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Cristina Francisco-McGuire on August 12, 2010 - 2:29pm
As pundits attempt to digest what Colorado's primary on Tuesday night means for incumbents and insurgents alike, there is one thing everyone can agree on: voting by mail saved counties much-needed money while boosting turnout.
Of Colorado's 64 counties, 46 conducted their primaries entirely by mail. Not only did the number of votes cast this year surpass 2008's turnout by more than 100,000, counties have also been able to cut costs dramatically under the new system. According to Jack Arrowsmith, Douglas County Clerk and Recorder, the county anticipated saving taxpayers roughly $200,000, about half the cost of their usual elections. It's no wonder – the cost-per-voter in Douglas County for a mail ballot-only election is about $6 per voter, while the cost-per-voter at a polling place election is about $43 per voter using 2008 election costs. El Paso County experienced similar savings, managing to keep nearly $180,000 in their coffers. Generally, counties can save up to two-thirds of their traditional election-related costs by converting to all-mail elections.
Like Colorado, Hawaii also experienced increased voter turnout and lower costs during their recent all-mail special election in May.
Oregon has been conducting all of their elections entirely by mail since 1999, while 38 of 39 counties in Washington have already implemented all-mail voting.