Auditor says expanded voting hours will cost $2m
Bump sets reimbursement levels for cities and towns
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
THE STATE WILL OWE cities and towns more than $2 million to keep polling places open for additional mandated voting hours during the September 2022 state primary and November 2022 general elections, Auditor Suzanne Bump said Tuesday.
Under the 1983 Uniform Polling Hours Law, cities and towns must keep polling locations open for at least 13 hours on primary and general election days, an increase from the previously-required 10 hours of voting. The law also directs the auditor to certify what offering the extra hours will cost municipalities with the costs to be paid through the secretary of state’s office.
For fiscal year 2023 elections, including the state primaries in September and the general election in November, Bump said the extra hours will result in $2,083,736.08 in added costs for municipalities. She said last year’s redistricting and reprecincting efforts resulted in an increase of $206,634.60, or about 11 percent from her office’s preliminary certification, with 89 communities across Massachusetts expected to incur higher costs as a result of the changes. Boston is expected to have the highest cost of complying with the law at $245,835, while West Stockbridge reported the lowest expected costs, at $229.50.
“Early voting has been a success in the Commonwealth, but the lack of a consistent and predictable method for funding this service has created uncertainty in local government budgets,” Bump said. “The state should create a permanent process to allocate funds to cities and towns to provide early voting and vote-by-mail, and it should be modeled after the success of the Uniform Polling Hours Law.”