Circuit Clerk Concetta Brooks’ Election Day runoff idea made so much sense. With a Democratic runoff that will likely draw the same number of people who could fill the gym at Northeast Jones, Brooks tried to be the best possible steward of the public’s money and ditch the expensive computer voting machines for traditional paper ballots.
But then the Feds stepped in — ahh, the Feds — and put a halt to the savings plan. Because today’s (Tuesday’s) is for a U.S. Senate race, the computer machines must be used. It’s a fool’s errand to try to argue reason with our federal government, so the county will bear the extra expense of the computer machines.
In Jones County, only one race will be on the ballot — Howard Sherman against David Baria. The winner will challenge Roger Wicker in the November general election for senate.
In the primary, when there were six candidates on the Democratic ballot — including one from Laurel – 2,647 voters cast ballots — and 1,664 of those were for Laurel’s Omeria Scott. She finished third in the primary and has since thrown her support behind Sherman, who is best known for being married to actress Sela Ward.
Common sense will dictate that many of those Scott voters will stay home this time around. The voter turnout today could be epically low. In the primary, Sherman garnered 198 votes and Baria received 112 votes. Added to having only one race on the ballot, temperatures are forecast to soar into the upper 90s and being in a Republican-dominated county, we believe the turnout will be fewer than 1,000.
There are 37 voting precincts in Jones County and each, by law, must be staffed by three poll workers and a poll manager. Cost for each precinct is about $525 to pay those workers. Each polling place must have at least three computer voting machines available — at a cost of nearly $70 each to program. Not to get bogged down in math, today’s election will cost about $25,000.
If half of the people who voted in the primary — and that is an audacious prediction — vote today, each ballot cast will cost about $27.
Brooks’ idea would have saved the taxpayers nearly $5,500 by not having to fire up those computers. That amount won’t fund the sheriff’s department or fix a bridge, but at least she tried and she should be commended for that.
She called the turnout for the primary “pitiful” and we can only imagine the adjective she might choose late tonight while more people sit at the courthouse in Laurel and wait on election returns. We have a few choice words that come to mind, but will refrain and let the numbers do the talking.
Oh, yes, it would be lovely if people were so filled with such civic pride they flooded the polling places.
But, instead, more than 130 people will get paid each more than a hundred bucks to sit and stare at each other, read a book, do crochet or gossip about the doings of local governments. And we all will be treated to what real apathy looks like.