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Methodology for Estimated Costs of Protecting Election Workers from Threats of Physical Violence

The Brennan Center estimates that approximately $300 million is needed to keep election offices and workers physically secure for the next five years.

Published: May 3, 2022

How the Bren­nan Center arrived at its $44 million to $73 million estim­ate for bullet­proof­ing elec­tion offices

We estim­ate that on aver­age, bullet resist­ant protec­tions for elec­tion offices — which may include barri­ers for customer trans­ac­tion coun­ters, rein­force­ments for interior and exter­ior doors, and bullet resist­ant exter­ior windows — will cost $3,000–$5,000 for the smal­lest offices and $20,000–$30,000 for the largest offices. Costs could vary consid­er­ably depend­ing on the size, layout, and age of elec­tion offices, other public func­tions that the office build­ing serves, specific threats, and exist­ing bullet-resist­ant barri­ers in place. We used publicly avail­able inform­a­tion from vendors and local govern­ment office renov­a­tions to inform these estim­ates. foot­note1_hbu467g 1 Total Secur­ity Solu­tions, “6 Ques­tions About Build­ing Phys­ical Secur­ity & Bullet­proof­ing,” Septem­ber 12, 2019, https://www.tssbul­let­proof.com/blog/bullet­proof­ing-phys­ical-secur­ity/; Total Secur­ity Solu­tions, “Uses and Costs for Secur­ity Window Film and Bullet­proof Glass,” Octo­ber 24, 2018, https://www.tssbul­let­proof.com/blog/costs-secur­ity-window-film/; Manis­tee, MI, FY 2023–2028 Capital Improve­ment Plan, Muni­cipal Capital Projects, http://www.manis­teemi.gov/Archive­Cen­ter/View­File/Item/4674 (Budget­ing $25,000 to install bullet resist­ant glass in the Police Depart­ment, Clerk and Treas­urer’s offices); Zeeland, MI, 2021–22 Fiscal Year Budget–­Cap­ital Improve­ment Program, https://www.city­ofzee­land.com/Docu­ment­Cen­ter/View/6973/2021–2022-Reques­ted-Budget- (Budget­ing $20,000 for bullet­proof glass in exter­ior windows of public safety build­ing).

We used Demo­cracy Fund’s “Stew­ards of Demo­cracy” report and EAVS 2020 data to estim­ate how many juris­dic­tions have a given number of full-time employ­ees. foot­note2_jkzr­so1 2 Juris­dic­tion size estim­ates based on data from EAVS 2020. U.S. Elec­tion Assist­ance Commis­sion, “Stud­ies and Reports,” last accessed March 7, 2022, https://www.eac.gov/research-and-data/stud­ies-and-reports; and Natalie Adona et al., “Stew­ards of Demo­cracy,” Demo­cracy Fund, 2019, https://demo­cracy­fund.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/2019_Demo­cracy­Fund_Stew­ard­sOf­Demo­cracy.pdf.  We assumed that juris­dic­tions with zero to one full-time employ­ees (3,987 juris­dic­tions) would need $3,000–$5,000 to install bullet resist­ant barri­ers; juris­dic­tions with two to five full-time employ­ees (2,928 juris­dic­tions) would need $5,000–$10,000; juris­dic­tions with 6 to 10 full-time employ­ees (533 juris­dic­tions) would need $15,000–$20,000; and juris­dic­tions with 10 or more full-time employ­ees (450 juris­dic­tions) would need $20,000–$30,000. We multi­plied these to arrive at a total estim­ated range of $43,596,000–$73,375,000.

How the Bren­nan Center arrived at its $95 million estim­ate for panic alarm systems

We estim­ate that on aver­age, panic buttons for elec­tion offices will cost $1,000 per device over a five-year span and that GPS-enabled panic buttons for precincts (which will not be used as often through­out the year) will cost $495 per device over a five-year span. We used publicly avail­able inform­a­tion and conver­sa­tions with vendors to inform these estim­ates. foot­note3_l18p6sy 3 See, e.g., General Services Admin­is­tra­tion, Author­ized Federal Supply Sched­ule Pricel­ist, Response Tech­no­lo­gies, Ltd., https://www.gsaad­vant­age.gov/ref_text/GS07F030GA/0VAQND.3R13M4_GS-07F-030GA_RTGSATCPL4120.PDF.

