With fewer voters expected, not as many vote centers and election workers are needed for this week’s election, meaning a savings to taxpayers.
Exactly how much the county will spend on this year’s municipal general election is not yet known, but election officials are spending less on poll workers, which is the highest cost during any election.
Last year, when the entire county was able to vote in races for county offices, such as auditor and judge, state legislators and for school board, about $72,000 total was spent to pay poll workers during early voting and on Election Day in the primary and general elections.
So far this year, the county spent about $13,000 on poll workers needed for the primary election this spring, which is about half of what was spent per election last year.
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And this fall, the county opened fewer voting sites, meaning less money was needed to pay poll workers, Clerk Susie Misiniec said.
She is expecting a low turnout for this year’s general election — likely less than 10 percent — because few races are contested.
Less than half of voters are eligible to vote in this year’s elections, which are only for residents who live in cities and towns. People who live in unincorporated areas, such as the Center Grove area, don’t vote in municipal elections.
Voters in Franklin, Prince’s Lakes, New Whiteland and Trafalgar won’t head to the polls this week because they have no contested races to vote in. Only voters in Bargersville, Edinburgh, Whiteland and Greenwood are eligible to vote.
So, the county decided to make some changes this year to help save money.
That included shortening the early-voting period by more than two weeks and not using vote centers in communities that do not have races. So, besides the county courthouse where early voting has been going on, no vote centers will open in Franklin.
The decision to close those sites this election was not easy, since the county wants people to get used to where vote centers are located, Misiniec said. That has been a focus since the county switched to vote centers, where people can cast ballots at any of the sites in the county, rather than one assigned to them based on their address. The county did keep some of the busiest sites near Greenwood, such as Mount Auburn United Methodist Church in the Center Grove area and Rocklane Christian Church east of Greenwood, she said.
“I hate taking sites off, because we want to instill in people ‘you can vote here,'” Misiniec said. “But when we don’t have anyone to vote for, like here in Franklin, why staff it?”
County officials also struggled with the decision that the communities with no contested races would not have elections, she said.
One point they discussed was whether to still have the elections in order to keep people involved, but residents would have no decisions to make on their ballots, she said.
They ultimately decided not to have elections in those communities, since it would save taxpayers money by not needing to pay five poll workers to staff a vote center, she said.
“As a taxpayer and representing taxpayers too, I didn’t feel it was economically responsible or very efficient to have sites open when we didn’t have an election,” she said.
“It just didn’t make good sense for the taxpayer.”