County picks up its election tab

By Jessica Kalin

The cost of elections runs far beyond the candidates’ wallets – cities also have bills to pay.

“[Elections] cost between $15,000 [and] $20,000,” DeKalb County Clerk Sharon Holmes said. “This is not a cheap thing to do. That’s why it is so important to get out and exercise the right to vote.”

This year, 114.9 million people voted nationally, not counting absentee ballots, according toThe Associated Press.

“It costs the same amount if 10 percent or 74 percent [of people] vote,” Holmes said.

The money to pay for election costs comes primarily from the county budget, made up of real estate taxes.

In DeKalb, each voting precinct receives $25 toward renting polling space. There are 81 precincts in DeKalb, totaling $2,025 in precinct fees.

Aside from rental fees, personnel costs bump up totals.

Each precinct hires five election judges to answer questions and assist voters. Judges without training receive $90, while those who participated in the two-and-a-half-hour training seminar receive $110.

Holmes said 90 percent of the judges have had the training.

Each precinct must also lease the proper equipment to calculate votes.

The county paid $48,000 to lease The Accu-vote Optical Scan System, made by Diebold Election Systems, to tally ballots. The cost covers using and programming the machine, as well as the election ballots.

“We have probably 20,000 optical scan systems in use in the country,” Diebold spokesman David Bear said. “We don’t deal directly with DeKalb. [The City] gets the machines through a dealer. But each machine costs between $5,000 to $6,000 to buy.”

Township supervisors are hired to break down and set up booths outside of the downtown area. The remaining booths are stored at Blue Van and Storage, 414 N. 10th St., until they are dusted off for another ballot go-round.