State auditor asking towns to add up costs of early voting

People line up to turn in their completed ballots, in the Squantum Elementary School gym, in the evening.
People line up to turn in their completed ballots, in the Squantum Elementary School gym, in the evening. –Pat Greenhouse / The Boston Globe

BOSTON (AP) — State Auditor Suzanne Bump is asking city and town clerks to add up the costs associated with early voting in the midterm elections — and whether any of those costs could be considered an unfunded mandate.

Bump acknowledges early voting has provided flexibility to Massachusetts voters, but says the convenience came at a price to local governments — in part because the 2014 law requires communities to establish and staff early voting locations.

A survey of costs related to the 2016 early voting period led the Legislature to reimburse communities about $1 million for their early voting expenses.

More than 584,000 voters cast their ballots during the early voting period this year.

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Bump’s office is asking local city and town officials to respond to the survey by Tuesday.