Last month, the British Government announced plans to pass a law requiring people to show photo ID in order to vote in UK General Elections. The proposal is part of the Government’s measures to tackle voter fraud, though it has garnered criticism from some who argue the change is unnecessary and may negatively impact marginalised communities. The latest research by Redfield & Wilton Strategies finds that over half of the British public say they support the proposed policy.
52% of respondents approve of the Government’s plans to require voters to show photo ID when voting at the next General Election, including 24% who approve strongly. Meanwhile, 23% disapprove of the Government’s voter ID plans.
The policy proposal is significantly more popular among 2019 Conservative voters, with 67% expressing their approval. By contrast, less than half (45%) of 2019 Labour voters approve, though a greater proportion of these voters approve rather than disapprove (34%) of the plans.
In addition, our latest research also shows that Britons are broadly supportive of postal voting. Current legislation enables anyone to apply for a postal vote in a UK General Election, and, with the exception of Northern Ireland, no reason must be provided in the application. Most Britons agree with the current system: a majority (56%) of respondents say that anyone should be able to get a postal vote. By comparison, 35% say that postal votes should only be available to those who are demonstrably unable to vote in person.
Although respondents from both sides of the political spectrum broadly support postal votes being available to anyone, this view is more popular among Labour voters than among Conservative voters. In fact, 64% of 2019 Labour voters say that anyone should be able to get a postal vote, whereas 27% of this sub group think postal voting should be restricted to those demonstrably unable to attend in person. A closer result is evident among 2019 Conversative voters, with 53% saying anyone should be able to vote by post and 43% saying only those demonstrably unable to attend in person should have this right.
Furthermore, while compulsory voter identification and universally available postal voting are both supported by the majority of Britons, there is some evidence that these views are held by different sections of the population. For example, a sizable majority (75%) of those who strongly disapprove of the Government’s plan to introduce compulsory voter identification thinks that anyone should be able to get a postal vote. Yet, support for universally available postal voting drops down to 47% among those who strongly approve of the Government’s mandatory voter ID policy.
Our research shows that compulsory voter identification and unrestricted postal voting both enjoy support from the majority of Britons, but also that these views do not necessarily fully overlap—which may be expected given the expected logistical challenge of accommodating both measures, if they were to both be enacted. Overall, Conservative voters are more likely to support the Government’s plans to require voters to show photo ID in the next General Election, and Labour voters are more likely to endorse the postal voting system. With the next UK General Election three years away, these views will likely continue to evolve.