Low voter turnout costs taxpayers


CHICO, Calif. - County officials throughout the Northstate are predicting a very low turnout for this year's primary election. They said it could be the worst in state history, but they still have to prepare as if everyone was going to show up. The elections office in Butte, Shasta and Tehama Counties spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on unused ballots that will be shredded.

Election workers at the Chico State polls said it was slow Tuesday, and election officials said they could have saved some money if everything was electronic.

In Butte County, it's costing the tax payers nearly $600,000 for this year's primary election. For Tehama County, the bill is around $100,000. In Shasta County, election officials didn't have a figure to report, but they said in the 2012 general election it cost around $465,000. Throughout California, voters can choose whether to vote electronically or vote on a paper ballot. The elections office in Butte County said the spending would drop significantly if all the voting was done electronically.

"I think the next generation down wants to vote on their iPhone," said Candace Grubbs, Butte County clerk-recorder/registrar of voters. "I think that is probably going to be the way to go, but that's going to be a long time off."

The elections offices predicted that no more than 50 percent of voters would participate in this year's primary election. 74,000 mail-in-ballots were handed out in Butte County and only 24,000 were returned.