VACo supports legislation that would assist local governments with absentee voting costs

January 18, 2022

HB 76 (Ware) directs the General Assembly to reimburse each county and city annually for the cost of conducting absentee voting, as established in a reimbursement plan that would be required to be included in the Appropriation Act.  VACo supports this legislation, which has been referred to the House Privileges and Elections Committee.

In recent years, the General Assembly has enacted significant expansions of absentee voting.  In 2020, the state distributed approximately $9.1 million in federal CARES Act funding to assist with additional one-time costs associated with conducting the November 2020 elections during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the state provided an appropriation of $2 million in FY 2021 during 2020 Special Session I to assist with prepaid postage costs for absentee ballots (unspent funding from this appropriation was allowed to be used in subsequent elections via language in the 2021 Appropriation Act).  VACo appreciates this funding, which responded to the extraordinary circumstances of conducting elections during a pandemic; however, these one-time infusions cannot replace ongoing state support for elections administration.  Traditionally, local governments have shouldered the majority of costs for elections administration; in FY 2019, localities reported spending approximately $49 million for election administration, of which the state provided approximately $6 million (in partial reimbursement for general registrar and electoral board member compensation).

VACo encourages members to register support for the ongoing state commitment of funds represented by this legislation.  As another avenue to strengthen the state-local partnership in providing this fundamental function of government, VACo is also working on budget amendments to provide full reimbursement for general registrar and electoral board member compensation.

VACo Contact:  Katie Boyle

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