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Each May vote cost more than hourly minimum wage

Each May vote cost more than hourly minimum wage

SAN ANTONIO – Only 11% of Bexar County’s more than a million registered voters cast a ballot in the May 6 election, and taxpayers spent more per vote than someone on minimum wage makes in an hour.

"A lot of times, we say: it's sort of like The Wizard of Oz. You're not quite sure what's going on behind the curtain,” says Bexar County elections administrator Jacque Callanen.

She helped us pull back that curtain, with some help from her trusty calculator.

Saturday’s election cost more than a million dollars and only around 116,000 people showed up to vote.

Crunch the numbers, and each vote cost $9.14 - whether you voted or not. It's the high cost of low turnout.

"Maybe you're going to help us bring it to the consciousness of the citizens,” Callanen says. “These are our local issues."

And if you live within city limits, get ready to pony up even more: the runoff election will cost almost a million more dollars, and there’s no way to make it cheaper.

"The election code is very, very specific,” Callanen says.

She says the costs add up, from moving election equipment and pay salaries. Those election judges aren’t really volunteers.

"I think for the majority of our officials, they would work if we didn't pay them. But we're required to pay them,” Callanen says.

So if civic duty doesn’t draw you to the polls, maybe your wallet will - because elections certainly aren’t cheap.

"No, they're not,” Callanen says. “But it's the best we have. It's democracy at its best."

Early voting for the runoff begins May 30 and runoff day is June 10.

By EMILY BAUCUM

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