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Press Release State Owes Cities and Towns $727k for Mandated Early Voting Expenses Related to 2020 Presidential Primary

Bump reiterates call for permanent process to fund mandated early voting costs
For immediate release:
5/27/2020
  • Office of the State Auditor
  • Division of Local Mandates

Media Contact for State Owes Cities and Towns $727k for Mandated Early Voting Expenses Related to 2020 Presidential Primary

Noah Futterman

An image of a polling booth with voters in it.

BostonIn a letter to lawmakers, State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump today called on the state to reimburse communities $727,169.37 to cover the costs of mandated early voting expenses related to the 2020 presidential primary election. This was the first time that Massachusetts offered early voting in the presidential primary. Bump’s Division of Local Mandates (DLM) surveyed city and town clerks to provide an accounting of mandated costs related to that service. In addition to asking the legislature to reimburse municipalities for these expenses, she urged the body to create a permanent process to fund this 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,” Bump wrote.

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, since 2016, cities and towns have been reimbursed over $2 million to cover these mandated expenses. Thus far, the legislature has not allocated funds to cover mandated municipal costs associated with early voting in the 2020 presidential primary election.

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.

Bump's letter with certification amounts for cities and towns is available here.

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Media Contact for State Owes Cities and Towns $727k for Mandated Early Voting Expenses Related to 2020 Presidential Primary

Office of the State Auditor 

The Office of State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump (OSA) conducts audits, investigations, and studies to promote accountability and transparency, improve performance, and make government work better.

Division of Local Mandates 

DLM responds to requests from local government leaders to determine if a state law is an unfunded mandate on municipalities. In addition, we serve as a source of information on issues harming municipal budgets, and provide recommendations to address those issues.
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