If there were a way to reduce the cost of conducting an election while possibly increasing participation by registered voters, would you be in favor of it?
If the method involved mail-only voting, would that change your mind?
The special election last week (not truly a primary, because ballots in Seneca County only included one or two tax issues, for a total of six) calls this to attention.
During the election, 17 precincts were open, each staffed by four poll workers. Precinct judges earn $103.50 for the day, working from 5:30 a.m. until about 7:30 or 8 p.m. Presiding judges earn $113.50.
That adds up to $7,208 for the poll workers. Only 1,230 ballots were cast. That works out to $5.86 per vote.
Ohio already offers no-excuse absentee balloting by mail, so that isn't new. What would change would be to stop staffing precincts - and, in some cases, renting locations within those precincts to cast ballots.
As the math indicates, cost is only part of the equation. Turnout also is a key. May 7, 28 people voted for a tax levy to fund policing in Attica; 33 voted against it. Attica has more than 61 adult residents. In fact, 404 voted in the last presidential election.
Two states, Oregon and Washington, already use a mail-only system. Both tend to have higher voter registration rates and voter participation rates than Ohio.
In addition to lowering costs of an election and increasing voter participation, mail-only voting compels a board of elections to keep registration rolls up to date.
There are drawbacks to such a system.
Some decry the loss of a civic ritual, although the turnout during off-year elections indicates going to the polls is a civic duty not widely pursued.
Also, fraud remains a possibility. A not-so-secret ballot is more susceptible to coercion or bribery. Think of an abusive spouse or overbearing employer. But, again, mail-in voting already is allowed in Ohio.
Thus, mail-in voting is an idea whose time has come. Perhaps it's time for a system of mail-only voting.
Want to weigh in on the subject? Make your preference known in our online poll.