“Automatic Voter Registration” Bill Triggers Debate, Costs

MACo submitted written testimony addressing the county costs arising from HB 1007, Freedom to Vote Act, to the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee on March 31, 2016.

The bill would create a nearly universal “opt out” voter registration process.

As written, the legislation places a very substantial administrative and cost burden onto local Boards of Elections, whose functions are supported by county funding. Without state resources to offset these potentially large costs, the bills represent a major unfunded mandate onto local governments.

From the MACo testimony,

If broadened voter registration is a top State priority, the State should provide the needed funding and resources for local election boards and staff. This includes two efforts: (1) exempting the resulting equipment and related costs from the current state policy of invoicing counties for half the related costs; and (2) providing suitable resources to offset the resulting staff and operations costs at local Boards of Elections and their administration.

This bill passed the House (93-43) on March 21, 2016.

For more on 2016 MACo legislation, visit the Legislative Database.