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Voter ID Needed at Polling Stations in May Elections

  • Changes introduced this year mean residents voting at a polling station in the May local elections will need to show photo ID, or apply for a Voter Authority Certificate 
  • Alternative is to apply to the Council for a postal or proxy vote

RESIDENTS will now have to show photographic ID to be able to vote at polling stations in May’s local elections.

The alternative for people who prefer not to vote at a polling station, is to apply to the Council for a postal vote, or appoint a proxy to vote on their behalf.  People can find out more on these two options at

The new voter ID requirement for people voting at polling stations is the result of changes introduced by the Government. It will apply for the first time in England at the local elections on Thursday 4 May.

People who plan to vote in person at a polling station are being asked to check now that they have an accepted form of ID. These include:

  • Passport
  • Driving licence/provisional licence
  • Blue badge
  • Certain concessionary travel cards, such as an older person’s bus pass or an Oyster 60+ card
  • Identity card with Proof of Age Standards Scheme (PASS) mark
  • Biometric Immigration document
  • Defence identity card
  • Certain national identity cards 

Voters can use expired ID, as long as they are still recognisable from the photo. A full list of accepted forms of ID is available at alongside information on registering to vote and postal and proxy voting.

Residents who have suitable ID need to remember to bring it with them on the day. Where a voter turns up at a polling station without identification, they will be asked to return home to find ID before they can be issued with a ballot paper. A polling card alone will not entitle someone to vote.

Residents who do not have an accepted form of ID can apply online for a free Voter Authority Certificate (VAC) at Alternatively, they can complete a paper application form and send this to Reading’s Electoral Services team.

If residents need any help with applying for a VAC, or want to request a paper application form, they can contact the Council’s Electoral Services team at or call 0118 937 3717.

VAC applications will be processed by Reading Borough Council and posted to the relevant home address, or can be collected at the Civic Offices upon appointment, which can be made via the weblink.

The deadline for applying for a VAC is 5pm on Tuesday 25 April 2023.

Michael Graham, Reading Borough Council’s Returning Officer, said:

“It may seem early to be talking about getting ready for the local elections on May 4, but changes brought in this year mean it is important to check now.

“If you have voted at your local polling station for many years, it is easy to fall back on your same routine, but all residents will need to bring the right photographic ID with them when they come to vote in their Polling Station.  If they don’t bring ID, then they will be asked to return home to find ID before they can vote.

“A list of acceptable photographic ID is readily available to check online. If residents don’t have a photographic ID, then they can apply to the Council for a free Voter Authority Certificate.

“There is, of course, an easy alternative to voting in person and having to show ID, which is to apply for a postal vote. You can do that via the Council’s website.

“I’d also urge anyone who is unsure to make sure they are registered to voteIf you are not registered, it only takes 5 minutes online and can be done at”

If voters would prefer not to use ID at a polling station, they can alternatively apply to vote by post or appoint a proxy to vote on their behalf.  This removes the need for photo ID. However, their proxy will still need to show their photo ID. The deadline to apply for a postal vote for the May elections is Tuesday 18 April and for a proxy vote is Tuesday 25 April.

More information on the 2023 local election in Reading – including on how to get a postal or proxy vote - can be found online at

Residents requiring further information or clarification contact the Electoral Services team at the Council by phoning 0118 937 3717 or email