Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A Tradition That Can Stop

Yesterday here in Hampton Roads, as it was in several other states, was an election. For us, it was the GOP's 2nd Congressional District primary. There were six candidates and the person I voted for didn’t win (imagine that). But that’s not the point of this entry.

The point is those “I voted” stickers you get when you’re done. Come on, we’re all adults. Can we do away with the stickers? I don’t wear mine. I just stick them to the inside of the visor on my Blazer.

I know that on some big election days, wearing that sticker gets a voter a free cup of coffee or a doughnut. Or maybe it just makes it easier to come back to work when you leave to vote and it takes you forever because the lines were long. Yeah sure they were. You stopped for lunch, got gas and ran a few errands before returning to the office. I can’t use the long line excuse myself. My polling place is 4 blocks from my house. I can stop there before or after work, and I can walk right in. Yesterday, it took me all of 2 ½ minutes to cast my ballot. That included waiting in line and getting checked in, and even walking out.

But getting back to those stickers…the cities could save some money if they didn’t order those stickers. Let the supplies run out and call it done. For example, according to this sticker site, 1,000 stickers cost $3.80. There are approximately 4,013,920 active voters and an additional 1,346 overseas voters in Norfolk, according to the Virginia State Board of Elections, for a total of 4,015,266 potential people to vote.

For this last election, the State Board reported voter turnout was 36,497 of 369,016 active voters, or 9.890%. That would mean Norfolk spent $138 for stickers to give out yesterday.

But then again, you probably don’t order stickers by the election. The stickers used yesterday were probably leftovers. Like most things, you’ll get a break on the cost if you order more. Using that 4M figure above of the total number of active voters in the city of Norfolk, if each of them came out to vote, that would have cost more than $15,000 for stickers.

No matter the overall cost of those stickers, they are a worn out, tired tradition that could be stopped and no one would suffer. Those stickers are the adult equivalent of a gold star for doing something good. Most importantly, that money could be spent elsewhere on more important things.

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