Guest Article provided by ProofID

Voter ID should be digital in line with our increasingly technology-driven world to be safer, more inclusive, and importantly, be citizen-controlled. It’s the view of Tom Eggleston, CEO of Salford-based ProofID, the identity access management specialists. He believes that not only could a digital ID be easier for voting, but other public or private institutions could issue credentials in the same way – university exams results, or memberships for example.

The government has introduced a new law that citizens must show photo ID before being allowed to vote in the local elections on May 4, 2023. The new voting system includes over 20 different types of acceptable forms of photo ID and introduces a new Voter Authority Certificate for those without photo ID – arguably making things more prone to error and creating delays in polling stations whilst ID is checked.

With a decentralised digital ID system, individuals benefit from verifiable credentials such as passports or driving licenses, to prove their identity with other trusted institutions such as banks or universities – all without compromising their data privacy. Government institutions would issue the verified document to our digital identities, which would be stored against our ID using a digital wallet, for application more widely.

“Voter fraud is thankfully very low, but far from making our system more secure, introducing so many new forms of photo identification won’t improve things, and has the potential to alienate voters from turning out at the polls,” explains Tom Eggleston, CEO of ProofID.

“What would be measurably better is a decentralised digital-ID system, which makes use of a digital wallet on your smartphone and is secured by biometrics, allowing the citizen to control his/her own identity” 

“This contrasts with an ID card system, where the government would maintain a central database of citizen’s personal identifiable information (PII) and has suffered criticism of a ‘big brother’ state.”

Many local councils are taking services online, and our identities unlock a personalised experience for citizens when they access those services. Voting is the next frontier to conquer, and arguably one of the most identity-sensitive privileges we undertake. Decentralised technology provides a democratised mechanism to make it easy and safe.

“It’s so much better for citizens to be in control of their own PII – making voter fraud more difficult, eliminating the need to remember photo ID, and making voting accessible to anyone with a smartphone,” said Tom Eggleston.

“Frankly it’s what we’ve come to expect in terms of accessing what we need, when we need it via our devices – why should voting be any different?”

For those less digitally aware, or more vulnerable, postal voting remains an option too.