The next English local elections are fast approaching. On 2 May, voters will have the opportunity to vote for local councilors and metro mayors in the last local election before the general election that will follow later in the year.

Elections give us the chance to have our say in who runs our local councils, constituencies and country. The upcoming local elections and general election are significant moments for members of the population to use their voice. 

The Bible provides us with a sure hope that reconciliation will come both on earth and in heaven (Colossians 1:20), and shows us that God cares about the injustice and brokenness throughout our world. So, while we wait for the day that full reconciliation will come, we should care for our world as God does. Voting is an opportunity to think about what issues matter to you and to make a difference for those who are the most vulnerable in our society. Are there policy areas you care about? Now is your chance to vote for the individual you feel will carry out beneficial change in that area. 


It can be easy to feel discouraged by the state of politics and all that we read in the news, but voting gives you the opportunity to get involved at an individual level. Elections are a moment of change; every vote matters and could change the course of the results. So, we encourage you to use yours and prayerfully consider who to vote for. 

Changes to voter ID laws

Carrying a form of photographic identification is now required to cast your vote on election day. This is a significant change to voting laws that many may not be aware of (though it came into law in 2023) and is likely to have considerable impact in the run up to the general election later this year. 

Voting Authority Certificates (VACs) have been introduced as an alternative form of ID to be used for those who do not have a pre-existing form of photographic identification. These are free, however require the individual to provide their National Insurance number and a photograph. It is imperative that those without access to a form of ID are aware of this in the run up to a local or general election as it could present as a significant barrier for individuals voting. 

For the local elections taking place on 2 May, the deadline to apply for a Voting Authority Certificate is 24 April. You can find out more about the upcoming general election and more details about VACs via The Electoral Commission.

Could voter ID requirements silence key voices?

The electoral commission’s public opinion tracker carried out in February 2022 found that 4% of people in Britain (equivalent to around 1.9 million voters) did not have any of the pre-existing forms of photo ID required to vote. This statistic is significant as that is a considerable number of individuals who may not be able to have their say should they fail to apply for a VAC in time. Many of these people may not even be aware that this is something they will have to do to have access to a ballot paper. 

The government has brought in these laws to prevent fraud. Previously there were few checks to ensure each voter was not claiming to be an elector under someone else’s name. This trust-based nature of voting had been highlighted as a potential weakness in the security of UK elections. 

Our concern is that sectors of society will be impacted disproportionately. As mentioned above, voting is an important right for everybody. Jesus loved all, including those on the margins of society or the most vulnerable. Everyone’s voice is important to Jesus and matters equally. Therefore, all need to be fairly represented and not inhibited from voting.

"Voting is an opportunity to think about what issues matter to you and to make a difference for those who are the most vulnerable in our society."

Initial findings from the 2023 local elections show that disabled people and the unemployed found it more difficult to show acceptable forms of ID. This was largely due to variations in the ownership of an acceptable form of photo ID and a lack of awareness of the need for one when voting in person.

  • 3% of all non-voters said they did not vote because they did not have the required ID.
  • 8% of unemployed non-voters did not have the right ID.
  • 9% of disabled non-voters did not have the right ID.
  • A quarter of those who were turned away from voting did not return to vote.

The level of disparity is reinforced by a government-commissioned public opinion survey. It revealed that 4% of non-voters in the recent local elections in England said issues due to photo identification were one of the reasons they did not vote. This was higher among social renters, those living in the most deprived areas, those with a disability that limits their ability to vote in person and highest of all among those without photo identification. The survey also reveals significant variance in awareness:

  • 82% of 18 – 25-year-olds were aware in contrast to 98% of over-65s.
  • 82% of black and minority ethnic respondents in contrast to 93% of white respondents.
  • 84% of those of have never voted in an election knew. 94% of those who always or sometimes vote were aware.

This is alarming data and exposes the need to ensure that all members of our society are informed about these laws so that the right to vote is genuinely accessible to all who are eligible to vote. As we approach the local elections in May, it is imperative that everyone is aware that they need photo ID and can make other arrangements before the cut off so that people are not inhibited from voting and sharing their voice. We encourage you to use your vote in May and to ensure you have the appropriate identification in advance so that you have the time to apply for a VAC.

If you need to apply for a VAC, you can do so on the gov​.uk application page.

Keep your eyes out for resources from the advocacy team over the coming months and make sure you are subscribed to our Everything Advocacy updates to learn how we are equipping evangelicals to engage with the general election.

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