The Cost of Voting Technology

Cost information on election administration is challenging to find. However, over the past decade election officials, academics, and advocates have made efforts to quantify the costs of one significant part of elections—voting technology.

Research from California, Maryland, North Carolina, Miami-Dade County, Florida, and Butler County, Ohio, has compared the costs of implementing direct record electronic (DRE) voting machines—most often touch-screen voting systems—versus optical-scan voting technology, where paper ballots are counted by scanning devices. In each case implementing the optical scan technology has been estimated to be less costly.

In 2010, researchers with the Research Triangle Institute found that using optical scan systems could save Maryland nearly $10 million. And in 2005 the Miami-Dade County elections office estimated the county could save more than $13 million over five years by switching from DREs to optical scan technology.