Types of E-Voting Solution (Part3)

Results Reporting

-- EVMs and precinct optical scanners (small scanners that are used in a precinct) keep a running total of results throughout the voting period, although the tally is not made public until after the polls close. When the polls close, election officials can obtain results information relatively quickly.

-- Central count optical scanners (larger scanners that are in a centralized location, and ballots are either submitted by mail or are brought to the location for counting) can delay election night reporting because the ballots must be transported, which takes time. Central count optical scanners typically count 200 to 500 ballots per minute. However, many jurisdictions that use central count scanners are permitted to begin preliminarily processing, but not tabulating, ballots that they receive ahead of the election. This is true in many vote-by-mail jurisdictions that receive a large number of ballots before Election Day.

Cost Considerations

To determine the cost of an election system, the original purchase price is only one element. Additionally, costs for transportation, printing and maintenance must be considered. Costs vary widely depending on the number of units requested, which vendor is chosen, whether or not maintenance is included, etc. Recently, jurisdictions have also taken advantage of financing options available from vendors, so costs can be spread out over a number of years. Here are some things to consider when evaluating the potential cost of a new voting system:

Quantity needed/required. For polling place units (EVMs, precinct scanners or BMDs) sufficient machines must be provided to keep voter traffic flowing. Some states also have statutory requirements for the number of machines that must be provided per polling place. For central count scanners, the equipment must be sufficient to be able to consistently process ballots and provide results in a timely manner. Vendors provide different options for central count scanners, some of which process ballots faster than others.

Licensing. The software that accompanies any voting system usually comes with annual licensing fees, which affects the long-term cost of the system.

Support and maintenance costs. Vendors often provide a variety of support and maintenance options at different price points throughout the life of a voting system contract. These contracts are a significant portion of the overall cost of the system.

Financing options. In addition to an outright purchase, vendors may offer lease options to jurisdictions looking to acquire a new system.

Transportation. Transporting machines from a warehouse to voting locations must be considered with machines that are used at polling places, but is usually not a concern with a central count system that stays at the elections office year-round.

Printing. Paper ballots must be printed. If there are several different ballot styles and/or language requirements, printing costs can add up. Some jurisdictions use ballot-on-demand printers that allow jurisdictions to print paper ballots with the correct ballot style as needed and avoid overprinting. EVMs can provide as many different ballot styles as necessary and provide ballots in other languages as well, so no printing is required.

For more information on costs and funding options for voting equipment see NCSL’s report The Price of Democracy: Splitting the Bill for Elections and webpage on Funding Elections Technology.

Post time: 14-09-21