A special election is being held in Black Hawk County Tuesday. Cedar Falls residents are choosing who will represent the 4th ward on the city council. The run-off is being held between the top two vote getters from November, Mare Schmidt and Jim Miller. No candidate received the required 50 percent or greater majority in November election. But even small elections like this one come with a cost.
Cold and snowy days typically keep people inside and homebound, and election day is no exception.
"Weather always has an impact on voting," said Kyle Jensson, Black Hawk County elections manager.
But for a faithful few, it's a priority to get out and vote even if, like Tuesday, there's only one box on the ballot to check.
"I'm concerned about the person who's going to take Kamyar's place. And so I wanted my candidate to win, and that's why I came out to vote," said voter Carolyn Haney.
But from printing the needed paperwork to staffing each precinct with election judges, holding small run-offs don't come cheap. Tuesday's run-off in Cedar Falls will likely run up a $4000 tab, about $1 for every registered voter in the city's 4th ward. But in a run-off the city may be lucky to get more than 10 or 15 percent of those voters to cast ballots, pushing up the price per vote.
"Much like the primary is in the Cedar Rapids area, for example, if they had more candidates than the number to be elected, they'd be forced to go to a primary. We have that same provision where it takes us automatically to the run-off election. So it's a known outcome. It's just not perceived how frequently it could happen," Jensson said.
And in the end, as with any election, even with low voter turn-out--the cost to put one on is just part of the price tag of democracy.
Polls are open in Cedar Falls until 8 p.m. Tuesday.