Democratic Primary Election Costs

By: David Coy Email
By: David Coy Email

HARRISONBURG -- With the polls ready to open, Democrats are ready for your vote. Low voter turnout is expected for the primary. We wanted to find out how much this primary is costing you.

The price to hold a primary election can be expensive. The cost of the equipment alone may surprise you.

Seven precincts in Harrisonburg will open bright and early Tuesday morning. Jim Gilchrist is on the Harrisonburg electoral board. He isn't sure about the voter turn out.

"I have an estimate, it's a very wide estimate, anywhere from 600 to 2000," said Gilchrist.

The primary itself costs a lot of money to run, but political analyst Bob Roberts said it works wonders.

"The cost factor is out there. Is it expensive to run a primary, yes. Is it worth it? My answer is yes," said Roberts.

Primaries usually have a lower turn out. As a result, the cost can be greater.

"I say it's a shame that people don't vote in primaries because it's there when they choose the person who will end up running for either a state or national election," said Gilchrist.

The cost of one AccuVote machine is around $5,000. There's a machine in each voting precinct.

"The cost isn't just for that one day cost. It's a cost that goes on getting prepared for the election," said Gilchrist.

A laptop for the workers costs around $300 each.

Each precinct has six people working the event. A worker gets paid $25 for a training session. On election day, they get paid $150.

That's about $9.30 an hour for a 16 hour day.

"It's not a lot of money per hour. A lot of them do it as I did when I first started out because they thought it's the right thing to do to ensure the process was above board," said Gilchrist.

The City of Harrisonburg's 2012 -2013 budget approved $43,000 from the state of Virginia, to use on the various expenses for the registrar.

Running a primary or any other election doesn't have a fixed cost.

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