Advertisement

  1. ITV Report

Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn await full count after local election polling day marred by ID controversy

A voter carries his passport along with his poll card in Knaphill, Woking. Photo: PA Wire/PA Images

Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn are waiting eagerly on the full results of the English local elections as the count comes in overnight.

A total of 4,371 seats were contested across 150 local councils on Thursday's polling day - which was marred by controversy.

It is expected the result for two thirds of seats will be known by 8am, however 50 out of 150 councils being contested did not count overnight, meaning the result may not be clear for much of the day.

Jeremy Corbyn is hoping Labour can win the London borough of Barnet. Credit: PA
Prime Minister Theresa May leaves Methodist Central Hall with her husband Philip May after voting in the local council elections in London. Credit: PA

Polling closed at 10pm on a local election day in England that saw many residents barred from voting for not having appropriate ID.

Bromley, Gosport, Swindon, Watford and Woking councils trialled a scheme to try cut down voter fraud but it appears the plan backfired.

  • Why was there a problem with voters' ID?

MPs and councillors said many people, including elderly residents, had been turned away from the polls because they did not have appropriate ID.

Angela Wilkins, leader of the Labour group in Bromley, said five people had been unable to vote at polling stations as a result of the pilot.

The presiding officer at the polling station in Sydenham Tennis Club, in the Borough of Bromley, said “Only a very small percentage” of voters had forgotten or were unable to provide ID.

The man, who did not wish to be named, said residents had received five pieces of information explaining the change in the rules, including leaflets, a note with their polling cards and a note on the information about recycling and bin collection.

He added: “Voters always have the choice to go home and get some ID.”

Labour councillor Tahir Aziz said a man was turned away from voting at a polling station on Walton Road in Woking because his form of ID, a Surrey County Council document with his picture on it, was not accepted.

Polling stations were open across England, but not everyone got to vote as planned. Credit: PA

Speaking to the Press Association, Mr Aziz said: “This gentleman turned up, showed his ID which included a picture that was clearly him, it was an exact resemblance, but they wouldn’t accept it as it was not on the list of acceptable forms of ID.

“He was fuming. He was furious. He is a British national and he couldn’t vote.

“It is having an impact on certain people being disenfranchised by this trial.”

Ellie Reeves, Labour MP for Lewisham West, said that two people had been turned away from voting because they did not have ID on them.

Sorry, this content isn't available on your device.

Hazel Walters, a resident of Bromley since 1983, told the Independent: “It’s absurd. I think it will discriminate against people. Not everyone’s got a passport, a driving licence and all of that. I think people will be disenfranchised,” she said.

“We’re trying to get homeless people to exercise their right to vote, and then at the same time we’re putting all these barriers in place. The council didn’t consult on this or anything.

“It’s so arbitrary and unnecessary when there are real problems we’ve got to deal with.”

Credit: PA

Cat Smith MP, shadow minister for voter engagement, said: “This was always going to be a sledgehammer to crack a nut. The Electoral Commission found that out of nearly 45 million votes cast in the local and General Election in 2017, there were only 28 cases of alleged voter fraud. That’s less than 0.00007% or one case for every 1.6 million votes cast. And out of those 28 cases, there was only one conviction."

She added: “The fact that voters were denied their right to vote is proof that voter ID has no place in our democracy.”

A Downing Street spokesman said: “The facts are that local authorities told all voters that they need to bring a form of ID in these pilot areas. ID can be things like a bus pass, a driver’s licence."

He added: “In places like Bromley, people will have had six pieces of direct mail about the pilot and there’s been a widespread poster campaign.”