MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Shelby County voters turned out in dribbles for the Super Tuesday Primary Election.
50,000 or so came out on Election Day; add that to 20,000 early voters, and you get a grand total of about 70,000 people voting. That's about eleven percent of registered voters.
But elections don't come cheap, even if nobody votes.
That's the glory of America. You have the right to vote, you have the right not to vote. But all Tennessee taxpayers pay, and for Shelby County elections the price tag is $850,000.
Our most important right is the one to vote. Freedom can be symbolized by people voting on Election Day. Although in Shelby County, Election Day can be symbolized as a big empty room with lots of empty voting machines.
With 70,000 people voting using $850,000 of your tax dollars to pay for the day, it's pretty clear that this is not a way to run a business. It's $12.15 a vote.
Remember governments are a business; you pay for services. The entire state paid for Super Tuesday voting, but that's not true for most elections.
According to Shelby County Elections Supervisor Richard Holden, "When we conduct an election for municipalities, such as those being proposed in May, those municipalities will pay all of the costs."
He's talking about the votes in several communities on starting their own school systems that will happen in May. Although it's pretty easy to get confused, it seems as though there's always somebody running for something around here.
Holden joked, "We've had elections every couple of months for the last couple of years."
Holden is joking, but money isn't funny anymore, not when your money is being spent. Cities and towns are all in the same boat. They don't have enough of your money to run things, so either they cut services or they swipe a few more bucks out of your pocket with a tax hike.
"If you take a $30,000 hit in some of these small municipalities that's a very significant chunk of change," Holden said.
"Budgets are tight," added Millington Alderman Don Lowry. "We've got to watch every penny that we spend in our community."
Nobody, of course, is saying do away with elections to save money.
That takes us to Millington. It's not a city known for its political wisdom lately, which is too bad, because the city leaders did something this past fall that was pretty interesting.
They asked the state legislature to change the date of their city elections, moving them from September 18 to August 2.
That is going to save the city lots of money, Lowry said, "significant savings of somewhere around 35-thousand plus dollars."
The Millington election will now be held the very same day of the Shelby County elections. By changing the date, the entire county will pay for the Millington elections. That's state law.
There are predictions that Millington will be overrun by political signs, popping up like mushrooms in search of a pizza.
"All the Aldermen and the Mayor of Millington will be running at the same time as the Shelby County people will be running, so all the signs will get mixed up or mixed together. You just hope Millington residents will be keeping an eye on who's running for mayor and aldermen and know who to vote for when its time," Lowry told abc24.com.
Holden predicts you'll see more communities do what Millington did. Elections officials will also look at closing some polling places and combining voting precincts… since they're so rarely used.