Voting and identification in the UK

Last Thursday I had the pleasure of being able to vote for the local council as well as for the European Parliament. Since I'm a Belgian citizen living in the United Kingdom this involved convincing the officials at the voting office to re-read their instructions (at first they only allowed me to vote for the local council but not for Europe, I think they must have realised how silly that sounded) but otherwise was quite easy. Too easy.

When I went to the polling station I forgot my poll card, but my colleagues at work said that would be fine (not that going home to pick it up was very far) so I tried it anyway. No problem, the only thing they asked is where I lived, then found my name on their list and let me vote (after above-mentioned debacle). There was absolutely no verification that I was who I claimed to be. Seriously, it is rather trivial to vote for someone else, I'm sure you can visit 2 or 3 polling stations and vote in someone else their name. Just talk to friends and work a little bit together and you can all cast half a dozen votes if you're a little careful. And they have no way of recovering from this, other then having to let everyone using that voting station re-cast their vote.

After some talking to people they seemed to think that there is no single means of identifying someone in an official way in the UK. This means that buying alcohol is better controlled then voting, since there you either have a form of ID (if you look under 21) or you don't get to buy it. But for voting? No ID required, because there is none.

I'm sure the ID card scheme as currently proposed in the UK is not any good, but there does appear to be a problem that might have to be fixed somehow. By now I'm pretty sure that if you give me 2 years I can create a fictitious John Smith person, he'll have a passport, driving license, voting rights, bank account and be native British. Seriously, it's easy. You just need some time.