Auditor Calls on State to Reimburse Municipalities for Early Voting Expenses

COURTESY OF MASS.GOV: State Auditor Suzanne Bump

HYANNIS – In a letter to Massachusetts lawmakers, State Auditor Suzanne Bump called on the state to reimburse communities $727,169 to cover the costs of mandated early voting expenses related to the 2020 presidential primary election.

This year marked the first time that Massachusetts offered early voting in the presidential primary.

The Division of Local Mandates surveyed city and town clerks to provide an accounting of mandated costs related to the early voting service.

In addition to asking the legislature to reimburse municipalities for these expenses, Bump urged the state to create a permanent process to fund the early voting service.

“Early voting has already proven to be a valuable addition to our democratic processes; establishing a formal procedure to fund the expenses incurred by our municipalities will make it that much stronger,” said Bump.

According to the DLM, multiple municipalities on Cape Cod, the Islands, and Southeastern Massachusetts are due reimbursements including $2,296 for Barnstable, $7,605 for Bourne, $1,092 for Brewster, $682 for Chatham, $2,536 for Dennis, $1,918 for Eastham, $524 for Edgartown, $3,506 for Falmouth, $2,569 for Harwich, $240 for Nantucket, $1,136 for Oak Bluffs, $554 Orleans, $6,122 for Plymouth, $2,093 for Sandwich, $3,132 for Wareham, and $3,300 for Yarmouth.

In 2017, Bump’s office determined that parts of the early voting law are unfunded mandates on cities and towns.

The mandate determination cited requirements that municipalities establish an early voting polling location that has sufficient staffing and privacy for voters as the factors driving the conclusion.

As a result, cities and towns have been reimbursed over $2 million to cover these mandated expenses since 2016.

Election-related spending is one of the areas Bump’s office most frequently takes action related to unfunded mandates.

Since 1984, election-related mandate determinations and certifications from Bump’s office have resulted in more than $32 million in state allocations to cover mandated municipal costs.

To read Bump’s letter to state legislators, click here.

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