CALLS for the Government to introduce voter ID to combat electoral fraud have been thrown out by Bolton Council.

Cllr Mark Cunningham urged councillors to request the Government to support voter ID with the form of identification containing at least a photo, signature and possible additional biometric makers.

Speaking at this week's meeting of the full council, he said: "I have heard many suggestions of how fraud could be perpetrated, including the wrong person presenting themselves at a polling station, domestic abuse victims being forced to vote in a particular way under duress, members of family having to defer to head the household wishes buying a voting card for money, or drugs or alcohol from vulnerable people."

But Cllr Roger Hayes, leader of the Bolton Lib-Dems group, argued that such a scheme would be an obstacle to some groups casting their vote.

"Is Cllr Cunningham really arguing for a return to the days when a voter had to get a GP signature to vote," he said, "Many people have legitimate reasons to vote by post and it has certainly improved turnout.

"There were issues with postal votes, many of them publicised, but the electoral commission has made an number of improvements and it has made it very much more difficult for postal votes to be abused.

"The problem would disproportionately affect people at the poorer end of our community people who do not have the photo ID necessary."

He added: "We would support a far more stringent approach to enforcing voter registration. There is evidence a lot of people around Bolton who are not on register and don't want to be on the register.

Cllr Hayes said: "I think Cllr Cunningham would be far better putting his energy into trying to strengthen legislation to prevent damn right lies in political campaigns including on side of buses."

Questions were raised about having to produce ID for everyday occurrences

"There is something not right if we are asked to show ID to pick up a parcel or to take out a library book," said Cllr Anne Galloway.

Cllr Nick Peel said that pilot schemes had seen people turned away from polling stations.

He said: "740 people across England last May lost their right to vote and the first pilot in 2018 five councils took part and 400 lost their right to vote there.

"There were eight cases of impersonation against 740 people denied their right for vote

Cllr Martyn Cox added: "It is not that difficult to commit voter fraud in this country.

"I think the time has come where we have to look at voter ID and if you look at the continent it is inconceivable that you go and vote without ID, they would think it was the most bizarre thing in the world."

Leader of Bolton Council, Cllr David Greenhalgh, said that voter ID would restore confidence in the election process.

Cllr Greenhalgh said: "This to me is about the integrity of the system and that integrity is in doubt, what level it is in doubt is up for debate, but the perception is out there that there is fraud, what level people don't know.

"We should do everything in our power to do what we can to destroy the perception that our democracy is being undermined."

Councillors voted against the motion.