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Elections 2023 guide: Where are elections being held in Cambridgeshire and what are the new rules around voter ID?

Voters in Cambridge, East Cambridgeshire and Fenland will head to the polls on May 4, 2023 to choose new councillors - and for the first time you will need ID.

Here's our guide to what you need to know.

Local elections will be held on May 4, 2023
Local elections will be held on May 4, 2023

Cambridge City Council election and Cambridgeshire County Council by-election

Contests will be held for 14 of the 42 seats on Cambridge City Council, with one councillor elected to represent each ward for the next four years.

By-elections will also be held in the wards of Castle, as Labour councillor Sarah Baigent is standing down, and in Coleridge, where former Labour council leader Lewis Herbert is standing down.

Currently, the city council is made up of 25 Labour councillors, nine Liberal Democrats, three Greens, one independent and four vacancies.

A Cambridgeshire County Council by-election will also be held in Arbury division following the resignation of Labour’s Hilary Cox Condron.

You can see all the candidates for election in Cambridge here.

View the 2021 election results here.

East Cambridgeshire District Council election and Cambridgeshire County Council by-election

All councillors at East Cambridgeshire District Council will be up for election, with all parish councils in the district also holding polls.

The current make-up of the district is 16 Conservative councillors, nine Lib Dems, two independent councillors and two vacancies.

There will also be a Cambridgeshire County Council by-election for the Soham South and Haddenham division.

Fenland District Council election

Fenland District Council will also be holding a full election this year.

It is currently Tory-controlled, with 26 Conservatives, 10 Independents, two Lib Dems and one Green councillor.

Further afield, Peterborough City Council will also hold elections.

What voter ID do I need?

For the first time in England, voters will need to show a form of photographic identification at their polling station in order to cast a ballot.

Not all types of photo ID will be accepted, which means some people may be unable to vote – though a passport, driving licence or Blue Badge are all valid. You can see a full list below.

Anyone without an accepted form of ID can apply for a special certificate before the deadline of 5pm on Tuesday, April 25.

Anyone without an acceptable ID should apply for a Voter Authority Certificate online at gov.uk/apply-for-photo-id-voter-authority-certificate or to apply by post, complete a paper application with a photo enclosed following the rules here if you are living in the UK

This is a free photo ID document issued for the specific purpose of voting at a polling station.

Robert Pollock, returning officer for the Cambridge elections, said: “Please remember to tell your friends and family that for the first time you will need to bring photo ID to polling stations on May 4. Many people already have a driver’s licence, passport, blue badge, or another acceptable form of ID. If you don’t, please apply for the Voter Authority Certificate. It’s easy to get and you can use it to vote again in future.”

The May 2022 Cambridge election count at the University Sports Centre. Picture: Keith Heppell
The May 2022 Cambridge election count at the University Sports Centre. Picture: Keith Heppell

The full list of valid IDs for voting

The following photo ID will be accepted in polling stations:

  • a passport issued by the UK, any of the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, a British Overseas Territory, a state of the European Economic Area (EEA), or a Commonwealth Country
  • a driving licence issued by the UK, any of the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man or and EEA state
  • a biometric immigration document
  • an identity card bearing the Proof of Age Standards Scheme hologram (a PASS card)
  • a Ministry of Defence Form 90 (Defence Identity Card)
  • a Blue Badge
  • a national identity card issued by an EEA state
  • an Older Person's Bus Pass
  • a Disabled Person's Bus Pass
  • an Oyster 60+ Card
  • a Freedom Pass
  • issued in Scotland:
  • a National Entitlement Card
  • issued in Wales:
  • a 60 and Over Concessionary Travel Card
  • a Disabled Person's Concessionary Travel Card
  • issued in Northern Ireland:
  • a Senior SmartPass
  • a Registered Blind SmartPass or Blind Persons SmartPass
  • a War Disablement SmartPass
  • a 60+ SmartPass
  • a Half Fare SmartPass
  • an Electoral Identity Card
  • document issued by an Electoral Registration Officer:
  • a voter authority certificate
  • an anonymous elector’s document

What happens if I don’t have a valid ID when I turn up to vote?

