The total cost the state expects to pay for special elections including the vote to replace the late U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young has increased from $500,000 to $2.1 million, according to state budget staff.
When a special election is needed, local election officials pick up the initial cost. After a verification process, the state is required to reimburse local supervisors of elections for the cost needed to conduct those elections.
When the Department of State made its initial budget request in January, it thought $500,000 would be enough to cover the tab. It’s the same number requested in Gov. Rick Scott’s proposed budget.
The House’s proposed budget has requested $2.1 million in already needed reimbursements, while the Senate wants $2.6 million for any potential future special elections.
“Since the governor’s recommendations came out, the state has received estimates from three localities as to what their cost is going to be,” said Skip Martin, staff director for the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development.
The Senate’s request above $2.1 million is so the state would have a “buffer” for other not yet planned special elections, Martin said.
If no more are called, there will be three special elections during 2014.
The highest-profile race was to replace Young, the Pinellas County Republican. That race saw Republican David Jolly narrowly defeat Democrat Alex Sink earlier this month. Another involves former state Rep. Eric Eisnaugle, an Orlando Republican expected to return to Tallahassee. He won the March 11 primary, and is expected to win the April 8 general election.
A third special election involves the race to replace former U.S. Rep. Trey Radel, a Fort Myers Republican, who resigned in January after pleading guilty to cocaine charges.
Seven candidates have qualified to run for the seat, which includes portions of Lee and Collier Counties. The primary is set for April 22, with the general election scheduled for June 24.
In January, local election officials estimated that the special election could collectively cost them up to $1.5 million.