San Diego will drop an estimated $4 million to elect its new mayor next week.

A hefty price tag is pretty standard for special elections, it seems. Last year’s three special races cost the city on average about $25.95 per voter. Compare that to the 42 cents per voter it paid in the November 2012 election.

SEE MORE: The Cost of Holding an Election, in 3 Charts

Why are these unexpected elections so expensive to pull off? Our love of convenience is part of the answer. Voters are more likely to use mail-in ballots than to show up at polling places, but the County Registrar of Voters still has to open and staff physical polls on Election Day. That makes up about two-thirds of the cost.

NBC 7’s Catherine Garcia and Voice of San Diego’s Lisa Halverstadt break it down further — with the help of baked goods — in this edition of San Diego Explained.

We Stand Up for You. Will You Stand Up for Us?

    This article relates to: News, Politics, Radio, TV and Video, San Diego City Finances, San Diego Explained, Special Mayoral Election 2014

    Written by Catherine Green

    Catherine Green is deputy editor at Voice of San Diego. She handles daily operations while helping to plan new long-term projects. You can contact her directly at or 619.550.5668. Follow her on Twitter: @c_s_green.

    James Weber
    James Weber subscriber

    Bob Filner is picking up the tab, isn't he?