Cost of early voting in Fair Bluff was $50 per ballot cast - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Cost of early voting in Fair Bluff was $50 per ballot cast

Columbus County spent $50.31 for every ballot cast at the Fair Bluff early voting site ahead of the May primary. Columbus County spent $50.31 for every ballot cast at the Fair Bluff early voting site ahead of the May primary.
FAIR BLUFF, NC (WECT) -

It's impossible to put a value on the right to vote, but officials do calculate the cost to run elections.  

Columbus County spent $50.31 for every ballot cast at the Fair Bluff early voting site ahead of the May primary, according to the county Board of Elections. The cost to operate the polling location was $3,650. Voters cast 237 ballots there. 

The cost per vote was less at the county's other five one-stop sites, ranging from $2.13 at the Board of Elections in Whiteville to $29.83 in Bolton.  

Elections expenses include printing and coding ballots, hiring staff and – in some cases – renting polling sites, said Carla Strickland, director of the Columbus County Board of Elections. 

"The cost justification is becoming a problem, very problematic," she said. 

But there's not much the county board can do about it. 

Strickland explained last year, state lawmakers cut the number of early voting days from 17 to 10 but required counties to continue offering the same total number of hours. Columbus County's early voting sites were open 322.5 hours in May. 

If the county board wanted to close a little-used site, it would have to make-up for those hours at another polling location.

Strickland says that wouldn't be practical, in part, because it would put a strain on poll workers at the remaining locations ahead of primary day. 

Harold Fipps, chair of the Columbus County Board of Elections, says the best way to reduce the cost per vote is for more people to cast ballots.  

"You've got ten days to vote even before the election day. Somewhere along the line there, you've got time to get to a poll that's going to be close by." 

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