ID warning to Gosport voters ahead of council election tomorrow

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GOSPORT residents must remember to bring ID to polling stations tomorrow or face being ‘denied their democratic right.’

As part of a pilot scheme set to tackle fraud in elections voters in Gosport will be required to have some form of identification to hand or face being turned away.

A ballot box ahead of local elections, Portsmouth Guildhall. Picture: Chris Moorhouse

A ballot box ahead of local elections, Portsmouth Guildhall. Picture: Chris Moorhouse

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Gosport Borough Council is only one of five councils in England trialling the process at this year’s local election after figures showed voter impersonation across the country had more than doubled nationally between 2014 and 2016.

Although the intent is to make voting a fair system some have fears it will mean some voters will lose out.

Darren Hughes, the chief executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said: ‘These government trials, including the one being held in Gosport are deeply flawed and it is our concern that legitimate voters will be “locked out”.

‘Despite increased publicity about the types of ID voters will be required to show, this will not have reached everyone in the borough and there is a real risk people will be sent away on Thursday having been denied their democratic right.

‘The broader picture is that mandatory ID requirements for voting is a sledgehammer to crack a nut. Neither Gosport or any of the other boroughs taking part in the trial have experienced a single instance of polling station impersonation in the past decade.’

Acceptable ID includes either one form of photo ID, like a passport or driving licence, or two forms of non-photo ID, such as a council tax bill and a bank statement. In the lead up to the election the council was offering identification letters to anyone who did not have the correct form of ID.

Graeme Jesty, Gosport’s head of election services, was confident voters will still be able to vote as normal. He said: ‘There are lots of different forms of ID that you can bring, and most people will have them easily to hand.

‘The council has no evidence of electoral fraud in Gosport, but we’re glad to be helping this nationwide effort to improve security in the democratic process.

‘We already have to show ID for things like collecting a parcel, going on holiday abroad or hiring a car. Voting is really important, so I’m sure most people won’t mind bringing some ID to the polling station.’