Capital unites to raise awareness about changes to the voting system as one in three Londoners unaware of the new need for voter ID
- The Greater London Authority (GLA) and Shout Out UK have launched phase two of an unprecedented campaign to help under-represented and under-registered Londoners access their right to vote
- Boroughs, civil society groups and education institutions are supporting the campaign which is raising awareness of changes to the voting system
- Almost one in three Londoners (32 per cent) are unaware of the new requirement for photo ID to vote
Elections across England last month saw thousands of eligible voters unable to exercise their democratic rights, and under-represented communities are most likely to be disenfranchised by the voting system changes
The Greater London Authority (GLA) and Shout Out UK (SOUK) have launched phase two of an unprecedented, impartial public awareness campaign about changes to the voting system to ensure every eligible Londoner can continue to access their democratic rights.
Local councils, civil society groups and education institutions across the capital have joined together to support the campaign which is designed to address the equalities impact of the Elections Act (2022), especially the introduction of mandatory photo ID to vote.
The impartial campaign will reach Londoners across a variety of engagement methods and channels to let them know about the need for photo voter ID, as almost one in three Londoners (32 per cent) are currently unaware .
London already has one of the lowest voter registration rates across the UK  and figures show that one in 10 Londoners are at risk of losing their democratic voice as they might not have suitable ID , with under-represented communities most likely to be disenfranchised.
Last month, thousands of eligible voters were unable to exercise their democratic rights across England when the first elections took place since the new mandatory photo Voter IDs rule was introduced, with the Electoral Commission stating that voter ID “posed a greater challenge for some groups in society”. [https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/media-centre/post-poll-statement-may-2023]
Phase two of the GLA Voter ID awareness campaign, which is coordinated with the Electoral Commission’s nationwide campaign, will see communication to Londoners across traditional and social media, as well as grassroots community engagement. It will include accessible materials for Deaf and disabled Londoners and translations in 15 community languages. In a first for the sector, the GLA and SOUK are launching a WhatsApp Democracy chatbot that will support Londoners to navigate the voting changes.
This campaign will emphasize the need for eligible voters to register as a first step. It will raise awareness of the accepted forms of photo ID required to be able to vote in person and it will set out how to apply for a free Voter Authority Certificate. It will also provide grant support to equity-led community organisations across London to support Londoners, at risk of disenfranchisement, be able to exercise their democratic rights.
This coordinated approach aims to ensure all eligible Londoners have a say on decisions impacting them, their local communities and our great city.
Three in 10 young Londoners (aged 16-24) are not registered to vote , with young Londoners, alongside Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic and migrant Londoners, including Commonwealth and EU Londoners; and social and private renters, the most under-registered and under-represented groups . Many of these Londoners are also Deaf and disabled and on low incomes.
These under-registered and under-represented Londoners have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic and the ongoing cost of living crisis, and are at a higher risk of losing their vote when the impact of the Elections Act 2022 is felt in May 2024, when the next London elections will be held.
Phase one of the campaign, which was launched in January 2023, has helped to increase awareness regarding the need for photo Voter ID (by 32 percentage points) and of accepted forms of photo Voter IDs (by 26 percentage points), however almost one in three Londoners (32 per cent) still remain unaware (65 per cent of Londoners are aware, comprised of 39 per cent who say that they are also aware of the acceptable forms of photo Voter ID and 26 per cent who are not).
The polling commissioned by the GLA and carried out by YouGov  also shows that:
- White Londoners are most likely to be aware of the requirement of photo ID (72 per cent) while Black Londoners are the least likely (49 per cent) and of the accepted forms of photo ID specifically (46 per cent and 17 per cent respectively).
- Female Londoners remain less likely to be aware of the acceptable forms of photo ID (35 per cent) compared with male Londoners (44 per cent).
- Only 33 per cent of 18 to 24 year-old Londoners are aware of the acceptable forms of photo ID, compared with 55 per cent of over 65+ year – old Londoners
- Londoners with a household income of £70,000 and over remain the most aware (73 per cent). This is reflected by social grade, where 67 per cent ABC1 Londoners are generally aware compared with 62 per cent of C2DE Londoners
Matteo Bergamini, CEO/ Founder, Shout Out UK: “Having worked in close partnership with the Greater London Authority since 2020 on boosting voter registration numbers across the capital, we are proud to continue this historic movement. Backed by an incredible coalition of civil society organisations, councils and schools from across London, we are excited to be leading on this historic work of ensuring every single Londoner is aware of the changes to the way we engage in our democracy, with a particular focus on those likely to be most impacted. Watch this space.”
