back to article ID card will be needed to vote, says UK election watchdog

Unexpected support for ID cards has come from Electoral Commission chairman Sam Younger, who has told the Times that photo ID should be required at polling stations, and that if (or, in the view of the current Government, when) ID cards become compulsory they would "undoubtedly" be applied in elections. "I think there’s a very …


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  2. daniel

    voting laws in France

    In France, you have to be registered at your local town hall to vote by presenting ID and proof of residence (utility bill for example). You are issued with a voting card by post.

    You then turn up at the polling station with card, and ID (passport, driving licence or national ID card - any official document with your photo in short), and you vote - we are not in darkest africa where bands or thugs run about the bush in Toyota pickups threatening voters and stuffing ballot boxes...

    It sounds like "his tonyness" has got to the comission and made him an offer he could not refuse...

    That being said, I would not mind if the ID card was mandatory, but only if there was (a hell of ) a lot less data needed for the damn card... 51 types of data to date including all previous residences, DNA sequence and sexual partners (with a bool field happy/unhappy) , and can be extended at any time by the government seems to be taking the piss.... 1984 anybody?



  3. Russell Sakne


    Surely if it's not compulsory to have a card, this measure disenfranchises those who choose not to have one. Thus ensuring that any electorate will vote for the ID card because they're the ones that already have it. Clever.

  4. Paul R


    So, anyone who is opposed to the idea of ID cards (and therefore wouldn't have one), won't be able to vote out any politician who is in favour.

    Nice tactic!

  5. Jon


    I thought ballots were meant to be anonymous?

    The paranoid among us don't vote even with paper ballots as the serial number of the ballot is linked against the name and address you give at the polling station.

    I certainly wouldn't have any confidence in a system that involved electronic voting & electronic identity!

  6. Ash

    "None of the Above"

    I am amused by the fact that if this bill is passed, we will have to register for an ID card to vote for a party which will abolish it.

    By amused, I mean terrified.

  7. Karl Lattimer

    So let me get this straight...

    Apparently, I need to pay for an opt-in ID card in order to vote in an opt-in election which is supposed to be a secret ballot, where I... erm what? Insert my ID card with all of my personal details on it into a machine which can be easily cracked (diebold??! need i say more) which then lets me enter a vote onto a touch screen which could have been pressed so many times the calibration is so out of whack that I end up using my ID card to vote for the party which supports id cards rather than the one which will abolish them.

    I'm confused, when did we loose the right to free and fair elections?

    "I just don't see the point in voting, if the choice is between giant douche and a turd sandwich" - Stan Marsh, Southpark

  8. Sumesh

    OK, if they really want ID cards, this is my best use for them.

    When someone is next talking to a politician who is so pushing ID cards, will they please ask him/her the following?

    If ID cards are so secure and information so easy to handle do we now not have the technology for a true democracy where each citizens right to vote on individual parliamentary matters can handled by using a national electronic voting mechanism.

    Then we can keep the parliamentary manager; and perhaps the odd minister but hopefully make the most of them redundant.

  9. g lane

    bullet, foot, bang, ouch

    So how does that work with voting via mail, or cell phones and whatever trendy pointless schemes that may be in fashion over the years?

    As for the general idea, rearrange the following words to create well known phrase that strikes fear and loathing within politicans...

    Tax, Pole

  10. Greem

    Re: bullet, foot, bang, ouch

    That's "Tax", "Poll".

    I don't recall Spearmint Rhino and their ilk generating rioting in the streets and mass debate in public (they keep this bit in private booths).

  11. Steven Burn

    Absolute rubbish

    The ID scheme is absolute rubbish. First it was to help fight fraud, next it was to help fight refugees, now it's to help fight problems that don't exist with the public (those existing within the government and RM are a different matter).

    Lets see, how many is that now?

    1. Employee cards

    2. Drivers licence

    3. Passport

    4. Student cards

    All of the above are photo ID's, we don't need anymore unless you are going to do away with the other 3 !!!! (#1 being required for companies and thus, unlikely to go away ;o) )

  12. Rich

    How will I vote?

    I'm non-UK resident so I don't need an ID card. Having left the UK less than 20 years ago, I am entitled to vote - which I usually do by post or proxy.

    If I turn up in person will I be denied the right to vote because I don't have a UK ID card?

  13. Stephen Jenner

    Direct Democracy

    John Lettice mentioned that postal voting and possibly electronic voting are gradually being introduced as a reaction to voter apathy.

    Because these methods are inherently more open to abuse, by almost everyone involved, there has to be some way of restricting each citizen (subject) to one vote each.

