Democracy Too Costly for Seymour?

Valley Independent Sentinel:  More Voting, More Money <read>

Democracy. We love it, but man, that stuff’s expensive.

With both Gov. M. Jodi Rell and Sen. Christopher Dodd stepping down, voting registrars in town expect to hold primaries for both major political parties this year.

That means more money in the budget that hasn’t much to begin with.

Primaries would run the office an estimated $15,000 each. While primaries are likely to occur, no one’s certain at this point.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do in August and that is the key,” said Ron Skurat, the Democratic Registar of Voters.

Skurat made his statement during a review of the registrars’ proposed 2010-2011 budget in front of the town’s Board of Finance Monday.

The registrars’ budget proposal climbs to $86,100 — up $20,200 from its current spending plan.

The majority of increases are to salaries and stipends…

Just because it is in here it doesn’t mean you get the raise,” said Paecht to Skurat and Republican Registrar Judy Pelletier.

Skurat did the math on the salaries and came up with roughly $6.81 per hour for the work he and Pelletier put in.

Their assistant, a part-time position described by Skurat as invaluable, makes the equivalent of less than $8 an hour.

Poll workers earn $8.50 per hour plus two meals.

State mandates drive most of the department’s costs. For example there is a necessity for two phone lines at each polling place. One is used for the regular machines and one is used exclusively for a machine designed for voters with disabilities.

“We’ve used it once in the last five years but it is a state law,” Skurat said.

The cost of keeping the phone lines active and available at three polling locations adds up, with all but $10 of the operating budget’s line item already expended.

Communications and telephones were cut from $3,000 in the 2008-2009 budget to $2,000 in the operating budget…

We point out that it is not all Chris Dodd and Jodi Rell’s fault.  The odds for a Democratic Primary for Governor were pretty high before Gov. Rell stepped down.  Before Sen. Dodd stepped down there was also a large possibility for a Republican Primary for the U.S. Senate.  In addition to the usual primary in Presidential years, we recall a statewide primary four years ago between Joe Lieberman and Ned Lamont.  As the article notes, the budget in Seymour also involves democracy and elections:

The budget proposal notes that the department returned money to the treasury during the past two fiscal years due to an “abnormally small number of elections.”

With the likelihood of primaries this time around, the registrar’s said this is a much tougher budget. They said at least one of the elections will be the referendum to pass the budget.


2 responses to “Democracy Too Costly for Seymour?”

  1. mattw

    That’s crap. They have 3 polling places, with 2300 Dems and 2100 Republicans.

    Assuming 100% turnout (which is itself ridiculous):

    Pollworkers: 11 per district * 3 districts * $8.50 per hour * 16 hours = $4500
    AB Counters: 5 * 6 hours * $8.50 = $255
    Ballots: $.38 * 4400 = $1672
    Memory Cards: ~$200/district * 4 = $800
    IVS programming: ~$100/district * 3 = $300
    Phone/Fax line installation + 1 Month Service: ~$125 * 3 districts * 2 lines = $750
    Required additional Registrar sessions: 3 staff * $8/hour * 20 hours = $480

    Total election costs outside of regular operations: $8757

    HOWEVER, SotS has pledged to cover the IVS programming, ballot, and memory card costs through to Nov. 2010, so Sherman would be on the hook for just about $6000 for the total of two simultaneous primaries.

    Now, $6K is real money, but is a fraction of the $20K budget increase or the $15K “for each primary” cost they cite. The cited costs would cover a primary in a town with 3X the polling places and 5X the party-affiliated voters.

    Also (and this is probably a Valley Independent Sentinel error and not a Sherman Registrars error), the first phone line is not “used for the regular machines” — it’s used for communication between the Moderators and the Registrar’s office.

  2. mattw

    Edit — “Sherman Registrars” should be “Seymour Registrars.”

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