Peter Stanyon, Chief Executive of Association of Electoral Administrators : “The approach of the Greater London Authority and Shout Out UK is one to watch. A public awareness campaign coordinated with the Electoral Commission aims to address the equalities impact of the Elections Act 2022, particularly voter ID. A coalition supporting the work includes our own AEA London Branch, covering every London borough election team, plus civil society groups and education institutions.”
Angela Dias, Development Leader, Harrow Association of Disabled People: “For many of the most excluded in society, which includes many disabled people, there are already so many barriers to voting – manifestos not always provided in simple formats, lack of seating in polling station queues, limited accessibility hustings just to name a few. Adding another step to obtain ID creates yet another potential exclusion, and we see the Voter ID Awareness Campaign as crucial to ensuring that disabled peoples’ views will be heard.”
John McGeachy, Campaigns Manager, Age UK London: “Older Londoners will make up one in three potential voters in next year’s elections and so it is vital that the introduction of mandatory photo identification does not become an additional barrier to democratic participation. Age UK London are a big supporter of the GLA and Shout Out UK’s Voter ID Awareness Campaign. Outside of London, we’ve recently seen older people turned away from polling stations and there’s a real risk that we see this in London next year. It’s vital the campaign reaches more and more people.”
Adina Maglan, CEO and Co-Founder, The Romanian and Eastern European Hub: “We at the Romanian and Eastern European Hub believe that everyone should have access to correct and reliable information in order to understand and access their rights. Many Eastern Europeans have experienced dictatorship and being able to vote and engage in democratic processes is a step that is complex and important. Our support to the Voter ID campaign means that we aim to give those who are vulnerable, disengaged, or simply unaware of the requirements, the possibility to get free information and support and express their views about the society they live in and the places and spaces where they work, study, and contribute to each day.”
Elmedina Baptista-Mendes, Black Europeans: “Black Europeans was birthed to raise awareness of and fight racial discrimination against Europeans of an ethnic background; supporting and being part of the Voter ID Awareness Campaign is one aspect of this fight against exclusion and silencing of Ethnic Europeans voices.”
Juliet Pegg, Programmes and Communication Officer, Patchwork Foundation: “The Patchwork Foundation is proud to partner with the GLA’s and Shout Out UK’s Voter ID Awareness Campaign, in support of their vital work in ensuring underrepresented communities can have their say in our democracy. At Patchwork, we support young people from traditionally politically underrepresented communities to strengthen their democratic knowledge and engagement, and Voter ID awareness is a critical aspect of this. Young people have the lowest voter turnout of any age group, and according to the Electoral Commission are the least likely to be aware of the new Voter ID requirements. The statistics for this are even lower when broken down into minority and disadvantaged groups. To make our democracy more representative of those it serves, we need to ensure that each individual is educated and empowered when it comes to demonstrating their civic rights. We look forward to the next part of the campaign!”
Justin Mahboubian-Jones, Project and Development Manager, LGBT Hero: “LGBTQ+ people can’t afford to be politically disenfranchised because of changes to voting rights. Our community is facing a swathe of issues which threaten our civil rights, our health, and in some cases, our lives. Voting is key to safeguarding the forward strides the queer community has made in recent decades.”
Notes to editors:
To find out more about the GLA Voter ID public awareness campaign and access all the resources produced for this project, as well as resources from previous London Voter Registration Weeks, please visit the GLA Democracy Hub at registertovote.london
The list of acceptable ID that voters in England will need to show to vote at polling stations can be found here: https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/i-am-a/voter/voter-id/accepted-forms-photo-id
Civic and democratic participation is a key pillar of social integration. The Greater London Authority (GLA) has statutory powers to further the promotion of social development in London. Supporting active citizenship and democratic participation furthers social cohesion, and fits within this remit.
The Voter ID public awareness campaign is funded and coordinated by the GLA, and run-in coordination and collaboration with the London Voter Registration Strategic Partnership – made of statutory bodies, like the Electoral Commission and the London Association of Electoral Administrators – and civil society organisations from across the city. The delivery partner for this second phase of the campaign is the youth and political literacy organisation Shout Out UK.
