So, right now there's a front-page story about how Mitt Romney is trying to get Utah to move up their primary date in order to help his chances of winning the GOP nomination.
The problem, of course, is that doing so would cost the state of Utah several million dollars since it would require 2 separate primaries (one for POTUS, one for everything else).
Kossack blue aardvark noted that this dilemma could be resolved if Mitt were to simply pay for the separate primary out of his own pocket, which he can certainly afford to do if it's really that important to him.
This got me to thinking...why stop there?
The Supreme Court has made it clear, between last years' Citizens United ruling and last weeks' Arizona Public Financing ruling, that flat-out buying an election is now 100% legal and sanctioned, so why not just cut the crap and let the candidates literally buy the elections?
According to this somewhat outdated study (it's from 2006; this is the most recent I could find with a cursory search), state and local governments spent around $10 per voter--or roughly $1 billion--for the 2000 general election, including voter registration, voting/election equipment, and administrative costs.
Assuming this was spread out roughly evenly state to state based on voting population, that means the 2000 election cost my state of Michigan (around 6.5 million registered voters) something like $65 million. For 2012, I'll assume this will be closer to $70-$75 million. For California it'd be something like $180 million.
That's not chump change. With state governments trying to slash their budgets any way they can, and given that even the pretense of modern U.S. political campaigns being in any way controlled by the public, why not just say "fuck it" and take the next logical step?
To be clear: I'm not talking about the cost of running the campaigns (advertising, etc); I'm talking about the cost to the state/local governments of running the actual elections--you know: paying campaign workers, printing the ballots, purchasing/distributing the voting machines, mailing out absentee ballots, etc.
I'm quite serious (sort of)--let Obama and (Romney/Bachmann/Whoever) pay for all 50 states' costs for the 2012 general elections out of their own (or at least their campaigns') pockets. Screw it.