Republicans in the Massachusetts Senate want to reimburse cities and towns for the state-mandated costs of last year’s early voting program. Early voting in the 2016 election in Massachusetts cost the state’s municipalities an estimated $720,000 in expenses mandated by the state. Republican State Senator Don Humason of Westfield said legislation that is to be filed this week by the Senate’s minority party will allow cities and towns to seek some financial assurance following the introduction of early voting. “Now that the program has been implemented and was successful and we’ve had time to look back on it, I think it is a good idea our caucus files this bill,” he said Tuesday.
Humason said he expects there will be bipartisan support for the bill that would provide the state with the legal mechanism to reimburse cities and towns for early voting costs. “There will need to be an appropriation,” said Humason.
The 2016 election was the first time in Massachusetts that voters could cast ballots in-person before Election Day. More than one million people, roughly a quarter of the state’s registered voters, cast their ballots during the 11-day early voting period. Early voting was part of an election reform law enacted in 2014.
“I think there was an assumption there would be more costs, but I don’t remember there being as part of the debate then someone saying ‘Hey let’s pay for the cost’,” said Humason.