SPECIAL REPORT: Cost of a Vote

SPECIAL REPORT: Cost of a Vote
(Source: KPLC)

CALCASIEU PARISH, LA (KPLC) - If you don't remember we just had an election last month, don't feel bad, voter turnout was abysmal.

However, that doesn't change the cost of holding the election, meaning when hardly anyone shows up to vote, the cost per voter who actually casts a ballot is high.

In fact, here in Calcasieu Parish, it would be cheaper to send each voter to see a movie, than it is to let them in the voting booth.

Lynn Jones loves elections!  And why not. He's been involved in the electoral process his whole life. When Jones was a child, his parents took him to the polls when they went to vote - inspiring him to the job he holds today - Calcasieu Parish Clerk of Court.

But, while Jones loves voting, most of us lack his passion.

You may not have noticed, but there was an election held last month.. one in which 91% of us couldn't be bothered to cast a ballot.

Chances are, you passed on the chance to choose your State Treasurer or vote on three constitutional amendments.

But take a look at this. There are 127,800 registered voters in Calcasieu Parish. Last month 11,200 voted. Setting up and staffing voting locations costs 180-thousand dollars, paid for with your hard earned taxpayer dollars.

Now take that 180-thousand dollar price tag, divide it by the 11,200 who voted and the result may surprise you.
$16 dollars. That's how much we paid for each vote cast. $16 per voter. We could have sent each voter to the movies for less than that.

Basically, if you pay taxes but don't vote, it's kind of like buying a ticket to the big game, then not showing up.

"It's kind of a two way thing in these particular elections.Not only are taxpayers losing money or not getting the best bang for their buck when they don't participate and they're paying for an election to happen, but also the issues on the ballot", says Jones.

Because voter turnout is now consistently below 10%, some voting officials in Louisiana are arguing taxpayer dollars could be spent more wisely and efficiently.

They'd like to stack state and local onto one ballot a year, ideally at the same time as other big attention-grabbing races.

Then there's the issue of how we vote.

Most of us have one of these with us at all times. Why not just let people vote to phone.

Clerk of Court Lynn Jones says the technology is there to do it, no problem. But security is the issue.

"I think there is a possibility we could see online voting or voting on the phones.I think the capability is definitely there right now. The problem is what we see in the news right now with allegations of Russian hacking, I don't know if there is enough security that people are real comfortable that they could have a foolproof non-hackable type of situation", says Jones.

But unless something changes, voting in our state will stay the same: two elections in the fall, two in the spring, low turnout and a high price per vote.
As Lynn Jones continues doing his best to get out the vote.

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