For the first time, residents in Barnsley will need to show photo ID to vote at this year’s local elections which are set to take place in May.
The requirement to show photo ID at the polling station is a new rule introduced by the UK government’s Elections Act which was passed last year.
However the decision has been met with disdain from a number of high-ranking Barnsley councillors.
Coun James Higginbottom, who represents the Wombwell ward, told the Chronicle the change is an ‘attack’ on people’s right to vote.
He added: “I would like to commend Barnsley Council’s electoral services staff for their hard work in preparing our residents for the introduction of voter ID in May’s local elections.
“However, it is shameful that we are in this situation in the first place.
“The requirement to show ID when voting in person is due to a completely unwanted and unnecessary change to the law introduced by the Conservative government.
“It is an attack on the fundamental right of every citizen to vote in elections and will mean that people without ID are at risk of losing their vote and their voice.
“As we get closer to this year’s elections, make sure that you have ID ready.
“If you don’t have suitable ID please contact electoral services for a free voter authority certificate.
“My message to every resident is simple - don’t lose your vote.”
Leader of Barnsley Council, Sir Steve Houghton, echoed Coun Higginbottom’s at last week’s cabinet meeting.
He said: “As someone who votes at the box, and I know a lot of people still like to physically vote, please bring some form of ID.
“My big worry is younger people.
“Older people are more likely, but not in every case, to have some form of ID.
“The danger with this is that it’s young people that get disenfranchised and we don’t want to see that.
“We will be doing all we can as a council to inform people and let them know.
“But we do have to emphasise that it will be no good turning up to the polling station and saying ‘well you know who I am’.
“You will need some form of ID to confirm that which is sad because that will happen I’m sure.
“Hopefully it won’t have too big of an impact on voter turnout.
“This is not going to increase voter turnout it’s going to reduce it - the question is by how much?”
The full list of accepted ID is available on the Electoral Commission’s website, along with more information about the new requirement and details of how to apply for the free ID, at electoralcommission.org.uk/voterID.