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SOS Elections Advisory Committee Approves Revised Election Return Data Feed Fees, Effective in 2019

The Secretary of State’s Office, Elections Division, is sending notice to newsrooms this week to reserve SOS election night data feed services for the Nov. 6 general election.

At a meeting of the SOS Elections Advisory Committee this week, the Elections Division staff indicated that tests of the election night returns data will likely take place during the first week of October.  The committee approved this year’s fee structure, which has remained unchanged for more than 20 years.

The newswire data feed option is $1,500, the ENR inquiry option is $2,000, and the Associated Press will be charged $12,375 for its data feed.  SOS data feed subscribers receive election night returns at least four minutes faster than the information is posted on the SOS website.  For those stations mounting extensive election night coverage, the quicker speed has proven to be a necessity.

The SOS data feed also provides return information in a format that is utilized by onscreen broadcast graphics programs.  Most broadcast newsrooms opt for either the SOS data feed option or subscribe to the AP’s election night returns service.  The committee adopted a new, simplified fee structure which will go into effect in 2019.

The ENR inquiry option is being dropped as stations no longer use it.  During odd-numbered years (constitutional amendment elections), the newswire data feed option will be available for $500.  Very few stations utilize the SOS data feed for constitutional amendment elections as the timeliness of election results is typically not a factor.

During even-numbered numbered years (primary and general elections), the SOS newswire data feed option will increase slightly over the current rate to $1,750.  The $250 rate increase is the first for that level of service in more than two decades. 

The SOS Elections Division said the increase is due to the increased cost to have IT staff present on election night to address any return issues for stations.  SOS staff also reported that as of last week, a record 15.6 million Texans had registered to vote for the Nov.6 election.  That’s up 400,000 registrants from the 15,249, 541 who registered to vote for the March primary election.  Staff said the flow of voter registration applications is much heavier this year than previous years.

Eligible Texas citizens have until Tuesday, Oct. 9, to register in time to vote in the November general election.  Early voting starts Monday, Oct. 22 and closes Friday, Nov.  2.

Questions?  Contact TAB's Michael Schneider or call (512) 322-9944.

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