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II. Election News This Week
- Over the holiday weekend, Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee (I) signed a bill into law making the Ocean State the latest to require a voter to show a photo ID in order to cast a ballot. However, unlike other governor’s—some who signed their forms of voter ID legislation in elaborate ceremonies with rock music—Chafee signed the bill and did not comment on his decision to sign it until four days later when his office released a statement. "Having reflected a great deal on the issue, I believe that requiring identification at the polling place is a reasonable request to ensure the accuracy and integrity of our elections," Chafee said in the statement. According to The Providence Journal, under the legislation, poll workers will ask voters to show a photo ID beginning in 2012. If they do not have a photo ID, voters can use a variety of non-photo identification including a Medicare card or Social Security card. Beginning in 2014, voters will be required to show photo ID, including a Rhode Island driver's license, military ID, college ID, or U.S. passport.
- Although this wasn’t the big Facebook announcement that everyone was expecting this week, the Montana commissioner of political practices’ office announced this week that it is not a violation of Montana’s election laws for a candidate to post a photograph of a marked absentee ballot on the social networking site. Former state GOP executive director Jake Eaton and tea party activist Jennifer Olsen had filed separate complaints against state Sen. Kendall Van Dyk after the Billings Democrat posted absentee ballots on his Facebook page showing that he had voted for himself in the 2010 primary and general elections. Eaton and Olsen alleged he broke state law that requires elections be held by secret ballot. Deputy Commissioner Dolores Colburg ruled that absentee voting procedures do not prohibit an elector from disclosing an absentee ballot before turning it in.
- San Francisco has long been on the cutting-edge of election procedures — i.e. instant runoff voting — and now the city is joining a small number of localities that will limit the number of paper voter guides printed for elections. Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi introduced legislation that would allow people to receive voter pamphlets by email only if they request them. The proposed local law is allowed after the governor signed Assembly Bill 1717, which amended the California Elections Code to allow local election officials to implement a program to allow people to opt out of receiving hard copies of the pamphlets. How much this could save the city would depend on the cost of the pamphlets and how many opt out. In the November 2010 election, a voter pamphlet cost 74 cents to print and 19 cents to mail.
- Special Election Update: The special election to replace New York Rep. Anthony Weiner has been set for Tuesday Sept. 13. The Nevada Supreme Court ruled this week that the two major political parties can choose one candidate each to run for the state's open 2nd Congressional District seat, putting an end to Secretary of State Ross Miller's vision of a "ballot royale."
- Personnel News: Earl Lennard announced this week that he would not seek another term as the Hillsborough County, Fla. supervisor of elections. Lennard was appointed to the seat in 2009 after the death of then-supervisor Phyllis Busansky. Cary Bond has been elected to serve as the chair of the Rockdale County, Ga. Board of elections. Beginning Aug. 1, Maeve Kennedy Grimes will be the new clerk in Clatsop County, Ore. Kennedy Grimes replaces Kathie Garber who left to be the assistant elections supervisor in Clark County, Wash. Ralph Reagan has been appointed to the Cumberland County, N.C. board of elections. Lake County, Ohio’s elections board director Janet Clair was recently named the Republican Party’s Ohio elections official of the year. Following the ouster of Registrar Sharon Persinger, the only two full-time employees in the Stafford County, Va. registrar's office — Anna Ott and Jennifer Janis — resigned. Passaic County, N.J. Superintendent of Elections Laura Freytes abruptly resigned at the end of June.