Looking at the facility costs related to voter registration for election authorities in Oregon and comparing it to Champaign County leaves one wondering.
Here is how I roughly calculated our facility costs for voter registration.
First, I used a cost of $14,76 per square foot which is the rent paid by the Illinois Attorney General for space in the Brookens Administrative Center where our office is.
Second, I measured and determined that there was 1,312 square feet used in some way or another in the voter registration process. Without any proration of the space based on time spent on voter registration I calculated a cost of 16 cents per voter, which would make our county the fifth cheapest in Oregon.
However, if you prorate the space based on time allocated to voter registration activities, the cost drops to 5 cents a voter. That would be the cheapest of any Oregon county except Crook County which reported $173.82 in facility costs amounting to 1 cent per voter.
In my mind, there are two ways to look at this, neither of which Pew adopted.
The first way to examine this it is to question your methods and procedures. Is the methodology really returning accurate data? I’d suggest that it almost certainly is not and that Pew needs to go back to the drawing board on facility costs and probably almost everything else in their survey.
The second way to examine this is to wonder why it costs so much for facilities in these counties. If Champaign County can operate with a facility cost of 5 cents, shouldn’t a county like Marion County be able to lower their 61 cent cost to something more reasonable? Why are the facility costs for voter registration in Washington County 6 times the cost of Champaign County?
With the quality of the Pew report as I’ve seen it so far, I have a lot more faith that the Oregon counties are running with more reasonable costs than reported by Pew. But either way, Pew owes the public and policy makers a closer examination of the data they are reporting.