By: Sam Doak
May 5 2023
This appears to be a rounded-up figure derived from an already high estimate of what this policy could cost over the course of a decade.
The local elections on May 4, 2023, are the first in which voters have been required to present photographic ID at polling stations in England. This is due to changes introduced through the passage of The Elections Act 2022, a controversial piece of legislation that critics have stated could result in the disenfranchisement of potential voters.
While the possible excursion of potential voters has been the most controversial aspect of the government’s changes, some have raised concerns relating to the cost of these measures. One widely circulated claim is that requiring photographic identification will cost the taxpayer £200 million.
A tweet that has been shared extensively in recent days states that the government has decided to “require mandatory voter ID at an estimated cost of £200 million to solve a non-existent problem.” Since being posted, it has garnered over 2,600 retweets and more than 3,600 likes.
While this figure is certainly eye-catching, particularly in light of historically low rates of voter fraud in the United Kingdom, Logically Facts has determined that it is misleading.
Claims that changes to rules concerning documentation at polling stations are set to cost £200 million appear to be based on estimates contained within an impact assessment produced by the U.K. Cabinet Office.
Published on 1 July 2021, the assessment was produced to detail the potential cost of the bill that would ultimately be passed as the Elections Act 2022. Its authors provide a low, central, and high estimate of what the cost of requiring photographic ID could be from 2021 to 2031; these costs are £65 million, £120 million, and £180 million, respectively.
The report outlines the rationale for providing this broad range, stating, “As there is inherent uncertainty with modeling demand for Voter Cards, analysis has been conducted to estimate the upper and lower bound of the demand for Voter Cards. To account for this, and other uncertainties, a range of +/- 50% of the central scenario has been applied to create a high and low scenario.”
Logically Facts could find no publicly available figures that prove the changes being introduced will cost £200 million. While it is not possible to definitively determine what they will cost over the decade covered in the government’s assessment, this number is not reflected in official figures and exceeds the highest estimate provided by the Cabinet Office.
While it is impossible to state that requirements concerning IDs at polling stations will cost £200 million, this figure appears to have been arrived at by rounding up a high estimate provided by the Cabinet Office in 2021. This claim has therefore been marked as misleading.