County officials are asking the state to help cover the $1.5 million in primary and general election costs associated with filling the U.S. House seat in Utah’s 3rd Congressional District. State lawmakers, elections officials and a representative from the Utah Association of Counties discussed the cost expectations for the upcoming special election to replace Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, during a Wednesday meeting at the Capitol. Running the special election simultaneously with municipal elections should keep the overall price tag down, officials said, but much of the costs will still fall on the counties. “Money can be saved if you run multiple elections at the same time,” said Justin Lee, deputy director of elections with the lieutenant governor’s office. “We are saving quite a bit of money, but we’re not saving all the money.”
Municipalities can print ballots with both the 3rd District and local election options, and they could share polling staff and facilities, allowing for some cost savings, he said.
Despite sharing opportunities for local elections, only about half of the 54 municipalities included in the 3rd District will actually hold municipal elections that can run with the special election on Nov. 7, Lee said. Municipalities not holding local elections, as well as unincorporated areas, would pass on the special election costs to the counties, he said.