In case you’re counting, the runoff election yesterday cost more than $50 per vote cast for election officials to administer — about $4 million to operate about 3,000 polling places and process the results of barely 75,000 votes cast. In some counties, the cost for the local board of elections easily exceeded $70 per vote.
Local taxpayers foot the bill, not the state, which may be one reason why state lawmakers have been slow to address the problem of expensive, low-turnout runoffs for the partisan nominees for executive branch elections.
One alternative is Instant Runoff Voting, where voters can mark their first choice and a back-up choice on Election Day. Democracy North Carolina has a simple fact sheet about IRV or preference voting on our website, pegged to the pilots run in 2007 in a couple municipal elections:
Opponents of IRV in North Carolina have a habit of spreading fear and wrong information; for example, it’s ludicrous to say that IRV costs more than the runoff system we use now. There’s got to be a better way than these embarrassing statewide runoff elections – either by filling some the Council of State positions by gubernatorial appointment, nominating others with a different threshold for victory, using IRV, or something else.