Spending

Revealed: Tories spend £3.5m on controversial voter ID cards

The government is spending £3.5million on controversial voter ID cards, it can be revealed.

Two contracts have been awarded to a technology company to produce cards allowing voters to prove their identity at polling stations.

Ministers say that by requiring voters to show photo ID, they will be able to eliminate the potential for fraud.

However, critics have criticized the “unnecessary” spending and pointed to the scant evidence of voter fraud in the UK.

Under the electoral law, which came into force in April, voters must prove their identity at polling stations in order to vote.

Voter cards can be obtained by voters who do not have photo ID.

This is despite the Electoral Commission saying the UK has “low levels” of voter fraud, with just nine convictions since 2017.

There has not been a single conviction related to voter fraud in 2020 or 2021, and 2019 has seen only four convictions despite two major rounds of elections – local elections in May and general elections in December.

Shadow Labor Elections Minister Alex Norris said: ‘When queuing to vote we are more likely to be struck by lightning three times than queuing behind someone committing voter fraud. The government has created this unnecessary voter identification requirement. It is a solution in search of a problem.

“Not only will it discriminate against ethnic minorities and low-income groups, but we are now learning that it is costing taxpayers millions of pounds of money that could be much better spent during a cost of living crisis.”

According to the government’s website, Valtech Limited has been awarded two contracts by the department for an upgrade worth a combined £3.45million to provide the “Vote Card” service.

“This service will allow voters without photo ID to obtain a free voter card,” he said.

A government spokesperson said: “We cannot be complacent when it comes to ensuring the security of our democracy.

“Our Elections Act will protect the integrity of our elections and eliminate the potential for voter fraud, bringing the rest of the UK in line with Northern Ireland, which has had photo ID to vote in elections since 2003. .

“Anyone eligible to vote will have the opportunity to do so, including anyone who does not have existing photo ID, as they can apply for a free voter card. The online service will ensure that the process of obtaining a voter card is efficient and accessible.