The effects of voter ID in the UK


Margit Tavits, Washington University in St Louis; and Jonathan Homola, University of California, Los Angeles.


The introduction of compulsory photo voter ID in the UK changes elections. From 2023 this reform makes voting conditional on the presentation of ID in a country that has no national form of ID.

The government sees voter ID as a measure to reduce the potential for electoral fraud and increase voter confidence in the electoral process. Opponents highlight the potentially adverse effects of the reform on voter turnout, inclusion, fairness, and satisfaction with the electoral process.

Prior work on the effects of voter ID overwhelmingly focuses on the US, a case that is characterized by extensive political polarization and the salience of race in politics, so that inferences drawn from these studies may not generalize to other developed democracies.

Professor Schleiter’s 38-month-long Economic and Social Research Council-funded project will examine how the UK reform affects voter behaviour, including electoral participation, and voters’ perceptions of elections.

The project will study the effects of the voter ID reform in the English local elections and the next UK general election. It will also examine historical data from the introduction of voter ID in Northern Ireland in the early 2000s and from the voter ID trials in 2019/19 in England. The research will provide the first comprehensive study on the effects of voter ID in the UK and will help to provide timely and impartial information to stakeholders including the UK Government, Parliament, and Electoral Commission.