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Jax Daily Record Thursday, Aug. 16, 201805:10 AM EST

The right to vote may be priceless, but it does come at a cost

Holding an election in Duval County costs $1.3 million to $1.5 million.
by: Max Marbut Associate Editor

Few would argue that the right to vote in a free election is priceless, but in government, there's a cost for each service provided to constituents.

In the case of holding an election in Duval County, that cost is $1.3 million to $1.5 million, according to Supervisor of Elections Mike Hogan.

Operating the 18 sites for the 14 days of early voting that began Monday and ends Aug. 26 costs about $420,000.

To equip and staff the 199 countywide precincts on primary Election Day, Aug. 28, and for the Nov. 6 general election will cost about $405,000 each day.

Hogan said operating the elections call center adds another $250,000 to the cost for early voting and election day.

Put that in perspective, based on average registered voter turnout in the past two mid-term elections in 2014 and 2010.

Based on the averages, 20 percent for primaries and 50 percent for runoff elections, the cost per vote will be about $3.61 and $1.37, respectively.

Of the total, $1.075 million is payroll, with the remainder for costs related to moving voting equipment, printing ballots, delivering and processing “vote by mail” ballots and required voter information materials and publishing public notices for the election as required by state law.

When City Council begins reviewing the proposed general fund budget this week, one item on the agenda will be an increase for the supervisor of elections from the past year's adopted budget of $5,874,877 to $9,002,448 for fiscal year 2018-19.

That's because there will be three elections in the next budget year that begins Oct. 1, compared to one primary election in the current year: the Nov. 6 general election, a unitary election on March 19 and a unitary general election on May 14.

Notes submitted with the proposed budget by the administration indicate an increase of 128.5 percent in the cost of the three elections, primarily payroll and overtime expense.

The proposed budget shows an increase of 339 percent for security guard and janitorial expenses related to the additional elections.

Employer-provided benefits are projected to increase in cost by about $340,000 — 37.5 percent — based on the higher cost for group hospitalization insurance and in Medicare tax for the increase in part-time hours related to the elections.

The supervisor of elections is scheduled to make a 30-minute budget presentation at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday in the council chamber at City Hall.

Visit for early voting hours and locations and other election information.


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