May 19, 2023 3.00 pm This story is over 8 months old

Over 130 voters without ID turned away from northern Lincolnshire polling stations

Sensible election measures or disenfranchising voters?

139 people were turned away at northern Lincolnshire polling stations due to lack of ID.

May’s local elections were the first nationwide set of elections where voters were required to turn up with photo ID, such as driving licences and passports.

This aimed to cut down on voter fraud – but figures reveal that it disenfranchised dozens in parts of Lincolnshire.

In North Lincolnshire, 126 people entered polling stations only to be told they did not have an acceptable form of photo ID. 

70 later returned with appropriate ID and were able to cast their ballot, but 56 did not.

In North East Lincolnshire, 164 were turned away. Half of them returned, but 83 did not end up casting their ballots.

Local leaders have been divided over whether this is sensible security for elections or an attempt to disenfranchise vulnerable voters.

Cllr Len Foster, North Lincolnshire Labour group leader, criticised the new policy as an “attack on people’s freedom and democracy.” 

Cllr Rob Waltham, the council leader and Conservative group head, felt the numbers affected suggested it had not disenfranchised voters. 

“Don’t get me wrong, everyone who doesn’t get to vote is a shame,” he said, but added that 56 was a small number considering the 30-40,000 or so who voted.

North East Lincolnshire Liberal Democrat Cllr Nicola Aisthorpe called for the rule to be scrapped, saying: “The fact that 83 people were disenfranchised in our area, due to the new voter ID system, means that it has totally undermined democracy.”

Independent Councillor Steve Holland said reaction had been mixed on the doorstep, adding: “No-one we spoke to was in favour, most didn’t mind and a few were unhappy. A lot of people pointed out that you need ID to pick up a parcel at the post office or order a drink at the bar if you look younger than mid-twenties.”

Council leader Philip Jackson said: “I’m not really sure what more we could have done” to raise awareness of voter ID requirements. 

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