Cities and towns spent more than $1 million to cover the costs of holding mandatory early voting periods in 2016, Auditor Suzanne Bump has found, costs that the Legislature may be on the hook for reimbursing. Bump determined in February that parts of the state’s early voting law imposed an unfunded mandate on municipalities. In a letter she sent Monday to the governor, legislative leaders and state budget writers, Bump pegged the total unfunded mandated early voting cost to municipalities at $1,063,978.14 and asked that the Legislature make municipalities whole in a supplemental budget. “Early voting is an important addition to our democratic processes and funding the expenses incurred by our municipalities will make it that much stronger,” Bump wrote in the letter.
The precise tally of unfunded expenses thrust upon cities and towns was compiled through an electronic survey Bump’s office sent to all 351 municipal clerks to inquire about specific costs they incurred to comply with the early voting law, which required municipalities to offer voting in at least one location during regular business hours during a 12-day period in October 2016.
Bump’s office “found additional expenses, such as overtime for regular employees or the cost of additional election workers to support early voting, to be an unfunded mandate, thus requiring reimbursement from the Commonwealth.”