What does early voting cost us?
The State Board of Elections released an estimate this afternoon of how much it costs to provide early voting for the primary and general elections. The tally: About $3.4 million.
The bulk of the expense -- 12 days worth of election judges at 46 early voting centers and publicity and outreach materials -- is to be picked up by Baltimore City and the counties, according to Ross Goldstein, deputy administrator of the elections board.
The state also is spending about half a million dollars, mostly on election software and more publicity.
As The Sun reported this morning, relatively few people took advantage of the state's first-ever early voting period. About 77,000 came out to cast balllots -- roughly 2.5 percent of eligible voters and 8 percent of the voters expected to participate in the primary.
Former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., a Republican who vetoed early voting but has a primary contest of his own this year, complained about the cost after he cast his early ballot Thursday in Anne Arundel County.
He said the additional costs associated with polling places and election judges is “an expensive process during a difficult time.”
But early voting is something that Marylanders overwhelmingly approved two years ago. Maryland is joined by 31 other states that have some form of early voting.
Here are some of the estimated costs, provided by Goldstein:
* $1.1 million for election judges (6 days for the primary, 6 days for the general), paid by counties.
* $18,400 for election judge training, paid by counties.
* $500,000 for staff overtime, election board member per diems and lawyer fees, paid by counties.
* $250,000 in voter outreach, required by law, paid by state.
* $646,000 in outreach mailings, including specimen ballots, paid by counties.
* $500,000 in software changes, about half paid by state, half by counties.
The expense estimate provided by Goldstein appears to fall in line with what legislative analysts expected early voting to cost.
Early voting returns Oct. 22 for the general election.