Ballot drop boxes in (clockwise from top left) Boxford, Dennis, Easton, Mansfield, Orange and Winthrop. (Photos courtesy Andy Dowd/Mass. Town Clerks Association)

State Auditor Suzanne Bump’s Division of Local Mandates on March 3 sent a survey to all 351 cities and towns in the Commonwealth asking them to report their expenses associated with certain 2020 election activities.

The survey was initiated after the fiscal 2021 state budget appropriated $3 million for reimbursements to cities and towns for costs incurred implementing the vote-by-mail and in-person early voting requirements. The Secretary of State’s Office will be assisting in ensuring timely responses by city and town clerks.

Communities are asked to respond to the survey by Wednesday, March 17.

The auditor is asking communities to report expenses related to:
• Postponed spring local elections
• Postponed state special elections
• Mail-in ballots and early voting for the September state primary election
• Mail-in ballots and early voting for the November general election

Bump also asked communities to provide an accounting of funding they received from the federal CARES Act, the Secretary of State’s Office, or other private sector grant funding to cover all or a portion of these expenses. Bump’s office will use this information to ensure that communities are not reimbursed twice for these expenses.

“Thanks to the efforts of election administrators, in 2020, voters had the opportunity to make their voices heard in a way that was safe and convenient, despite the pandemic,” Bump said. “However, these added efforts came with additional costs. Prompt response by city and town clerks will ensure municipalities are quickly reimbursed for these expenses.”

Once Bump’s office has received responses from all municipalities, it will provide a certification of those net expenses to the secretary of state, who will reimburse cities and towns for those costs.

Bump’s office already certified the unfunded, mandated costs of providing early voting for the March 2020 presidential primary election. As a result of this certification, cities and towns were reimbursed $727,170.