The Cost of Delivering Voter Information: A Case Study of California

Mar 09, 2011

Election officials can reduce the expense of providing voter information by using 21st century technology and reducing paper mailings, according to a case study commissioned by the Pew Center on the States.

The study examines the costs of disseminating voter information in California’s 58 counties and identifies opportunities to reduce spending without cutting essential services.Cali_Costs

California counties spent 11 to 46 percent of their total election costs mailing paper sample ballots in the 2008 general election. Los Angeles, the state’s largest county, spent nearly $6 million on this mailing alone. 

By disseminating voter information through e-mail or the Web, counties could save up to nine percent of their election expenses if a portion of their voters agreed to cancel paper mailings.

  • • San Francisco County could save more than $197,000, or two percent of its total election costs, if 15 percent of voters received only electronic mailings.
  •  • Los Angeles County could save an estimated $1.19 million if 20 percent of its voters opted out of paper information.

Counties could see further savings if they also mailed one copy of voting information to each registered household—instead of sending individual copies to multiple voters even if they live in one home.

  • • The largest counties could see millions in savings (approximately $2.3 million in Los Angeles)
  • • Smaller counties such as Del Norte could realize savings close to 20 percent of their election costs—more than $7,000 of the $41,000 it spent on the November 2008 election

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