New laws requiring electors to show photo identification when voting will "disenfranchise many" and could lead to a security risk for polling station staff, councillors have heard.

The Elections Act 2022 was passed by Parliament in April.

It requires voters to show photo ID before being issued with a ballot paper at UK elections and local elections in England.

However speaking at a recent full council meeting, Labour opposition leader Cllr Nick Peel said that some voters denied the chance to cast their ballot next May by the new regulations could "kick off" and staff overseeing elections could be at risk of abuse.

Cllr Peel said: “We’re moving forward to the notion of compulsory voter ID.

“A lot of us have got some very serious concerns.

“This is trying to fix something that isn’t broken.

“The UK has one of the cleanest and most transparent democratic processes in the world.

“It’s completely unnecessary and in my view will end up disenfranchising voters of all persuasions.

“I’m worried about staff getting verbal abuse at polling stations.

“Imagine the scenario people turning up to cast their vote being told they have to go home and get their passport or other documents.

“I’m very worried about the security risks because not everybody will just take that on the chin, some people will kick off about it.

“What steps will the council take between now and May for a publicity campaign including the option for voting by post?”

The council’s chief executive responded, Tony Oakman, responded.

He said: “The council will launch publicity with regard to the changes.

“The guidance is still draft but it currently says that the poll card will become a letter which will outline in detail the need for ID at polling stations.

“It will cover the option of applying for a voter ID letter if the elector doesn’t have one of the forms for ID.”

Next week councillors are set to debate the issue at October’s full council meeting.

A motion in the name of Cllr Kevin McKeon will urge the leader of the council to write to the government and urge it not to implement the policy for the local elections in May 2023.

The motion adds: “In the event that the minister refuses to respond positively to the request of this council, the chief executive is urged to initiate a public information campaign to alert voters to the proposed changed arrangements at polling stations and to suggest that postal voting may be an option from which voters may benefit.”

Cllr McKeon, said: “The need to present photo ID will be a deterrent to the many voters who don’t possess valid photo ID at a time when our focus ought to be on encouraging greater participation in elections.

“If implemented, this policy will have a detrimental effect on the democratic process in Bolton.

“It will also present a further burden on already overstretched council officers as they will need to train polling clerks and presumably create a system for voters who don’t have accepted forms of photo ID.