Frequently asked questions
Why has voter identification been introduced in polling stations?
We have always had a form of identity check – this is not new. What is new is the production of photographic identification as part of the ongoing developments to ensure the integrity of the election. The policy decision by central government flows from a manifesto pledge in the 2017 and 2019 manifestos.
What will be acceptable identification in polling stations?
A voter must present one accepted form of photographic identification in order to vote in person at the polling station.
Why are certain work/student passes and railcards not accepted?
Work/student passes: Given the wide array of professional and educational organisations that provide photographic identification, it would not be difficult to create a form of identification for a non-existent organisation meaning these would be susceptible to fraud. However, some student cards are PASS accredited, and so would be accepted (e.g. the National Union of Students ‘TOTUM’ student card). All accredited PASS cards bear the Proof of Age Standards Scheme hologram.
Railcards: While a railcard is considered a concessionary travel pass, the government does not believe this would be an appropriate form of identification as it is insufficiently secure. Similarly, the 18+ Oyster card does not have a suitably secure application process for it to be used as photographic identification at polling stations (unlike the 60+ Oyster card, which has more rigorous processes).
Will photocopies of identification documents or pictures on mobile phones of identification documents be accepted?
No, photocopies of identification documents or pictures on mobile phones of identification documents will not be accepted as photo-editing software could be used to edit them, thus making them susceptible to fraudulent alteration.
Note: Some supporting documents for a name change, such as a wedding certificate, may be ‘certified copies’ and will be accepted in polling stations for the purpose of demonstrating a name change.
My photographic identification has expired, what do I do?
If your photographic identification has expired it will still be accepted so long as the photograph is still of good likeness of you, unless it is a temporary voter authority certificate which is only valid for use on polling day.
My name on the electoral register is different from the name on my photographic identification, what do I do?
If your name has changed, for example through marriage, you may be required to provide further proof of identity, such as a marriage certificate, providing evidence of a name change.
Can I have my photographic identification viewed in private?
Yes, there will be a private area in each polling station which will allow voters wishing to have their form of identification to be viewed in private to do so. This may be achieved in a variety of ways and will depend on the room or rooms being used as a polling station. For example, some stations will have of privacy screens, others may use an existing partition, or the polling station staff may require voters to wait outside the polling venue whilst identification is viewed inside the polling station.
We will provide a mirror in polling stations to assist people who wear face coverings to remove them for the purposes of checking identification (and specifically to provide reassurance that they have been properly replaced following the check).
If an elector refuses to comply with the voter identification check, they will not be given a ballot paper and will not be able to vote in the polling station.
Can I have my photographic identification viewed by a specific gender poll clerk?
It is not a mandatory requirement for Returning Officer’s to provide a specific gender poll clerk in polling stations. However, you may wish to request a specific gender poll clerk to view your photographic identification and this request will be met if that specific gender poll clerk is available or you may have to wait for another member of staff to be made available.
What happens if I cannot provide acceptable photographic identification at the polling station?
If you turn up to a polling station with no acceptable photographic identification, you will be advised to leave and return with appropriate identification.
If you do not provide an accepted form of identification, then there is no evidence that you are the person on the register. Therefore, it will not be appropriate for you to be issued with a tendered ballot paper.
The Presiding Officer will be responsible for making the decision to refuse to provide a ballot paper. There will be no ability for an elector to appeal the Presiding Officer’s decision on polling day.
What do I do if my identification is lost, stolen or damaged close to polling day?
In the unfortunate event that you lose all forms of identification before the deadline for applications for a voter authority certificate has passed, or if your identification is stolen, destroyed or damaged beyond use, you may apply for a voter authority certificate.
If you lose your identification after the deadline for applications for voter authority certificate, the Electoral Registration Officer will have the ability to allow the appointment of an emergency proxy for that polling day.
Will I need to provide supporting evidence when requesting an emergency proxy for lost identification?
You will not need to provide any evidence or attestation to support your request for an emergency proxy in these situations. But you will need to provide a reason why you need an emergency proxy and make a declaration.
I am a proxy voter, will I need to show identification for the elector on whose behalf I am voting?
