GREENUP A bill filed for next year’s session aims to cushion the blow of local option election costs to county clerk offices.
State Rep. Kenny Imes, R-Murray, filed Bill Request 176 to amend Kentucky law to direct the majority of local option elections to be held during general election and primary election days. The proposal requires local option elections held on any other day to be paid for by the group or committee seeking the election.
According to information from the Legislative Research Commission, Greenup County spent between $50,000 and $65,000 on a single county-wide vote in 2013 when residents voted in a wet-dry election.
An employee with the Boyd County Clerk’s Office estimated each election costing the county $80,000.
Greenup County Clerk Pat Hieneman said expenses of local option elections for clerks are “astronomical” because they are run the same way as regular elections.
“It doesn’t matter if you have one thing or ten things on the ballot,” the process is the same, Hieneman said.
In 2013, Hieneman said she estimated costs to the fiscal court to be about $32,800 for the county-wide wet-dry election, but the estimate did not include the cost of precinct officers, polling locations, delivery of voting machines or vendors that set up the equipment.
“Speaking for myself, yes, if you have to set up an election and add something to the ballot, it’s a lot better to just add something to it rather than preparing a whole other election,” Hieneman said. “For me, it would make my job easier.”
In a press release from the Kentucky House Republican Leadership Office, Imes released a statement saying he also believed hosting local option elections during general and primary election days would increase turnout.
“Holding local option elections on the same day may also encourage more people to vote, considering the turnout for this year’s primary election statewide was 17 percent according to the Board of Elections,” his statement read.
Hieneman said she could see where this may improve turnout in her county.
“In a way, I can see that,” Hieneman said. “With this year’s races the primary was a very low turnout and I don’t anticipate the general election being much better. Should there be a local option election, it could possibly bring out some more people.”