Metro runoff election to cost an estimated $675,000

Posted at 8:25 PM, Aug 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-23 22:55:10-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Once again, campaign signs crowd Nashville streets as metro voters start to head to the polls for runoff elections.

Friday marked the first day of early voting for the runoff elections, which will decide several races where candidates failed to reach 50 percent of the vote during August's general election, or 10 percent of the vote in the case of the Metro Council at-large seats. Races on the ballot include Nashville Mayor and several of the Metro Council's at-large seats.

The runoff comes about a month after the general election, which election officials said had disappointing turnout. According to Davidson County Elections Administrator Jeff Roberts, 102,446 people voted in the August election, leaving a turnout of about 24 percent.

But Roberts said he expects slightly higher turnout for the runoff election.

"Right now we're expecting 110,000 or 115,000, something like that," Roberts said. "It's kind of like the Super Bowl, they're waiting to see who was in the final show."

That 'final show' is expected to cost $675,000 dollars, according to Roberts.

"You've got printing costs and advertising costs," Roberts said. "Most of that cost is salaries for our poll workers."

But Council Member Dave Rosenberg says the runoff elections are a waste.

"It not only drives down participation, but it makes it difficult for people who have to get off work or have mobility issues," Rosenberg said. "We're spending money that we don't have to do this sort of thing."

Rosenburg won his seat outright in August. Last spring, he pushed for ranked choice elections, where voters would rank candidates instead of just choosing one. The move would eliminate the need for runoffs.

A change to ranked choice would need two-thirds approval from the council to be put on a ballot, then voters would have to approve the change.

"It makes it so you only have to go vote one time, but you end up with somebody the majority of the electorate wants," Rosenberg explained.

The proposal didn't pass, but the council member said he'll push again - even though he's still waiting to see who else will be in the chambers.

"It's a shame we didn't know several weeks ago who won these elections," Rosenberg said.

You can find more information on early voting for the runoff election here.