SACRAMENTO — Newly elected California State Senator Ted Gaines, (R — Roseville), announced earlier this month that he has introduced a bill that he says is designed to help cut the cost of special elections in smaller California counties.
Senate Bill 109 would give counties with populations under 400,000 the option to hold solely vote-by-mail elections in situations where a special election is called.
“My bill will help cut the costs counties incur to conduct special elections by eliminating the mandate to open polling places and hire staff for these elections,” Gaines commented.
Mono County Clerk/Recorder Lynda Roberts estimated the Jan. 4 Special Election, which Gaines won to secure his senate seat, cost the county just shy of $55,000, and that was for a one-item ballot.
By contrast, Roberts said a solely vote-by-mail election would have saved the county more than $10,000 from a reduction in the number of poll workers, setup and cleanup which are required for typical elections.
“Should Senate Bill 109 become law, I estimate a savings of about $50,000, and that is on the conservative side,” Bill Schultz, the County Clerk-Recorder for El Dorado County, said, “It comes down to not just saving money, but also avoiding the issues our smaller foothill communities face during elections held in the winter months. Delivery of equipment, transportation issues – all those are negated with the ability to vote by mail.”
Roberts was cautious in responding to questions from Mono County’s Board of Supervisors on Tuesday as to whether the County could realize cost savings not just for special elections but for larger elections as well.
Roberts said there has been some cost-savings research done, but added her department would need to run a very detailed cost analysis taking into account all associated factors before she would have an idea of what types of savings could be realized for various strata of elections.
Gaines said Senate Bill 109 has already received support from county supervisors and election officials. “I have spoken to several county election officials who support the option to conduct all-mail ballot special elections,” Gaines said. “My measure will lower the costs they face and streamline the special election process.”
Gaines represents the 1st Senate District. – Press Release/Sheet Staff