Today we hit the polls to vote on an amendment that would allow the state of Alabama to withdraw $145 million for the next three years from the state’s oil and gas fund into the state’s general fund.
There are pros and cons to the plan and talking heads across the state that are willing to argue for and against the plan.
But what I’d like to see is a better plan for holding elections.
We just went to the polls in August to elect municipal leaders, including city council members, mayors and, in some areas, school board members.
We will go to the polls again Oct. 9 to vote for a few runoffs from the municipal elections.
And, we will go to the polls again in November to elect a U.S. president, judges and other offices.
How is that efficient and cost effective for our voters and our state that is already cash strapped?
According to the Association of County Commissions of Alabama, under Alabama law, the county governments finance the cost of the elections and the state reimburses the county for half its costs if there are state issues or state races on the ballot. If there are no state races, the county bears the entire cost.
Voter turnout for the September municipal elections was said to have been between 20 and 30 percent of the estimated 3 million registered voters in Alabama.
In a report published by WSFA in Montgomery this spring, the state has paid for an estimated 40 million ballots that went unused over the past 10 years. It costs on average 35 cents per ballot for printing services. Each time those unused ballots are shredded, that translates into hundreds of thousands of dollars wasted.
Add to that the costs for polling places, poll judges and ballot machine testing.
Think about the amount of money spent on publicity, campaign signs and volunteer labor used on the campaign trail.
I personally think our government could do a better job scheduling elections to be more cost-effective and efficient.
There are approximately 3 million registered voters in the state but many are not heading to the polls. Maybe if we had more than one item on a ballot, more of us would make time to vote.
Voting is a right each of us enjoys and should take advantage of at every opportunity.
Our leaders are supposed to be our representatives and our voice.
What better way for our voices to be heard than from the election booth?
Elizabeth Summers covers police, fire and courts for The Sand Mountain Reporter. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.