Augusta County: Tuesday’s special election cost $30,000 for 346 voters

Augusta County mapBy Lynn R. Mitchell

Tuesday’s special election in Augusta County caught most voters unaware and so there was a tiny turnout for one unopposed candidate. Now we have the numbers of how much that cost.

Here’s what I wrote Tuesday toward the end of the day:

Raise your hand if you didn’t know there was a special election today in Augusta County. Better yet, raise your hand if you did know because that would be far less hands. According to reports, there was a pitiful turnout for the uncontested contest — as in six voters by 6pm in Churchville, according to a source in the area. Six voters since 6am.

A special election was ordered to fill Augusta County’s Circuit Court Clerk position that was vacated in December by long-time Clerk John B. Davis. It will temporarily filled by long-time chief deputy clerk Carol Brydge who is on the ballot today to fill the spot until the election in November.

Mrs. Brydge was unopposed. No Democrat, no Independent, no one. Yet all precincts in the county were open.

Couldn’t there have been some provision that allowed Mrs. Brydge to be declared the winner if no one filed for the special election? It seem to make sense and certainly would save money. So I feel safe in declaring Carol Brydge the winner of today’s special election. If there is a reason we cannot avoid a primary when there is only one candidate, I am all ears.

I heard back from a reader who said the possibility of write-in votes would be a reason to have the polls open even though there was no opponent. That makes sense but it certainly did cost a lot of money for the five write-in votes on Tuesday.

Political reporter Calvin Trice with the News Leader now has the numbers from Tuesday (see Votes cast, 346; money spent for special election: $30,000). Let’s calculate:

Polls open: 6am-7pm
Number of precincts: 26
Number of voters: 346
Percentage of registered voters who turned out: 0.7 percent
Number of votes for lone candidate Carol Brydge: 341
Hours spent by poll workers: 5am-10pm
Cost to taxpayers: $30,000

That averaged out to a little over 13 voters per precinct or one voter per hour, costing $87 per vote.

News flash: Mrs. Brydge won.

There has to be a better way.

For more see Augusta County: Carol Brydge wins GOP nod for Clerk of Court special election.

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