Democracy isn’t free. Elections aren’t cheap and California holds a lot of them. How much do they cost exactly? You can’t put an accurate price tag on elections. Well, not yet, anyway. But that’s about change.
The James Irvine Foundation awarded a grant to the California Association of Clerks and Election Officials (CACEO) to build a public online database of election costs to better inform policies and procedures and to identify and share best practices.
Bringing election spending into the light is easier said than done.
“We know that counties are collecting this data in different ways so one of the challenges will be to collect that information and break it down into units that are comparable to help inform policymakers, legislators, and other stakeholders about what elections actually cost to conduct in California,” said Cathy Darling Allen, Shasta County Registrar of Voters and president of CACEO.
Good data leads to good decision-making. Without consistent data collection standards, transparency won’t foster greater accountability or enhance efficiency. By allowing for apples-to-apples comparison of election costs, the database will create a standard by which counties can be compared and eventually, learn from one another. Increased data sharing between counties will only lead to determining and implementing best practices.
Watch the above video to hear more from Cathy Darling Allen herself on how CACEO is leveraging transparency and technology to improve California elections.