Political deadlock is preventing the Local Government Association (LGA) from agreeing a policy position on controversial voter ID as peers inflicted a defeat on the Government.
Conservative former minister Lord Willetts pushed to a vote his call to expand the list of accepted identification to include non-photo documents such as birth certificates, bank statements, council tax demands and library cards, with his amendment backed by 199 to 170 in the House of Lords.
Lord Willetts argued this would prevent large numbers of people being turned away from voting.
Lords have been examining the Elections Bill, which will require voters in Great Britain to show photo ID before being issued a ballot paper in polling stations.
The Bill’s proposals feature one of the largest sets of electoral reforms seen by councils.
A financial impact assessment provided with the Bill has estimated it will cost £150m over a decade based on an assumption that 2% without accepted forms of ID will apply for a voter card.
Elections minister Kemi Badenoch has confirmed a working assumption that up to 4% will take up the voter card while a survey carried out by the Government found that 31% of respondents said they would apply for one.
The overall cost will increase by £10m for each additional percentage point of the electorate who apply for a voter card, according to the impact assessment.
Lord Willetts told the debate on the Bill at report stage: ‘The costs imposed by this measure seem to me to go way beyond the scale of the problem.
'If a broader range of documents are accepted that removes the need for a new separate group of voter ID cards and that hence lowers the costs involved.’
However, Cabinet Office minister Lord True argued plans to include further forms of ID to access polling stations would ‘weaken the security of our elections’.
A confidential LGA briefing revealed the LGA does not have any current policy positions on voter ID.
The briefing read: ‘The LGA is a politically representative organisation and we are aware of established policy differences on the issue.’