Out of sight out of mind, Voter ID sits on the list of things to do but is buried below a pile of other things for local government comms people, I know.
But rather like Christmas shopping, it’ll soon swing round and the trick is not to be in the 24-hour garage on Christmas Eve looking for the last box chocolates.
With that in mind, I commend local government think tank LGiU’s ‘The Impact of Voter ID’ which I suggest you read or at the very least favourite for later.
While the document is aimed at election office administrators there’s plenty for communications people, too.
I’ve blogged before on the issue of communicating Voter ID. Yes, there’s a political debate to be had by politicians. No, there’s nothing to add if you’re politically restricted and yes, it’s the law.
Whether we like it or not, its legislation that needs to be communicated because it’s about the absolute building block of democracy and that’s the ability to vote.
Bottom line: if you’re English, Welsh or Scottish local government you need to unederstand these lessons well ahead of the next general election which is only just over the horizon.
Yes, Voter ID comms is difficult
First, there’s no surprise in the feedback. Around 83 per cent of people said that communicating Voter ID was slightly or much harder than in previous years, the LGiU findings showed..
Election administrators are split on what impact Voter IDS had on turnout. The body of evidence from one election doesn’t conclusively prove that it had any significant impact on sections of the population.
A strong local campaign is needed. A national message with a local accent is my take on this. Yes, there’s central resources but giving that a local flavour would be useful.
Innovative comms is needed. Do the usual but think of all the ways that you can additionally get the message out. Putting the message on paper bags in pharamacies was done along with on the side of bin lorries.
Don’t look to the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities for all the help. Less than 50 per cent of election administrators said the UK Government department were helpful while around three quarters pointed to the Electoral Commission and more than 90 per cent praised the Association of Electoral Administrators. Comms people should make friends with the elections team who are members of this group.
People were confusion on the what ID they needed. What’s also striking is that feedback from people at polling station was that often people knew they needed ID but were confused about what kind to have with them.
General Elections will be a flashpoint. There is an expectation that while local elections will be tricky the real problem will be when Westminster goes to the polls.
Now, make a note to talk in the New Year with your elections team about communicating Voter ID.