Friday, January 30, 2009

Cost Savings in Elections Department

To Pierce County Auditor Jan Shabro

It was exciting to talk about ways to save money versus the budget for the Elections Department in 2009. Right now, the budget for the special Ranked Choice Voting election is about the same as it would be for a special Top 2 election. With one or more of the cost savings measures discussed below, the Elections Department can save money as compared to a Top 2 election.

Since the special election for the Pierce County Auditor position will be a RCV election, there will be no primary and the county will save about $300,000 in the cost allocation from the primary as compared to a Top 2 election. This is already baked into the budget.

If we can get the November election on one ballot card, there will be a significant savings in print, paper and postage costs versus the budget. This represents a challenge, but the potential savings are in the neighborhood of $300,000 as well. National experts on RCV ballot design are willing to help us with the effort. This potential savings deserves a can-do approach to solving the problem.

As you know, the state legislature is considering a bill to close the polls in Pierce County. Closing the polls would save money as well, but would not be popular with some voters.

If the polls remain open, there are cost savings available by getting the poll vote counting machines certified by the Secretary of State. The equipment vendor is on the hook for providing such an improvement. The Auditor's department should be able to get this approval done in time for the November elections.

The current budget allocation for the November elections for the county is roughly the same as it would have been for a Top 2 election. With any of the cost savings measures discussed above, the RCV election will be less expensive than a Top 2 election would have been. This is due to the cost savings associated with folding the primary into the general election. In this time of tight budgets, the Auditor's office should be working hard to reduce these costs.



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