What the Democratic Primary is Costing You

By: Jarrod Aldom
By: Jarrod Aldom

Today is the democratic presidential primary in Virginia, and polls have been open since 6 AM. The problem is not many people are using them. But as WHSV'S found out, it's still costing "you" a lot of money.

Empty voting booths are the norm at the polls in T-C McSwain Elementary in Staunton and at many other localities around the Valley. Only 93 people had come in to vote here by 1:30 this afternoon. Stanley Cline, who's worked for the Electoral Board in Staunton for 30 years, says the numbers he's seen are a very low number for any primary.

"Very low, the lowest I've seen in a long time, many years," says Cline, Chairman of the Electoral Board. "I would say we're probably going to vote 15% of the registered voters in the city of Staunton, which is around 1200 votes."

But taxpayers in localities in the Valley are still footing a substantial bill. Around $3000 in Harrisonburg, $3500 in Staunton, nearly $19,000 in Rockingham County and in excess of $14,000 in Augusta County.

WHSV talked to the registrar over in Rockingham County and she seems to think this is a waste of time and taxpayer money. And that seems to be the opinion here in Staunton as well.

"Being of the opposite political persuasion, I think it's probably a waste of money as I think a lot of primary elections are," says Cline. "This way the taxpayer has to pay the bill."

Voter registration officials point to the low number of Democrats in the Valley and a lack of advertising as reasons for the poor turnout.

This is the first presidential Democratic primary in Virginia since 1988. Cline says Staunton saved about 11-hundred dollars by cutting staff at polling locations. And it can take up to three days of work to set up older voting booths that use levers. The polls are open until 7 PM tonight.

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