We used EAVS 2020 data to determ­ine the total precincts on Elec­tion Day (176,933) and the total number of elec­tion offices (7,898) and multi­plied each by the cost per device to arrive at a total estim­ate of $95,479,835.

How the Bren­nan Center arrived at its $75 million estim­ate for RFID key card access control systems

We estim­ate that on aver­age, key cards cost $8 per user; read­ers, locks, and other hard­ware cost $1,250 per door; access control system subscrip­tions and main­ten­ance costs $1,800 per door over five years; and that the total cost per door is $3,050. foot­note4_o7io91g 4 For typical costs of key card access control systems, see, e.g., Bernhard Mehl, “Access Control Systems Cost: Install­a­tion and Price per Door,” kisi blog, Febru­ary 25, 2021, https://www.getkisi.com/blog/break­down-of-access-control-system-install­a­tion-costs; Brian Rhodes, “Design­ing Access Control Guide,” inter­net Protocol Video Market, Janu­ary 30, 2019, https://ipvm.com/reports/design­ing-an-access-control-system; Acker­man Secur­ity, “Aver­age Cost per Door for Access Control,” last accessed March 7, 2022 https://www.acker­man­se­cur­ity.com/blog/busi­ness-secur­ity/aver­age-cost-access-control; Butter­flyMX, “Video Inter­com Cost,” last accessed March 7, 2022, https://butter­flymx.com/cost/; and Salto Systems, “Home,” last accessed March 7, 2022, https://saltoks.com/.  We assumed that juris­dic­tions with zero to one full-time employee would have three doors that require access controls and two key card users; juris­dic­tions with two to five full-time employ­ees would have three doors and three users; juris­dic­tions with 6 to 10 full-time employ­ees would have three doors and five users; and juris­dic­tions with more than 10 full-time employ­ees would have five doors and 10 users.

We multi­plied the total cost per juris­dic­tion by the number of juris­dic­tions with no full-time employ­ees (2,644), one full-time employee (1,343), two to five full-time employ­ees (2,928), 6 to 10 full-time employ­ees (533), and more than 10 full-time employ­ees (450). We added these to arrive at a total estim­ate of $75,191,123.

How the Bren­nan Center arrived at its $27 million estim­ate for camera surveil­lance

We estim­ate that the aver­age camera costs $750 and that the cost of data stor­age over five years is $600. foot­note5_aw3ed3u 5 For typical costs of camera surveil­lance equip­ment for govern­ment facil­it­ies, see, e.g., https://online.ogs.ny.gov/purchase/spg/pdfdocs/3880622844PL_Audi­oEn­hance­ment.pdf.  We assumed that juris­dic­tions with zero to one full-time employ­ees would need two cameras; juris­dic­tions with 2 to 10 full-time employ­ees would need five cameras; and juris­dic­tions with 10 or more full-time employ­ees would need 10 cameras. We multi­plied the number of juris­dic­tions in each group by the per office costs to arrive at a total estim­ate of $27,073,050.

How the Bren­nan Center arrived at its $50 million estim­ate for personal iden­ti­fi­able inform­a­tion protec­tion

We estim­ate that the cost per person for personal iden­ti­fi­able inform­a­tion protec­tion is $5,500 if the elec­tion office covers one indi­vidual and $5,000 if the office covers two or more indi­vidu­als. foot­note6_95g0r8q 6 Based on unit cost estim­ates provided by New Mexico Office of the Secret­ary of State.  We assumed that juris­dic­tions with zero to five full-time employ­ees (6,915 juris­dic­tions) would have one person covered; juris­dic­tions with 6 to 10 full-time employ­ees (533 juris­dic­tions) would have two people covered; and juris­dic­tions with 2 or more full-time employ­ees (450 juris­dic­tions) would have three people covered. We multi­plied the number of juris­dic­tions in each group by the per office costs to arrive at a total estim­ate of $50,112,500.

End Notes