Monroe County has to pay more than $150,000 dollars in appropriations to the election board after the board voted against using voting centers in favor of precinct voting during elections.
County Clerk Linda Robbins says the question of which voting system was to be used prevented her from creating an accurate budget that would reflect the cost of this year’s elections.
“It was recommended that I go low ball during the budget hearings and then come back this year if I needed additional appropriations,” Robbins says. “But we were very hopeful we would have vote centers this year.”
Voting centers allow residents to vote anywhere in the county as opposed to the precinct they live in. They also require less equipment and use electronic poll books which provide a paperless record of voter activity. Electronic poll books also instantly update voter registration instead of poll workers entering the information manually which in turn saving in payroll costs.
Opponents of voting centers say they did not want to make such a big change during a presidential election.
Robbins says if the Election Board would have voted in favor of voting centers it could have saved the county more than $250,000 during this year’s elections and would save even more in the future. She says the county currently leases half its voting equipment and if the county election board does decide to switch to vote centers it could return that equipment with no charge.
“If we stay with precinct voting then we are going to have to purchase all of that equipment and that will be a cost to the county of another $600,000 to $800,000 depending on how we go through it,” she says.
Robbins says the election board may vote on the issue again before the end of the year but it will not change the way elections will run this year.