Elections Act and voter ID

The UK government is making changes to the UK electoral system. The Elections Act 2022 contains measures that affect elections and how we vote. The most significant of these is the introduction of photo identification at polling stations. This new requirement will apply for the first time in England at the local elections on Thursday 4 May 2023.

Please note: There are no scheduled elections in Wandsworth in 2023.

The forms of ID you can use to vote

You may already have a form of photo ID that is acceptable. You can use any of the following:

  • Passport
  • Driving licence (including provisional license)
  • Blue Badge
  • Certain concessionary travel cards
  • Identity card with PASS mark (Proof of Age Standards Scheme)
  • Biometric Immigration Document
  • Defence identity card
  • Certain national identity cards

The Electoral Commission has more information about which forms of photo ID will be accepted. 

No suitable photo ID

If you do not have any of the accepted photo ID, and you want to vote at the polling station, you will need to apply for a Voter Authority Certificate. This is a free photographic identification document specific for the purposes of voting.

You can apply for a Voter Authority Certificate from 16 January 2023.

Alternatively, you can complete a paper application form. If you need any help with applying for a Voter Authority Certificate or want to request an application form, contact Electoral Services.

Voters who do not produce a Voter Authority Certificate, or valid identification will not be allowed to vote on the day.

Again, please note there are no elections due to be held in Wandsworth in May 2023.

Find out more about the Elections Act 2022.

Postal and proxy vote

Postal voters will not be affected and will be issued with their postal ballot papers as usual.

If you choose to vote by proxy then the person who you have trusted to vote on your behalf will have to take their own identification to be issued with a ballot paper.

Other changes to elections

Other measures being introduced by the Elections Act include changes to absent voting, EU citizen's voting and candidacy rights, and overseas electors rights.

Absent voting - postal and proxy voting

Changes to absent voting include:

  • Political parties and campaigners will be banned from handling postal votes
  • There will be a limit to the number of postal votes a person can hand in at a polling station
  • Postal voters will need to make a fresh application every 3 years, instead of the 5-yearly signature refresh
  • Electors will only be allowed to act as proxy for up to 4 people, of which no more than 2 can be "domestic electors" - i.e. not overseas voters
  • Postal or proxy voting applications will include a requirement for the applicant's identity to be verified

EU citizens' voting and candidacy rights

Changes to EU citizens' voting and candidacy rights include:

  • EU citizens will no longer automatically be entitled to register, vote, and stand for election
  • Two groups of EU citizens will retain their rights:
    • 'Qualifying EU citizens' from countries with reciprocal agreements, and who have leave, or do not require it, to remain in the UK - currently Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, and Spain
    • 'EU citizens with retained rights' who were residents in the UK before 1 January 2021 - i.e. before the UK left the EU

The changes to EU citizens' voting and candidacy rights will apply to all local elections and referendums in England and to the Mayor of London and London Assembly elections. However, these changes will not take effect until after the May 2024 elections.

Overseas electors

Changes to overseas electors rights include:

  • The 15-year limit on British citizens living abroad will be removed
  • Overseas electors will be able to register at an address where they were previously registered OR even never registered, where they were last resident
  • The registration period will be extended from one year to three

The changes are expected to be in place by May 2024.

Got a question?

Web chat available Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm