County governments prepare for busy, costly presidential electio - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

County governments prepare for busy, costly presidential election year

BUTLER COUNTY, MO (KFVS) -

Debates, campaigns, and primaries are all things that go along with a presidential election year, but with all the hype of the race for the White House comes a lot of prep-work for local governments. Plus, the cost of elections can stretch the budget thin countywide.

At the Butler County courthouse, they're already preparing for the presidential election more than 10 months away. Last year was not an election year, so there was no cost to the county from the general revenue fund. This year, they’ve budgeted $140,000.

“November of ‘12, our last presidential year, we had a 66 percent, almost 67 percent, turnout,” County Clerk Tonyi Deffendall said. “Compared to in ’14, a 34 percent turnout. Almost double on a presidential election year.”

It’s the kind of voter turnout Deffendall says she’s hoping for again this year and then some.

“I mean to get an 80 to 85 percent turnout for Butler County would just be awesome,” Deffendall said.

However, she says election years, whether it’s county, state, or national issues on the ballot, come at a cost to the county.

“We have to be prepared for a large turnout regardless, so actually an off-election cost-wise is about the same as a presidential election year,” Deffendall said.

This year, for all elections, including the presidential primary and general, they’ve budgeted $140,000 from the general revenue fund.

“And we hope that estimate is a little high,” Deffendall said.

Still, the chunk taken out for election costs also takes money away from other county offices.

“Anytime you have one area where they have to spend more money, that means it’s less for our budget,” Butler County Sheriff Mark Dobbs said.

Dobbs says, this year, his department gets $50,000 less from the general revenue fund than it did last year.

“That could be somebody’s job, that can be patrol cars, that could be a lot of things. And it takes money to make things work,” Dobbs said.

Despite the sacrifices, costs, and months of preparing, it’s a freedom Deffendall is proud to be a part of.

“It is busy, but it’s what we do," she said. "And we love elections or we wouldn’t be here.”

Election costs include things like ballot printing, counting technology, and paying election staff.

Butler County will officially vote on its budget, including election costs, on Friday.  

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