City Council runoffs cost big bucks for low turnout

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Two Memphis City Council runoff elections were set to be decided Thursday night, but there’s a large bill to pay for a small voter turnout.

The seats for Districts 1 and 7 will be decided, but it’s not going to be cheap. Experts say voter turnout is typically low for a runoff election, and this year is no different.

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Nobody is quite sure why runoff elections generate poor voter turnout. Maybe it’s the time of year, or the small portion of the city that’s affected.

"Turnout for runoffs has always been considerably lower than the general election, which wasn’t exactly robust," election administrator Linda Phillips said. "Typically in the last decade or so, they’ve turned out about 5%.”

The Shelby County Election Commission said they’re expecting around 5,000 voters for this year’s runoff, but they’re bound to perform the runoff with very specific requirements and standards by law.

"We still have to have the same number of poll workers, so it’s going to be pretty expensive," Phillips said.

She estimated the cost at $300,000-$350,000. That translates to about $60 to $70 per vote in the runoff, a considerable expense to settle two chairs in city council.

Residents can expect the early voting numbers a little after 7 Thursday night.

"As soon as we’ve confirmed that the last voter has finished voting in the 33 locations, we’ll push the early and absentee results out,” Phillips said.

The runoff election features two incumbents Sherman Greer vs. Rhonda Logan in District 1 and Berlin Boyd vs. Michalyn Easter-Thomas in District 7.

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