Local Government and Politics, News

These North Shore towns may get a refund from the state

A voter walks out of Shoemaker School on Tuesday. (Spenser R. Hasak)

BOSTON — Cities and towns on the North Shore may get a piece of the $1.1 million spent on early voting in 2016, according to the State Auditor.

Suzanne M. Bump has asked the Legislature to reimburse cities and towns for the cost of implementing early voting. If approved, nine communities in The Item‘s coverage area could get nearly $75,000 combined.

The 2016 general election was the first time Massachusetts held early voting under a law passed in 2014. The measure requires municipalities to allow voters to cast a ballot in state elections during a 12-day period before the election. The Massachusetts Secretary of State reported more than 1 million voters cast their ballots during that period in 2016, representing more than 22 percent of registered voters.

Here’s the breakdown on how much each city and town will receive: Lynn, $16,668; Lynnfield, $1,819; Medford, $25,900;  Malden, $7,317;  Marblehead, $1,454; Nahant, $730;  Peabody, $4,531, Revere, $14,410, and Swampscott, $2,026.

Janet Rowe, Lynn’s City Clerk, said getting reimbursed nearly $17,000 will be helpful.

“It costs the city $88,600 to run an election and when you add $16,668 that brings it to over $100,000,” she said. “Any amount we can get reimbursed would be helpful in these times when budgets are tight.”

In her letter to lawmakers, Bump called on the Legislature to provide funding for these costs in a supplemental budget. She also encouraged the Legislature to develop a process for funding these costs in future elections.

“Early voting is an important addition to our democratic processes and funding the expenses incurred by our municipalities will make it that much stronger,” Bump said in her letter.

To compile and certify these costs, Bump surveyed the 351 city and town clerks seeking information about how much they spent on early voting.

Pam Wilmot, executive director of Common Cause Massachusetts, said early voting is a major improvement to elections and long overdue.

“It’s important that it be funded and we are examining some ways with city clerks to make it more cost effective,” she said.

Still, it’s unclear what the Legislature will do.

A spokesman for House Speaker Robert DeLeo (D-Winthrop) did not return a call seeking comment.

While debating the 2017 budget last fall, the House approved about $485,000 to cover the costs from early voting. The Senate rejected the amendment.

State House News contributed to this report.




More Stories From Lynn