The change, which the conservatives have promised since 2019 and which was introduced with a law passed last year, seeks to fight fraud based on many European countries.
In a country where there is no official ID card, a wide range of documents will be accepted, from passports to driver’s licenses and bus passes for senior citizens.
Thursday’s municipal election, held only in England – one of the four nations that make up the United Kingdom – was the first election held in the country since Rishi Sunak became prime minister in October.
His Conservative Party, in power for 13 years, faces “significant losses” from opposition Labor and the Liberal Democrats, according to a YouGov poll.
In this context, the Labor MPs, who start with an advantage before the next general election scheduled in a year and a half, denounce the change as a strategy of the conservatives to subtract votes from them.
Among the critics is the risk that young people will be disproportionately affected: according to the Electoral Commission only two thirds of voters between the ages of 18 and 24 are aware of the new rules.
In addition, according to this body, there is no evidence of large-scale electoral fraud in the country.
But the government relies on a study according to which 98% of voters have at least one of the accepted documents.
“It’s reasonable,” Sunak said, noting that this method is “very common in many places.”
Its opponents argue that about two million people did not have the required documents when the law was approved, and of them, less than 90,000 requested the certificate to make up for their absence.
Tom Brake, of the group UnlockDemocracy, said: “There are never many people who are at risk of being denied the vote, either because they don’t have their ID card or simply because they forgot to bring it with them.” The UK government asked him to return.