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Thursday, February 13, 2014

Democrat and Republican parties owe Delaware over $288,000 for 2012 alone

Every two years the citizens of Delaware take part in taxpayer-funded elections, choosing between the ballot-qualified candidates of two "major" and three "alternate" or "minor" parties.

In many cases there clashes within the Democratic and Republican parties--primaries--to determine who will be the candidate in the General Election.  These are purely partisan contests that benefit only the parties themselves, and yet taxpayers--including non-affiliated and alternate party voters who comprise about 35% of the electorate--pay for them.

Moreover, these primary elections are expensive.  A recent Pew study concluded in March 2013 that, across the nation, Democratic and Republican primaries cost American taxpayers over $400 million.  The "per voter" cost of such elections varies wildly, from $1,57/voter in Tennessee and Texas to over $11/voter in New York.  A reasonable average cost (since I cannot find specifics on Delaware costs) would be about $3.93/voter.

Given that statistic, we can determine that at least 73,400 people voted in the Delaware 2012 primaries for Statewide and local offices (probably the number was at least 25% higher, but I can't break it down in individual races without spending about six hours in calculations).

At $3.93/voter, that means our primaries costs the Delaware Department of Elections over $288,000 in 2012.

This is not inconsequential, as the entire budget for the Department of Elections is just a hair over $4 million annually, meaning that our partisan primaries account for about 7% of that budget.

You have to ask yourself:  we can't, apparently, afford door locks for schools, or infrastructure spending, or to clean up our polluted waterways . . . but we can afford--year in and year out--to subsidize partisan primaries for Democrats and Republicans!?

Ironically, we already have a mechanism in place that could easily pay for said primaries.

The Democratic and Republican parties are allowed to set filing fees (up to 1% of the total compensation for the office under consideration) for all candidates.  Of course, while the Delaware Department of Elections collects these fees, it sees none of the money--the checks are even required by statute to be made out to the parties themselves.

How much are these fees?  How about $10,440 for US Senator, $4,124 for Insurance Commissioner, $1,744 for State Senator, $872 for State Representative.

By my (very rough) count, the filing fees paid by the 100 candidates who ran in primaries in 2012 would have covered the cost of the primaries about twice over . . . had the money stayed in the Department of Elections.

So it's real simple:  let's just change Title 15 Section 3103 of the Delaware Code to mandate that checks for filing fees shall be made out to the Delaware Department of Elections, and that the Department of Elections will remit the balance to each party organization after deducting the actual costs of conducting the primary elections.

Simple?  Saves the State an easy quarter million without raising anybody's taxes.  Requires about two lines to be changed in the Delaware Code.

Except, uh, there are only Democrats and Republicans in the Delaware General Assembly, and if you expect any of them to even talk about this, much less introduce and enact legislation (which would have to be gotten past a gubernatorial veto) you're delusional.

Unless, of course, there happened to be a Libertarian sitting in the General Assembly to at least bring up uncomfortable questions like this.  Hint, hint.

Look to the far right and contribute today.

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