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Counties on Hook for State's Special Election Costs

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(Sacramento, CA)
Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Tuesday is Election Day for voters in two Southern California State Senate districts.  They're filling vacancies after their senators resigned to serve in Congress.  These are two of what could be a half-dozen or more special elections this year - and for counties, those elections come with a price.

Shasta County Registrar of Voters Cathy Darling Allen says it cost her county $300,000 to run the January special election for a Northern California State Senate seat.  The state used to reimburse counties for state legislative elections.  But since 2007, it hasn't.  So the money comes straight from county general funds instead. "Every dollar that we spend on elections is money that, for example, our sheriff cannot spend on deputies to patrol the streets," says Darling Allen.

Republican Assemblyman Brian Dahle says he knows how hard it is for counties to pay for special elections from his time as a Lassen County supervisor.  He wants to submit a bill to require state reimbursements, but "really, there's not a political there right now to move that forward, to take care of those counties that are impacted." Dahle says he'll keep working to change that.

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