Are special elections a waste of taxpayer money? - KATV - Breaking News, Weather and Razorback Sports

Are special elections a waste of taxpayer money?

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LITTLE ROCK (KATV) - The Robinson Center special election drew just six percent of Little Rock registered voters out to the polls on Tuesday.  Price tag for the election – as much as $70,000, at a cost of about $10 per vote with barely 7,000 people turning out to vote.

It's the ballots, the poll workers, polling locations and even advertising the election that contributes to the cost, but is it worth it?

If you actually made it out to vote on Tuesday, chances are you didn't see many people out voting with you.  In fact one precinct, Precinct 63 in southwest Little Rock, had no one vote.  However the Pulaski County Election Commission still had to dole out the $45 usage fee to utilize the space at Martindale Baptist Church.

Bryan Poe, director of elections for the Pulaski County Election Commission, said Tuesday's turnout was exactly what they expected.

"For a bond issue specifically, in the previous bond issue elections, turnout was around five percent," said Poe.

So Poe, going off of past elections, only purchased 19,250 ballots for the election for Little Rock's 114,000 registered voters.  The cost for the ballots came to around $6,500, but barely one-third of the ballots were actually used.  However it's not the ballots that account for the bulk of the election cost.

"Yesterday's election, we ended up using I believe over 350 people," said Poe, referring to election judges and poll workers.

Poll workers manned 59 polling locations across the city, each worker making at least $105, election judges making $120 for the day.

According to state law, the election commission also has to advertise the election in the newspaper twice before Election Day, all at standard advertising rates.

But not all the cost comes from Election Day itself.  There's a major labor cost involved in making sure the election is set up properly.

"There are literally months of preparation that go into every single election," said Poe.  "Thousands upon thousands of hours of work go into even relatively small elections like [the Robinson Center vote] which was only for the city of Little Rock."

Poe mentioned although low turnout was expected for Tuesday's single-issue vote, he said it wasn't so much the timing of the vote, but rather the lack of significant issues like a tax increase or gubernatorial race.

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