Counties get fund help with election costs

Published 6:00 pm Friday, November 4, 2011

New legislation is aimed to helpMississippi’s counties offset some of the costs of runningelections, at least through next year.

    The Secretary of State’s Office said Wednesday that countiesstatewide would be receiving assistance in paying forelections.

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    “In 2013, federal funding will no longer be available to countiesto assist with elections,” said Secretary of State Delbert Hosemannin a press release. “The funding counties will receive under thispiece of legislation will enable them to prepare for that loss inrevenue.”

    The amount each county receives is determined by 2010 populationstatistics from the United States Census Bureau, according to therelease.

    Lincoln County Circuit Clerk Terry Lynn Watkins said she alreadyreceived the check for elections from Hosemann’s office. The totalfor Lincoln County amounts to $7,053.60.

    Watkins said the amount was nothing surprising, but expressedgratitude for the assistance during tough economic times.

    “Any amount is certainly appreciated because it does help out withdefraying some of the costs,” she said.

    Watkins estimated the cost of running an election in LincolnCounty, the upcoming Election Day in particular, to be near$25,000.

    The costs a county incurs include poll workers, poll workertraining, voting machines and counting machines, rent for some ofthe voting buildings if necessary and ballot printing among otherexpenses, Watkins said.

    She explained the state office appropriates the funds to pay for”replacing equipment that tears up and that kind of thing.”

    Circuit clerks around the state will hand the check to countyboards of supervisors to determine how the monies will behandled.

    “I would like to see us set up a fund for elections only,” Watkinssaid.

    Copiah County Circuit Clerk Edna Stevens said the $5,957.19 heroffice will be receiving is quite welcomed.

    “It’s going to help a lot with elections,” Stevens said. “We’re allreally thankful and excited about using it for the elections.”

    Stevens could not immediately estimate the cost of an election inCopiah County but said they are very costly.

    In Franklin County, Circuit Clerk Millie Thornton said the roughly$12-15,000 cost of an election in the county will be alleviated bythe $1,624.18 her office will get from the state.

    “Any amount is helpful,” Thornton said. “It definitely helps insaving the county some costs.”

    Thornton said she has used money given by the Secretary of State’soffice to counties in the past for elections for encoding machinesand printers. She was not sure what the money would be used forthis time around.

    House Bill 643 allows a total of more than $600,000 to be dispersedto counties throughout Mississippi, according to Hosemann’s pressrelease.

    “The purpose of this fund is to provide much needed financing forelection equipment, software and support,” Hosemann said. “Withthese tight budget times, our goal was to find a way to assist thecounties and the state with election expenses without burdening thegeneral fund. I believe we have accomplished that goal.”