With the presidential race in full swing, lots of people are talking about voting. But in just two weeks there's an election in Mecklenburg County that almost no one knows about.
Only 1 percent turnout is expected, but it will it cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars. The Democratic runoff for state labor commissioner is the only race listed on a huge sample ballot.
By law Mecklenburg County has to set up for the one race for labor commissioner just as it would for any other election where there might be dozens of races. On June 24, election officials will have to open every polling place in the county, and to pay for it the Board of Elections has asked Mecklenburg County for $450,000.
Kristin Mavromatis of the Mecklenburg County Board of Elections said the board had no choice.
“For us it's all the same. We'll still need all the poll workers. We will still need the rents on the locations. We will still need to ship all of the equipment,” she said.
The runoff was requested, completely legally, by candidate John Brooks who came in second to Mary Fant Donnan in May's primary.
But County Commission Chair Jennifer Roberts said paying for it, in a tight budget year, will take money from needed programs.
“Some of our initiatives to help the District Attorney's office and help reduce crime in the city, there are so many other things that that $400,000 could be used for,” she said.
The statistics make Roberts’ frustration even worse. Early voting, which opened Thursday, is using five poll worker and has only pulled in 10 voters.
This runoff will take place in all 100 North Carolina counties. Gaston, Union and Cabarrus counties each expect to spend about $80,000. The statewide total could reach $5 million.
Eyewitness News reporter Jim Bradley talked with both candidates on Friday. Both said they understand frustration over the cost, but they said it's an important election, and "that's the cost of democracy."