|Act of Parliament|
|Long title||An Act to make provision about the administration and conduct of elections, including provision designed to strengthen the integrity of the electoral process; about overseas electors; about voting and candidacy rights of EU citizens; about the designation of a strategy and policy statement for the Electoral Commission; about the membership of the Speaker's Committee; about the Electoral Commission's functions in relation to criminal proceedings; about financial information to be provided by a political party on applying for registration; for preventing a person being registered as a political party and being a recognised non-party campaigner at the same time; about regulation of expenditure for political purposes; about disqualification of offenders for holding elective offices; about information to be included in electronic campaigning material; and for connected purposes.|
|Citation||2022 c. 37|
|Introduced by||Kemi Badenoch, Minister of State for Levelling Up Communities (Commons)|
Lord True, Minister of State for the Cabinet Office (Lords)
|Territorial extent||United Kingdom|
|Royal assent||28 April 2022|
Status: Current legislation
|History of passage through Parliament|
|Text of statute as originally enacted|
The Elections Act 2022 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, introduced to the House of Commons in July 2021, and receiving Royal Assent on 28 April 2022. The Act introduces voter photo identification for in-person voting to Great Britain for the first time. It will give government new powers over the independent elections regulator; the Electoral Commission has said it is "concerned" about its independence from political influence in the future.
According to academic research presented to the House of Commons, these changes may result in 1.1 million fewer voters at the next general election due to the photo ID requirement.
Key elements of the act were opposed by parliamentary committees, the House of Lords, the Electoral Commission, devolved governments, and academics. Changes proposed by the House of Lords were rejected by Boris Johnson's government. William Wallace, Baron Wallace of Saltaire, described it as a "nefarious piece of legislation" that is "shabby and illiberal". Toby James, a professor of politics and public policy, has said "the inclusiveness of elections has been undermined by the act and it weakens the UK’s claim to be a beacon of democracy". The Labour Party said the Conservatives are "trying to rig the rules of the game to help themselves".
Other countries with compulsory voter ID laws tend to also have compulsory national identity cards, whereas the United Kingdom does not (see Identity Cards Act 2006). The government's research suggests that 9% of voters do not have eligible identification. A lack of eligible identification is more common in individuals who are disabled, unemployed, or without educational qualifications.
There is little evidence of serious voter fraud in UK elections. Between 2015 and 2019, during which three general elections were held and 153 million in-person votes cast, only 88 allegations were made of voter fraud. Between 2010 and 2018, there were just two convictions for voter fraud.
Photographic identification is mandatory to vote in elections in Northern Ireland.
A voter ID trial was held for the 2018 United Kingdom local elections by the national Conservative government. Voters in 5 local authorities in England (Bromley, Gosport, Swindon, Watford and Woking) were required to show ID before voting. The legal basis for the trial has been contested.
Voter ID legislation was part of the 2021 Queen's Speech.
Notable provisions of the act include:
Other provisions include extending the current imprint rules onto digital election material, and tightening spending limits on third parties.
The act was criticised for permitting as acceptable voter identification "an Older Person’s Bus Pass, an Oyster 60+ Card, a Freedom Pass", while not allowing 18+ student Oyster cards, national railcards, or student ID cards. An amendment in the House of Lords to list these as accepted forms of voter identification was rejected by the Conservative government. Critics have said the list discriminates against younger people, who more often vote Labour; in the 2019 United Kingdom general election 56% of voters aged 18–24 voted Labour whereas 67% of 70+ voters voted Conservative, according to polling by YouGov.
The Labour Party has accused the government of trying to "choose voters". A column in The National said the real intention of the act is to make it harder for anti-Conservative demographics to vote.
Bob Kerslake, former Head of the Home Civil Service, has claimed the changes to mayoral and police elections are motivated by a perceived advantage the Conservatives have under first-past-the-post due to vote splitting. Kerslake noted that of the past ten metro mayors, only two have been Conservative.
The Electoral Commissioners wrote to government ministers urging for the independence of the commission to be retained. The letter said "it is our firm and shared view that [...] enabling the government to guide the work of the commission is inconsistent with the role that an independent electoral commission plays in a healthy democracy". It added that "the Statement has no precedent in the accountability arrangements of electoral commissions in other comparable democracies, such as Canada, Australia or New Zealand."