Basically, Massachusetts is not supposed to require municipalities to do stuff without providing the money for it.
"Under state law, the Legislature and state agencies are not allowed to pass unfunded mandates on to cities and towns. If state officials do pass an unfunded mandate, municipalities can ask the auditor's office to make an official determination. They can then petition to the court to seek an exemption from the law until state funding is provided."
Oh, New England. You're so cute. No wonder it is so hard to make changes around here. In any event:
"She determined that they paid approximately $720,000 in mandated costs and another $1.2 million in other costs -- for optional polling hours, newspaper advertising, police personnel for early voting, etc. Bump did not consider the $1.2 million for purposes of requiring state reimbursement.
Bump wrote in her determination that the $400,000 appropriated by lawmakers for early voting was insufficient and was not used to cover the mandated expenses. "The primary issue in this case is the burden that early voting placed on municipal clerk's offices and the lack of state funding for early voting," Bump wrote."
The next step is to figure out how to fix this. Again, to be clear, it is my fervent hope that whatever is decided, early voting continues, because it was a great experience, very convenient, increased turnout, etc. I'm happy to pay for the additional cost, however they choose to extract it from me (there are a variety of options, what with Massachusetts having income, property and sales taxes!) and the rest of the tax base.
ETA: Baker administration says they'll figure out a way to make this work for 2018. There is no interest in rolling back early voting. Few towns complained about the cost, altho there was some complaining about it being a PITA. (Not their choice of words.)
ETA Still more:
More detailed coverage, everyone seems to both want this going forward, want money from the state to help with the cost, and also there is the thought that what the law mandated was maybe a bit too bare bones and more really needs to be done.