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Cost of voter apathy
by Jason Collins
Mar 14, 2014 | 43 views | 0 0 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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Totals aren’t final but it is estimated that the primaries will cost about $28,000 or $9.60 per vote.
Jason Collins photo Totals aren’t final but it is estimated that the primaries will cost about $28,000 or $9.60 per vote.
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BEEVILLE – Just what is a vote worth in Bee County?

By the math—it’s about $9.60 a vote.

Patty Johnson, who chaired the Republican election, said that party officials have to have a ballot for each voter in the county along with election kits.

That amounts to a total of $7,936.

Then there is the salary for those who run the polling locations.

Johnson said she is still working on those totals but estimates that will be about $6,000.

“The Democrats have the same expenses we do,” she said.

“Apathy is expensive.”

The reason—well, that is probably a topic for debate or a research topic for a politically minded grad student.

Johnson said that as she was about town the week of early voting, she would remind people of the election.

Their response: “What is the election for?” they asked.

“They were totally oblivious,” she sad.

This is her second year to head the Republican election, and she has been with the party much longer than that. Most recently the trend of voting has been stagnant—neither climbing nor falling any further.

In this last election, only 9.97 percent of people voted locally.

That is 2,891 people out of 28,992.

The only time she sees the results any higher is when the president’s position is on the ballot.

“If they don’t do something, they don’t have a right to gripe,” she said. “Voter apathy is just bad.”

Things are not any better for the Democrats either.

Dela Cagle Castillo, chair of the county’s Democratic Party, said, “By law we have to have a ballot for every registered voter since the opportunity is theirs for the taking.

“We must have an Escan machine at every polling place to accept the ballots as well.

“In addition we must pay for rental fees to the non-county polling places and then wages for all of the clerks, judges and boards that work the election.”

Her thoughts on the turnout? Poor.

“I agree the voter turnout was tremendously low,” she said. “I wish there was an easier way of voting for people that have busy lives... such as online voting or vote by phone and still keep some type of high security standards.”

And this isn’t over. Now there will be a primary runoff this May.

Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and challenger Dan Patrick will face off in a May 27 Republican runoff election. Dan Branch will face Ken Paxton in the GOP race for attorney general.

Highlight of the Democratic ballot will be the battle between Kesha Rogers and David M. Alameel for U.S. senator.

According to a University of Texas study, Texas has a lower turnout than nationwide in presidential elections, which averaged 52.5 percent between 1970 and this year.

Turnout in Texas presidential elections is routinely higher than other types of state elections, though, averaging 45.2 percent, the study noted.

Gubernatorial election turnout averages only 28.4 percent, while presidential and gubernatorial primary turnout is lower yet, averaging 18.2 percent and 15 percent, respectively.

Special constitutional elections, in which voters decide on changes to the Texas Constitution, epitomize the electoral turn-off, averaging a dismal 8.7 percent, the report said.

The Texas Tribune has also taken a look at voter apathy.

“According to the latest numbers from the office of the Texas secretary of state, which conducts elections, and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which gathers public health statistics, about 1.7 million more people in Texas smoke cigarettes than vote in primary elections,” the story reads.

“If every Texas adult who smokes cigarettes—an increasingly unpopular habit—turned out to vote in one of the major-party primaries, turnout would rise 91.3 percent, to about 3.6 million from about 1.9 million.”

Jason Collins is the editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 121, or at editor@mySouTex.com.
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