@jack-waugh Here's the process I wrote for NUTIC:
Preference matrices aren’t difficult either. There are three different ways to make them, so poll workers can use whichever they are most comfortable with. The most efficient procedure is to have the poll worker simply add one for each pairwise win on a ballot in the corresponding box in a matrix. This takes a bit of training, but for those with a sharp mind, it will likely be the preferred procedure. A middle approach is to list each pair of candidates and have the poll worker go through each ballot and add one to the winner between each pair, if there is one. The longest way that is probably best for recounts is to pick one pair of candidates and sort each ballot into one of three piles: one pile for the first picked candidate’s pairwise wins, the second pile for the second picked candidate’s pairwise wins, and the third pile for ballots that show no preference between the two picked candidates; then, count how many ballots are in each pile.
For STAR specifically, the question is are we making an entire preference matrix or just finding the winner based on the ballots we have? For the latter, it's two rounds of (hand) counting. First, go through and add up scores. Then, declare your 2 finalists. Then, regather the ballots and go through them one-by-one putting them each into one of 3 piles: one pile for ballots preferring the first finalist, one pile for ballots preferring the second finalist, and one pile for ballots showing No Preference between the finalists. The finalist with the biggest pile is elected.
Adding up scores (by hand) would actually probably be the longest portion, especially if the order of candidates on those ballots is random.
Full preference matrices for sure take longer, but the more counters you have, the more you can creatively break up the work in efficient ways. For example, you could have one counter for each candidate plus 1 or 2 counters managing the stack of ballots. The ballot counter looks at one ballot and says out loud "Ava beats everybody. Bianca beats everyone except Ava. No preference between Cedric and Deegan, but they both beat Eli. Eli loses to everyone." Then the candidate-assigned counters record their respective candidate's tallies for each matchup on their own sheet. This also provides redundancy for each matchup so no one can get away with fudging numbers for a particular matchup.
I don't have a number of staff seconds, but I don't think this is the biggest burden. As you noted, people really care about election security. If a community really wants to hand count, I don't think this would be a deterrent.