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Local Elections Labour demands Tories drop voter ID scheme as polling stations denied voters their right to vote

MORE than a fifth of polling stations involved in yesterday’s controversial anti-fraud pilot scheme turned away voters because they did not have required ID, researchers reported today.

Labour is demanding that the government drop the scheme urgently as it overwhelmingly affects disadvantaged people.

The Democracy Volunteers group deployed observers in five council areas — Bromley, Gosport, Swindon, Watford and Woking — where the scheme was being tested.

It found that voters had been refused a ballot paper in 21 per cent of polling stations, and nearly one in 60 voters across the five areas were unable to vote because they did not have the required documents.

Labour says the scheme, which the government wants to roll out nationwide, would overwhelmingly affect citizens without official papers — such as those of the Windrush generation infamously hit by Theresa May’s “hostile environment” policies.

Shadow minister for voter engagement and youth affairs Cat Smith said: “There was absolutely no case for introducing voter ID in the first place but, after today’s fiasco, it is impossible for the government to justify rolling it out.

“We cannot allow the Conservative Party to undermine our democracy, which is why Labour is calling on the government to scrap their voter ID plans as a matter of urgency."

In March, a group of 40 charities and academics had demanded that the scheme be scrapped because Electoral Commission figures showed there were only 28 allegations of voter fraud out of almost 45 million votes last year, with just one conviction.

Their letter to the government warned that voter ID rules would “affect young people, older people, disabled people, transgender and gender non-conforming people, BAME communities and the homeless.”

Electoral Reform Society chief executive Darren Hughes said: “Today has shown these trials to be the chaotic, undemocratic mess many predicted. There is mounting evidence from the pilot areas that ordinary people have been denied their democratic right to vote because of the voter ID requirements.

“This is exactly what we feared: that this draconian measure would result in blameless individuals being disenfranchised.

"Electoral fraud is a serious matter, but the government is taking entirely the wrong approach.”

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