• 57°

Flag vote won’t be cheap

Like many citizens and other circuit clerks around the state,Lincoln County Circuit Clerk Terry Case Watkins will be watchingthe legislature next year to see how lawmakers handle the stateflag issue.

All indications point to lawmakers following a flag commissionrecommendation to have a statewide vote on the current flag, withits Confederate battle symbol that some say is a reminder of thestate’s racist past, and a new flag designed by the commission.

Watkins said she had no problem with having an election, but shedid raise concerns about costs and the usual lack of voter interestwith one-issue elections.

“We should try to work that into when we have an electionscheduled so we wouldn’t have the additional costs,” Watkinssaid.

With the minimum-required three poll workers per precinct,Watkins said a special election in Lincoln County would cost atleast $7,360 in poll worker expenses.

“That’s not including the costs of printing ballots, operatingthe scanner or anything like that,” Watkins said.

One Lincoln County lawmaker expects a special session to becalled.

“I think we’ll put it back in the hands of the people, where itshould be,” said District 92 Rep. Dr. Jim Barnett. “It’s for thepeople to decide, and we’ll give them a chance.”

Barnett expected the vote to be scheduled for early in the yearas special election. He was also looking for the legislature toallocate some funds to help the counties with election costs.

“We probably will. I think so,” Barnett said about an estimatedstatewide election price tag of $2-$3 million.

Cost concerns would be somewhat alleviated if the legislaturedoes provides funding help, Watkins said. Also, because ofattention to the issue, the flag vote could be atypical and stirpeople to go vote.

“Probably more than usual would get out to vote because it hasbeen a matter of concern,” Watkins said.

No general elections are scheduled for the state in 2001. Manymunicipalities are having elections, but lawmakers and electionofficials believe it would be confusing to try to have a flag votewith the city elections.

Watkins said elections are a little extra work for her office,but that was not a problem.

“Whatever the legislature decides, that’s what we’ll do,”Watkins said.