NEDC Statement on Secretary Raffensperger’s Cost Analysis for Hand-Marked Paper Ballots


February 27, 2019 - Georgia Secretary of State Raffensperger is circulating a cost analysis of hand-marked paper ballots that is profoundly misleading and wildly inflates the costs of conducting elections with hand-marked paper ballots as compared with the cost of electronic ballot marking devices to mark all ballots. The analysis the Secretary provided is deeply flawed on many levels, but in the interest of brevity we will focus on the two most egregiously misleading and disingenuous aspects of this estimate.

·      The analysis provided by Secretary Raffensperger includes the costs to purchase equipment for hand-marked paper ballots ($40-60 million) and the cost to run elections with hand marked paper ballots for ten years, claiming a cost of $ 224 million. This is being compared to the cost associated with HB316 which includes only the cost to purchase the equipment for all voters to use electronic ballot marking devices. The Secretary has not provided an estimate to run elections for ten years on electronic ballot marking devices required in HB316 which are considerable and HB316 still lacks a fiscal note. The Secretary’s analysis is like comparing the cost of buying a Chevrolet - plus insurance, gas and repairs for ten years - to the cost of a buying a Bentley and then trying to insist the Bentley is cheaper.  

·      Moreover, the price Secretary Raffensperger used to estimate the cost for pre-printed paper ballots is nearly twice the actual cost counties in Georgia presently pay for pre-printed ballots. The Secretary claims pre-printed ballots will cost $0.55 per ballot. In reality Georgia counties currently pay $0.28 for pre-printed absentee and emergency ballots. Using the same formula on the Secretary’s memo with the actual number of active, registered voters, 6.9 million, and the actual cost of paper ballots of $0.28 per ballot, the cost to print paper ballots for ten years would be $ 67.6 million, not the $164 million claimed by Secretary Raffensperger.

That Secretary Raffensperger would so gravely mislead the legislature and the public on the costs of paper ballots is deeply troubling.