City considering mail-in ballots for April election
February 10, 2011
By the numbers:
Turnout from past Craig spring municipal elections:
— 4,561 registered voters
— 2,182 voted, or 47.8 percent
— 5,288 registered voters
— 2,266 voted, or 42.8 percent
— 5,334 registered voters
— 547 voted, or 10.2 percent
— 5,134 registered voters
— 671 voted, or 13 percent
— 5,635 registered voters
— 640 voted, or 11.3 percent
Citing low turnout in previous spring elections, city of Craig officials are exploring the idea of using mail-in ballots for the April municipal election.
"We did this a long time ago, (and) we seemed to have a good turnout for voting," Craig Mayor Don Jones said. "In the last few years, the voter turnout's been horrible."
Shirley Seely, city clerk and personnel director, said the city used mail-in ballots in the 1993 and 1995 elections.
Voter turnout in those elections was above 40 percent.
In 1993, 47.8 percent of registered voters took part in the election, and the 1995 election had 42.8-percent turnout.
However, turnout in the 2005, 2007 and 2009 elections showed a sharp decrease. Turnout was 10.2 percent, 13 percent, and 11.3 percent, respectively, in those elections that included polling places.
Jones and Seely said part of the draw of mail-in ballots is the convenience.
"It seems like if somebody gets something in the mail, they can just send it back without having to leave their house, you get a better response," Jones said.
One of the main concerns city officials have about the switch to a mail-in ballot is the price, which is still being explored.
"We get a lot more voters voting, but we have to consider what the cost is, too," Seely said. "It does cost quite a bit more."
Jones said that if the price is reasonable, the switch should be considered.
"If the cost is pretty close, why not try it?" he said. "If it's a big difference, you've got to save (money) where you can. If it's within reason, who knows?"
Jones said he expects a decision on the election's format will be made at the next council meeting, scheduled for Feb. 22, when more information will be available.
Seely said that if the decision is made to use a mail-in system, there will be no polling places used for the election.
"If we go to a mail ballot election, it will be strictly mail ballot," she said.
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