On May 18, 1993 the Boulder City Council amended the Voting by Phone proposal in two ways that drastically reduce the cost of phone voting:
Most people will vote in the hours 7AM-11PM. There are 960 minutes in those 16 hours. If an average vote takes 2.8 minutes, then 342 people could vote per day per phone line. so 3 lines could handle the 1000 per day mentioned above. Since as many as triple the average voted in the last days in '92 we need at least 9 phone lines. However, phone voting will be much easier and quicker than early voting so the load might well be more level. Gerald Mitchell of CU's Te lecom department, who formerly did such studies for US West, says we need 15 lines to prevent waits of more than 1 minute on the worst hour of the worst day. These are easily handled by a `486' personal computer, which can accommodate up to 48 phone lines.
The cost estimates of 2 Denver companies are attached. The recurring costs for a system as described above are $4500 for an election run by a service bureau (such as Interactive Information Systems) or $2125 for phone lines if the City runs the election itself on a PC. For 20,000 voters this means $.23 or $.11 per vote. We then add the mailing costs of $.15 per household and other costs and are still saving an immense amount compared to what Boulder elections now cost: $2 per vote.
Since phone lines cost more to install than to rent for a month, if the City bought its own system (hardware and software for $12,940), and used it year- round for it's own public research (or even rented it to market researchers), then the one month (roughly) of phone service used for the election would cost $925 or $.046 per vote!
Remember too that computers and communications costs are dropping. And these figures don't reflect the enormous savings to the people who vote: gas, time and often, baby-sitters.
Why is phone voting so inexpensive? Because moving information is far more efficient than moving voters, cars, voting machines, ballots and election officials. One computer can do the work of hundreds of officials, with far less errors. No competitive business could afford to use the obsolete technology now used in elections.
These figures quite consistent with those from the National Science Foundation-funded Televote project of 1974
7/22/93 For more information, email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
[Bid letter from Omni Software Inc. follows. -editor]
Voting By Phone Foundation
Attn Evan Ravitz URGENT
July 28 1993
Dear Mr Ravitz,
In response to your request for a breakdown of costs on a 15 line computerized election system, I have put together the following outline of costs and have summarized related features afterwards:
One 486DX-33 ISA IBM compatible computer system featuring:
a) dual hardware mirrored SCSI fixed disks
b) 15 line analog telephone interface
c) 15 line caller id signal interception interface
d) floppy disk data backup system
The total price for this hardware is currently $7940
A self contained DOS executable capable of processing callers' requests to vote and collating results into a meaningful format to allow system operators to obtain election results at any time without downing the system.
The total price for this software is currently $5000
US West requirements:
15 analog telephone lines installed at the location of the computerized election system with the following accessories:
The total cost of installation of these 15 lines is currently $1200
Total initial charges are $12,940 but are only incurred one time
Total election costs are $925 for one month of line usage or $2125 if the line installation cost is required each election.
Please note that this system will retain state of the art security features that will not allow compromise of voter privacy and will repel hacking via use of caller ID services. One of the most important security features that this PC platform can provide that NO OTHER platform can furnish is this system's dedicated operation. No other hardware option available to the city can guarantee that the operational hardware is used only by the city of Boulder on site at a secure location in the city's own secured property. Service bureaus can sign all of the affidavits that you can send to them attesting to their systems dedication or security, but the bottom line is that their system will not be set up and operated on site in the city's secured location allowing the city to monitor the security firsthand.
This system will utilize caller ID services to require that the caller not block the inbound calling number in order that the computerized voting system ~Nbe capable of reading the caller's telephone number so that a record of repetitive failures to provide correct passwords can be acquired. Thus when a calling phone number is found to have a predetermined number of failed passwords, that number will be blocked from accessing the system for a predetermined time.
The call forwarding and voice mail features will allow the system operator to redirect calls temporarily to a voice mail box that will inform the caller that the system is down for a minute to perform data backup to floppy disk. The voice mail will additionally be used as a sixteenth rolldown line so that if all 15 election lines are currently in use, any and all additional callers will be transferred into this voice mail box and will hear the voice mail message asking the caller to call back momentarily and will allow the caller the option of leaving a message for the system operator.
Note that this system will have two avenues of voting procedures in English and Spanish that will allow a voter to cast a high speed precalculated ballot or cast a traditional issue by issue `user-friendly' ballot one question at a time in response to separate prompts for each issue on the ballot.
I hope that these figures are of some assistance to you Evan and look forwarded to working with you and the City of Boulder in the future.
Jim Sanders, President
[Bid letter from Interactive Information Systems, Inc. follows -editor]
July 29, 1993
Mr. Evan Ravitz
Voting By Phone Foundation
What follows are the one time, and reoccurring costs to implement the Voting By Phone program. The pricing assumes that IIS will receive the voter database in dbaseIII compatible format. The program would be bi-lingual, and would have capacity to answer and process 15 calls (voters) at once. If US West can provide the necessary interface (caller ID), abuse blocking could be added. Finally, if the voters had some sort of sample ballot form, the system could support this option as well.
Vice President IIS
"Expanding Phone Lines To Increase Your Bottom Line."
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