As a proxy voter, you will need to produce your own photographic identification in the polling station in order to show that they are the named proxy, but you will not need to produce the identification of the elector on whose behalf you are voting. If you are a proxy voter and you do not have accepted photographic identification, you can apply for a free voter authority certificate.
I am an emergency proxy voter, will I need to show identification for the elector on whose behalf I am voting?
As an emergency proxy, you will need to produce your own photographic identification in the polling station but will not need to produce identification for the person on whose behalf you are voting. Given proximity to the poll of an emergency proxy being appointed, it is advisable that an emergency proxy should already have acceptable identification.
Will I have to show photographic identification to hand in a postal vote?
No. You will not need to show any form of identification in order to hand in your own or another person’s postal vote. You can only hand deliver a maximum of 6 postal voting packs.
Will my poll card look different?
Yes, there will be additional information on the Poll Card regarding the new requirements and details regarding voter identification. Due to this, the Poll Card will therefore need to be bigger.
What can I expect when I attend a polling station to vote in person?
You will go to the desk and tell the staff your name and address. They will ask you to provide your photographic identification. They will then give you your ballot papers. Take your ballot papers to a voting booth. Read the instructions in the booth and mark your ballot paper(s), fold them once so that nobody can see how you have voted. Then put your folded ballot papers into the appropriate ballot box(es).
I no longer want to vote in person at a polling station, what are my options?
If you do not want to vote in person at a polling station, then you can apply to vote by post or by proxy. Contact Electoral Services for an application form.
Voting by post means that you will be sent a postal ballot pack before the election. The deadline to apply for a postal vote is 5pm, eleven working days before polling day.
Voting by proxy means that you can nominate somebody that you trust to attend your polling station in person and vote on your behalf. The deadline to apply for a proxy vote is 5pm, six working days before polling day.
To find out more information, please visit the Electoral Commission website.
What is a voter authority certificate?
If you do not possess acceptable forms of photographic identification, you can apply to your local Electoral Services for a free voter authority certificate.
What will a voter authority certificate look like?
The voter authority certificate is expected to be an A4 sized, paper-based document displaying the elector’s full name and photograph, the date of issue (or the date on which it can be used, for temporary documents), the issuing local authority, an appropriate identifier, and a recommended renewal date (10 years after the date of issue). It will also contain inherent security features to ensure it is secure and to protect against fraud. Some of these features will be visible, such as the inclusion of a watermark, allowing polling station staff to clearly recognise it as a valid document.
Will my voter authority certificate expire?
Voter authority certificates will not have an expiry date but will include a recommended renewal date. The voter authority certificate is only valid so long as the photograph remains a good likeness of you which is why we recommend that you apply for a new document before within 10 years of the issue date. 10 years has been used as this is the standard length of validity for passports and driving licences and is designed to prompt the owner to keep the photo up to date.
How can I apply for a voter authority certificate?
You can apply for a voter authority certificate in person, by post or online. Application forms will be available online to download and print (including on GOV.UK), but you will also be able to request that Electoral Services post an application form to you. We will accept scanned copies of applications for voter authority certificates via email. Paper applications may also be posted or handed in to the council offices.
You will be asked to provide:
- Name (the same name that you used to register to vote)
- Address (the address you are registered to vote at)
- Date of birth
- National insurance number
- A recent photo (the photo you provide must meet certain requirements in terms of style, quality and size, which are similar to the requirements for a passport photo (a close-up photograph of your head and shoulders))
Overseas electors and service voters will need to provide their declaration and present address.
Anonymous electors will need to indicate that they have (or have applied for) an anonymous entry on the register.
Applicants will also be asked if they need to collect their document rather than have it delivered, and to give a reason why.
Applicants will also need to declare that the information provided is true, and applications will be dated.
What will the photo requirements be for voter authority certificate applications?
The photo requirements will be similar to passport requirements. You must be facing forwards, with no other objects or people in the photo, not wearing sunglasses or head coverings (with the exception of head coverings for medical or religious reasons), with no glare or shadows over the face and be against a neutral background.
