Modernizing voter registration is an easy call for cost savings

Last updated on November 2, 2017

Red and blue states alike are adopting automatic voter registration and online voter registration because they encourage voter participation, clean up the rolls and secure our system. Beyond that, online voter registration and automatic voter registration present significant cost savings for the states. We set out to determine how much money states could save by modernizing their elections by surveying election officials in 34 states.

Here’s what we found:

  • Each paper registration costs on average $3.54 in labor costs, which means the average election office is spending $113,445 just on staff time.

  • This includes an average of $.51 per registration, which is roughly $10,000, for postage and paper spent to follow up on missing information or errors on registration forms.

  • The average costs to make these paper registration forms is about $.06 per unit and comes out to around $1,430.

  • When paper registrations come flooding in around the time of an election, many offices have to hire extra support to process the requests. They spend around $.67 per registration to hire temporary workers and pay overtime for voter registration data entry, costing them about $33,500 on average.

  • Jurisdictions additionally spend approximately $12,740 more to notify voters about registration issues and $3,100 forwarding registration forms to the proper recipient.

  • Offices also spend roughly $1,180 for duplicate mailings associated with duplicate registration entries.

Nationally, our election offices spend over $6.58 million processing paper-based registrations. Modernizing election systems away from paper ballots with online voter registration and automatic voter registration can create significant savings for election offices.

Let’s put that in perspective. Election officials have one of the most important jobs in our country — verifying election data and results. For such an important job, they should have the most up-to-date technology and security programs. Automatic voter registration and online voter registration are easy calls to make.

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