Boston – State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump and Secretary of the Commonwealth William F. Galvin today announced that Massachusetts communities would be reimbursed $1,144,156.22 for unfunded, mandated costs to provide early voting in the 2018 general election. The funding for the reimbursements will come from money allocated to the Secretary’s Office by the Legislature in a supplemental budget passed late last year. Bump’s office, at the request of Secretary Galvin, surveyed cities and towns on their mandated spending to meet the requirements of the early voting law.
“We owe it to the voters of the Commonwealth to constantly strive to remove barriers that prevent them from making their voice heard in our democracy. By providing convenience and flexibility, early voting has led to important progress on this front,” said Bump. “I commend Secretary Galvin for working hand-in-hand with my office to ensure that communities knew their costs to provide this important service would be covered.”
”Early voting has proved to be enormously popular among voters in the last two state elections,” Galvin said. “As we look to expand early voting to increase voter access and convenience in the future, we need to make sure we are providing local election officials with the resources they need in order to hold successful elections. I thank Auditor Bump for her assistance in surveying our city and town clerks and elections commissions so that we can distribute the funds they are owed.”
The early voting law, which passed in 2014, requires that municipalities allow any qualified voter to cast their ballot during a twelve-day early voting period. The Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth’s Office reports that more than 584,000 voters cast their ballots early during the 2018 general election cycle.
Bump’s office determined in 2017 that some part of the early voting law were an unfunded mandate on local governments. The determination cited the 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, communities were reimbursed $1,063,978.14 for spending related to early voting in the 2016 election.
Bump’s letter to Galvin certifying the reimbursable early voting expenditures is available here.
A spreadsheet of the costs to be reimbursed to municipalities is available here.