In a year when officials are pinching pennies, the special election to fill the vacant House of Representatives seat is likely to be costly.
Never mind the millions that each candidate may raise from private interests in the six-week campaign.
Taxpayers in the 10 counties in the district will spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to print ballots and keep the polls open on March 31.
Counties must staff a full slate of election inspectors, print and mail absentee ballots, buy machine supplies and keep polls open from 6 a.m. until 9 p.m. that day, just like they do during a general election.
“It’s the same as putting on a full, regular election,” said William Fruci, Democratic commissioner for the Saratoga County Board of Elections.
The county Board of Supervisors is aware of the projected expense, Fruci said. “We have to do this so we will do it.”
Three men — Assembly Minority Leader James Tedisco, R-Glenville, Democrat Scott Murphy of Glens Falls and Libertarian Eric Sundwall of Niverville — are running.
In a survey of counties in the congressional district, all who had worked up a number expected the election to be costly.
Saratoga County, which makes up the biggest chunk of a sprawling district that includes all or part of 10 counties, expects to fork over about $200,000.
Mary Beth Casey, Republican elections commissioner, estimates Warren County will spend about $50,000. Delaware County estimates it will spend $55,000. Dutchess County is likely to spend $152,000 on the special election.
In rural Essex County, where only one-third of its registered voters live in the 20th District, the cost could hit $20,000.
Officials in Columbia and Otsego counties said they haven’t figured out the cost.
Sheila Ross, Republican elections commissioner for Otsego County, said the total bill depends on how many third-party candidates run because that increases the printing cost for the ballots.
Independent candidates have another 10 days to submit petitions to get on the ballot.
Warren County expects to spend funds that are allocated for the September primary and November general election.
“Then come August or September, we’ll have to go back” and request more money for the fall elections, Casey said.
“Our department, and every other department right now in Warren County, is running on a bare-bones budget.”
Fortunately, counties don’t very often have to foot the bill for a special election.
Mid-term vacancies are relatively rare and many occur later in the year when it’s OK to fill the slot in the regular fall election.
Fruci said the last special election in Saratoga County occurred in February 2002 when Roy McDonald was elected to an Assembly seat.
But unlike this election, that one only involved six municipalities, Fruci said, so the cost was much less.
At least one county official is hoping to reduce the cost by consolidating polling places, which requires the agreement of both major parties.
Because much of the cost for a special election comes from election inspectors’ salaries, Essex County could reduce its costs by combining districts if the Republican commissioner agrees, said David Mace, Democratic commissioner.
More from The Daily Gazette:
Categories: Schenectady County