A SENIOR Conservative councillor has questioned whether new voter ID rules for elections are needed, as Devon prepares to go to the polls.

John Hart, the leader of Devon County Council, doesn’t back the Tory government’s initiative.

Election day on Thursday, May 4 will be the first time that voters need to show an accepted form of photographic ID, such as a passport or driving licence, before being allowed to cast their ballots.

The move is controversial, with those against the change saying it creates a problem that doesn’t exist and will make it harder for some people to vote. There has also been criticism that older people are more likely to have forms of ID to choose from. Student ID cards, for example, are not permitted.

However, the government says the requirement to show photographic identification will “protect the integrity of the ballot box” and eliminates the “potential for voter fraud”.

Discussing the new requirement, Councillor John Hart, Conservative leader of Devon County Council has said: “I’m not sure it’s needed, personally.”

Speaking to BBC Politics South West, he added: “I do know, though, that our district councils have worked very hard to make sure that they make a success of it in May.

“On the basis of that, I do congratulate them on what they’ve done to try and make sure that everything on election day runs smoothly.”

Some Devon councils, including East Devon, North Devon and Plymouth, had urged the government to delay introducing the new rules, while Cllr Hart said it had supported the Local Government Association in calling for a delay.

Former Tiverton and Honiton Tory MP Neil Parish defended the change last month, telling Devoncast from Radio Exe: “I think it’s really necessary because, in the end, we need to make sure everyone who votes are who they say they are.”