The Government is introducing voter ID as a requirement to have your voice heard in the May 2023 local elections. Many in the charity sector, and particularly those that work with people with experience of homelessness, have expressed concerns about the likely negative impact this will have, with many opposing the guidance.
Young people are already a disproportionately disenfranchised group with low belief that their participation will make a difference. We also know that young people face barriers to accessing mainstream photo ID due to the cost which can be prohibitive – particularly for young people who live in supported accommodation and who are already facing financial pressures due to the cost of living crisis.
The government is introducing a free voter ID document called a ‘Voter Authority Certificate’ to mitigate the cost. However, access to this depends on young people having certain other documents that they may not possess. The cost is also not the only barrier to young people having identification – they may have low levels of trust in authorities and challenges engaging in the practical elements of sourcing and keeping an ID, including a voter authority certificate.
We are concerned that this policy could further disenfranchise young people from the democratic process and would therefore make it less likely for young people to have their voice meaningfully heard.
The good news is that The Electoral Commission has created some helpful guidance and resources to support people to understand the new requirements, including information specifically for people experiencing homelessness and those that support them.
Check them out here:
Are you speaking with young people about voting in the local elections? We want to hear from you. Let us know in the comments, on social media or by emailing [email protected]