UK government offering multimillion-pound contracts for digital voter ID services
The British government’s Electoral Integrity Programme has launched procurement exercises for developing digital services for identity verification and issuance of voter cards for those without any other form of photo ID, reports Public Technology. Contracts worth up to £3.75 million (US$5.2m) are available for suppliers over the next two years, though it is not clear how the technologies are expected to work.
The move accompanies expected changes to legislation which will introduce a requirement for people to prove their identity at the point of voting, something not currently required in the country where voter fraud is almost non-existent. The UK does not have a national or country-level ID card system.
The Cabinet Office is currently overseeing a research phase for the technologies and may retain the incumbent supplier it appoints or open a new tender for the beta phase which will cover implementation, testing and security. The services are expected to launch in early 2023 in time for mandatory ID verification in the local elections.
The tender process for delivering the alpha phase for the free photo ID card has already closed. The bids for the identity verification process close on 5 November along with a tender for a contract for improving the existing Register to Vote online service.
The Cabinet Office is also seeking firms to provide solutions so that political parties can add ‘digital imprints’ to any online campaign materials. These digital tags would show who has paid for and produced online adverts as a way to tackle online misinformation around elections. The Cabinet Office led a technical consultation on the problem after the Electoral Commission warned of the threats to democracy following the 2018 election.
The developments come as the UK paves the way for an overall digital system by creating a trust framework.
Voter verification, particularly with biometrics, has been introduced or planned for in several countries around the world this year.