrectly or an alternative spelling is present to the one on the electoral register, it will be the Presiding Officer's discretion on whether they will accept the form of ID at the polling station.

What is acceptable voter photo ID?

See a full list of acceptable photo ID at: Voter ID information

If you do not have any of the accepted forms of photo ID, you can apply for free voter photo ID, called a Voter Authority Certificate, online, by post or in person.

What is a Voter Authority Certificate?

A Voter Authority Certificate is a form of free photo ID for people who do not have another existing acceptable photo ID.

How do I apply for free photo ID?

You can apply for free voter photo ID, called a Voter Authority Certificate, online, by post or in person.

Find out how: Voter ID

What is the deadline to apply for a Voter Authority Certificate?

The deadline to apply is 5pm 6 working days ahead of any polls.

Can the Voter Authority Certificate be used as proof of age/identity outside of the polling station?

No, the Voter Authority Certificate can only be used as photographic identification for the purposes of elections and voting within the polling station, it cannot be used for any other purpose.

What happens if I lose my photographic ID or Certificate?

When an elector has lost all forms of photographic ID or the Voter Authority Certificate ahead of the 5pm deadline 6 working days before any scheduled poll and they do not have any of the other forms of acceptable ID, they can reapply for a Voter Authority Certificate.

When an elector has lost, destroyed, damaged or had their photographic ID stolen and they become aware of this after the 5pm deadline 6 working days before poll, there will be the provision for an elector to appoint an emergency proxy for that polling day.

I have a proxy/emergency proxy in place, does my proxy have to bring photographic ID to vote on my behalf?

Yes, anyone who has appointed a proxy or emergency proxy to vote on your behalf, the proxy must bring their own photographic ID to present at the polling station. They do not need to bring photographic ID of you (the elector they are voting on behalf of) they only need to bring their own ID.

If the proxy does not have a form of acceptable form of photographic ID, they can apply for a free Voter Authority Certificate.

Do I need to show photographic ID to hand in a postal vote?

No, electors will not be required to show photographic ID to hand deliver a postal vote to a polling station.

What will the Voter Authority Certificate look like?

The Voter Authority Certificate is expected to be an A4 sized paper based document which will include:

  • Full name of the applicant
  • Photograph of the applicant
  • Date of issue
  • Appropriate Identifier (generated once application has been verified comprised of 20 numbers or letters)
  • Sentence advising the certificate was issued by the Electoral Registration Officer for Fenland District Council
  • A recommended renewal date (10 years from date of issue)
  • One or more security measures recommended by the Home Secretary. 

Once verified by the Electoral Registration Officer, it is expected that the Voter Authority Certificate will be printed within 1-2 working days and delivered by Royal Mail unless the applicant advices they want to collect their Voter Authority Certificate from the Council Offices.

I have applied for my Voter Authority Certificate however I have not received it yet, what do I do?

We advise that you contact the Elections Office on 01354 654321 or by emailing elections@fenland.gov.uk if you have not received your Voter Authority Certificate within 28 days of application. Where a scheduled election is due to take place and you applied before the 5pm deadline 6 working days before poll, you contact the Elections office immediately so we can investigate and where appropriate issue you a Temporary Voter Authority Certificate that can be used on the upcoming specified poll date. 

Do I need to reapply for my Voter Authority Certificate/Anonymous Elector Document if I change address?

Applicants who are applying for the Voter Authority Certificate will not need to reapply for a new Voter Authority Certificate if they have changed address (either within the same Local Authority or a different Local Authority) within the recommended 10 year renewal date. This is because the address of the applicant is not listed on the certificate.

Anonymous applicants will have to reapply for a Anonymous Elector Document if they change address (either within the same Local Authority or a different Local Authority) because their elector number will be different at their new address.

I am an anonymous elector, do I need to provide photographic ID?

Yes, anonymous electors wishing to vote in person at the polling station will need to apply for an Anonymous Elector's Document (AEDs) and present this document at the polling station along with their anonymous poll card.

The Anonymous Elector's Document will be the only form of identification that an anonymous elector will be able to provide and use at the polling station, they will not be able to present any other form of ID, including the acceptable photographic ones. This is because an anonymous electors name does not appear on the electoral register and therefore no other form of documentation would prove their identity and eligibility to have a ballot paper issued. 

Anonymous electors will be required annually to reapply and renew their Anonymous Elector Document by providing a new photo as part of the application process at the time of their annual declaration renewal. The Electoral Registration Officer will also issue a replacement document if they renumber their electoral register (the anonymous applicant will not need to reapply in this scenario). 

The Anonymous Elector Document is expected to be an A4 sized paper based document with appropriate security features and will not display the applicants name and instead will be replaced with the elector number of the applicant. 

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