Voter ID in the UK: Electoral Integrity, and Access to the Ballot Box


The UK Elections Act (2022) introduces mandatory photographic voter ID in 2023 for in-person voting in UK general and English local elections. Currently 9 per cent of the UK electorate do not have eligible identification.

Voter ID is a politically contentious and consequential issue in many democracies. Governments justify it as a measure to combat electoral fraud and increase voter confidence in elections. However the same policy may also erode democratic participation of socio-economically disadvantaged and minority groups - if this happens there could be political winners and losers.

Scientifically, the effects of voter ID remain poorly understood because existing studies reach contradictory findings and focus overwhelmingly on the US, a highly polarised democracy from which conclusions do not easily generalise. This project makes use of a unique opportunity to study – in real time – a national reform introducing mandatory voter ID in the UK, a less polarised context, from which findings are likely to generalisable more easily. It examines the causal effect of mandatory ID on voter behaviour and attitudes using innovative regression discontinuity and difference-in-differences approaches, focusing on local elections at first.