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February 15, 2013

Election to fill Kerry seat to cost state $13.5 million

BOSTON (AP) — The special election called to fill the U.S. Senate seat formerly held by John Kerry will cost Massachusetts at least $13.5 million, according to estimates by top state officials.

The Democratic and Republican primary elections are scheduled for April 30, with the special election to follow June 25.

Secretary of State William Galvin, the state’s top elections official, told a legislative committee yesterday that he plans to ask lawmakers for at least $5.2 million to pay for costs that will be incurred by his office for the special election.

In a letter to Gov. Deval Patrick and legislative leaders, state Auditor Suzanne Bump estimated the costs to cities and towns of holding the Senate elections would be just less than $8.3 million. She recommended that the state give the money to municipalities before the voting so communities wouldn’t have to divert funds from other purposes.

In 2009, following the death of Sen. Edward Kennedy, then state-Auditor Joseph DeNucci ruled that the special election to succeed him was an unfunded local mandate for cities and towns, meaning that the state was required to reimburse cities and towns for a variety of election-related tasks. Those include certifying nomination papers, processing absentee ballots, programming electronic voting machines and counting returns.

Galvin also suggested that some communities could shave costs by rescheduling their own spring municipal elections to coincide with the primary.

“It shouldn’t be a blank check,” Galvin said of the money the state provides to cities and towns for the election.

A spokesman for Galvin said the special election held in January 2010, won by Republican Scott Brown, cost the state about $12 million.

Kerry resigned from the Senate this month to become U.S. secretary of state.

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