Originally, it was thought that holding Kenai Peninsula Borough elections by mail would be more cost effective, but according to a fiscal note, it would actually cost more money. “I was disappointed because I initially thought … that we could actually save money, but the extra printing and postage costs added up,” said assembly member Bill Smith. However, the assumed savings were a secondary consideration, Smith said about an ordinance he sponsored to require vote-by-mail elections. His main motive is to increase voter participation. A public hearing on the ordinance is scheduled for tonight’s borough assembly meeting.
Last year, the borough saw about 21 percent of voters turn out, which Sen. Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, said is “dismal at best.”
While costs are estimated to rise if elections are held by mail, Smith called the increase modest.
According to a fiscal note prepared by Borough Clerk Johni Blankenship, costs for mayoral election years are estimated to increase by $57,420 and by $23,090 for non-mayoral election years, if the assembly approves vote-by-mail elections.
The largest savings would be in personnel costs with a decrease of $10,910. Three boards — logic and accuracy testing, absentee voting officials and canvass — would require only 30 people compared to 116 for polling place elections.