Voters casting ballots in local elections in England this week will for the first time require photo identification, in the biggest change to in-person voting in 150 years which has infuriated opponents. The Conservative government insists the change will guard against potential electoral fraud and bring Britain in line with European neighbours. But opposition parties, democracy groups and election administration organisations have all decried the move, with some viewing it as a crude attempt at voter suppression to benefit the struggling ruling party. Thursday’s contests in swathes of England are the first major electoral test for Rishi Sunak since he became prime minister last October. His Tories are set to see “significant losses” to the main Labour opposition and Liberal Democrats across a number of key councils, according to a YouGov poll last week of over 6,000 people voting in 18 districts. Nationally, the Conservatives have been trailing Labour by big margins for m nths, with a recent Savanta survey showing the opposition party currently enjoying a reduced but still healthy 14-point lead. Labour lawmakers have been among the chief critics of the new voter ID requirement, sensing a Tory plot to dent their rise — despite the policy promise being in the Conservatives’ 2019 manifesto. “Voter ID has always been a solution in search of a problem,” Labour MP Alex Norris told parliament last week, adding “millions of pounds have been squandered on this process”.