STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, FEB. 2, 2016…..Saying he is confident that more than 3 million ballots will be cast in the November general election and that political parties will be “very active” in encouraging early voting, Secretary of State William Galvin told a state budget writing committee that Gov. Charlie Baker’s budget proposal falls short of adequate election funding.
“The governor’s appropriation proposal is better than, obviously, it was this time last year,” Galvin told the Joint Committee on Ways and Means on Tuesday morning. “Nevertheless, there are still things that need to be addressed that I can’t speak to at this time with total confidence, but I don’t think the funding is adequate at the present time.
Last year, Galvin said that Baker had “drastically underfunded” the elections budget to the point that the state would not be able to afford to pay for presidential primary elections.
Looking forward to the state primary and general elections to be held next fiscal year, Galvin said he expects his office to spend more money than Baker has proposed to pay for the implementation of early voting across the state, which could carry extra costs.
“We asked the governor when we proposed our proposal for the budget to provide a separate line item for early voting and they provided $400,000,” Galvin said. “I, frankly, don’t think that’s going to be enough. I think there is going to have to be more monies expended.”
An election law reform package passed last year requires each city and town to set up at least one early voting site, available to residents 11 business days before an election. The law leaves it open for communities to decide if they want to open additional sites beyond the one that is required.
“We are encouraging some of the larger communities, not just larger population wise, but larger geographic communities, to consider having multiple locations for early voting,” he said. “If we’re going to do that … we’re going to have to have some method by which we track the people who take the early ballot so that, for instance, they can’t go to one location and vote, and then go to another location.”
And though Galvin said that he does not think people will try to take advantage of early voting to cast more than one ballot, he said, “We have to protect the integrity of the process by having a process (by which) we can be assured of that.”
Galvin said his office is working with municipal clerks to get a better sense of how many early voting locations might be used and expects to release early voting regulations by the end of February.
Copyright 2016 State House News Service