Wilmington’s State Senator Bruce Tarr Renews Call for Early Voting Funding

(NOTE: The State Auditor recently certified Wilmington’s costs associated with 2016 early voting at nearly $3,000.)

BOSTON, MA — Recently released certified cost information on the state’s new early voting law by State Auditor Suzanne Bump has confirmed that cities and towns have incurred significant expenses in order to comply with the requirements of that law.

State Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R -Gloucester) has filed legislation in 2017 to facilitate financial reimbursement for what is currently an unfunded state mandate, and is renewing his call for the passage of that legislation.

Cost information from the Auditor details more than $1 million in costs associated with the 2014 early voting law, which allows voters in state and certain other elections with the opportunity to vote up to 12 days prior to an election. 

Tarr’s bill, Senate Bill 2052, An Act to Fairly Fund Early Voting, is backed by approximately 48 lawmakers in both the House and Senate, including Republicans and Democrats.

“Auditor Bump’s earlier report, and the information she released on Monday, January 8, 2018 confirms our claim that cities and towns are unfairly burdened with the cost of this state mandate. Informed by that report, the legislature should now act swiftly to remedy this problem,” Tarr said. “Clearly early voting has been embraced by voters throughout the state, and we should work to ensure that it is sustainable and available in the future. Requiring that the state fairly funds the costs incurred by municipalities for the program is an important part of meeting those goals,” said Tarr.

The bill will also provide communities with the ability to create an Early Voting Reimbursement Fund which could receive direct appropriations from the state.

“When the Senate Republican Caucus initiated this bill, we identified the lack of state support for local costs as a major impediment to the success of early voting. Auditor Bump has now brought new light to bear on the real need for that support” said Tarr.

The Auditor’s office requested that each of the state’s 351 city and town clerks respond to survey seeking information about the costs they incurred in meeting the standards of the newly enacted early voting law. Her Division of Local Services office certified that more than $1 million in expenses was an unfunded mandate by the state therefore should be eligible for state reimbursement. Tarr’s bill will facilitate such reimbursement through a statutory requirement.

The bill is currently pending in the Joint Committee on Election Laws.

(NOTE: The above press release is from State Senator Bruce Tarr’s Office.)

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