Here’s the breakdown of the more than $340,800 of taxpayer money that will be reimbursed to the local boards of elections within the 8th Congressional District:
- Butler County: $147,016.45
- Clark County: $65,978.13
- Darke County: $32,419.67
- Mercer County: $9,442.18
- Miami County: $50,667.55
- Preble County: $29,695.67
Source: Local boards of elections
Ohio taxpayers in the six-county area that makes up Ohio’s 8th Congressional District are still paying for the elections to replace former House Speaker John Boehner.
The state is set to approve Monday a collective reimbursement of more than $340,800 to boards of election in Butler, Clark, Darke, Mercer, Miami and Preble counties for a one-candidate primary in September.
After Boehner’s resignation from Congress in 2015, two special elections were held to fill his unexpired congressional term. The 15-candidate special primary election was held at the same time as the March 15 general primary to save taxpayer money.
A June 7 special election, which saw less than 6 percent voter turnout as Warren Davidson was elected, cost more than $500,000.
Then on Sept. 13, a special Democratic primary was held. Current state law required that primary because Democrat Corey Foister dropped out ahead of an Aug. 10 deadline to withdraw. That primary was estimated at an additional $500,000.
Only one candidate, Steven Fought, who moved to Clark County, filed petitions and was certified to fill Foister’s vacancy. Elections officials attempted to see if an election was even necessary in a one-candidate primary, but state law indicated he had to be elected. State law also says the congressional race must be paid for by the state.
“The legal team looked at it up and down, backwards and forwards,” said Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted. “There’s no way around it.”
Only 1,646 people cast a vote in the special primary election, which was less than 6 percent of the total votes cast in the June 7 special election.
Butler County will receive a reimbursement check for roughly $147,000. Butler County elections Deputy Director Jocelyn Bucaro said that $340,800 “could certainly have gone to a much better use.”
She and others are urging the Statehouse to pass one of the two bills being considered to change the law that required the one-person special primary election.
Two Statehouse bills — one in the House and one in the Senate — have been introduced to avoid the unnecessary spending of tax dollars in the future. House Bill 591 has yet to be assigned to a committee, however, Senate Bill 347 has been assigned to the Senate’s State and Local Government Committee but hasn’t had a hearing.
Both chambers of the Statehouse won’t resume sessions until after the November election.
Clark County Board of Elections Director Jason Baker said the timing of the special Democratic primary was “very unfortunate.” Because it was just weeks from November’s election, workers had to log longer hours to catch-up on items necessary for the upcoming election.
“We had to work some long hours that we couldn’t charge to the Secretary of State,” he said.