So far, our tips for planning elections have concerned securing a complete electoral register, the importance and utilisation of key voters as well as extensive and always readily available candidate information.

Our fourth practice tip is about that wonderful thing called money. Because an election costs money, be it a comprehensive board election or smaller elections in an association – there are always expenses. And in an amount that is often underestimated as a result of insufficient planning. We have compiled helpful information to plan for the expenses of an election so that such a thing does not happen to your electoral committee.

Expense planning for holding elections

Good planning is half the battle

The most important tool for a well thought-out expense plan is, of course, an expense plan, as this is the list of what is to be calculated by the electoral committee – and how. An expense plan for an association election, for instance, may be a simple and clear Excel table. Yet it may also be more detailed and, such as in the case of a larger election, divided into various planning and execution phases.

What belongs in an expense plan?

Generally, everything needed for the election and calculated into the election planning should be marked down into an expense plan – from paper and work hours to partial telephone expenses. Then you also have the complete overview while managing the election. Points that you should definitely observe are:

  • Marketing / advertising expenses (e.g. for flyers, brochures, election reminders, buttons, stickers, etc.)
    • Production costs (drafting, development, printing)
    • Shipping costs (packaging, postage)
  • Personnel expenses (for all individuals involved in the election, or compensation for external service providers)
  • Space and material expenses (renting, polling booths, polling places)
  • Catering (e.g. refreshments for volunteers on Election Day or at meetings)
  • Travel costs (e.g. at various locations of a company or an association)

You will notice that an expense plan is quickly written up as part of the election preparations. This will not only help you organise the current election, but can also be used by the electoral administrator – and expanded – for all coming elections as a tried and true planning guideline.

The best- and worst-case scenario

All of the cards are certainly in your hand if you are prepared for anything. You should thus incorporate a risk budget in case anything goes awry. You can play through a few planning scenarios to determine the extent of this “buffer”:

  • How much will the election cost if everything goes according to plan?
    Everything functions as it is supposed to, there are no additional expenses – your expense plan is correct.
  • How much will the election cost of everything that can go wrong, does go wrong?
    Flyers have to be reprinted because of errors, a candidate withdraws, etc.

If you have thought this through, you will you know how high your budget must be – and you have ruled out any surprises.

Saving tips for holding elections

Comparing is always worthwhile

Comparing is a fundamental guideline for every scrimper! Take some time to research during the planning phase. For instance, if you find the cheapest print shop in your area, then this research period is actually money – namely, saved money.

E-mails instead of snail mail

You can save on postage and paper if you simply send election reminders via e-mail. This not only protects the election budget, but the environment, too.

Voting online – no mountains of paper

Legally binding online voting systems are a good alternative to cost-intensive offline voting. You will save on all printing and shipping costs, for instance. Even the votes are counted at the click of a button. True to the saying, “Killing two birds with one stone,” you are providing all authorised voters geographically independent access to the election, while also speaking to the voting preferences of modern voters.

About Anna-Maria Palzkill

As a communication scientist I am interested in the impact of technics on life among politics and economics. I want to trace nuances and am not afraid of big words.