Why Is the Electoral System So Expensive?

Dear Source:
I got a kick out of Mr. Abramson's letter on "The Cost of Electing People." He said he wanted to "address a number of misrepresentations" in my article entitled "Waste at the Election Board". It turns out that he had two "misrepresentations" in mind; one of his points is meaningless and the other inaccurate.
He did not deny that the V.I. spends many times as much per vote as my county of Arlington does; nor does he deny that he and his staff are paid about 30% more each than the electoral staff in Arlington, which is just across the river from Washington, D.C.
His first point is that the cost of an election is "but one activity that is administered by the Election System of the Virgin Islands." That is equally true of the electoral work of Arlington, Virginia; both systems register voters and keep records– there is no difference here, and no misrepresentation. Mine are apples-to-apples comparisons.
His second point is: "the number of registered voters listed by Mr. North is incorrect as of July 31, 2008 the number of registered voter was 49,692 and counting." I never wrote about the number of registered voters, in either jurisdiction, just the number actually voting, which is always a smaller number.
But let's accept his point, and use registered voters as a means of comparison. Let us, also following Mr. Abramson's lead, compare the costs of running the entire electoral system for a year in Arlington and in the Virgin Islands.
There are an estimated 130,000 voters registered in Arlington. If we compare the costs of running the entire system for a year in each jurisdiction to the number of registered voters in each jurisdiction we get a unit cost of $5.08 in Arlington, and $32.20 in the Virgin Islands.
So it costs more than six times as much, per unit, to run the election system in the Virgin Islands as it does in my county.
David S. North
Arlington, Va.

Editor's note: We welcome and encourage readers to keep the dialogue going by responding to Source commentary. Letters should be e-mailed with name and place of residence to source@viaccess.net.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email