ATQ: Taxpayer dollars wasted on unused voter ballots - WNEM TV 5

ATQ: Taxpayer dollars wasted on unused voter ballots

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It was a decent turnout at the polls on Tuesday, but it certainly didn't shatter expectations.

Thousands of extra ballots were printed and now destined for the shredder.

"A significant amount of cost and a significant amount of waste," Bay County Clerk Cynthia Luczak said.

That's what a bunch of unused ballots means for the taxpayers of Bay and Genesee County.

On Thursday the counties' clerks held a joint press conference announcing to everyone just how many ballots went to waste.

"We're going to be disposing of anywhere between 18 and 20,000 ballots that are wasted, which are very costly," Luczak said.

More than 70,000 ballots will be shred and put in a landfill somewhere.

Luczak and Genesee County Clerk John Gleason want people to know they produce the ballots for individual communities, but they don't order them. That is up to the local clerk.

Why are local municipalities ordering so many ballots that never get used? TV5 stopped by the Bay City Clerk's Office to ask the tough questions.

"It's really a gamble. You try to cushion that blow, but at the end of the day it's just your best guess of who's going to turnout for this election," Bay City Clerk Tema Lucero said.

Lucero admits the number of ballots she orders is a gamble, but the numbers suggest something different.

Since 2009, each of the non-presidential or gubernatorial elections in Bay City have failed to reach voter turnout of 20 percent.

Despite the figures, an excessive amount of ballots were ordered.

Lucero said about 4,800 unused ballots have a date with the shredder. So why order so many in the first place?

"That's always a catch-22. What are we going to do if we run out of ballots? What are you going to do if you can't offer that voter, because then you're down to calling the state and letting them know you ran out. And getting the approval to use your test ballots and anything else that it takes at that point to get that voter the opportunity to vote," Lucero said.

As for the county clerks, they said wasted ballots have been a problem for years and they believe there's only one surefire way to solve it.

"We need to get voters out," Luczak said.

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