Voter ID in South Tyneside: Households urged 'don't lose your right to vote' after changes
South Tyneside residents have been urged to be prepared for changes to elections this year to ensure they don’t “lose their vote”.
Voters across the country are due to go to the polls on Thursday, May 4, to cast their ballots in the latest round of local government elections.
However the day will see Elections Act changes come into force for the first time, placing new requirements on councils around improving accessibility for voters and new rules for those voting in person.
One of the main national changes includes a requirement for those voting at a polling station to have a valid form of photo identification which will be checked by elections staff.
The ID could be a passport, photo card driving licence or some forms of Government-issued concessionary travel passes, with a full list of valid ID types published on poll cards and on South Tyneside Council’s website.
Photocopies or digital pictures of documents will not be accepted, as the photo ID has to be the original document, and although out-of-date ID can be used, it has to reflect a “good likeness” of the person.
In South Tyneside, town hall bosses have previously called for voters to make a switch to postal voting or, if they don’t have a valid form of ID to vote in person, to apply to the local authority for a ‘voter authority certificate’.
Residents can attend South Shields Town Hall to make this application in person, with staff taking a photograph, or alternatively make an application via post or digitally, with an application deadline of 5pm on April 25, 2023.
Councillor Ann Best, South Tyneside Council’s ‘member champion’ for democracy, said it was important to share key information and take action as early as possible to make sure residents don’t “lose their vote”.
This includes meeting the deadline of registering to be eligible to vote by Monday, April 17, on top of the new photo ID requirements for voters.
The comments were made during an update to the Jarrow and Boldon Community Area Forum (CAF) on February 16, 2023.
Councillors heard a number of South Tyneside’s portable polling stations had been removed and replaced with other venues as part of efforts to improve accessibility for voters.
Despite national and local awareness campaigns around the elections shake-up and additional staff to support the changes in South Tyneside, councillors were told everyone had a role to play in spreading the message.
Cllr Best told the CAF: “I know that this has been perceived in some quarters, and I can certainly see why there’s a concern, that it might disenfranchise some voters and might even put people off going through these steps to get that new process in place and that’s the last thing we want.”
She added: “It’s always a challenge getting people to come out to vote and we want every elector, no matter what their political persuasions are, to use their vote and to come out and vote on polling day.
“So it’s really important that we get these things sorted out at the earliest opportunity”.
The democracy member champion also thanked council staff for working to prepare South Tyneside for the national requirements and added everyone had a part to play in helping them to deliver the changes “without any hitches”.
Cllr Best added: “If you could be patient, be understanding and be tolerant that there’s a lot of work to be done between now and May.
“We can all play a part in helping to make sure it runs smoothly.”
Elections Act changes around photo ID will apply to local elections, police and crime commissioner elections and UK parliamentary by-elections from May 4, 2023.
According to the Electoral Commission’s website, the changes will also apply to UK General Elections from October, 2023.
More information about the changes can be found on South Tyneside Council’s website.
To find out more or to apply for a voter authority certificate, visit: https://www.southtyneside.gov.uk/article/16971/Local-government-elections-Thursday-4-May-2023