Are you pumped for election day this Tuesday? LL’s not talking about the mayoral primary—that was in April. Or the general election, which is still four months from now. Instead, District voters will go to the polls next week to cast ballots for a special election for Ward 8’s seat on the State Board of Education. A special election to fill a position on the toothless State Board of Education isn’t anyone’s idea of a hot race. But even if District residents aren’t paying attention to it, they are paying for it. Holding the election will cost roughly $300,000, according to D.C. Board of Elections spokeswoman Tamara Watkins. That might seem steep, but according to a draft budget prepared by the DCBOE, even running a small election costs a lot of money. Printing fees are expected to cost around $38,500, while voting systems cost $37,000. $43,730 will go to payments to poll staff, including $28,200 just for election day work.
That’s in line with what the District has paid for other recent special elections, including $317,000 for a 2012 Council race in Ward 5. 2013’s city-wide at-large special election cost $832,788—give or take $30,000 that had to be spent on a mailing after the elections board botched a postcard about the race.
Even for a city that’s already seen three special elections since 2011, though, the special Ward 8 vote stands out for its wastefulness. The election could have piggybacked on the general election and been on the ballot with all the other races being decided in November, a cost-saving move that would only keep the seat open for four more months.