BIG COUNTRY, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Did you know having an election could cost even rural cities $10,000 dollars or more? With extremely low voting numbers in rural cities in the Big Country, some city leaders are desperately wanting more residents to vote to make this money worth it.

As cities gear up for election day, Hawley’s mayor, Billy Richardson, reminisces on a city election years ago, when they only had 11 votes. This was a city election for mayor and city council. 

“We have people that complain all the time about the way the city is run, but yet they don’t get out and vote to try to change it,” said Mayor Richardson.

Even though the numbers have been higher in the last few years, Mayor Richardson told KTAB/KRBC it isn’t by much. He said last year’s higher numbers were contributed by the gubernatorial election, but city election votes have remained low.

“We just don’t have many people turn out to vote,” Mayor Richardson explained. 

The city pays thousands of dollars to hold an election to allow residents to make changes in their city. For Hawley’s local elections, Mayor Richardson said it costs them $2,000-$3,000 dollars, but if they do a November election with the county, he said that number can shoot all the way up to $30,000. 

According to Mayor Rodger Brown of Clyde, he said his city deals with the same issue.

“Last year, we had 1,207 people vote. So, 2,500 registered voters, only 1,200 of them actually voted… In 2021, when we didn’t have a presidential or gubernatorial election, 223 people voted,” listed Mayor Brown. “This number just staggers me every time I look at it.” 

That election was cited to have cost the City of Clyde between $12,000 and $14,000.

Taylor County Elections Administrator, Freda Ragan told KTAB/KRBC, in the last May election, there were 7,255 voters in Taylor County, and 5,582 of those were in Abilene. What that means is rural cities outside of Abilene did not contribute very many votes. 

Ragan also agreed with these mayors that there is a drastic difference in voting numbers when it comes to city elections. 

“In a presidential election, you may have 50,000 people vote,” Ragan detailed. “But in a city election, it can run anywhere from 9% to 15% of registered voters. Statistically, more people will vote in gubernatorial or presidential elections compared to city and school.” 

We also spoke with Baird’s City Administrator, Lori Higgins, who said it runs them about $7,500 to have an election, and less than half of their registered voters actually vote. Higgins said that issue has led to many conversations about how this is too expensive for the lack of turnout.