In 2018, 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 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, The Cost of Progress for New York Voters, was completed in the spring of 2018. The report was written by Caroline Iosso, TiYanna Long, Laura Miller, Laura Mowry and Joseph Sutkowi.
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 in January 2019 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.