The online application service will not allow an application to be submitted until a photograph has been uploaded.
What if I am unable to take a digital photo to apply for a voter authority certificate?
If you are unable to provide a digital photo, then you can apply for a voter authority certificate via a paper application form and provide a physical photograph with that application. An online application cannot be made if you do not have (or cannot take) a digital photo. If you are unable to take a photograph yourself, you can visit Shropshire Local (Shrewsbury), Shropshire Local (Ludlow) or Shropshire Local Mobile service where you can get help completing the online application form and have a photo taken and upload any required documents.
Do I have to be on the electoral register to apply for a voter authority certificate?
You will need to be registered to vote in order to be issued with a voter authority certificate. However, you will be able to submit an application for a voter authority certificate at the same time as you submit an application to register to vote – you will not need to wait to have their registration confirmed first.
Can I use my voter authority certificate as ID outside of the polling station?
No. The voter authority certificate will only be accepted as photographic identification for the purpose of supporting the democratic process.
How will I receive my voter authority certificate?
The centrally procured printing and delivery process will use Royal Mail to deliver the voter authority certificate to your registered address. It is estimated that voter authority certificates will be printed within 1-2 days of being sent to the print supplier, and then delivered first class by Royal Mail.
You may request during your application to collect your document in person from the council offices. You will be asked to provide your reason for this request, and this may be made available. We will notify you of where and at what times the document can be collected, and that the document may only be collected by yourself in person.
I have moved house, do I need to apply for a new voter authority certificate?
Although you will need to register to vote at your new address, you will not need to request a new voter authority certificate if you move house within Shropshire or move to another local authority. You will be able to use your voter authority certificate in all polls across Great Britain – not just in the local authority that issued the voter authority certificate.
When can I apply for a voter authority certificate?
The deadline for applications for a voter authority certificate will be 5pm, six working days before polling day.
What happens if I apply for a voter authority certificate after the deadline?
If you apply for a voter authority certificate after the deadline, then you will be unable to receive a voter authority certificate in time for polling day. We will not be able to determine your application until after polling day. However, your application will be determined after polling day so that you can participate in future elections.
Temporary voter authority certificates and emergency proxies will not be available if you have applied for a voter authority certificate after the deadline.
What happens after I have made an application for a voter authority certificate?
When applying for a voter authority certificate, you will need to provide evidence identifying yourself – initially through providing your date of birth and National Insurance number. These details will then be matched against the Department for Work and Pensions’ records in order for your identity to be verified.
If these details are either not provided or do not match against the Department for Work and Pensions’ records, then we will be in contact to request some documentary evidence or an attestation so that we can manually verify your identity.
The Electoral Registration Officer will decide whether a voter authority certificate should be issued. The Electoral Registration Officer must be satisfied that the person making the application is the person named in the application and that the applicant is both eligible and registered to vote.
You will be notified on whether your application has been approved or rejected. If your application has been approved we will inform you of the delivery or collection arrangements. If your application has been rejected we will inform you of the reasons for the refusal.
What documents can I provide to help you verify my identity?
You may be asked to provide additional evidence to prove your identity for a voter authority certificate application, documents such as a:
List 1 - the following documents must have been issued in the United Kingdom, Channel Islands or the Isle of Man, except for the final document in this list
- Birth certificate
- Marriage or civil partnership certificate
- Adoption certificate
- Firearms certificate granted under the Firearms Act 1968
- the record of a decision on bail made in accordance with section 5(1) of the Bail Act 1976 (A Police bail sheet)
- Driving licence, which is not in the form of a photocard
- Driving licence, granted other than in the United Kingdom or Crown Dependencies, which bears your photograph, and which must be valid for at least 12 months from the date you entered the United Kingdom
List 2 - any of the following documents can be provided
- a bank or building society statement or a letter from a bank or building society confirming that you have opened an account with that bank or building society
- Utility bill
- Credit card statement
- A statement of benefits or entitlement to benefits, such as child benefit or housing benefit
- Mortgage statement
- P45 or P60 issued by employer/former employer
- Pensions statement
- Council tax demand letter or statement
Note: The documents provided must refer to you by name.
