Back in 2000, when the Caltech/MIT Voting Technology Project began, we had a lot of trouble tracking down reliable data on the costs of election administration throughout the US. That difficulty led us to recommend to some of our graduate students that they look into this important question, and luckily for those of us who study election administration, Sarah A. Hill (now a professor at CSU Fullerton) took the challenge.
Sarah’s study is in the American Review of Public Administration, and here is the abstract for her paper, “Election Administration Finance in California Counties”:
Over the past decade, the federal and state governments have made large financial investments to improve election administration, but there is little to no understanding of the real workings and implications of election administration finance. This article takes a first look at election administration finance by examining election expenditures in California counties for fiscal years 1992 through 2008 using a public sector cost model. Regression analysis shows that economies of scale and voting technology are significant determinants of election expenditures, as are other factors affecting the cost of the production of election administration. Factors that are expected to affect the demand for election administration are generally shown not to be significant. These results will hopefully be beneficial for policy makers as they face important decisions about changes in voting technology and election administration.
I hope others will do similar studies in other states!