Jay Inslee and Sam Reed are both right. A special election to pick a replacement for Inslee in the 1st Congressional District could cost state taxpayers close to $1 million, as Secretary of state Reed says. But the extra election won’t cost that much, as Inslee says. “The overall cost (of the 2012 election) doesn’t change,” Kitsap County Auditor Walt Washington said. Well, it changes a little, he said. Putting another choice on the primary and general election ballots adds maybe $5,000 to each election in Kitsap County. But while the overall bill is pretty much staying the same, the state is required to pick up a little more of the tab because it is a special election.
In even-numbered years, according to state law, counties bear the cost of electing the governor, the other state executives, members of Congress and voting on statewide ballot initiatives. An exception is the special election, and that’s what former Bainbridge Island Congressman Inslee created by resigning his House seat early to run for governor. The U.S. Constitution and federal law requires an election to fill the seat, unless the time it’s vacant is considered minor. That special election can be done concurrently with the regular election, as it will be here.