You may also provide an attestation to verify your identity.
Why can I not provide a passport or driver’s licence as additional evidence to verify my identity?
As these are existing identifications that can be used at a polling station, it would create unnecessary demand on Electoral Services if electors were allowed to use this form of identification as proof of identity when applying for a voter authority certificate.
A passport and/or driver’s licence will be accepted as proof of identity if applying for an anonymous elector’s document, however, as anonymous electors can only use an anonymous elector’s document in order to vote in person - they cannot use a form of identification with their name on it in the polling station.
Can I check the status of my online application for a voter authority certificate?
No. You will not be able to check for updates. You must direct all queries regarding applications to Electoral Services. We will contact you to inform you of progress.
Why has my application for a voter authority certificate been rejected?
Your application for a voter authority certificate may have been rejected if the Electoral Registration Officer is not satisfied that you are the person named in the application or you are not eligible or registered to vote, or if you have not provided any additional information when requested by the Electoral Registration Officer.
I have not received my voter authority certificate, what do I do?
We advise that you contact the Electoral Services if you have not received your voter authority certificate within 28 days of application.
If you have applied for a voter authority certificate by the deadline but you have not received it on this date, then you should contact Electoral Services. We will be able to issue with a temporary voter authority certificate, valid only for a specific polling day, which you will need to collect in person from the council offices (unless an alternative is agreed and arranged). We will notify you on where and at what times the temporary voter authority certificate can be collected. This option will be available from 5pm, 6 working days before polling day and up to 5pm on polling day.
If I am issued with a temporary voter authority certificate, do I have to re-apply for a permanent certificate?
No. Temporary certificates will only be issued if there is an issue with you receiving your permanent certificate. If your permanent certificate is late in the post, it should arrive after polling day and so no further action is needed. However, if the temporary certificate was issued because the permanent certificate was damaged on arrival, we can arrange for a new one to be printed.
I am registered as an anonymous elector; how do I vote in person at a polling station?
You will need to apply for an anonymous elector’s document if you choose to vote in person. This is the only form of identification that you will be able to use in the polling station because your name does not appear on the register and therefore no other types of identification will prove that you are the correct elector. You will need to provide a photo as part of your application for an anonymous elector’s documents.
You must present your anonymous elector’s document in addition to your poll card in order to vote in person at a polling station. The electoral register number on the anonymous elector’s document must match the electoral register number shown on your poll card to be accepted.
You do not need to apply for an anonymous elector’s document if you are voting by post.
Can I use my anonymous elector’s document anywhere?
Unlike voter authority certificates, an anonymous elector registered in two or more locations, or one who moved local authority, will require a different anonymous elector’s documents for each location. This is because the electoral register number displayed on the anonymous elector’s document will be unique to each local authority that the anonymous elector has registered to vote with. Anonymous electors will need to make separate applications to each of the relevant local authorities. An anonymous elector’s poll card will show their electoral register number, so if they have multiple anonymous elector’s documents, they will know which one they must use to vote in a particular location.
When do anonymous elector’s documents expire?
Anonymous elector’s documents will be valid until the anonymous elector applied to renew their registration – at which point they will need to apply for a new anonymous elector’s document as well.
The anonymous elector’s documents will not display the elector’s name; this is replaced by the elector’s electoral number. Therefore, the anonymous elector’s document will only be valid while the electoral register number it displays is allocated to the elector. Anonymous electors will require a new anonymous elector’s document if and when they are assigned a new electoral register number. In this circumstance, an anonymous elector will not need to make a new application – we will issue you with one automatically.
I have lost my anonymous elector’s document, what do I do?
If your anonymous elector’s document has been lost, stolen, destroyed or damaged after 5pm, six working days before polling day then you must contact the Electoral Services office as soon as possible. We can issue you with a replacement anonymous elector’s document up until 5pm on polling day. We will inform you when and at what times the replacement anonymous elector’s document is ready to collect in person from the council offices. You must bring your certificate of anonymous registration upon collecting your replacement anonymous elector’s document so that we can verify your identity.