Burnley Council leader Afrasiab Anwar column | Voter ID is another election hurdle

The local elections are fast approaching, and they are your opportunity to have your say on who represents you in the council chamber.
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However, this May the voting experience will be different for those voting in person at a polling station. For the first time, voters in England will need to show photo ID to vote in the local elections.

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The legislation has been pushed through despite the millions it will end up costing the taxpayer. At a time when funds are scarce and the country is going through a cost-of-living crisis, this money could possibly be put to better use.

Burnley Council leader Afrasiab AnwarBurnley Council leader Afrasiab Anwar
Burnley Council leader Afrasiab Anwar
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There is strong evidence to suggest that forcing voters to bring photographic ID to the polling station will create barriers and marginalise disadvantaged groups.

This expensive strategy simply makes it tougher for certain sections of the community to vote. Disadvantaged groups including those with disabilities, the unemployed, people without qualifications, and those who have never voted before are all less likely to hold any form of photo ID and will undoubtedly be further excluded from taking part in the democratic process.

The assumption behind the introduction of Voter ID is that it will increase confidence in the system. However, there is no evidence to suggest voting in the UK is unsafe or insecure. In fact, most members of the public have full confidence in our election process and feel our elections are already well run and protected against fraud and manipulation.

Most people feel bringing in such measures is creating a problem where there isn't one. The only thing it achieves is another hurdle to stop members of the public exercising their right to vote. Spending millions to fix something that isn’t broken makes no sense whatsoever.

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Unlike many other countries where national ID cards are compulsory, we have never had such a requirement. This means that unless you have a passport because you have travelled abroad or hold a driving license because you can afford to drive you are not likely to hold two of the most common forms photographic ID obtainable in this country.

Whether we agree with it or not voter ID is here and unless you vote by post you will need one to vote in person at any polling station across Burnley. A full list of accepted forms of ID is available on the Electoral commission website.

If you don't have any of the accepted forms of photo ID, you can register to vote by post or you can apply for a free voter ID document. This is Known as the Voter Authority Certificate and is available from the council, but you will need to be registered to vote before you apply for this.

As this is the first-time polling station staff will be required to check your ID and eligibility, patience will be essential. So, when and if you visit the polling station to cast your vote, please be mindful that it may take longer than normal.