    However, under our current system, where the people and party you vote for, immediately ignore their manifesto (sales pitch), post election, it does not matter what method of voting we use, voter apathy is going to increase, and the tying of ID card information to our vote is only going to accelerate this effect.

    As Sumesh put it, if we are going to give the authorities more personal information at voting time, thus ending the tradition of secret ballots, we need something in exchange.

    Perhaps we need to be able to vote regularly, from our armchairs (ID cards and all), for issues, rather than corrupt politicians?

    The Swiss people use such a system, although they religiously stick to paper voting, a person or interested party, raises a referendum or popular initiative, and then people vote yes, no or don't care, at a subsequent ballot. The government, who in every country across the world are made up of politicians, who tend to become corrupt and dishonest, because our current system encourages this, are forced to do the peoples' will.

    Under a system of direct democracy, the political hierarchy is as follows;

    • The People

    • The Parliament

    • The Government

    • The Judiciary

    Under our current system, it is almost the opposite, and no amount of faux hand-wringing by politicians, post election is going to change this, we are not that thick, we can see that it is crocodile tears. They have kissed a few babies and appeared to listen intently, they have not answered any serious questions from journalists, and they have religiously adhered to the current election dogma of their respective party. A few days after they have secured victory, they can return to the business of completely ignoring the electorate (including their own voters) for the next five years, which is marching down the road to “The New World Order”, the totalitarian world that Orwell warned us about.

  14. Andy Davies

    Secret ballot?

    Jon (I thought ballots were meant to be anonymous?) and Andrew Crystall (PROVE to me that you can't link my ID in a electronic ballot) make the common mistake of assuming that UK ballots are 'secret' - they're not: your id (from the electoral role) is entered on your ballot paper, any candidate or agent etc. have a legal right to examine all ballots.

    AndyD 8-)#

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Secret Ballots?

    Although it may be possible to determing who voted for who, it is against the law to do so. Anyone found guilty of breaching the secrecy of the ballot can face a fine of up to £5000, or may be imprisoned for up to six months.

  16. Mike Richards Silver badge

    Folks - look at the upside

    New Labour will soon be announcing a major reduction in Britain's greenhouse gas emissions. A number of highly polluting coal-fired power stations have been replaced by a dynamo connected to George Orwell grave.

    Five more years of this lot and Blair's spinning will be generating sufficient power to drive every CCTV camera in the country.

  17. John Lettice (Written by Reg staff)

    Voting anonymity

    Historically voting in the UK has been functionally, but not technically, anonymous. The number on the ballot paper, as Jon points out, can be linked to the details of the voter. However, because all of the records have been paper it would in the past have been entirely impractical to snoop on large numbers of people's voting habits, and a bit silly to go to the effort of finding out the preferences of small numbers of selected individuals.

    So the record could be used to investigate allegations of fraudulent voting, but had no real worth for doing anything more sinister. Note however that as voting goes electronic the logistical impediments to snooping cease to apply. Ideas-wise, maybe you could call Jon an early adopter. (-:

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    National ID register scheme to help democracy evolve

    I have suggested to the Government for some time that the only benefit I can see for the national ID register scheme, ID cards et al, is for it to form the backbone of an electronic voting system. An electronic voting system that would be safe and 100% secure, because we all know biometric ID cards afford such luxuaries, and more importantly convenient to use.

    With the national ID register in place and the spread of bio-metric reader technology into phones and lap tops etc. there would be no reason why polling could not occur far more often than it does; heck we could hold as many polls as Big Brother. We could then do away with party politics, voting for parties with baggage every 5 years, and start voting on major issues instead; democracy could evolve into a true concensus system. Of course this would reduce the Government's role to more advocacy and administration but that may not be such a bad things.

    I believe that if people could actual vote on issues then more people would vote. We would likely make mistakes but then we would only have ourselves to blame. There would also need to be certain protections in place to prevent silliness, like voting to eliminate tax for instance, and to ensure no laws were enacted that violated human rights. (more protections than we have today).

    Anyway enough of the rant, it is pleasing to see the Electoral Commissioner is taking a step in the direction I envisage, albeit unwittingly.

  19. David Reynolds

    Not the only one...

    Apparently I am not the only one to think the National ID card should herald the evolution of democracy, that this is only real benefit the card can really afford the citizen. I think our voice should be heard. Perhaps someone should raise one of those electronic petitions on the Government web site. (Who me?)

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What benefit?

    Frankly I can't see any benefit at all when it comes to voting, and as said in the article, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

    The only thing that went wrong in the last elections was the confusion in the Scottish elections and ID cards wouldn't have made any difference to the complicated voting forms.

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