Don’t lose your voice!

Protect your right to vote in May's local elections - here's everything you need to know

Reading time: 4 min

Unite is encouraging everyone to protect their right to vote in the build up to May’s local elections.

Following changes to the electoral system everyone needs to bring ID to the polling booth, or risk being turned away.

During last May’s local elections in England thousands of people lost their vote because they didn’t have an accepted form of ID – so make sure this doesn’t happen to you this year.

Unite political officer Mary Williams said, “The way we vote has changed. In 2022, a law was introduced which means when we vote at a polling station, we now need to show an accepted form of ID.”

“Last year the local government elections in England was the first time that this change was in place.  We now know that at least 14,000 were turned away from polling stations because they didn’t have or didn’t know about ID. 14,000 people were denied their right to vote.  They could not use their voice.”

Unite is highlighting three actions that all members can take to make sure they don’t lose their vote at elections across England and Wales for local councils, mayors and police and crime commissioners on May 2.

First up is to make sure you are registered to vote. If you are not yet registered you have until April 16 – 25 days from today (March 22) — to make sure you are included on the Electoral Register in time for this May’s elections.

You can also apply for a postal vote making things easier if, for example, work or childcare commitments make a visit to the polling station difficult. The deadline to apply for a postal vote is April 17.

Most importantly,  before you go to the polling station make sure you have an acceptable form of ID with you – Unite has a full list on its “You now need ID to vote” page.

Unite is also urging people to make sure they’re registered and ready to vote ahead of the general election, which will be held in the autumn this year.

Mary said, “The idea that people will be turned away from a polling station because they didn’t know about ID requirements is wrong. But we also have to think about the fact that if this were repeated at the next General Election, it could impact the result. That’s why we need to make sure our members are aware of these changes. Workplace champions could lead the way in encouraging members to be prepared for the forthcoming elections.”

“Go to the Unite “My Vote” page and you will find everything you need to talk to members, your families, your friends and your communities about these changes.  You will see information on registering to vote, what is an accepted form of ID and how to apply for a postal vote.  Maybe you could become a workplace champion.”

Unite workplace champions are reps who sign up to support members exercising their right to vote and provide them with information. You can sign up to be a workplace champion here.

There are Campaign Packs available full of resources, including posters and leaflets, to help reps to ensure everyone is aware of the changes – and know how to be prepared.

Mary summed up: “Remember, register to vote, apply for a postal vote, and sort out your ID. Don’t lose your voice!”

By Keith Hatch