Early Voting in Massachusetts Causes 20,000 Headaches for New Bedford
Early voting may be extremely convenient for voters when it's rolled out in Massachusetts for the first time next week, but it's causing a number of headaches for local election commissions. The new statewide initiative begins next week, with virtually no extra funding being funneled to cities and towns to staff polling locations from October 24 through November 4.
New Bedford Election Commissioner Maria Tomasia says the mandate is going to cost at least $20,000 to implement on top of regular election costs. "By the time you pay police, poll workers, you pay all the rental places, you pay DPF workers that work with us, one election alone is $100,000," said Tomasia.
Tomasia says the state-mandated early voting process is going to cost her department $20,000, and the state isn't pitching in to help defray the cost. "And not only that, they also are mandating that we advertise this," explained Tomasia. "By law you have to advertise this twice before the final period for early voting. Even that is going to cost us money, and there's no money for that, either."
However, Tomasia says the State is providing her department with a $2,000 stipend to open up early voting locations on weekends, but is not funding the opening of locations on weekdays.
Tomasia says her department will have to find savings elsewhere during the rest of the fiscal year in order to make up for the expense of early voting.
The Ashley Room in New Bedford City Hall will be the polling location from October 24 through November 4 during normal business hours. For public convenience, City Hall will also be open on three evenings as well as on one Saturday and one Sunday. In addition, early voting will be offered at the Wilks Branch Library (1911 Acushnet Ave.) on October 27th from 1-7PM and at the Howland Green Library (3 Rodney French Blvd.) on November 3rd from 1-7PM. For New Bedford’s complete early voting schedule, visit http://www.newbedford-ma.gov/election-commission/.
The deadline to register or make any changes ahead of the November 8 election is Wednesday, October 19, with most city and town halls remaining open to residents until 8pm.