Lengthy ballots force elections chief to ask for more money

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY – Faced with a laundry list of referenda and state constitutional amendments, Supervisor of Elections Kay Clem is asking for an extra $17,290.

Clem said that the number of constitutional amendments and questions posed to voters, along with the various offices up for election and number of candidates vying for those seats has caused the ballot to run 18 inches – longer than a normal sized ballot.

 

Ballots themselves will be printed front and back and are just short enough not to force a second ballot card, she said.

If her office had to go with a second card, her costs would have tripled.

Indian River County Budget Director Jason Brown said that he has received Clem’s request and expects to fund it out of the county’s general fund.

He said he expected the request to go before the Board of County Commissioners this week. However, it does not appear to be on the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting.

Clem said the nearly $17,300 she is requesting would also go toward having more ballots printed for the Nov. 2 general election.

During the primary, Clem tried to trim costs by cutting back on the number of ballots, which left one Fellsmere precinct short on election night.

“I do not want to have another shortage like we did in Fellsmere,” Clem said.

In an e-mail to Brown in mid-August, Clem explained that she had not budgeted for the possibility of a 2-card ballot.

“We have never been forced to go to two cards and of course when we establish our budget I have absolutely no idea what amendments or referenda will be on the ballot the following November,” Clem wrote to Brown.

Along with her request for more funding to print and mail ballots, Clem is also asking for a second server to add to the one the county approved last month.

Clem explained to Brown that an air conditioning breakdown in the server room in 2008 had left the servers to overheat and shorten their life spans. She added that she has tried replacing the power supply and motherboard, but the hard drive itself has died and she has no backup.

“I have truly cut my budget to a dangerous point,” Clem wrote.

Brown said that the county funded $15,000 in expenses to the Supervisor of Elections Office including the requested server and a security system. Clem originally made that request to be funded in next year’s budget, but commissioners decided to fund it this year.

There are six Florida constitutional amendments on the ballot, along with a federal question regarding balancing Florida’s budget.

Also, there will be two countywide referenda questions pertaining to offering businesses tax freezes for jobs created and allowing the School Board to levy an extra tax to help make up for budgetary shortfalls.

The tax abatement referendum will be on Fellsmere and Vero Beach ballots twice – once for the countywide question, and a second time for the municipality.

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