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27 Electors Turned Away for Lack of Voter ID

Published on: 13 May, 2023
Updated on: 14 May, 2023

99.1 per cent of electors voting in the May 4 borough elections presented the correct photo ID at polling stations.

This was to comply with new voter ID requirements introduced by the government.

In data published by Guildford Borough Council yesterday it was revealed that 24,468 electors (63 per cent) voted at the 70 polling stations located across the borough, with the 21 council wards.

As well as votes cast at polling stations, GBC received 15,460 postal votes (37 per cent) that were not subject to voter ID requirements.

At the end of polling day, only 27 electors who tried to vote in a polling station weren’t given a ballot paper because they didn’t meet new voter ID requirements. This represents 0.1 per cent of electors who went to vote at a polling station in our borough.

A GBC spokesperson said: “Ahead of the local elections, we worked hard to inform residents of changes to the way they would be voting. We supported The Electoral Commission’s national campaign with a local Voter ID campaign. As well as mailings to 61,000 households, a three-month social media campaign and poster placement, we hosted 11 roadshow events across the borough and responded to radio and online interview requests.”

Tom Horwood

Returning officer, Tom Horwood, said: “I’m grateful to polling staff for managing this big change to the way we vote so successfully.

“We had to follow the new regulations introduced at the local elections on 4 May and are disappointed for any elector we had to turn away.

“Most people who turned up at a polling station brought acceptable ID and were able to vote.”

“We will continue raising awareness of the need for photo ID at all future elections.”

Comments from local parties

A spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats said: “The introduction of voter ID requirements by the Conservative government was a cynical attempt to disenfranchise some from exercising their democratic right to vote.

“We are grateful to Guildford Borough Council for their campaign to raise public awareness leading up to the elections on 4 May. Although only 27 people or 0.1 per cent of electors were turned away because they had no ID, we strongly believe that nobody should have been denied their right to vote.”

Ramsey Nagaty

Ramsey Nagaty, chair of the Guildford Greenbelt Group asked: “Did voter ID affect turnout or any result?

“GBC does not provide information to know if anyone lost [in the election] as a result of voters being turned away. 27 voters were denied within the polling station.

“Which wards? How many were turned away outside or had objections to the requirement and stayed away? How many papers were spoilt to protest at voter ID? I saw some. Two candidates may have been affected, one lost by one vote, another by 19.”

Cllr Howard Smith

And Cllr Howard Smith (Westborough, Labour) commented: “Credit to GBC for getting the message out. The rate of refusals was considerably lower here than nationally. However, this figure does not capture the number of potential voters who just didn’t bother. One person I spoke to wouldn’t go to vote because, “I’ve never been asked before, so they can stuff it!”

“It is really a matter of principal. We should be encouraging people to vote by making it easier, not inventing barriers to stop them.”

The Conservatives and R4GV were also invited to comment.



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Responses to 27 Electors Turned Away for Lack of Voter ID

  1. Mark Stamp Reply

    May 13, 2023 at 9:44 pm

    There was talk in the national press of some authorities employing “greeters” outside polling stations who would turn people away without being recorded. Did GBC use this approach at any polling station or is the figure of 27 truly representative (excluding the concerns raised by Ramsey Nagaty and Howard Smith)?

    Editor’s comment: I recall someone asking me if I had all the necessary documents in the vestibule of my polling station, URCH, Portsmouth Road.

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