Butler County spends $250k on uncontested special primary election, says election official

Posted at 11:31 PM, Sep 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-14 02:58:19-04

HAMILTON, Ohio -- The Butler County Board of Elections spent $250,000 this week on an uncontested primary election in which less than one percent of registered voters turned up at the polls, according to deputy Board of Elections director Jocelyn Bucaro.

Steve Fought, 62, was the only name on the ballot in Tuesday’s special primary to select a Democratic candidate for Ohio’s 8th Congressional District seat; having won, he will now replace Corey Foister, who was nominated but withdrew from the race July 26. 

Because Foister dropped out before Aug. 10, Ohio law held that state Democrats could not simply appoint a replacement. They had to elect one, which meant holding a full-fledged election day: hiring poll workers, transporting election machinery, renting polling spaces and purchasing incidentals so that each person who turned up could sport an "I voted" sticker if he or she wanted one.

The Butler County Board of Elections reports 613 votes cast in the special primary. All of them, of course, were cast for Fought. According to Bucaro’s $250,000 estimate for the cost of the election, about $407.83 was spent on each of those 613 individual votes.

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Butler County is the largest of the six counties that form the heavily Republican district; a higher percentage (.28 percent) of Butler County voters turned out at the polls than any of the other five. The Journal-News reported Aug. 19 that the estimated total cost of the special election across the entire congressional district was around $500,000.

Fought will square off against former House Speaker John Boehner’s successor, Republican Warren Davidson, in the polls Nov. 8.

In the meantime, some state lawmakers will work to curtail further single-candidate special elections and hopefully help counties dodge the heavy financial toll of such events. Ohio Sen. Frank LaRose introduced in August a piece of proposed legislation that would allow the Secretary of State to declare the lone hopeful in a single-candidate race the winner without holding an election, the Journal-News reported.