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Financing your freedom

PRINCETON — Whether you go to the polls today or not, Bureau County taxpayers will still pay tens of thousands of dollars for today’s, Tuesday’s, consolidated election.

On Monday, Bureau County Clerk Kami Hieronymus said today’s consolidated election is not as expensive as a primary election, which has political party ballots, but today’s election is still more costly than some due to the 200 different ballot styles needed.

There is a lot of work that is done behind-the-scenes in preparation for today’s election, Hieronymus said. As done for the past several years, the county has hired Liberty Systems of Tremont to provide the needed election supplies and programs, to set-up the ballots, clean the election machines and to program the machines and memory cards, among other responsibilities. That expense can run in the range of $60,000 to $80,000, she said.

Though Bureau County has an estimated 25,000 registered voters, Hieronymus orders ballots for only about 50 to 75 percent of the total number of registered voters. Again, those numbers depend on the contested races in certain areas and also to make sure polling places, especially those on the outskirts of the county, don’t run out of ballots.

In addition to the ballot and programming expenses, there is also the expense of hiring election judges. Each election judge is paid $125 for the day, which runs at least 13 hours with the polls open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. There is also the additional time for ballot counting and getting the results to the courthouse. Considering the long day, election judges don’t get paid a lot, she said.

Bureau County has 37 polling places with a minimum of three election judges at each polling place. Where there are more heavily contested races, she hopes to have five to seven election judges.

With the minimum of three judges for each of the 37 polling places, the cost of election judges would be $13,875. There is also the additional hours put in by her staff in preparing for the election and then on election day itself.

As reported earlier, Hieronymus has said she expects voter turnout in today’s election to vary greatly throughout the county. For instance, with three candidates running for Spring Valley mayor and 13 people seeking four Spring Valley alderman positions, she would expect to have a good voter turnout in that community. Other communities, in which there are no contested races, the voter turnout will no doubt be less, she said.

Bureau County has already received a total of about 850 early ballots and absentee ballots prior to today’s election. Included in that amount are 381 early votes cast at Spring Valley City Hall.

Among the open seats to be determined at today’s election are 20 mayoral positions, 10 city/village clerk positions, an estimated 70 village board trustee/commissioner/alderman positions, 50 school board positions, and numerous library and township positions.

Comment on this story at www.bcrnews.com.

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