The introduction of mandatory voter ID has prevented hundreds of Wirral residents from voting in this year’s May local elections.
Data from polling stations in Wirral show that 577 voters were turned away on 4 May as they did not have an acceptable form of ID. Of those turned away, over half did not return with ID to cast their vote.
Behind this figure likely lies a far higher larger proportion of voters that were unable to cast their vote, as the data does not include those who left polling stations after being informed of the need for ID by greeters deployed outside, or those who did not even try to vote knowing they did not have the ID required.
The impact of this disenfranchisement would have been painfully felt across the Wirral as all seats on the council were up for election for the first time, especially given just how close a number of results were.
In Wallasey ward, the Labour Party came within just a couple of hundred votes from taking all three seats from the Conservatives.
This is just one of the seats where new ID rules may well have had an election-determining impact.
Responding to the data, Dame Angela Eagle, Member of Parliament for Wallasey, said, “I am disappointed yet unsurprised to hear how many local people were prevented from voting on 4 May due to the Government’s new Voter ID requirements.
“We should be doing all we can to increase political participation and democratic engagement across our country not putting up barriers – particularly those that disproportionately impact the worse off and other minority groups.
“There is no doubt is a voter suppression tactic employed by a Tory Government that is out of ideas but desperate to cling onto power. Even the Tories themselves admit it – Jacob Rees-Mogg, a cabinet minister when Voter ID was forced through Parliament, has conceded the measures are a form of ‘gerrymandering’.
“Given how close many results in Wirral were, it is disheartening to know that local people have been deprived of their hard-won right to vote.”