Minister ‘sorry’ as veterans find ID cards not valid for English elections | Local elections 2024


The veterans minister has apologised to former military personnel who have been prevented from using their veterans ID in order to vote in the local elections in England on Thursday.

Downing Street said it would “look into” changing the controversial new rules, which require photo ID in order to vote, to allow veterans’ ID cards on to the list of valid identification.

The minister, Johnny Mercer, was responding to a complaint from a veteran who said he had been turned away at a polling station. “I am sorry about this. The legislation on acceptable forms of ID came out before the veterans ID cards started coming out in January this year. I will do all I can to change it before the next one,” Mercer tweeted.

A government spokesperson said it was the intention to add the veterans’ card to the list of accepted ID and that defence identity cards for serving armed forces members were already accepted. “We are already consulting on this,” they said.

Rishi Sunak’s spokesperson said earlier that Downing Street had no concerns about voter ID more generally, adding: “We don’t want to see anyone turned away from polling stations, we want everyone to be able to vote. Experience from the last local elections was that 99.75% of people were able to cast their vote successfully.”

Ministers have faced significant criticism over the limited number of acceptable forms of ID, particularly the decision to allow documents such as the older person’s bus pass but almost none issued to younger ones, such as other travel passes and student documents.

The Electoral Commission warned last year that it was difficult to assess the consequences of requiring photo ID before voting. It said the laws could have a disproportionate effect on poorer people, those with disabilities and people from minority ethnic backgrounds, and that the disfranchising effect of the law was very likely to be proportionately greater in a general election.

Among people who did not vote in May last year, 4% said this was because of voter ID. If this figure went up to 5%, it could mean about 800,000 people staying away from the polls at a general election.

A Tory MP was among those caught out by the voter ID requirement as polls opened for the local elections in England and Wales. The Ipswich MP, Tom Hunt, said his dyspraxia was the reason he had lost his documents.

Hunt sent a message to his local Conservative WhatsApp group stating: “Bit of drama. Turns out I have no appropriate ID to vote tomorrow. There is an emergency proxy option if you lose your ID … who would like the honours?”

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But Hunt said it was inappropriate for Labour and social media users to mock him for misplacing his documents given his developmental coordination disorder.

“I don’t want to blame everything on my dyspraxia, but it’s a factor in my life I have to deal with,” he told the Evening Standard. “It’s all well and good people saying we need to have more neurodiverse members of parliament, but having a massive pile-on on them, I don’t think it’s going to encourage more people.”



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