Analysis

Cost of Cutting Polling Places in Nebraska

Recently, some election jurisdictions have taken to reducing the number of precincts and polling places, at least in part to save money. In Douglas County, Nebraska, home to Omaha, during the process of redrawing precinct boundaries 169 precincts were cut earlier this year, eliminating the need for 845 poll workers and saving the county an estimated $100,000 per election.

However, the county had not sought public comment in the planning phase and community leaders in Omaha objected to the reductions saying they would have a disproportionate impact on elderly, poor, and minority voters.

Due to these concerns, the county elections office mailed every registered voter an early voting application, which cost $80,000. The mailing generated 30,000 requests for early ballots, which cost $20,000 to send out. These additional ballots led to more work and overtime prior to the state’s May primary, which cost $15,000. Total unforeseen costs: $115,000.

In June, county election commissioner Dave Phipps proposed reopening 27 voting locations.

Phipps pointed out that in the long-term, cost savings will still be realized, with the county saving an estimated $80,000 on each future election.