11/30/08 — Election costs county more than $250,000

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Election costs county more than $250,000

By Steve Herring
Published in News on November 30, 2008 2:00 AM

Wayne County's one-stop voting sites not only saw the most voter activity during this month's election, they also accounted for slightly over one-half of the election's $253,889 price tag.

One-stop expenditures were $130,196 (51 percent) compared to Election Day expenses of $123,693.

Voters cast 34,073 one-stop ballots compared to 14,180 on Election Day.

Commissioners are to be updated on election costs at their Tuesday meeting.

The costs of both one-stop and Election Day reflect a total of more than 1,400 overtime hours and almost $16,000 in potential overtime pay.

The county does not pay overtime, but Vickie Reed, elections director, said she included the hours and estimated pay because she wanted commissioners to "be aware" of how "time intensive" the process had been.

The overtime is only for her staff of four and does not include Ms. Reed, a salaried employee.

The time has been accruing since the summer as the county worked toward having everything in place for the election, she said.

The hours also accumulated because of the county's five one-stop voting sites that were open seven days a week, she said.

"We have got to be there for the openings and the closings," she said. "We have to go back and forth for supplies. There is a lot of prep work to this. There is no time off between August and December, there is just no time for time off.

"I am just happy it (election) went so well and so many people came out to vote."

Election officials also had to scan new same-day voter registrations into the computer system and verify the information. The staff handled those duties after hours, she said.

The one-stop costs included $10,408 for 1,083 hours of overtime. Another $5,415 for 356 hours were included in the breakdown for the general election. That averages out to about 360 hours per employee.

County Manager Lee Smith was not surprised.

Smith said he has seen the hours as low as 900 and as high as 1,400.

"With the election going on it was not practical to allow time off," he said.

But now that the election is over, employees will be allowed to start taking comp time, he said.

Even with the hours and comp time involved it was still cheaper than having to hire a full-time employee who also would have been entitled to a benefits package, he said.

Other costs associated with one-stop voting included $69,067 for personnel; $30,724 for equipment; $5,583 for supplies; $3,849 for advertising; and $10,562 for ballots.

Election Day costs included $35,829 for workers; $25,461 for part-time staff; $974 for advertising; $1,088 for phones; $32,334 for ballots; $928 for equipment delivery; $10,645 for ATV and provisional envelopes; $263 for fuel costs; $481 for travel; $770 for rent; $4,500 for election coding; and $5,000 for election support.