How can the government justify such high election costs?

The UK Cabinet Office has released the total election costs for the recent snap-election. For an election that actually weakened the conservative position in Parliament, opponents and disgruntled backbenchers have been quick to criticise. Yet what makes general election costs so high?

Election Costs: The 2017 General Election

£98,310,000 to cover fees and expenses incurred by Returning Officers in running the poll
£42,540,000 to cover primarily the delivery of elections addresses at public expense by the Universal Service Provider (Royal Mail) in accordance with legislation


Source: UK Cabinet Office

The vast majority of the costs incurred for the 2017 Snap election were due to managing and running the election itself. The people involved with the counting process were unpaid volunteers. Their time being rewarded with drinks and snacks throughout their day.

Where do the snap election costs come from?

Traditional elections are expensive and slow but trusted.

As with any election, there is an election committee. This committee will need to ensure that every candidate running for office is eligible to do so, all ballot papers are written and formatted in a way that ensures their legal validity.

They will also need to ensure that the electoral register is up-to-date, with all citizens who have registered to vote eligible to cast their ballots on election day. The election committee and sub-committees often require full-time roles. National and regional election committees thereby have increased personnel costs.

The High Costs of Postal Voting:

For those not familiar with Royal Mail, they managed all of the distribution of postal ballots. UK voters are not expected to pay to mail their own ballots directly. Indeed, elections are free at the point of delivery, meaning that all costs are paid by the taxpayer indirectly.

Voting postally is notoriously expensive. Postal ballots consist of printed instructions, two envelopes for returning the ballot and addressed envelope it is sent in. Postal ballots rack up costs quickly, needing almost four times the amount of paper and printing than regular elections. On top of this, there are also the transportation costs.

Recently, we published a report showing the environmental impact of postal elections. We found that Online elections produce up to 96% less CO2!  This is hardly surprising given the increased quantity of paper and transportation costs with postal elections. We also found them to be significantly cheaper, with up to 70% of costs able to be reduced.

National online elections are only available in Estonia but are commonplace for many private and public institutions. If you would like to learn how to reduce your costs while increasing turnout, contact us today for a free quote.