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Sister weeklies launch bid to improve voter turnout

Tristan HarrisA group of sister weeklies have launched a bid to improve voter turnout on their patches.

The Bromsgrove, Droitwich and Redditch Standards, as well as the Coventry Observer, have launched the ‘ID OK for Polling Day’ drive to raise awareness of the new photographic ID rules ahead of the local elections.

The new rules, which will first take effect during the May local election, require voters to present a document such as a British passport, driver’s license, an over-60s bus pass or a disabled driver’s blue badge at polling stations.

They can also apply for a Voter Authority Certificate or apply to vote by post.

The Bullivant-owned titles recorded and published a video explaining the changes on their social media channels and have also followed it up with stories online.

Tristan Harris, pictured, who edits the newspapers, told HTFP: “We had discussed running a campaign in the office in a bid to improve voter turnouts in the areas we cover and then when I did some maths, I realised 3 February was exactly 90 days until Polling Day.

“We recorded a short video outlining the new rules and what people will need to do if they have not got the accepted forms of ID, sharing it to our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages and putting it on YouTube.

“And we have followed that up with a story on our websites, giving out web addresses for the Voter Authority Certificates and Electoral Commission, explaining what is happening and about the postal voting option.

“I edit the Bromsgrove, Droitwich and Redditch Standards and the Coventry Observer so we have run the campaign on those sites and also on my colleague’s in Worcester, Evesham and Malvern.

“The idea came about following stories about the Voter ID legislation – for example, in Bromsgrove, the Liberal Democrats labelled it ‘ludicrous’, while in Coventry, a motion was put forward at a council meeting, calling on the Government to delay it until a proper advertising campaign could be put together.

“Readers and councillors had expressed concerns that different groups who may not have the ID, such as ethnic minorities and younger people, may just not bother to vote.”