Tory plans to force all voters to show ID will cost £120million over a decade, a devastating government document shows.
It reveals for the first time the price of the crackdown on voter fraud at polling stations – for which just three people have been convicted in seven years.
The Cabinet Office impact assessment estimates the policy, which campaigners say will marginalise poorer and older voters, will cost between £65m and £180m over the next 10 years, with a “central estimate” of £120m.
Those costs include £55m on more detailed polling cards, which will have to change from A5 to A4 size and be posted in envelopes for the first time.
Another £15m will be spent by councils producing plastic “voter cards” for the estimated 2.1million Brits who may not have suitable ID.
The extra admin means 19,851 more poll clerks will be needed on election days across Great Britain, costing £20m in staff over the decade.
Finally £9m will be needed for the Electoral Commission, £20m on communications, £7m on training and £2m on equipment like printers and webcams.
The document was slipped online two months ago with no fanfare – and provoked fury as the Elections Bill reaches its first hurdle in Parliament on Tuesday.
£120m could buy 10,316 hip operations, 3,986 new ventilators or 6.6million hours of tutoring in schools.
Dr Jess Garland of the Electoral Reform Society, whose petition against the crackdown has more than 50,000 signatures, said the cost was “gobsmacking”.
She said: “There is not a penny in this Elections Chaos Bill to bring in the nine million people currently missing from the electoral roll.
“Instead, mandatory ID represents a sledgehammer to democratic equality, with millions at risk of being barred from the ballot box.
“This bill represents staggeringly warped priorities that will only serve to silence voters.”
It comes after Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights warned the Bill may cause discrimination against disabled and elderly people.
Labour have vowed to oppose the entire Bill on Tuesday, saying it will “rig democracy in favour of the Conservative Party”.
There were just 171 allegations of in-person voter fraud at a polling station from 2014 to 2019 – of which three led to a conviction.
Tom Brake, a former Lib Dem MP and director of Unlock Democracy, urged Boris Johnson to “use the money instead to pay for thousands of extra nurses.
“That should be more of a priority than making it harder for everyone to vote.”
Mark Kieran of anti- Brexit group Open Britain said millions are being spent “to solve a problem that doesn’t exist”, adding: “Boris Johnson would be better off using this £180m to relieve pressures in our health and social care sector or to head off looming food shortages caused by Brexit.”
A Cabinet Office spokesperson said: “Stealing someone’s vote is stealing their voice and fraud in our elections is something we cannot allow room for. So we are preventing this from happening by requiring photographic identification.
“These figures represent the estimated total cost of introducing voter identification over ten years and is a price worth paying to ensure our democratic process remains secure.
“Voter identification has operated successfully in Northern Ireland for almost two decades without excessive costs.”