The government is spending £3.5million on controversial voter ID cards, it can be revealed.
Two contracts have been awarded to a tech company to produce cards for voters to prove their identity at polling stations.
Ministers argue that by making voters show photographic ID they will be able to stamp out the potential for fraud.
However, critics have slammed the “needless” spend and pointed to scant evidence of electoral fraud in the UK.
Under the Elections Act, which became law in April, voters have to prove their identity at polling stations in order to vote.
The voter cards can be obtained by electors who do not have an existing form of photo ID.
This is despite the Electoral Commission saying the UK has “low levels” of electoral fraud, with just nine convictions since 2017.
There has not been a single conviction related to electoral fraud in 2020 or 2021, and 2019 saw just four convictions despite two major sets of elections – local elections in May and the general election in December.
Labour’s shadow elections minister Alex Norris said: “When we stand in line to vote, we are more likely to be hit by lightning three times than to be queuing behind someone who is committing voter fraud. The government has created this needless voter ID requirement. It is a solution in search of a problem.
“Not only will it discriminate against ethnic minority and low-income groups, but we now learn that it is costing millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money that could be far better spent during a cost of living crisis.”
According to the government website, Valtech Limited has been awarded two contracts by the department for levelling up worth a combined £3.45m to deliver the “Voter Card” service.
“This service will allow electors without an existing form of photo identification to obtain a free voter card,” it says.
A government spokesperson said: “We cannot be complacent when it comes to ensuring our democracy remains secure.
“Our Elections Act will protect the integrity of our elections and stamp out the potential for voter fraud, bringing the rest of the UK in line with Northern Ireland, which has had photo identification to vote in elections since 2003.
“Everyone eligible to vote will have the opportunity to do so, including anyone who does not have an existing form of photo identification as they can apply for a free voter card. The online service will make sure the process of obtaining a voter card is efficient and accessible.”