Some facts and figures being released today regarding the recent local elections which saw the Lib Dems increase their majority on B&NES.
Data reveals that 99.8% of Bath and North East Somerset electors who voted at the polling station on Thursday 4 May showed their photo ID and were able to vote.
Changes in national legislation meant that for the first time, voters were required to show an approved form of photo ID before being given their ballot paper at the polling station.
Although 141 electors initially arrived without the correct photo ID or with no photo ID at all, 85 later returned with acceptable ID and were issued a ballot paper. This means that by close of poll 56 electors who had tried to vote in a polling station, were not given a ballot paper because they did not meet the new voter ID requirements.
Across Bath and North East Somerset 112,492 people were eligible to vote in person at the polling stations and 34,841 votes were cast.
The overall voter turnout at the local election was 38.95% compared to 40.76% in the 2019 local elections.
In the run up to the election, the council ran a campaign to promote the new requirement for photo ID with adverts appearing on buses, in local publications and on local radio. We also worked with local organisations including RNIB, Age UK BANES, Julian House, Southside and Curo to raise awareness of voter ID.
A voter ID leaflet was also included with this year’s council tax bills and with the poll cards issued to voters due to vote in person at the polling station.
Will Godfrey, Returning Officer for Bath & North East Somerset Council said: “The council provided information through our own channels and ran an extensive campaign to let residents know about the new photo ID requirements and we are grateful to all the local organisations who helped us to get the message out. Thank you to everyone who helped at the polling stations on the day and helped everything to run smoothly.”
The full results of the elections can be found here. In addition, detailed verification figures for each ward, which includes information about voter turnout, including data about postal and in-person turnout, are also now available on the council website.
The election for Paulton ward, which was rearranged following the death of a candidate, will take place on Thursday 22 June. New poll cards will be sent to voters in Paulton, including information about how to arrange a postal or proxy vote if they cannot make it to the polling station on the new date.
Any new candidates wishing to stand at the re-scheduled election can email email@example.com to request a nomination pack. All other previous candidates remain validly nominated and will be included on the ballot paper. Candidate nominations must be delivered to the Returning Officer no later than 4pm on Thursday 25 May.
I don’t doubt that B&NES did a good job in the circumstances but it’s disingenuous to claim there were “no problems”. As has been stated, we know at least 56 people were denied a vote. Isn’t one one too many? And how many may have stayed away due to knowing that they didn’t have appropriate ID? The figures from the returning officer can’t answer that. And what a waste of money for the extra staff.
Thank you as ever for an interesting article. I must however challenge the headline. Yes, the Council and other bodies advertised the need for ID, but there is nothing in that article that supports your assertion that “there no were problems with voter ID”. This council, like others only collects data on people who have turned up to vote and were then turned away.
Let me give you two examples: as a volunteer teller sitting outside a voting station I watched a couple walk across the car park, one shouted to his partner “oops, voter ID” and they both left immediately. I do not know if they bothered to return and instances like that are not captured in the council data.
But more importantly, in the afternoon I was a volunteer for a local candidate in “Get out the Vote” activities (knocking on doors on polling day to encourage attendance at a polling station). I knocked on around 80 doors, and found 20 people at home. However, 4 or 5 told me they were not going to attempt to vote for ID related issues (1 said they had no ID & did not know how to get it, 1 or 2 said they could not be bothered with the faff of getting one, and 1 had realised about ID requirements too late in the month to apply, and one gentlemen was annoyed about ID issues so stayed away). Now I appreciate that may not be representative of the whole country but it points to a wider disenfranchisement. I note the Electoral commission had advised the Government not to make photo ID compulsory for this election as they did not believe there was enough time to prepare adequately, and the esteemed Conservative Lord Willets was one of a number of Conservative elders arguing in the Lords that non-photo ID should be acceptable.
Personnally, I agree with a basic National Identity card (which would make this much easier) so my points above are not politically motivated. I am just concerned that incorrect headlines mask a broader issue that is not being discussed.
There was nothing wrong with the preceding system which didn’t require any ID. Fraud was non-existent (imagine the practicalities of swinging an election result by using someone else’s vote); in fact about the only fraud at elections is committed by candidates and their parties. And interestingly, even when everyone in the UK would have carried ID cards (up until 1952) there was no requirement to produce them when voting.
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