Photo ID requirement poses barrier to some voters in local elections

ITV News Political Correspondent Harry Horton meets voters, as for the first time people will need to bring ID to the polling station to cast their ballot

Some hopeful voters were turned away from polling stations on Thursday because they did not have valid photographic ID, the Electoral Commission said after polls closed in England's local elections.

The agency said its "initial assessment is that overall, the elections were well run” however “some people were regrettably unable to vote” because of the new photo ID requirement.

Earlier, Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran tweeted her concern about "significant numbers" being rejected after learning about people without ID being unable to vote in her Oxford West and Abingdon constituency.

Polling station tellers in Oxfordshire told ITV News "large numbers" were being turned away, reporting that between 10-25% were unable to vote.

Labour MP for Kemptown & Peacehaven Lloyd Russell-Moyle also tweeted to say he'd heard reports of people unable to vote.

It was the first time voters in Great Britain were required to show ID at polling stations before casting their ballot and critics of the new policy accused the government of failing to raise enough awareness.

Typical forms of ID such as passports and driving licences were accepted, but several other identification documents, such as bus passes, were being allowed to help older people vote - but younger person's equivalents were not.

It is not yet possible to get a full picture of how many people were turned away nationally, but of the estimated two million people without valid ID in England, just 89,500 have so far registered for the alternative Voter Authority Certificate, according to government minister Baroness Scott of Bybrook.

The Electoral Reform Society, which has strongly opposed the introduction, said it had seen "countless examples of people being denied their right to vote due to these new laws".

Director of policy and research, Jess Garland, said: "From people caught out by having the wrong type of photo ID to others turned away for not looking enough like their photo.

"One voter turned away is one voter too many. The government must take lessons from the problems we're seeing today at polling stations across the country and face up to the fact that these new rules damage our elections more than they protect them."

More than 8,000 council seats in England were up for grabs on Thursday across 230 local authorities. Polls were also taking place to choose mayors in Bedford, Leicester, Mansfield and Middlesbrough.

One voter who forgot their ID in Southampton told ITV News she is concerned about people being unable to take part in such an "essential" thing.

"Certain people are going to miss out," she said, "not everybody has photo ID, not everybody has a driving licence so what happens to those people?

"Their voice to vote is not being heard."

All accepted forms of photo ID:

  • Passport issued by the UK, any of the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, a British Overseas Territory, an EEA state or a Commonwealth country

  • Driving licence issued by the UK, any of the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, or an EEA state (this includes a provisional driving licence)

  • A Blue Badge

  • Older Person’s Bus Pass

  • Disabled Person’s Bus Pass

  • Oyster 60+ Card

  • Freedom Pass

  • Scottish National Entitlement Card

  • 60 and Over Welsh Concessionary Travel Card

  • Disabled Person’s Welsh Concessionary Travel Card

  • Senior SmartPass issued in Northern Ireland

  • Registered Blind SmartPass or Blind Person’s SmartPass issued in Northern Ireland

  • War Disablement SmartPass issued in Northern Ireland

  • 60+ SmartPass issued in Northern Ireland

  • Half Fare SmartPass issued in Northern Ireland

  • Identity card bearing the Proof of Age Standards Scheme hologram (a PASS card)

  • Biometric immigration document

  • Ministry of Defence Form 90 (Defence Identity Card)

  • National identity card issued by an EEA state

  • Electoral Identity Card issued in Northern Ireland

  • Voter Authority Certificate

  • Anonymous Elector's Document

How many voters without ID are being turned away?

Figures on voter ID will be collected by the Electoral Commission but chairman John Pullinger says using data from greeters would be “inherently unreliable”.

Explaining, he said some people may turn around before speaking to anyone and others may not be recognised if they later return with the correct ID.

The Commission chairman said that, due to this, “we simply won’t know how many people will have been turned away”.

He added: “It appears that the government has designed a system which denies the prospect of sensible and co-ordinated information collection and makes it almost impossible to judge the true impact of the introduction of voter ID.” The Electoral Commission said it will carry out opinion polling to gain “evidence on the fullest impact of the ID requirement”.

Dogs at polling stations

Photographs of canines at polling stations have become an unlikely stable of UK elections, presumably for no other reason than because people love dogs.

But animal charity Blue Cross issued some guidance for people who wanted to join in the craze.

Tying them up outside the polling station makes them a "tempting target for thieves", the charity says, so advised people to check locally whether their dog would be allowed inside.

The hashtag #dogsatpollingstations trended on Twitter as voters used the opportunity to take their pets along with them to polling stations around the country.

Guidance from the electoral commission states that dogs - bar assistance dogs - are not usually allowed inside polling stations as they can disturb voters.

The Electoral Commission has issued guidance to officials suggesting people should not allow photos inside polling stations as accidentally including any of the above details in the background of a shot could lead to a jail sentence and a £5,000 fine.

Becky Thwaites, head of public affairs at Blue Cross said: “We love how dogs can get involved on polling day with #dogsatpollingstations.

"If you intend to take your dog with you to vote do check if your polling station allows dogs inside, which is much better than leaving them tied up outside and running the risk of dog theft.”