Voters in Cuyahoga Heights participated Tuesday in the rarest of election events, the August special election. An effort usually to raise a tax or school levy when turnout tends to be at a trickle.
"They have very low voter turnout sometimes as few as five percent of the voters turnout in these elections so a minority is speaking for the majority and that's not the way democracy's supposed to work." said Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted.
"We've had 108 elections in Ohio that have been decided by one vote or tied and it's these kinds of elections where that happens for the most part."
Communities must weigh the cost of a special election. In the case of Cuyahoga Heights—which only had one polling location to open—that was around $5,700 according to the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections, or $12.41 per registered voter. Larger races for congress fall on the state to carry out and that can get pricey as the state is learning in the case of the effort to replace Rep. John Boehner.
When the Democrat in the race dropped out of the race last week Husted said state law requires that they hold a special election to field a new candidate at a cost of $500,000 even though there is only only person who has stepped forward.
"That's absurd we are asking the general assembly to change the law that says if there's only one candidate running you don't need to hold an election that that candidate will appear on the November ballot for the voters to decide at that point," Husted said.
The price tag was steeper in 2008 when state law required a special election to fill the seat of the late Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones who died suddenly in August of that year. There wasn't enough time to place it on the general election ballot so a district wide special election was ordered even though the Democrat Marcia Fudge faced minimal opposition.
The price tag in that race was just over $1.2 million which came out to around $156 for each of the 8,000+ votes cast.