If you cannot provide acceptable photo ID, you will be advised to leave the polling station and to return with one of the acceptable forms of ID before a ballot paper can be issued to you. The decision of the presiding officer in the polling station will be final.

Can I use old ID or a photograph of ID?

Expired documents will be accepted if the photograph on the document still resembles you.

Photocopies or copies of images on mobile phones or other electronic devices will not be accepted due to the risk that they could have been tampered with by photo-editing software.

What if my name has changed?

If your name has changed - for example, through marriage or deed poll - meaning that your ID has a different name to the electoral register, you may be asked to provide additional supporting documents at the polling station, such as an original marriage or civil partnership certificate that provides evidence of the name change.

If the spelling of your name is different or an alternative spelling is present to the one on the electoral register, it will be at the discretion of the presiding officer at the polling station whether they will accept the form of ID or not.

How to register to vote

Anyone wishing to vote in the elections on May 4 who is not already registered to vote can do so online up until 11.59pm on Monday, April 17.

To register, people need to visit www.gov.uk/register-to-vote with their National Insurance number to hand. The process should only take a few minutes.

Residents already on the electoral register do not need to take any action,and should receive a poll card at the end of March.

Residents aged 18 or over on polling day can vote in these elections if they are a British, Irish, qualifying Commonwealth or European Union citizen, and have registered to vote in Cambridge. EU citizens can still register and vote even though the UK has left the EU.

Robert Pollock, returning officer for the local elections in Cambridge, said: “I would urge anyone who has not registered to vote to make it a priority to do so. Your views matter and can positively influence your neighbourhood, local community, and the whole city. It is very simple to register. Just go to www.gov.uk/register-to-vote to play a part in local democracy this year.”

East Cambridgeshire District Council has written to more than 1,300 people it believes are eligible to vote but have not registered.

John Hill, electoral registration officer at East Cambs, said: “Voting in local elections is your chance to vote for what is important to you.

“By voting in district elections you are having your say on how money is spent in your local communities, what public transport support there is, how we look after our local environment and what infrastructure – such as doctors’ surgeries, youth facilities, cycle paths and job opportunities are provided.

“If you are on the electoral register this can also help with your credit score which can be important for things like buying a car, opening a bank account, getting a mobile phone contract or applying for a mortgage.”

How to apply for a postal and proxy votes

People wishing to vote by post can apply to do so up until 5pm on Tuesday, April 18 at gov.uk/government/publications/apply-for-a-postal-vote.

People can appoint someone else to vote on their behalf by applying to vote by proxy up until 5pm on Tuesday, April 25 at gov.uk/government/collections/proxy-voting-application-forms.

Is ID needed for postal or proxy votes?

If you have appointed a proxy or emergency proxy to vote on your behalf, they must bring their own photo ID to the polling station.

But they don’t need to bring photo ID of the elector they are voting on behalf of.

If your proxy does not have an acceptable form of photo ID, they can apply for a free voter authority certificate.

You will not need photo ID if you vote by post, nor will you be required to show photo ID to hand deliver a postal vote to a polling station.

How do councils spend our money?

These graphics show how Cambridge City Council and East Cambridgeshire District Council spend taxpayers’ money.

Cambridge City Council (63318984)
Cambridge City Council (63318984)
East Cambridgeshire District Council (63318982)
East Cambridgeshire District Council (63318982)

What is the national picture?

Nationally, Labour has been ahead in the opinion polls for more than a year, while the Conservatives have made a net loss of 40 seats in council by-elections since the last set of local elections in May 2022.

Rishi Sunak and the Tories will be hoping to keep losses in the May 2023 elections to a minimum, while Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey will be judged on whether their parties are able to make gains at the expense of the Conservatives.

Across the country, the Greens and independents will hope to cause surprises and upsets.

Look out for extensive coverage on the candidates, their policies and the debating points in the Cambridge Independent.

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