Special elections cost taxpayers big money

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Franklin County taxpayers will be hit with a big bill for an election with low turnout.

Louis Lamar Jr showed up to a mostly empty precinct. There was a slow trickle of voters at the Indianola Church of Christ, but he made sure his vote was counted.  Lamar Jr says, “I am 75 and I have voted in just about every election not only here, but down south.”

Eva Mae Lamar tells NBC4 she wanted to vote on a local issue supporting senior citizen services and other local races.  She added, “I am voting to help myself and help other people, so that’s why I come. I help these people stay in office that support and help us, so I help them.”

Many other voters are expected to be no-shows. Franklin County Board of Elections Public Information Officer Aaron Sellers says, “I would think the turnout today is going to be pretty light, in the single digits.”

While turnout might be low, the cost of the election is still the same.  There are fixed costs like poll worker pay, ballot machine transport and the introduction of new electronic poll pads.  Sellers says the electronic poll pads can reduce human error and, “help speed the process up of voting and make the process better and hopefully more people will come out and vote because of it.”

In Franklin County the estimated cost of this election is $1,343,000 according to the Franklin County Board of Elections.  The same documents estimate each precinct has an operating cost of $1,635.81.  The cost to tax payers for each ballot cast is much higher when turnout is low.  Assuming there is a 10% turnout, taxpayers will be charged more than $15 per ballot cast.

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