No IDea: 5 million set to be disenfranchised by new voter ID rules saving top Tories

Devastating new polling suggests that millions could be prevented from voting due to lack of  public awareness of new voter ID regulations, which could make a crucial difference in ultra marginal constituencies according to unprecedented analysis.

The massive Best for Britain MRP poll of more than 15,000 people undertaken by Survation found that 16% of respondents don’t know about new voter ID rules suggesting that around 5 million voters could be turned away when they try to cast their vote in the upcoming local and General Elections with 1.85 million in marginal and ultra marginal seats.

The new data showed that misapprehension of the new rules is greatest among younger people with one in four (27%) 18-24 year olds in the dark of what they need to vote compared to just 6% of over 65s. Similarly 18% of people working full time do not know photo ID is required compared to a mere 5% of those who had retired.

In Scotland, one in four (27%) are unclear about the new rules compared to one in five in Wales (20%) and 14% in England. A high level of confusion was also recorded among minority ethnic groups including one in four (26%) Asian/Asian British respondents, 23% of those who are Black/African/Caribbean/Black British and 22% of those who identified as mixed/multiple ethnic groups.

The first-of-its-kind constituency level MRP analysis of voter ID awareness reveals the new rules could be decisive for top Tories in newly marginal seats where they are within 5% of losing their seat. In the seat of Richmond and Northallerton where the Prime Minister holds a poll lead of 2.4%, an estimated 9,800 voters are unaware of the need to show voter ID with a similar number in Liz Truss’ constituency of South West Norfolk where she leads by 1.5%. Jeremy Hunt, Michael Gove, Suella Braverman and Priti Patel could also be saved as between 7,000-9,000 people in their seats are unsure of the need for photo ID.

The confusion could  scupper the hopes of smaller opposition parties of making gains with 9,695 people unaware of the requirements in the Green target seat of Waveney Valley and around 10,000 in both Lib Dem target seats of St Ives and South Cambridgeshire. 

Photo ID requirements were introduced as part of the Elections Act in 2022 after the Government claimed it was needed to prevent electoral fraud. However, this justification was widely dismissed as there was only one conviction for identity theft during the last General Election among more than 30 million votes cast. In contrast, around 14,000 people were turned away from polling stations during last year’s local elections with the estimated number of people deterred from voting estimated to be much higher.  

The Government has faced accusations of attempting to disenfranchise people less likely to vote Conservative, an assertion supported by the seemingly arbitrary choice of acceptable forms of ID. For example, a 60+ oyster card is permitted whereas an 18+ student oyster card is not. Alongside providing tactical voting advice to help voters deliver change in their area, Best for Britain’s campaign aims to increase awareness of new Voter ID rules. 

Naomi Smith, CEO of Best for Britain and founder of voter information site said,

“While polls suggest it won’t be enough to change the result of the next General Election, the introduction of unnecessary photo ID could be the difference between victory and defeat for high profile Conservatives in marginal constituencies.

“Overcoming these barriers can help keep the Tories out of power for a decade and as the Government ignores calls for proper funding to increase public awareness of the new rules, we’ll be helping voters get it right at”

Details of Best for Britain’s MRP poll around Voter ID

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