A TORY Cabinet minister has insisted that voter ID was a “thoroughly good thing” despite multiple reports of people being turned away from polling stations in yesterday’s English local elections.

The SNP has said they fear the new laws “could pose a serious threat to the upcoming general election.”

The Electoral Commission has confirmed that they are aware of people being unable to cast their vote because they didn’t have the right documents.

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More than 8,000 council seats were up for grabs yesterday and, for the first time, under a controversial new law brought in by the UK Government, every voter needed to have some form of photographic ID.

Valid ID included passports, driving licences, older or disabled person's bus passes, and Oyster 60+ cards. 

Shortly after the polls closed, a spokesperson for the Commission said that while the elections were “well run” they knew that the need for ID “posed a greater challenge for some groups in society, and that some people were regrettably unable to vote today as a result.”

Electoral Commission chairman John Pullinger told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Firstly we do need to gather data before we get a really proper picture of the impact of voter ID, but I was out and about yesterday and I saw people being turned away and we know some people were unable to cast their vote because they didn’t have the right documents.

“Everyone who has the right vote should be able to cast their vote and we need to get underneath the challenges that they have faced.”

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The policy is strongly opposed by the SNP, Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party but the Government claims it is necessary to tackle electoral fraud. 

Speaking to Sky News on Thursday evening, Northern Ireland minister Chris Heaton-Harris defended the new rules. He said similar measures have been in place in Northern Ireland for 20 years.

He said: “It’s a thoroughly good thing, it means that you can be completely sure that your elections are well tested and safe.

“And I don’t think, actually, considering this is a relatively big change for our politics in England that there’s been any of the big problems that people warned might come from this.

“I think most people have just taken to it as you would expect them to.”

Tom Brake of Unlock Democracy, who is leading a coalition of groups against the policy including the Electoral Reform Society, said: “Today has been a dark day for British democracy

“Reports from all over the country confirm our very worst fears of the impact of the disastrous policy which has been made worse by the shambolic way it has been introduced.”

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The SNP Cabinet Office spokesperson Kirsty Blackman said voter ID was an attempt by Rishi Sunak’s party to “cling on longer in government.”

“It is deeply troubling that voters were turned away from polling stations and unable to express their democratic wishes all because they were not carrying ID.

“One person being denied their right to vote is one too many and this could pose a serious threat to the upcoming general election. In fact, the next real test of these Tory laws could come even sooner if we are to have a by-election in Rutherglen and Hamilton West.

“It seems the Tory plan to exclude people from voting has worked as certain groups have not been able to cast their vote.  The Tories are barring people from taking part in democracy, in a desperate attempt to cling on longer in government.

“We will continue to oppose the policy of voter ID and we will not introduce it for elections the Scottish Parliament controls – Holyrood and local council elections. 

"Until independence we are tied to this broken and increasingly corrupt Westminster system.

"I would urge everyone to get an acceptable form of voter ID before the next general election, so we can show the Tories the door.”