French E-Voting Study Reveals Hidden Costs

    December 19, 2007

Electronic voting machines are thought to be a way of saving money, but they often come with a hidden cost, according to a new report from the French Internet Rights Forum.

The machines cost on average $6,300 each for a voting station serving 800 to 1000 voters, electoral districts face other costs tied to their use, according to the Forum. The French lobbying group wrote in "An interim report on the use of voting machines for electronic voting in the political elections of 2007."French E-Voting Study Reveals Hidden Costs

The use of electronic voting machines has increased in France in recent years. Fifteen electoral districts used them in local and European elections in 2004, 55 districts used them in 2005, and 82 asked permission to use them for the presidential election.

For districts using electronic voting machines saving paper did not equal saving money. They had to pay for additional mailing that explained how the candidates would appear on the screen. Some had to be sent at express rates because of delays programming the machines. No districts had anticipated the additional costs the Forum reported.

Some districts were forced to open more polling places and buy extra electronic voting machines because voters took longer to operate the electronic ballots. The report also found governments overestimated how long the electronic voting machines would last, requiring them to be replaced sooner than anticipated.

Other costs were paying for electronic voting security, fees for service and software licenses.