ALBANY — Everything, as the saying goes, comes at a price. And elections are no exception.
Prices fluctuate over time — the price of this goes up, the price of that goes up — but Dougherty County Elections Supervisor Ginger Nickerson said this week that past runoff elections like the one scheduled Dec. 3 will cost the city of Albany somewhere in the $30,000 range.
“The (Ward II) runoff (that current Commissioner Matt Fuller won over incumbent Bobby Coleman) cost $17,625.43, but that was just one ward,” Nickerson said. “The mayor’s runoff between Mayor (Dorothy) Hubbard and B.J. (Fletcher, eight years ago) cost $27,648. That includes the cost of everything: a news article we’re required to run, testing equipment, the U-Haul used to move equipment, gas, rental of rooms.”
The fact that the Dec. 3 runoff will feature two races — the mayoral showdown between Hubbard and challenger Bo Dorough, who finished second in a seven-person race, and the Ward VI runoff to fill outgoing Commissioner Tommie Postell’s seat between Demetrius Young and John Hawthorne — shouldn’t impact the cost too dramatically.
“All 21 precincts in the city are going to be open anyway, since the mayor’s race is citywide,” Nickerson said. “So the precincts that encompass Ward VI will already be open.”
The state of Georgia mandates that a minimum of three poll workers be at each precinct during any election, but Nickerson said four are present at each precinct during elections in Albany and Dougherty County. The extra cost for the Dec. 3 election will be passed on to the city of Albany.
“We cross-charge the city for the costs of municipal elections,” the Elections supervisor said. “They don’t pay (Elections office employees) for our regular time, but they pay all the costs I mentioned before, plus cost of part-time employees and overtime (by Elections employees).”
Nickerson is an eternal optimist during each election cycle, “hoping for a big turnout” with each vote. But runoff elections traditionally draw a smaller number of voters than general elections, leading the Elections supervisor to come up with a unique “sales pitch” for the post-Thanksgiving runoff.
“There are three days of early voting: Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday next week,” she said. “We want to encourage registered voters in the community to add ‘going to the Elections office to vote’ to their holiday checklist. While you’re out taking care of your holiday chores, take a few moments to come to our office and vote.”
Only 22.54 percent of the 60,000-plus registered voters in the county cast ballots in the Nov. 5 municipal election. Early voting will be held 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. on the three days leading up to Thanksgiving.