MACo Encourages State to Pay For Same-Day Voter Registration

Kevin Kinnally, Associate Director of MACo, offered testimony to the Ways and Means Committee on February 12th in support with amendments for HB 286 – Election Law – Registration and Voting at Precinct Polling Places.

This bill would authorize an individual to register and vote at their polling place on election day, and as written, would place a substantial administrative and cost burden onto local Boards of Elections.

While MACo does not raise policy objections with this bill’s goal, county concerns are merely practical and cost-driven. HB286 is a major unfunded mandate on county governments.

MACo urges amendments to ensure state resources be provided to support its substantial costs, and alleviate the mandate.

From the MACo testimony:

…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 converting raw citizen data generated by state agencies into updated and voter-approved registration rolls. Local Boards of Elections indicate costs per county ranging up to hundreds of thousands of dollars per election. Furthermore, the process of registering a person to vote, making the required checks, and adding the information to the database will take a substantial amount of time, which could result in long lines at polling places.

MACo suggests that if same-day voter registration merits a top priority for state policymakers, implementing legislation should either direct state agencies to carry out these functions at state expense, or should provide the resources needed by local election boards and staff…

For more on 2019 MACo legislation, visit the Legislative Database.