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Judicial Review Challenge to Government’s Voter ID Pilots

Sarah Sackman

A Judicial Review has been launched challenging the Government’s plans to implement voter identification requirements in 10 local authority areas in the May 2019 local elections, with a view to rolling the scheme out nationally in future. 

The pilots require voters in those areas to produce photographic and other forms of ID before they can be issued with a ballot. According to the Electoral Commission 3.5 million electors (7.5% of the electorate) do not have any photo ID.

The pilots, which are being implemented by Ministerial Order and therefore have not been subject to Parliamentary scrutiny, are being challenged on the basis that they are ultra vires the Representation of the People Act 2000. The Act’s purpose is to facilitate voting but is being used to restrict people’s eligibility to vote. The claim is brought by Neil Coughlan, a voter living in one of the pilot authorities, who lacks photo ID.

Sarah Sackman is instructed by the Claimant and Leigh Day solicitors, together with Anthony Peto QC and Natasha Simonsen of Blackstone Chambers.