BOSTON (SHNS) – Gov. Maura Healey proposed more than $18.6 million in funding for the secretary of state’s elections division in her fiscal year 2024 budget, but Secretary of State William Galvin told legislative budget writers Tuesday that it contains a “glaring omission” to the tune of millions of dollars that he said will be necessary to fund elections over the next year.
Galvin told the Joint Ways and Means Committee that he had requested a budget of $26 million for the division and that the shortfall represents “one very large problem with the administration’s proposal.”
But the longtime overseer of elections said he believes that the matter is “a good faith mistake” on the part of the brand new administration.
“Specifically, they noted in their notes that these were savings occasioned by the fact that this was an off-year election cycle. That simply isn’t true,” Galvin said. “First of all, the upcoming fiscal year includes the March 5, 2024 presidential primary, which is a statewide election which has very fixed and identifiable costs. Among them will be early voting.”
In 2020, before the state had permanently expanded vote-by-mail and early voting options, early voting costs for the presidential primary totaled about $1 million, Galvin said. “Obviously, that’s not covered in this proposal,” he said.
The fiscal year 2024 elections calendar will also include the September-November municipal election cycle and spring 2024 elections, all of which the secretary said have “actual demonstrable costs that we can show.” Healey’s office did not immediately respond to a question about its funding level for Galvin’s Elections Division.
Galvin said that the difference between what he thinks his office will need and what Healey proposed is “a real problem.” “It’s a problem not just operationally for me and for the communities conducting elections, but it is, I think, for those debts that the communities will ultimately have from the expenditures that they themselves make,” Galvin told lawmakers. “That is the single most important thing that needs redress from your consideration of the budget. There are other minor matters, but in general, we will find a way to live with them.”