BOSTON, MA — State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump notified cities and towns across the Commonwealth that they will get more than $2.76 million to cover the cost of extra mandated polling hours for the 2016 March Presidential primary, and the 2016 September state primary and the November final elections.
The Auditor’s Division of Local Mandates determined in 1983 that a state law requiring municipalities to keep voting places open three extra hours was an unfunded mandate and that the state must pay for the increase in election-day staffing costs.
“The administration of and participation in elections is the very core of our democracy, and increasing accessibility to polls is crucial to the success of the process,” said Auditor Bump. “However, it is important that we not overlook the impact this type of decision can have on municipal budgets. Placing the financial responsibility on the state is a great compromise to protect cities and towns while also ensuring that people have access to polling locations.”
This year’s five largest reimbursements in the region will be received by: Lynn ($62,187); Lawrence ($41,307); Haverhill ($27,681); Peabody ($27,234) and Saugus ($15,480).
On average, increases in the total amount of money certified by DLM for Uniform Polling Hours costs statewide are on pace with the cost of inflation – roughly two to three percent. Several factors impact the level of funding certified by DLM every two years. These include: salaries for polling location staff and security; changes in the number of election precincts; and fluctuations in population within the municipality.
Every two years, DLM certifies the amount the state must pay cities and towns to implement this state mandated service by requiring communities to document additional election-day costs. To collect the cost data, DLM utilizes an electronic certification form that all 351 municipal election officials were required to submit by the end of July. DLM then audited and certified each form and Auditor Bump forwarded a report detailing the costs to the Secretary of State on September 15, 2015. The Secretary of State distributes the money to each community prior to the scheduled elections.
Since 1984, DLM has certified over $25 million for direct state payments to cities and towns to cover this mandate.
Read the complete list of funding for cities and towns here.
About the Division of Local Mandates: DLM is responsible for determining the local financial impact of proposed or existing state mandates. DLM responds to written request for opinions and cost impact analyses from cities, towns, regional school districts, and educational collaboratives, as well as the General Court and state agencies. Responses take the form of opinion letters and cost determinations. DLM also provides informal telephone consultation when appropriate.