Cost of Counting the Vote

By Aquene Freechild and Hamdi Soysal,

The Price of Upgrading Voting Systems in 43 U.S. Counties

May 31, 2018 – Amid serious concerns about whether our elections are secure from hackers and computer error, many state and local governments are looking to replace out-of-date paperless voting systems with paper ballot and electronic scanner systems.

Pricing of voting equipment is often opaque, and in many cases, prices are negotiated on a local level. To bring some much-needed clarity to the issue, view our Cost of Counting the Vote report which examines how much 43 county governments in 10 states paid for voting equipment. With this information in hand, local election officials and citizens can make the most of limited election equipment dollars.

Our key finding: While most precinct ballot scanners cost around $5,000 to $6,000, some counties have been able to negotiate more favorable pricing. However, a few counties paid a much higher than average price for their equipment.

Our key conclusion: It’s important that counties band together or engage state authorities where appropriate to negotiate prices and get the best contract terms for voting equipment. Leasing equipment is an option for county officials to address the security threats quickly without committing to buying new systems on a short time frame.