In October 2022, the EU Digital Citizenship Working Group and Meta recognised the unique London Voter Registration Week co-design model and co-delivery partnership and its impact in the “Europeans Fit for a Digital Age”  report, the only UK digital citizenship project to be included as a spotlight.
In December 2022, the GLA and Shout Out UK were also shortlisted for the Democracy Awards 2022 “Equality and Power” category, hosted by the UK Democracy Network, for the impact of London Voter Registration Week.
During phase one, the GLA Voter ID campaign had a reach of 3.7 million via social media, and over 5 million via pan-London and community radio. SOUK and partners had a social media reach of over 36 million, over 575,000 engagements and 6.5 million impressions on their social media platforms.
During phase one of the GLA Voter ID community grants programme, nine equity – led grantees engaged with over 143,000 under-represented Londoners via in-person and online events, newsletters and mailing lists, partner organisations’ newsletters, telephone calls, and published articles (not including social media). In total, almost 6,900 Londoners attended in-person awareness raising events funded by this grants programme and almost 5,900 attended online events. 144 in-person events took place across the capital and 21 online events engaged with a pan-London audience from the target, under-represented groups.
In May alone, there were over 117,000 unique views of the GLA Democracy Hub pages.
Over the last three years, through the annual London Voter Registration Week, the GLA and its partners have contributed to the voter registration of almost 100,000 people and have reached almost 2 million Londoners. Now at its fifth edition, London Voter Registration Week 2023 will fall in the middle of this second phase and will take place between 18 and 24 September.
 The survey was carried out online by YouGov Plc. for the Greater London Authority. Fieldwork was undertaken between 10th and 15th March 2023 with a total sample size of 1,179 London residents. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all London adults (aged 18+). https://data.london.gov.uk/gla-opinion-research/press-releases/
 Cabinet Office, Atlas of Democratic Variation, January 2019
 When asked what forms of ID respondents hold, polling revealed one in 10 Londoners (11 per cent) does not hold a form of approved photo voter ID specified in the Elections Act (2022). The survey was carried out online by YouGov Plc. for the Greater London Authority. Fieldwork was undertaken between 19th and 24th August 2022 with a total sample size of 1,245 London residents. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all London adults (aged 18+). https://data.london.gov.uk/gla-poll-results/2022-2/
 70 per cent of 16-24-year-old Londoners are registered to vote, compared with 96 per cent of Londoners aged 65 and over. GLA, Survey of Londoners 2021-22, September 2022 https://data.london.gov.uk/dataset/survey-of-londoners-2021-22
 82 per cent of Londoners from a Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic background are registered, compared to 95 per cent of White British Londoners. 81 per cent of non-UK born Londoners are registered, compared to 91 per cent of UK-born Londoners. 88 per cent of social renters and 81 per cent of private renters are registered to vote, compared with 94 per cent of homeowners – occupiers. GLA, Survey of Londoners 2021-22, September 2022 https://data.london.gov.uk/dataset/survey-of-londoners-2021-22
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 The full report can be viewed at https://www.shoutoutuk.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/EU-DCWG_Fit-for-the-Digital-Age.pdf
Half a million (around 495,000) Londoners do not possess a passport. GLA City Intelligence analysis of the Census 2021, ward estimates. https://data.london.gov.uk/census/2021-ward-estimates/
More than 2.1m Londoners aged 17+ do not have a full driving licence. Women are less likely to have a driving licence (37 per cent) compared with men (24 per cent). (GLA Housing-led population projections, National Travel Survey, 2021) https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/national-travel-survey-2021 and https://data.london.gov.uk/dataset/housing-led-population-projections
Only around one in six (16 per cent) working-age disabled Londoners would be able to present a Freedom Pass as ID, if required (ONS Annual Population Survey, January – December 2022; Taxicard and Freedom Pass usage statistics 2020 – 21, London Councils) https://beta.ukdataservice.ac.uk/datacatalogue/studies/study?id=9069 https://www.londoncouncils.gov.uk/services/taxicard/taxicard-and-freedom-pass-borough-portal/taxicard-statistics-2020-21
An estimated 76% of EU Londoners are registered to vote (City Intelligence analysis of various ONS datasets)
Stonewall found that 12 per cent of LGBTQI+ people do not own any usable photo ID, compared with just 4 per cent of the general population. Nearly two in five trans respondents and over a third of non-binary respondents have previously experienced problems getting their ID accepted (Stonewall and LGBT Foundation: LGBTQ+ Voter ID Report, 2021)