This summer’s planned recall elections for state senators will likely cost counties and municipalities thousands of dollars. The unprecedented elections, prompted by the collective bargaining legislation and accompanying protests, are putting local clerks to work in their off-season and leading to unexpected costs. Many workers are now scrambling on a short timetable to get things ready for the elections.
Columbia County Clerk Sue Moll was testing recall primary ballots for the 14th state Senate district on Friday as part of preparations for the recall election. She said that the summer is typically a time of planned vacations and a catch-up season for elections workers. “It’s time here, normally, I would have a staff person doing this. She’s not available. Her last day was Monday so we normally have three staff. We’re down to two,” she said.
The upcoming elections also mean officials in cities like Portage have to train poll workers on the state’s voter identification law before elections are held. This is in addition to contending with the added costs of having primary and then general election that weren’t budgeted-for.
Marie Moe, the Portage city clerk, said that the costs will be steep. “We were estimating the cost for each election at a ballpark (of) around $11,000,” Moe said. “And that is, we’re doing a conservative estimate, and feel that it is going to be very well, a huge turnout for the election because there is a lot of interest.”
Officials said that Columbia County’s expected costs for the elections is somewhere around $3,500 per election. According to a survey conducted by the Baraboo News Republic newspaper of all 10 counties and 120 municipalities within the 14th senate district, the bill for the entire recall is nearly $350,000.
These expenses are something all elections workers will have to figure out how to cover. “It’s not budgeted so at the end of the year, we will looking for some things that maybe we are under budget on so we can cover the overage,” Moll said.