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Supreme Court gives green light to appeal over lawfulness of voter ID pilot schemes

The Supreme Court has given a former member of Braintree District Council permission to appeal in a case concerning the lawfulness of the voter identification pilot schemes in the 2019 local elections.

Neil Coughlan has been unsuccessful in the High Court and the Court of Appeal.

A Supreme Court panel comprising Lord Briggs, Lord Hamblen and Lord Burrows granted him permission on 26 February 2021. [The court’s permission decisions for January and February have been published this week]

The background to the case of R (on the application of Coughlan) v Minister for the Cabinet Office is that in August 2018 the Cabinet Office invited local authorities to take part in voter ID pilot schemes.

Under these schemes, voters would not be allowed to vote in polling booths unless they had a form of ID on them, such as a driver’s licence.

On 3 November 2018 the Cabinet Office announced that a number of local authorities had chosen to take part.

The Minister for the Cabinet Office then made orders under section 10 of the Representation of the People Act 2000 to allow for voter ID pilot schemes in these areas.

Mr Coughlan challenged these orders by way of judicial review. Before the Supreme Court, he will seek a declaration that these orders are unlawful for being ultra vires section 10 of the 2000 Act.