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Citizens Union says voting reforms will cost nearly $50M

The various voting reforms approved last month will ultimately cost $49.5 million over the next decade, but lower costs for each election in most counties, according to a report released Thursday by the good-government group Citizens Union.

The report reviewed the implementation of early voting, electronic pollbooks and the consolidation of the state and congressional primaries to a single day in June.

“The voting reform bills recently signed into law by Governor Cuomo will protect and expand the right to vote in New York State,” said Betsy Gotbaum,Executive Director of Citizens Union. “These reforms are an important first step, but we need to ensure that they are properly implemented, which requires significant funding in the state budget. Reforms without the funds to implement them is not enough.”

The primary consolidation will save New York counties $36.2 million over 10 years.

But early voting comes with a price tag, the group found: approximately $12.5 million statewide and an additional $3.4 million for each election. This is based on the calculated cost of 12 days of early voting; the new law will have nine days of early voting.

Still, good-government organizations and county governments have called on the state to funding early voting in the budget.

Electronic pollbooks will cost $14.9 million in the first year, but saves money over time.

The analysis was based on information from nine states and interviews with Republican and Democratic elections officials in New York.

“Our study found that while the cost of implementing early voting, e-pollbooks and a combined primary would cost the state $22.1 M immediately, the cost would be less than $5M a year over ten years, and would result in lower costs per election in most counties,” said Rachel Bloom, Director of Public Policy and Programs for Citizens Union. “It is imperative that the budget fund these reforms that will strengthen democracy here in New York State.”

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