Veteran Card to go on ID list as minister apologises to those unable to vote

The Government intends to make veterans’ ID cards a valid form of voter identification after former service personnel were turned away from polling stations, Downing Street said.

Veterans minister Johnny Mercer apologised to those who had been unable to use their veterans’ ID card to vote in the local elections on Thursday, vowing to “do all I can” to have it added to the list of valid identification.

A Number 10 spokeswoman said: “It is our intention for the new Veteran Card, which was rolled out in January, to be added to the official list.”

The Government is consulting on adding the card to the list of acceptable voter ID, which already includes armed forces identity cards.

Mr Mercer’s apology came after Army veteran Adam Diver complained he had been turned away from his local polling station after presenting his Veteran Card.

Army veteran Mr Diver, 48, had been looking to place his vote in Fleetwood, Lancashire, but was turned away after presenting his card, saying the experience left him feeling “gutted”.

“I felt clearly deflated, I felt gutted to be fair and upset – I felt angry at the point,” Mr Diver, who served in the Army for 27 years, told the PA news agency.

“I felt like my time served was invalidated and I just thought to myself, ‘what was the point in that?’

“I’ve served in pretty much every war going, I’ve spent 27 years away from my family.

“I thought you could use it as an ID card. It’s like a driving licence, you can’t get any more official and it didn’t strike me one bit that it wouldn’t be validated.”

In his response, Mr Mercer said: “I am sorry about this.

“The legislation on acceptable forms of ID came out before the veterans ID cards started coming out in January this year. I will do all I can to change it before the next one.”

Labour said the Government has had years to ensure the Veteran Card was included on the list of valid voter ID, having begun rolling out the cards in 2019.

Shadow veterans minister Steve McCabe said: “Veterans turned away from polling stations because they can’t use their veterans ID card to vote is a testament to how the Tories like to talk up their support for our forces but are failing to deliver.

“Despite what Johnny Mercer says, the Government has had years to make sure former service personnel could use their veterans ID to vote. It seems the minister is trying to pull the wool over veterans’ eyes yet again.”

Mr McCabe added that “multiple problems” had been found with voter ID and called for a “comprehensive review into this discredited policy”.

Thursday’s election is the first time many voters in England and Wales have had to present ID to vote under provisions first rolled out at last year’s local elections.

Acceptable forms of ID include a passport, driving licence, Proof of Age Standards Scheme (Pass) cards, Blue Badges, and some concessionary travel cards.

Meanwhile, a Conservative MP has said his dyspraxia caused him to misplace his photo ID, forcing him to arrange an emergency proxy vote for Thursday’s local elections.

Tom Hunt, who represents Ipswich, warned people “persecuting” him online to be “very careful with their words”, saying it is “well known that sadly we are slightly more prone to lose things”.

He told PA: “I don’t want to blame everything on my dyspraxia but it’s a factor in my life I have to deal with.

“It’s all well and good people saying we need to have more neurodiverse Members of Parliament, but having a massive pile-on on them, I don’t think it’s going to encourage more people.”

People whose ID has been lost, stolen or damaged can apply for an emergency proxy vote until 5pm on polling day, allowing someone else to vote on their behalf.

Mr Hunt said he had not previously been aware of this provision, but had applied for an emergency proxy vote, saying it is “the system working well”.

A Government spokesperson said: “Our intention is for the new Veteran Card, which was rolled out in January 2024, to be added to the official list of recognised identification – and we are already consulting on this.

“Defence identity cards for serving Armed Forces members are already accepted.”

Downing Street said it had no wider concerns about the operation of the voter ID requirement, adding that only 0.25% of would-be voters had been turned away from polling stations for lacking the correct documents.