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Counties may get help with ballot expenses

by Jennifer Biller

STAFF WRITER

The state may reimburse Harrison County and other counties throughout the state for the cost of reprinting November election ballots to include candidate Ralph Nader.

The cost for Harrison County to reprint its 40,000 ballots is estimated to be about $25,000, said Harrison County Circuit Clerk Donald Kopp.

The county already allotted $30,000 to pay for the setting up, laying out and printing of the original ballots, he said.

Each county is ultimately responsible for the ballot cost, but the state is hoping it can find funding to assist the counties with the unforeseen expense, according to Deputy Secretary of State Jan Casto.

"If we can find the money, we'll give it to them," she said. "We are in the process of going to the Legislature and the governor's office to try and get some extra money."

The law does not require the state to help pay for the ballot expense, but officials are concerned that counties may not have the funds.

"Many counties work on a tight budget and don't have a lot of excess money," Casto said.

Harrison County will pay for the amended ballots out of the county's contingency fund.

"I don't believe Harrison County taxpayers should be held responsible for this," said Commissioner Beth Taylor .

The updated ballots were ordered Friday after U.S. District Judge Charles Haden ruled that Nader be included.

The ballot printing will take about 10 days, which doesn't allow much time for ballot commissioners to get the ballots signed to meet the Sept. 26 deadline for absentee voting, Kopp said.

In other business at Tuesday's Harrison County Commission meeting, Taylor and commission President Roger Diaz approved a request from Bridgeport to annex two parcels of land.

Commissioner Thomas Keeley was unable to attend Tuesday's meeting.

The land includes about an acre section of U.S. Route 50 between Bridgeport city limits, Route 279 and the Taylor County line, as well as a 52.76-acre section on Route 279 between Route 131 and the Jerry Dove Drive Interchange on I-79, according to Norman Farley, the city's attorney.

The commission moved to table discussion of agencies' requests for surplus monies from the county fund balance until all three commissioners were present.

The county commission meets again at 10 a.m. Thursday.

Staff writer Jennifer Biller can be reached at 626-1449 or jbiller@exponent-telegram.com.

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