Local News

Turnout Low, Cost High for Runoff Election

Posted May 29, 2000

— Several races are beingdecided by votersTuesday, including who will be the Republican nominees for State Agriculture Commissioner and Labor Commissioner. But some people believe the runoff is a waste of time and money.

Louise Denmark voted at Daniels Middle School in Raleigh. Even though this is "just a runoff" election, she would not miss it.

"I think I have an obligation to vote for the person I think will do the best for us in state government," Denmark says.

But Denmark is in the minority.

Voter turnout is traditionally low for runoff elections and this runoff is expected to be no different.

Elections officials estimate less than 3 percent of eligible voters will cast their ballots.

Despite so little interest in the election, it costs taxpayers $3.5 million. And some observers wonder if that money could be better spent.

"It costs over $3 million to run the election machinery, and it doesn't really solve much, and it doesn't get many people involved," says political observer Dr. Abe Holtzman.

Although proponents of the runoff system like it because it prevents candidates from being nominated without substantial support, Holtzman believes theGeneral Assemblywill one day do away with it.

With the state facing a half-billion dollar budget shortfall, some say that day could not come soon enough. The polls close at 7:30 p.m. -->

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