Counties Resist Costly Polling Place Mandate

MACo Legislative Director Kevin Kinnally today testified in opposition to HB 745 Election Law – Early Voting Centers  Number Required before the House Ways and Means Committee.

This bill would significantly increase the required number of early voting centers for each statewide election. HB 745 would expand the required number of early voting centers by decreasing the threshold of registered voters that trigger a specific, higher number of minimum locations. MACo does not raise policy objections with this goal – county concerns are merely practical and cost-driven.

From the MACo Testimony:

This bill places a 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 bill represents an unfunded mandate on local governments.

Early voting centers entail substantial costs for equipment purchases/leases, equipment storage and transportation, staff compensation and training, and other overhead. These costs are nearly fully borne by the county governments.

As a rule, MACo resists policies that trigger costly or burdensome local implementation. If establishing additional early voting sites is a top priority for state policymakers, legislation should provide the needed funding for additional equipment and related expenses, and resources to offset the resulting staff and operations costs at local boards of elections and their administration.

Under current law, counties have no choice but to fund these costs – competing for limited local funds against public health, schools, public safety, roadway maintenance, and other essential public services. This bill would place a costly mandate on county governments to carry out new state policy.

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