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Cost Estimates of Election Systems

How much do these election systems options cost?

This page contains a rough spreadsheet (v-1) method for budget-planning or comparison between alternative systems - commonly DRE's at polling-places and VBM (Vote-by-Mail), the system already in use in Oregon and much of Washington States, and under serious consideration by and for King County (Seattle) WA.
By no means is this budget model complete, nor is it, as presented, reputed to be accurate for any particular case.

It is a tool, to be used with other similar methods of review and analysis.

What I have tried to do is to establish a model for guidance on costs of running elections for any jurisdiction. Like any mathematical model, it contains raw, independent data, formulas and totals. The style which I like, sets the formulas and totals as functions that are commonly accepted in systems that I know about.

The raw data will be yours. I have distinguished raw-data cells by coloring their background. Find out the separate measures of a jurisdiction of interest, and type them into the proper cells. A spreadsheet is instant and automatic -- as soon as you hit the Enter key after a new number, all the results which are derived from that number are changed and displayed.

So an analysis requires that you enter ALL the numbers that apply - and only then look at the final result - the annual total cost. On the way, there are intermediary results which you may look at to see if your entries have been reasonable. Any entry may be changed at any time - there is no "right order" to put values in.

click here to download the spreadsheet (v-1) - (Excel v97 - 32KB)

(And oh, have fun!)
An APPROXIMATE representation of most of the items included so far in the model, just to give you an idea before you start trying to punch in numbers:
Name of Jurisdiction and Systems to be Compared(name)
Number of Registered Voters in the Jurisdiction(persons)
Percentage of Voters with Mailed Ballots(%)
Number of Voters with Mailed Ballots (calc)(persons)
Percentage of Ballots Cast at Pollsites(%)
Percentage of Ballots Delivered at Dropsites(%)
Percentage of Ballots Returned by Mail(%)
Total Turnout Percentage(%)
Number of Precincts(count)
Number of Primary Elections run per year(events/yr)
Number of General Elections run per year(events/yr)
Number of Special Elections run per year(events/yr)
Total Number of Elections per year(events/yr)
Number of Contests per Primary Election(contests)
Number of Contests per General Election(contests)
Number of Contests per Special Election(contests)
Number of Pollsites(locations)
Number of Staffers (average) needed per Precinct at Pollsites(persons)
Number of Staffers additional needed per Pollsite(persons)
Number of Ballot Drop-sites - Central(locations)
Number of Ballot Drop-sites - Remote(locations)
Number of Staffers needed per Ballot Drop-site - Central(persons)
Number of Staffers needed per Ballot Drop-site - Remote(persons)
Mileage to median pollsite from Central Storage(miles)
Mileage to most-distant pollsite from Central Storage(miles)
Rules and Rates - Sites:
Hours per Remote-site shift = 7:AM-9:PM(hours)
Hours per Central office shift = 8:AM-5:PM(hours)
Management Compensation (salaries+benefits)($/year)
Staffer salaries+benefits($/hour)
Transportation of equipment($/mile)
Rental costs - Pollsite or BallotDropSite($/election/site)
Number of Election Machines Needed/Precinct(number/precinct)
Number of Disabled-Election Machines Needed/Precinct(number/precinct)
Purchase Price per Election Machine (Capital Cost)($/unit)
Service Life per Election Machine (years)
Upkeep & Upgrade Cost per machine per year($/year)
Storage Rental Rate - per machine($/year)
Rules and Rates - Ballots:
Ballot Printing (all voters)($/ballot/election)
Number of Ballots Printed (all voters)/year(ballots/year)
Mailer Envelope printing (mailed ballots)($/ballot/election)
Mailing Label printing ("")($/ballot/election)
Envelope Stuffing ("")($/ballot/election)
Postage Out ("")($/ballot/election)
Number of Ballots Mailed (all voters)/year(ballots/year)
Direct Costs of Ballot Counting($/ballot/election)
Number of ballots handled per Central Staffer per day(count/person) by Marian Beddill, an independent citizen activist in Whatcom County, WA - c: [an error occurred while processing this directive] last edited:  2006-02-10