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DREs vs. Op Scans: New Florida Study Compares Actual Costs of Election Administration PDF  | Print |  Email
Contributed by Dr. Rosemarie Myerson   
October 10, 2005
A 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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