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Cities reported a wide range of potential new costs to implement voter photo ID and provisional ballot procedures in future elections.
(Published Aug 22, 2012)
The League sent a survey last month to a random sample of 500 cities throughout the state, asking local election officials to assess the impact if the voter photo ID amendment passes in the Nov. 6 election. Election officials in nearly 200 cities responded.
Results indicate that cities anticipate the following effects:
More than 170 cities that hold local elections in even-numbered years provided the following survey responses.
Cost of last election
The average cost of conducting the 2010 general election totaled nearly $19,000. The most common cost level reported was $2,000 since many of the cities responding to the survey had fewer than 500 voters and only one polling place. The largest city responding (Minneapolis), with 117 polling places, indicated that its costs in 2010 totaled $1.2 million.
Need for extra election judges
Cities with populations of less than 500 largely discounted the likelihood that they would need extra election judges to conduct voter ID and provisional voting activities, but that response was reversed for cities with populations of 501 to 10,000-plus. In cities with larger populations, 50 percent to 85 percent of the election officials reported that they would need more election judges than were appointed in 2010. City election officials indicated, on average, that an additional two election judges would likely be required per polling place.
Cities with larger populations, of course, indicated an expectation that as many as 10 election judges would be required. This is probably because of the expectation that they would be needed to process provisional ballots that voters later validated by providing a photo ID during the limited period allowed during the weekdays after Election Day.
Rate of pay for election judges
City election officials were also asked to provide information on the hourly rate at which election judges are currently paid. The average pay reported totaled $9.51 per hour, including hours when election judges are required to receive training. The most common rate of pay reported by cities was $10 per hour, while the highest pay reported was $15.50 per hour.
Cities indicated that the potential extra cost to pay election judges during Election Day due to the need for additional election judges on average was an additional $22 per hour, with the highest hourly cost reported as $100.
For all cities that responded to the survey questions regarding potential extra election judge pay necessary to cover Election Day activities, the total amount reported was nearly $116,000. The total new higher costs for election judge wages ranged from an average of $713 to nearly $37,000 for the city with the highest new election judge wage cost increases.
Additional training for election officials
One of the added costs results from the lengthened time for training that city election officials anticipate. Fifty percent of the cities agreed that more training time would be necessary, while 36 percent indicated that they were unsure about whether more lengthy training sessions would be needed.
For the 146 cities reporting that additional training time would be likely, the average additional training cost per election judge would be $14.40, with the most common increased pay reported as $10 per election judge. (The highest cost—for cities that anticipated much more lengthy training sessions—was $248 per election judge.)
How cities plan to meet extra staffing needs
Cities reported that their strategies for meeting the need for and costs of extra staffing necessary to validate and tabulate provisional ballot results and report the final votes totals, including votes cast on Election Day, would most often (45 percent) be to retain election judges during the days following Election Day.
But 24 percent of cities reported either that they would schedule regular city employees part-time to carry out those responsibilities. Another 24 percent indicated that they would use other strategies to accomplish the tasks that would be required to report final election results, including expecting city election officials themselves to work overtime during that period to complete the processing and counting of votes cast by those whose provisional ballots had been validated. Some cities without additional staff indicated that they would consider hiring part-time to make sure that the provisional voting process was completed within the required timeframe.
Cities with odd-numbered year election
Finally, the League also surveyed 21 out of the 60 cities that conduct regular city elections in odd-numbered years. This was done to determine the particular impact that those cities anticipate if the proposed amendment passes. Cities conducting regular local general elections in 2013 will be required to implement new voter ID Election Day procedures for conducting voting activities and to validate, count, and report provisional ballot results during the period after the regular election has been conducted.
Sixty-five percent of the responding cities with odd-year elections indicated that they anticipate that an additional three to seven election judges per polling place will be needed at an average pay rate of $10 per hour. Cities responding also reported that they used an average of eight polling places, although that number reached to 34 for the largest city responding to the survey.
The average total extra cost to pay extra election judges on Election Day for odd-year city elections in 2013 was reported as more than $14 per hour, with the highest amount reported totaling $63 per hour and the lowest at nearly $8 per hour for the new additional judges for that election cycle. The total extra potential cost reported for election judges per precinct on Election Day indicated, on average, that cities with odd-year elections would pay more than $1,700 for the services of new election judges for 2013 regular city general elections. For the 21 (out of 60) cities that responded to the survey, the total potential costs reported for extra election judges serving on Election Day in 2013 is just over $36,000.
Other anticipated 2013 city election cost increases reported include printing extra revised election manuals, purchasing additional election supplies (including secure ballot boxes in which provisional ballots that voters complete at the polls are to be held), additional election judge training and supervision during the processing and counting of validated provisional ballots, local voter education and outreach, and security for provisional ballots in the period following Election Day when voters return to present required photo ID.
The cities that responded to the survey indicate that they anticipate that the cost of 40 hours (five days) for on-duty personnel to process provisional ballots would total between $1,250—over $3,000 more than the city would otherwise expect to pay to conduct the 2013 local general election.
Contact Ann Higgins
(651) 281-1257 or (800) 925-1122