Last updated on: 4/23/2008 | Author:

What Are the Ongoing and Long-Term Costs Associated with Electronic Voting Machines?

General Reference (not clearly pro or con)

Suffolk County (New York) Legislature Budget Review Office detailed the ongoing and long-term costs associated with electronic voting machines in their July 26, 2006 report Overview of Cost Factors Associated With Electronic Voting Machines and HAVA Compliance:

“There exists a myriad of additional components which would need to be considered when addressing the cost of adopting an electronic voting system, including but not limited to software products, service rates, optional accessories [such as a voter-verified paper audit trail], training fees, …audio preparation fees, cartage, storage, maintenance, technical support, and voter education.”

July 26, 2006 - Suffolk County (New York) Legislature Budget Review Office

Ellen Theisen, CEO of the Vote-PAD Company, included a list of long-term costs associated with electronic voting machines in her 2005 report “Myth Breakers: Facts About Electronic Elections”:

“Among these [long-term] costs are… secure and environmentally-controlled storage for these machines when they are not in use; …energy costs for keeping the backup batteries charged between elections; …labor costs for security when these machines are stored overnight at the polling place before an election; …costs for hardware maintenance and software upgrades for each of the thousands of such machines for a typical large county; …costs for expendable parts, including the backup batteries and smart cards used by these machines; …labor costs for verifying that each machine has the correct version of the software and firmware installed immediately before the start of ever election and again immediately after each election is concluded; …labor costs for individually performing logic and accuracy tests on every one of thousands of machines prior to the start of every election and again immediately following each election; …labor costs for hiring additional poll workers (San Diego doubled the number of poll workers when it switched to DREs); …costs for poll worker training.”

2005 - Ellen Theisen, MA

The Brennan Center for Justice explained some of the life-span costs of electronic voting machines in its 2006 report “The Machinery of Democracy: Voting System Security, Accessibility, Usability, and Cost”:

“Initial costs of information technology systems like voting machines are generally only a small portion of their total, life-span cost. The life-span costs include… costs associated with operations, maintenance, upgrades and training…

Programming costs are often among the highest annual costs for operating voting machines… These costs are often separate and apart from the amounts charged by a vendor in the voting system contract. They also include training poll workers and employees to use, test and maintain the new systems, educating the public on how to use the machines, retro-fitting warehouses and polling places to accommodate new machines, and finding new ways of transporting equipment.”

2006 - Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law