By Bob Katzen
State Auditor Suzanne Bump urged the state to reimburse communities $727,169.37 to cover the costs of mandated early voting expenses in the 2020 presidential primary election. She also urged the Legislature to create a permanent process to fund this service automatically following each election.
“Early voting has already proven to be a valuable addition to our democratic processes,” wrote Bump in a letter to the Legislature. “Establishing a formal procedure to fund the expenses incurred by our municipalities will make it that much stronger.”
Bump determined in 2017 that parts of the law requiring early voting are unfunded mandates for which cities and towns have to pay. Among other things, this mandate requires that communities establish an early voting polling location that has sufficient staff. Cities and towns have been reimbursed over $2 million since 2016 and more than $32 million since 1984 to cover these mandated expenses but the Legislature has not yet funded costs of early voting in the 2020 presidential primary election.
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.