A report coming out of Snohomish County, WA, which experimented with a fully by mail election in 2006, indicates that the election cost about the same as a comparable midterm election. The big costs for the county included printing, sorting, and mailing ballots. As county auditor Carolyn Dipenbrock notes “Elections are very labor intensive, and people do not understand how difficult it is to get the correct ballot to them.”
Snohomish was hoping to save money, as they indicate in their vote by mail planning report. Their experience runs contrary to the much-reported cost savings that the state of Oregon experienced when they went fully vote by mail.
Story in the Seattle Herald. I tried, but can’t find the Auditor’s report online.