- Posted April 25, 2012 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Cities Struggling to Find Money to Pay for General Election
Cities and counties across the US of A are struggling to find money in budgets that are already blown to pay the cost of conducting the general election this November. Many of these communities are on the verge of bankruptcy or already going through the process.
The toil of the economic crisis has already stripped many locales to the barest essential personnel to provide needed services. Now local officials are trying to find what else may be cut or how they can borrow from other departments to meet the need to provide polling stations and workers to man the poll.
In urban areas already known for long lines and waits as voters cast their ballots, those lines and wait may be even longer. But that also means that voter turnout may be depressed or many who planned to vote may get tired of waiting and go home.
Traditionally a lower voter turnout has benefited Republicans. Democrats are worried that if people tire of the wait, it could spell trouble as President Barack Obama seeks a 2nd term.
Compounding the issue and adding even more financial hardship are new election laws passed in many states. These new laws may cause the need for more poll workers, which means added cost to communities already barely getting by.
The economy looms large over November's general election in a basic way for strapped cities and counties: can they afford it?
In Detroit, the city clerk warned last week that the Rust Belt city would have trouble holding the November 6 presidential election under a slimmed-down budget the mayor proposed to address years of deep financial problems.
In Jefferson County, Alabama, the local government was so short of cash for elections that it used road repair crews to staff the state's Republican presidential primary last month.
And in South Carolina, a $500,000 shortfall after the state's Republican primary in January led elections officials to consider a sponsorship deal with comedian Stephen Colbert, who plays a mock conservative pundit on his late-night TV show.
With cities and counties across the United States in dire financial straits, many local officials are struggling to come up with the millions of dollars they will need to hold the November 6 elections. That is likely to mean fewer election workers and long lines for voters, which could reduce turnout.
It is a problem that could affect candidates and political parties in November but particularly President Barack Obama and fellow Democrats, who are relying on support from big cities such as Detroit.
High-turnout elections typically are better for Democrats, who usually fare well among low-income, minority and less-educated voters whose election turnout is inconsistent, said University of Wisconsin political scientist Charles Franklin.
For example, he added, "The people with the least flexible job and day schedules are more affected by those long lines, and at least to some extent those may be hourly workers who may lean Democratic."
New, stricter voter registration laws in some states such as Florida could exacerbate the problem by raising the need for more elections workers to verify voters' eligibility.
Local governments across the nation are planning to shift costs - putting off road repairs for a few days while transit crews work on elections, or borrowing workers from other departments to help count votes.
From the Cornfield, could this year voters show up to find no one manning the polls?