Agenda item

Update on the Implementation of the Elections Act 2022

To receive a verbal update from the Electoral Services Manager on progress in implementing the Elections Act 2022.


The Electoral Services Manager gave an update on the Implementations of the Elections Act 2022.  The presentation is attached to these minutes as Appendix A.


In giving the presentation, the Electoral Services Manager highlighted that:

·        The changes mainly related to voter ID and disability provisions.

·        It was estimated that 2%-5% of the population did not have ID which would be accepted at a polling station.  It was therefore expected that approximately 1,500-2,000 voter ID cards would potentially need to be issued, and consequentially the Elections Team wanted to issue those as early as possible as the deadline for applying for voter ID was 25 April 2023.

·        It would only be possible to issue an emergency proxy in circumstances which had been stipulated by the Electoral Commission once the deadline for voter ID had passed if the voter did not have alternative suitable ID.

·        A significant amount of training on voter ID would need to be undertaken by polling station staff.

·        Extra staffing would be provided at polling stations to assist with the additional work generated by the new requirements for checking ID.

·        Further provisions relating to elections were expected over then next few years and, when necessary, updates on those provisions would be brought before the Governance Committee.


The Committee discussed the information provided and, in response to queries or comments made by the Committee, the Electoral Services Manager:

·        Confirmed that publicity would be undertaken across the town to promote the need for voter ID, means of such publication would include community noticeboards and digital boards in the Town Centre.

·        Advised that although the types of ID used for polling would not be recorded at the next election, records would be kept as to how many people were refused a ballot paper due to insufficient/unacceptable ID.

·        Informed the Committee that the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) had provided funding to pay for an additional Poll Clerk for each Polling Station to assist with the additional work generated by checking ID.  That funding had been guaranteed for the next two years, but no pledge had been given by DLUHC that funding would continue beyond that period.  Several members of the Committee felt uneasy that ongoing funding was not guaranteed.

·        Advised that currently, when an elector came to vote in person and the Register of Electors suggested they had already received a vote, that elector would be offered a tendered ballot paper.  The Electoral Services Manager advised that the number of tendered ballot papers issued was recorded and those statistics were passed to the Electoral Commission for analysis on a national basis.  The Electoral Services Manager assured the Committee that the number of tendered ballot papers issued at elections run by Crawley Borough Council was low, and they would be disappointed if more than two/three tendered ballots were issued at any election.

·        Confirmed that no petition had ever been submitted to challenge a Crawley Borough Council election result.

·        Clarified that Presiding Officers would have the final say as to whether an elector’s ID was acceptable.

·        Informed the Committee that privacy screens would be provided whereby a female Presiding Officer could check the identity of an elector wearing a face covering.  In a situation whereby such a check was required, but a female Presiding Officer was not stationed at such a polling station, it was likely that a female member of staff (deputising on behalf of the Returning Officer) would travel to the polling station to check the ID.  Following a concern that the proposal could cause a delay to those electors, the Electoral Services Manager assured the Committee that various options were being worked through at present.


Several Committee members believed there was insufficient evidence which demonstrated that election fraud was a current issue and questioned the need for voter ID.  However, other Committee members countered that electoral fraud could be unknowingly taking place and additionally, voter ID could reduce the number of tendered ballot papers being issued. 


Concern was expressed that the requirement for voter ID could result in electors being refused a vote should they not have appropriate documentation.  It was therefore suggested, and agreed by the Democracy & Data Manager, that a report be brought before the Governance Committee in Autumn 2023 which detailed the number of electors who had been refused a ballot paper at the May 2023 election due to insufficient/unacceptable ID.