Polling Place Changes Could Save Hall County Money

This election year Hall County will have 26 voting precincts, but only 21 voting sites.

"Instead of splitting those people up into two separate places we send them to one," says Dale Baker, Hall County Election Commissioner. "We do that whenever we can, again at cost savings."

Baker says the changes came after the 2010 census figures redrew some precinct boundaries. Each precinct will still have a polling place, but two may be located in the same building - for example Precinct 20 Lake/Prairie Creek and Precinct 13 will both vote at Northwest High School.

The county hopes putting some polling places in the same facility will save them some money.

"Already with this election I can see that our ballot styles have almost cut in half, so already I'm seeing the effects of those changes," says Baker. "I'm hoping that's going to be an ongoing thing - less precincts, less poll workers...it kind of trickles down."

But even with consolidation elections can be costly. For Adams County's 19,000 registered voters, the 2010 general election cost adds up to more than $2 per person.

"The total election cost for that election came in right about $48,000," says Adams County Clerk and Election Commissioner Chris Lewis.

Lewis says facility rentals, programming counting machines, paying election workers, and printing and publishing costs all add up.

"Those costs they never seem to go down, they always go up," she says.

Lewis says most of the cost of an election falls back on the county. If a school district or other group has something on a primary or general election ballot, they do pay back money to the county, just as they would bear the costs of a special election. However, Lewis says they don't receive any money from the state for any state or federal items (like presidential or gubernatorial races or initiatives and referendums) on the ballot.

"As election officials here in the state of Nebraska we have tried before to get to the state to assume some costs in holding elections because the state absolutely funds nothing," says Lewis.

But both counties say they keep the voter in mind first, and strive to make sure all facilities are accessible and ready for voters come election day.

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