Skip to main content
NICD News

Elections require more consistent federal funding, per NICD report

By May 18, 2022May 31st, 2022No Comments

The Fulcrum // By

Elections are the central pillar around which a democratic republic is built — the manifestation of citizen representation in government. And yet, local governments put the funding of election administration on par with parking garages, and the federal government only chips in when there’s a crisis.

That’s the conclusion drawn from “The Cost of Conducting Elections,” a new report issued by the National Institute of Civil Discourse’s Common Sense American program in conjunction with the MIT Election Data and Science Lab.

This report examines the challenges and sources of election funding, focusing on the past 20 years. It also considers the role of the federal government in election funding and recommends a more consistent model for financial support.

Elections incur both short- and long-term costs. Yearly costs include printing of ballots and information materials, salaries of temporary election staff, rental of polling places, and postage for mailed materials. Longer-term costs focus on maintaining election infrastructure and include maintenance of the voter registration database, testing and securing voting equipment and computer systems, and training election officials.

Local governments bear most of the fiscal burden of running elections, totals that can be difficult to calculate given the variety of ways state and local governments develop budgets and account for spending. Still, based on a variety of sources such as research conducted by the University of North Carolina-Charlotte and a paper prepared by the Election Infrastructure Initiative, the report estimates that local governments spend about $5 billion each year on elections.