On Your Side: Cost of a runoff; who can participate

News 12 at 11/ Wednesday, May 22, 2014

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- And the winner is? For some, that answer is undecided until July.

Election day is over, but not all races have been won. That means it's time to start planning for a runoff.

Locally, Ben Hasan and Bob Finnegan will compete for the District 6 seat in the Augusta Commission.

Corey Johnson and Harold Jones II will face off for Hardie Davis' old position as State Senator for District 22.

A runoff in a primary election is different than any other. If you did not vote on Tuesday, you can still vote in the runoff.

Once again, Richmond County voters will have the power to choose even the ones who didn't hit the polls on the 20th.

"There are special rules in place in a primary that don't exist in any other type election. For those people who did not vote at all yesterday, they may vote in the runoff," Richmond County Board of Elections Director Lynn Bailey said.

So, on July 22nd, we'll do it all over again. Since there are runoffs at the state level too, all 44 polling stations in Richmond County will open back up, but between personnel and supplies, a runoff racks up a pretty big bill.

Bailey estimates that grand total will fall, "somewhere between $100,000- $110,000. Something like that."

Add another $4,000 to open up to 4 advance voting sites three weeks before.

Bailey says personnel makes up about two-thirds of that. The other costs come from, "the cost for renting trucks, for paying rent to the facilities, for printing. Before you know it, you've got yourself quite a bit of money."

So we decided to break it down. Assuming a 29 percent voter turnout, that's about 29,000 ballots. At $110,000, the cost of the runoff comes out to roughly $3.79 per Richmond County voter.

That's about the same cost as the last big runoff we had when the Sheriff's race was undecided. The biggest difference this time is voters have longer to make their final decision.

"Prior to this year, the difference between the primary and the runoff was a mere three weeks and now it's 60 days," Bailey said. "So, how voters will react to that is difficult to say."

Again, if you didn't vote on the 20th, you can still vote in the runoff on July 22.

Here's the tricky part. If you did vote and chose a party preference, you are bound to that party through the runoff. You can't flip from one party to the other or choose candidates from both parties.

Non-partisan voters can decide their party at the runoff if they choose to do so.

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