WASHINGTON, D.C. May 31, 2018 – Counties should negotiate in order to ensure they get the best prices for voting equipment, according to a new report from Public Citizen that analyzes the cost of voting machines to help election officials and citizens make the most of limited federal funding for election security.
As recently appropriated federal funds for election security become available, states and counties may be looking to upgrade to new voting equipment, but should be careful to get the most value.
The report from Public Citizen’s Democracy Is For People campaign, “The Cost of Counting the Vote,” compiles data from 43 counties nationwide that have purchased new voting equipment within the past 12 years, although the majority of machines were obtained within the past few years. The counties studied are in California, Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia.
While most precinct ballot scanners were around $5,000 to $6,000, some counties have been able to negotiate to spend less. A few counties, however, paid much more than average.
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“There’s an urgent need to move away from paperless electronic voting machines, ideally before the fall general election,” said Aquene Freechild, co-director of Public Citizen’s Democracy Is For People campaign. “We want to make sure that election officials can make the most of their limited election security funding to get more secure paper ballot and scanner-based voting systems.”
It is particularly important for election officials to know their options for obtaining voting machines, because using the limited federal funding to upgrade ballot scanners and ensure rigorous post-election audits will be one of the strongest safeguards against foreign meddling in our democracy, Freechild said.