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February 7, 2019
Contact: Jake Oliver, [email protected], (347) 361-9983

Report finds that implementing early voting, electronic pollbooks and a combined primary would cost NYS $49.5M over ten years, and result in ongoing savings in small and rural counties

Citizens Union calls on Governor Cuomo and the legislature to include funding for early voting in the State budget

Download the report here

 

(New York, NY)—Citizens Union, New York State’s preeminent nonpartisan good government group released a report today outlining the cost to the State of recently passed election reforms. The study found that enacting all three of these reforms would cost the state $49.5M over ten years, and result in lower costs per election in most counties. Citizens Union is a strong supporter of the voting reforms that recently passed the legislature and were signed into law by Governor Cuomo on January 24th.

Citizens Union commissioned a Policy Capstone Project from a team of graduate students at New York University’s Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service. The team looked at the cost of implementing early voting and electronic pollbooks (which are necessary for large counties to implement early voting) and how much the state would save by consolidating the primary elections for federal and state offices.

The team conducted an analysis based on data from nine states, as well as interviews from New York elections officials from both major political parties. This data was used to develop estimates of the costs and savings associated with each reform, the estimates were then applied to counties across the state. The report was completed in the spring of 2018.

Key findings from the report include:

  • In the first year, instituting early voting in every county would cost approximately $12.5M statewide and an additional $3.4M per election. (Please note that this calculated the cost of 12 days of early voting. The legislation signed into law by Governor Cuomo calls for 9 days of early voting). 
  • Combining the state and federal primaries will save New York $36.2M over the next 10 years.
  • Electronic pollbooks would cost New York $14.9M in the first year, but would save money over time, especially for larger counties. The ongoing savings would exceed the implementation costs in just ten years.
  • Implementing early voting, e-pollbooks and a combined primary at the same time would cost $22.1 M statewide. Over ten years, the reforms would cost the state $49.5M, but would result in ongoing savings in small rural and rural counties.
  • Enacting all three reforms would result in lower costs per election in most counties.

“The voting reform bills recently signed into law by Governor Cuomo will protect and expand the right to vote in New York State,” said Betsy Gotbaum, Executive Director of Citizens Union. “These reforms are an important first step, but we need to ensure that they are properly implemented, which requires significant funding in the state budget. Reforms without the funds to implement them is not enough.”

“Our study found that while the cost of implementing early voting, e-pollbooks and a combined primary would cost the state $22.1 M immediately, the cost would be less than $5M a year over ten years, and would result in lower costs per election in most counties,” said Rachel Bloom, Director of Public Policy and Programs for Citizens Union. “It is imperative that the budget fund these reforms that will strengthen democracy here in New York State.”

About Citizens Union
Citizens Union (CU) is committed to reforming New York City and State government to foster accountability, accessibility, transparency, honesty, and the highest ethical standards. For the past 120 years, we at Citizens Union have devoted ourselves to holding our local governments accountable to do better in all of these areas, and we remain committed to enfranchising all New Yorkers. The many initiatives that we are currently advancing include ethics reform, increased voter participation and civic engagement, greater policy accountability, and a truly accurate 2020 census. In all of these efforts, we have been—and will remain—nonpartisan. Learn more at www.citizensunion.org.

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