Northern Ireland, which already has tougher voting procedures than the rest of the United Kingdom, is to have a photographic electoral identity card to be issued free of charge to those who are entitled to vote but might not otherwise have satisfactory proof of identity, such as a passport.
The Electoral Fraud (Northern Ireland) Bill, which aims to further crack down on personation at polling stations was given an unopposed second reading.
Northern Ireland minister Desmond Browne said in due course it was proposed to replace all the non-photographic identification on the list of specified documents. Thereafter, the electoral identity card, the passport and the driving licence that will be acceptable at polling stations - where proof of identity is required.
There is no automatic right to an absent vote in the province. It was originally proposed that the date of birth and signature should be required on an application for one. Mr Browne said it had been decided the signature would suffice and some people might be reluctant to give their date of birth. However, it would be required in order to get on to the electoral register.
Hansard 10 July: Column 688-744