Reporting Early Voting by Precinct Costly, Risks Voter Privacy

MACo Policy Associate, Kevin Kinnally, recently testified in opposition to legislation (SB 960) that would mandate election results provided by local boards of elections, acting in their capacity as boards of canvassers, and the State Board of Elections must include results by precinct for early and absentee voting. Currently, local boards of elections tabulate Election Day results by precinct but votes cast during early voting or by absentee ballot are not separated out by precinct when tabulated. Counties are concerned this legislation places a substantial administrative and cost burden onto local Boards of Elections, whose operatoins are supported by county funding. Without state resources to offset these potentially large costs, the bill represents an unfunded mandate on local governments.

MACo’s testimony states,

Because early voting polling places are open to voters of several precincts, and absentee ballots are mailed in, by-precinct sorting and tabulation would result in an increased need for election staff time and resources.

As a rule, MACo resists state policies that result in costly or burdensome local implementation. This bill would result in substantial costs to local Boards of Elections, which are charged with providing ballots, election judges, and administrative staff at each voting precinct. Local Boards of Elections indicate significant costs associated with generating new types of ballots and hiring additional election judges.

Under state law, counties have no choice but to fund these costs – competing for limited local funds against education, public safety, roadway maintenance, and other essential public services.

Follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2017 legislative session here.