14% were still unaware of voter ID rules ahead of 2024 local elections

Matthew SmithHead of Data Journalism
May 02, 2024, 12:12 PM GMT+0

Two thirds of Britons support requiring voters to show photo ID to cast their ballot

As the results of today’s local elections are digested, attention will be paid once again to the impact of recent voting reforms that require voters to show photo ID in order to cast their ballot. Having been introduced in 2022, the first test of the new law was at the 2023 local elections, at which the Electoral Commission estimates 14,000 potential voters (0.25% of the total) were turned away for lack of ID – although they acknowledge this is likely to be an underestimate.

YouGov research conducted three weeks ahead of the 2023 local elections found that 76% of Britons were aware of the new voter ID rules, and now our latest poll finds that this figure had since risen to 86%. Nevertheless, this still means that 14% of people were still unaware that they will need photo ID if they try to vote in person.

Those intending to vote Conservative or Labour voters at the forthcoming general election were equally likely to be unaware of the photo ID rules, at 9% apiece.

The really noticeable differences are between the nations and generations. While in England and Wales 12-15% are unaware of the rule changes, this rose to 34% in Scotland – the last elections north of the border were in 2022, prior to the rules being introduced, so it is unsurprising that awareness is lower here.

Young people were substantially more likely to be unaware of the photo ID rules than their elders: 30% of 18-24 year olds told us they didn’t know about the changes, compared to 16% of 25-49 year olds and just 7% of the over-65s.

That said, those Britons who are most keen to vote were the most likely to say they were already aware of the rules. Of those who rated themselves a 9 or 10 out of 10 in terms of likelihood to vote at the next general election, fully 93% said they knew about the photo ID laws. This fell to 84% for those who rated themselves 7-8 in terms of likelihood to vote, to 79% for those rating themselves 3-6, and down to 69% for those saying their odds of voting are only 0-2 out of 10.

Despite concerns about disenfranchisement, the photo ID requirements remain popular among the public. Our latest poll finds that two thirds of Britons (66%) support the requirements – a figure that is virtually unchanged from a year ago. This includes 63% of those who were not aware that such a law had been introduced.

By contrast, only 25% are opposed to the photo ID requirement. Those who voted Labour in 2019 are the most likely to oppose the law at 46%, although this group is divided overall, with 47% supporting the law.

See the full results here

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Photo: Getty

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