VOTER ID laws “pose a damaging threat to democracy in the UK”, the SNP have said, following fresh analysis of how the new rule affected local elections earlier this year.

The Electoral Commission has published a report which states at least 14,000 people who tried to vote in English council elections were denied a ballot paper because of the new requirement for photo ID.

The commission also stated this is an underestimate due to data quality issues and because some people will have been reminded of the ID requirement before they could be recorded.

A further 4% of non-voters said in a survey they didn't attempt to vote at all because of the voter ID requirement.

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The analysis follows an admission by former Tory Cabinet miinister Jacob Rees-Mogg that the UK Government introduced the voter ID rules in an attempt to "gerrymander" elections.

He told the National Conservatism conference last month: “Parties that try and gerrymander end up finding their clever scheme comes back to bite them, as dare I say we found by insisting on voter ID for elections."

Elections took place in 230 areas of England in May with around 27 million people eligible to vote.

SNP Cabinet Office spokesperson Kirsty Blackman said thousands more could be prevented from exercising their democratic right if the rule, which could "change the outcome of elections in marginal seats", is kept in place.

She said: "This report shows restrictive Tory voter-ID laws prevented thousands of people from voting in the local elections – and pose a damaging threat to democracy in the UK.

"If this trend continues, thousands more could be prevented from voting in the next General Election because they don't have the right ID or aren't aware of the changing rules.

"Not only would this stop eligible voters from having their rightful say – but it could also change the outcome of elections in marginal seats, where a handful of votes can determine who wins.

"There was no need to impose these restrictive rules in the first place and Tory MPs have admitted they were introduced in an attempt to gerrymander elections by suppressing votes.

"The SNP will continue to press for these restrictive Tory rules to be scrapped, so all eligible voters can exercise their democratic right to vote – but this fiasco shows, yet again, that the Westminster system is corrupt and broken.”

The report said 87% of people in England – excluding London where there were no elections – were aware they needed voter ID to cast their ballot immediately before polling day, but awareness varied across the population.

It was lower among younger age groups, black and ethnic minority communities, and those who said they never vote in local elections.

Awareness was significantly lower among people who said they did not have an accepted form of ID (74%) compared with those who did have ID (94%).

Awareness and take-up of the Voter Authority Certificate – a document that can be obtained if you don’t have other suitable photo ID – was low, the report added.

A total of 89,552 people applied for a Voter Authority Certificate before the deadline on April 25 and 81,033 certificates were issued to voters ahead of the May elections.

Approximately 25,000 certificates were used as a form of ID on May 4.

In May 2023, awareness of the Voter Authority Certificate was 57% both among the overall population and those who said they did not already have photo ID.

The overall number of Voter Authority Certificates issued and used was low compared with estimates of the number of voters who might not have any other accepted ID (250,000 to 300,000).