• Voter identification is a key issue at the 2019 EP elections -- one way is automatic identity verification by purpose-built ID readers.
No ID, no vote: identity verification of voters in European Parliament elections, May, 2019.

ID verification at 2019 EU elections is a key factor

Wednesday, 22 May 2019 09:19

Between May 23 and 26, the voters of the 513 million-strong European Union (EU) will go to the polling stations in each Member State to cast their votes for the 751 new members of the European Parliament that will represent them until 2024. Although there are some common rules regarding the elections, some aspects can vary by country, such as whether it is possible to vote by mail or from abroad, but one thing is badly needed throughout the EU: fast, efficient and reliable ID verification.

EU elections: voter identity check by passport reader devices could guarantee seamless flow at the voting booth, fair elections for the country.

European Parliament elections and identity verification

Every five years EU citizens choose who represents them in the European Parliament, the directly-elected institution that defends their interests in the EU decision-making process.

Queues at polling stations can vary depending on the voting district’s population: there will be low population villages with a few people voting, and long queues waiting to be processed in downtown Budapest, Paris and even London.

Voter identity verification on election days will be paramount in the success of the only transnational democratic elections of the planet. Filtering out fake or counterfeit identity documents through is a great responsibility for the election system and an issue about fair elections. Automatic ID scanning and authentication is a reliable method, and ARH’s passport readers are field-tested reliable tools to undertake this daunting task.

EU elections: voter identity check by passport reader devices could guarantee seamless flow at the voting booth, fair elections for the country.

Forms of ID accepted in EU elections

According to the system of subsidiarity, the EU leaves the question of ID verification to each Member State. And these can be really different.

In Paris, 35-year-old François Pignon, a clerk in the Ministry of Agriculture is planning to go and vote on May 26. He forgot to renew his identity card, but isn’t worried, as he will be able to identify himself on election day with his passport, or his driver’s license, or his hunting (!) license, or even his civil-servant card.

His case is a good example of the complexity that ID verification has to face. Poll officials in Ireland can ask voters for proof of identity, but voters have a choice of five different forms of photo ID, in addition to bank books, credit cards, checkbooks and marriage certificates.

In many EU countries, ID cards are issued to all citizens automatically. Spain, Greece, France, Malta, Belgium, and Italy provide national identity documents to their citizens to use for many purposes, including travel, banking, and healthcare access as well as voting.

The majority of democracies do require voters to show identification, but many make allowances for those citizens who don’t have official government IDs. That’s in addition to many countries that don’t require an ID to vote, such as Denmark and the United Kingdom (with the exception of Northern Ireland) in the EU, or Australia and New Zealand outside.

ID compatibility across the EU

ID verification is of utmost importance if you are an EU citizen living outside of your home country. According to the latest figures, there are more than 17 million of such EU citizens. Some of them will be home for elections, but most of them will just vote where they live. It may seem trivial but try showing a Hungarian identity document to the French authorities, or a Bulgarian ID to a German official, and vice-versa. Uniform IDs are being developed, but until then, we have to use the best tools at our disposal to guarantee a smooth verification process. In such cases, an ID scanner capable of reading all IDs currently used in the EU can be a blessing.

On May 23-26, we will all have different reasons to go to the polls, we will all vote for different parties in different countries, but each of us will undergo some form of identity check prior to the vote: let us make sure this will have been done in the most efficient, professional and reliable manner.