Price Tag for Democracy?
There has been much hullabaloo about whether the City of Johns Creek should hold a Special Election to fill the 2 seats vacated by Kelly Stewart & Brad Raffensperger who both resigned to run for the State House.
The City has released a quote of $200k of previous election cost & runoff. This number naturally puts off citizens for approx 5000 Votes.
The City also put out an online survey, (does not work) inquiring if they should pay & conduct a special election.
I spoke to Dwight Brower, Fulton County Election Chief for the following info.
Election Costs & Ways to Reduce it:
- The JC cost will be significantly reduced as the City of Atlanta is having a Special Election in March.
- Contracts will be executed and Johns Creek would essentially 'tag on' or Cost Share for overall Election.
- Contract Costs include Labor, mailers, ballots, testing & machine delivery & retrieval, etc.
- The City Council could reduce the number of polling places in the vote. Currently, have 19 locations and can be consolidated to 10 or so to further reduce costs. Mr. Brower further indicates this is for runoff & county level. The city can change the charter to consolidate locations.
- Each Polling location costs approximately $1750 / day.
- The City could NOT opt-out of early voting, which is required to be 3 weeks long if done, but could utilize a City of Atlanta location or have 1 single location in Johns Creek.
- Absentee Voting would take place and ballots are mailed 21 days before the election.
The City Council has had 2 seats empty for a significant amount of time in the past 3 years.
Reasons for a Full Council & Special Election:
- Charter states 7 for Balance of Power.
- Mayor has Absolute Veto Power with only 4 Council Members. 5 is needed to Override a Veto.
- Unforeseeable event (illness, accident, etc) could reduce the council to 4 or less.
- Possibly No Budget impact if done conservatively with 10 locations, 1 EV and absentee voting.
- The city allocated & saved $50k with the recent video streaming contract. That could be utilized to fund a modest March Election.
So is a Modest, Low-Cost Election better than None?
*Lastly, updated Corrections in Blue*
The veto power is the most concerning element here. It takes 5 council members to override a veto. Currently with only 4 council members, this gives the Mayor essentially absolute power, similar to a dictatorship.