Hundreds of voters were turned away from polling stations across Wirral as controversial new voter ID rules came in.
Voters went to the polls on 4 May in Wirral to elect their councillors for the next four years. It was the first time people had to have a photo ID with them to vote after the government introduced new rules.
As the Greens took several seats off Labour, Wirral Council remains in no-overall control. There are now 30 Labour councillors on the local authority with 17 Conservatives, 13 Greens and 6 Liberal Democrats.
Official statistics show that 577 voters were turned away for not having voter ID but less than half returned. 298 voters did not come back after being turned away.
Heading into the election, voter ID was a controversial issue with Wirral’s Labour Party, Greens, and Liberal Democrats arguing the new rules would disenfranchise voters. Wirral’s Conservative Party however said the changes were necessary to ensure the election was secure.
Some contests during the election like Heswall were particularly close where just 21 votes separated Liberal Democrat candidate Elizabeth Brame and newly-elected Conservative councillor Graham Davies.
After the vote, Green councillor Jason Walsh said a number of people had approached him that they had not been able to vote. He said: “They were upset. They felt they couldn’t take part in the local elections and support the candidates they wanted to.
“That’s going to be true of every party, perhaps some more so than others. They were upset, there were a couple who were angry.”
Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg recently said the new voter ID rules had backfired on his party. He said, “Parties that try and gerrymander end up finding that their clever scheme comes back to bite them, as dare I say we found by insisting on voter ID for elections.
“We found the people who didn’t have ID were elderly and they by and large voted Conservative, so we made it hard for our own voters and we upset a system that worked perfectly well.”
According to the BBC, Downing Street denies voter ID was brought in to gain an advantage in elections but was aimed at tackling voter fraud.
The Electoral Commission said it will publish an initial analysis on the impact of voter ID in June ahead of a full report in September.