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Thursday, October 23rd, 2008

Mercer County election costs rising

Commissioners approve $28,000 in additional funds

By Shelley Grieshop
Mercer County commissioners this week approved approximately $28,000 in additional funds to the board of elections for extra items and salaries needed for this year's election.
The initial request from the election board was for $50,000 to cover an increased number of election workers, printed ballots and the rental of optical scanners. The expenses - over and above the board's 2008 budget - totaled $80,000.
The election board initially thought their available funds totaled just under $30,000. However, after a misunderstanding of accounts was cleared, the agency's available funds were found to be about $50,000.
Due to the expected heavy turnout for the presidential election on Nov. 4, the election board has hired 16 extra workers - two additional for each of the eight polling locations at a cost of $28,000.
Also, the numerous races and issues has extended the length of the ballot to two pages instead of one at an additional cost of $30,000.
Election board members also added to their request the cost of renting 21 optical scanners at a price tag of $22,000. The county currently has only five scanners.
Each ballot is scanned after it is cast.
Because of the ongoing controversy over what type of voting machines may be mandatory in future elections, the elections board - like many others across the state - is waiting to make a decision on which type to purchase.
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