North Dakota Dispatch: Smaller Counties Mean Larger Election Costs

North Dakota Dispatch: Smaller Counties Mean Larger Election Costs

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In North Dakota, research indicates that elections cost significantly more per voter in smaller counties than larger ones.

Less populous counties spent up to $22 per voter to run elections in 2010, while several larger counties spent approximately $3 per voter, according to calculations by the Secretary of State’s office. This parallels a 2001 Voting Technology Project report, which found that one of the least populous counties in North Dakota spent more than $14 per voter, while the largest spent less than $2 per voter in the 2000 election.

North Dakota’s Secretary of State provides a wealth of data on the “cost per vote” for every primary and general election conducted over the past 30 years. The state calculates data from its 53 counties with a simple, one-page election statistics and expense form.

“We’ve been doing it the same way for at least 20 years,” said Lee Ann Oliver, elections director for the state. “The reporting can take a while – some bills don’t come in until several weeks after the election is held – but we ultimately have a 100 percent response rate, with 53 county auditors filling this form out in each of the 53 counties.”