Some counties have tight budgets for elections

By Tyler Profilet - bio | email

POPLAR BLUFF, MO (KFVS) - Tuesday is primary day in Missouri, and cash strapped counties have to set aside quite a bit of money to fund the elections.

In Butler County, election officials say it's getting more expensive than ever.

Butler County Clerk Tonyi Deffendall says the county will spend about $64,000 on Tuesday's primary.

Nearly all of that money will go toward paying for ballots and election judges.

She says for small counties, the cost of an election is sometimes overlooked, but it shouldn't be.

"With the economy like it is, the money is harder to get," Deffendall said.  "Any time there is any kind of grant that the state offers, of course, we apply for any grant that we can have a chance to get."

Deffendall says those grants are also harder to come by, meaning to hold elections the money is coming out of the county's budget.

She says Butler County is still staying above water when it comes to election funding, but says that's not the case in some smaller counties

"Some of them are running 15 percent under on their sales tax, and this is where they get their money from for the elections," she said.

Deffendall acknowledges that some election money is wasted, but says nothing can be done.

She says she orders ballots for 80 percent of registered voters, and if there is only 30 percent turnout, the remaining ballots go to waste.

She said it's a problem especially during primary elections.

"You have to have enough Republican ballots, Democrat ballots, Libertarian ballots, Constitutional ballots, and there is no way to guess what ballot they're going to draw that time," she said.

Deputy Clerk Tammy Marler says it's tough to cut back on election budgets because a lot of the costs are fixed.

"We try to cut back on supplies and try to reuse some the supplies from a prior election. We just cannot do without election workers. They are the most important," Marler said.

Deffendall wants to remind everyone that the polls will be open from 6 a.m. until 7 p.m.

She says the results will be available a couple of hours after the polls close.

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