DREs vs. Op Scans: New Florida Study Compares Actual Costs of Election Administration
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Contributed by Dr. Rosemarie Myerson
October 10, 2005
new study, by Dr. Rosemarie Myerson and Richard Myerson, of the
real cost of DRE and optical scan voting systems in all Florida
Counties, reveals that buying touchscreens will increase a
county’s annual expenditures by 57.3%. Owning optical scanners should
increase their expected annual costs 16.9%. Optical scanners have the
further advantage of providing a voter verified paper ballot that can
be used to audit the machine’s data and for any needed independent
recount. To match this auditing advantage of optical scanners, the
present touch screen systems would require the county to purchase and
maintain a large number of printers, an additional set of costs that
would significantly increase the county’s annual expenses.
One factor that may explain why having touchscreens cost so much more
than optical scanners is because the county has to own and maintain so
many more machines. We estimate that one optical scanner can count
handle six voter’s votes a minute (or 360 per hour) as they are cast
but because it takes a voter at least three minutes to vote with
touchscreens, it would take 20 touchscreens to perform per hour as well
as optical scanners. In order not to have huge waiting lines on
election day, most counties buy 10 touchscreens per precinct. Thus
while one optical scanner adequately serves a precinct, the precinct
needs approximately ten times as many touchscreens in order not to have
huge lines of voters waiting to vote.
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