Bin lorries are criss-crossing North Kesteven carrying the message that voters need to take ID with them to vote at a polling station on May 2 in a pilot scheme being trialled in the district.
Because the need to have ID at the local elections is new and unique – applicable only to voters in North Kesteven, and nowhere else in Lincolnshire, under a pilot scheme – an extensive campaign plan has been launched to notify local electors.
This involves 16 bin lorries taking the message into every street week in, week out up to polling day, leaflet deliveries and full details on the Poll Card being sent to every registered elector in late March.
NKDC has been selected as one of 11 areas nationally to trial the principles of Voter ID under an Electoral Integrity Pilot being undertaken by the Cabinet Office to overcome electoral fraud.
Here, voters will have a list of around 30 approved forms of ID to choose from, most of which should be readily available to most people.
To vote at a polling station people will need to have either one type of photo ID with them – such as a passport, driving licence or bus pass – or two types of non-photo ID – such as their Poll card, a bank card or utility or Council Tax bill.
To ensure no one misses out that wants to vote, if they have nothing suitable, they can apply for a Local Elector ID specially for this election and the full and definitive list of which IDs can be used will be available online at www.n-kesteven.gov.uk/VoterID within days, and on the Poll Card – which is itself one of them on this occasion.
At the launch event held at the Metheringham bin lorry depot, chief executive, and the council’s returning officer, Ian Fytche explained: “The pilot gives us the opportunity to test a range of options in terms of voter ID.
“Its fundamental objective is to ensure there is public confidence in the voting system and integrity in the way people vote.”
According to the council, no extra budgeting will be needed as costs will be covered by central government.
Most people asked in the nearby village praised efforts to tackle election fraud (though there is no suggestion of anything like that having taken place in NKDC), while others said it would make the system more democratic.
Russell Kitchen, who works in the financial services sector, pointed to other areas where identity was needed to do business.
He said: “There are probably people who are thinking it’s an invasion of privacy but there are very good reasons for it.
“I think everybody should by now be well aware that the arrangement is protecting the integrity of the system.”
Another resident warned: “It’s an extra limitation to the voting system, an extra bit of hassle which may discourage people from voting, but at the same time I can’t take a risk of voter fraud.”
Council leader Richard Wright, however, said: “You can’t pick a parcel up from the post office without ID so we don’t see it as a bar to putting people off.
“Yes it will take slightly longer but we don’t see it taking that much longer than at present,” said Mr Wright.
“We’re making sure that in polling stations we anticipate being busy we’ll have extra people on site, to accommodate everybody,” added Mr Fytche.
The polling stations will be open 7am-10pm.