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Election / Concerns over photo ID needs for next Westminster Election discussed by islands VJB

Photo: Chris Cope/Shetland News

THE NEED to show photo ID at upcoming elections was raised during a meeting of the Orkney and Shetland Valuation Joint Board on Thursday.

Some members of the board were concerned about the awareness of the new rules and whether they could prove to be unpopular among islanders.

The VJB met on Thursday afternoon and were presented with a six-month best-value report from the board’s assessor.

In it there were some details about the implementation of the elections act 2022.

The first aspect of this act is a requirement for photo ID to be shown at Scotland’s polling stations for Westminster elections, with the next one being due within the next year.

However, these rules aren’t completely new to the UK. They were already used in England this year, at May’s local government elections.

Two Orkney councillors on the VJB seemed to have concerns over these new rules and how they would play out in Orkney and Shetland.

Aside from photo ID a voter certificate can be issued to people if they apply for it.

Councillor Lindsay Hall asked about the uptake of this voter certificate. He was told that only one had been issued in Orkney and Shetland combined so far.

In light of this, councillor Hall asked if there should be more publicity around the new need for ID at the polling stations.

He was told that there would be more publicity nearer the time, probably after the new year.

The clerk to the VJB, Karen Greaves, said she had attended England’s local elections as an observer and had seen the voter ID rules in action.

She said there would be public awareness campaigns both nationally and locally to make people aware of the need for photo ID at the next Westminster election.

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She also said that many found the process “quite straightforward” from what she’d seen in May, with many types of ID accepted.

However, councillor John Ross Scott said: “The worry I have is that people are very precious about their identities and about showing cards and the like.”

He asked the VJB’s assessor: “Do you foresee any problems ahead for it? Is there a negative feeling towards it? Does the fact you’ve only had one person come forward suggest that not many people are keen?”

Scott’s questions went unanswered, as the convener of the VJB – Shetland councillor Stephen Leask – said the questions were “too political” for the assessor to answer.

However, later in the meeting, Leask said the photo ID issue is “something we might see shocks in the future with”.

By Orkney local democracy reporter Andrew Stewart

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