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II. Election News This Week
- The Indiana Recount Commission heard testimony this week on whether or not Charlie White committed voter fraud. For nearly seven hours, the Recount Commission took testimony concerning where White lived and voted in 2009 and 2010 to determine whether the Republican was eligible to be elected secretary of state. Democrats argued that White lived in a condo in one town while White’s attorney and his ex-wife argued that White was living and therefore voting, in another town. If the three-member Recount Commission rules White acted improperly by voting in the wrong precinct in the May 2010 election, White would be considered ineligible to have run for secretary of state in November and the office will go to the second-place finisher, Democrat Vop Osili. A ruling by the commission is expected June 30. Separately, White has been charged with six felonies, including three counts of voter fraud, in Hamilton County. His criminal trial is scheduled for later this year.
- The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit heard arguments this week surrounding Arizona's 2004 voter-approved requirement that residents show proof of citizenship when they register to vote. A three-judge panel of the Appeals Court ruled in October that the National Voter Registration Act pre-empts Arizona's Proposition 200. Arizona appealed the ruling, and the court agreed to rehear the case "en banc" before an 11-judge panel of the court. Arizona’s Attorney General Tom Horne said it wasn’t unreasonable for the state to seek more documentation, saying the proof could also be mailed in an envelope. He added that some non-citizens have been tricked into signing postcards by voter registration organizations that have sent people door to door. The U.S. Justice Department has filed a friend-of-the-court brief urging the 9th Circuit to overturn the state law, which the brief said is invalid because it conflicts with the National Voter Registration Act. The act, which requires states to “accept and use” the federal form, was intended to simplify and standardize voter registration procedures nationwide, the federal government’s lawyers said. According to The Associated Press, lawyers on both sides said after Tuesday’s hearing that they expected another split decision from the larger panel, and whichever side loses would likely take the matter to the U.S. Supreme Court.
- In a bizarre case in Butler County, Ohio, the county board of election’s new executive director has been placed on indefinite paid administrative leave after a break-in at the board’s office. In addition to Executive Director Tippi Slaughter, an elections warehouse worker was also placed on paid leave. Board Chairman Tom Ellis told the Cincinnati Enquirer that more information will be released after the sheriff's office completes an investigation into the break-in. "Allegations came to the board's attention and we thought the best thing to do is put these two individuals on leave until we have a full report," Ellis told the paper. On Monday, sheriff’s officials announced an arrest in the break-in—James Charles Schmidt, Jr., Slaughter’s ex-boyfriend. According to the Enquirer, the burglary occurred the same day Slaughter filed for and received a protection order from domestic relations court on a claim that former live-in boyfriend Schmidt, 45, allegedly had threatened her and her family and said he would get her fired from her job. In another strange twist to the story, a local television station learned over the weekend that Slaughter had been indicted by a grand jury for two counts of theft in office charges. According to Democratic Chairwoman Jocelyn Bucaro, Slaughter admitted making $1,700 worth of “unauthorized withdrawals” from the party’s account over an unspecified period of time. Slaughter has resigned from her position with the party.
- How do you get substitute election judges to the polls quickly enough so things can run smoothly on election day? Provide them with a free taxi ride of course. And that’s just what the city of Baltimore is going to do. This week the city authorized spending up to $30,000 to have taxis on stand-by to ferry substitute election judges from city hall to their assigned polling location. The city hires 2,000 judges for each election and on average about 100 don’t show up each time.
- Personnel News: After nearly half a century in the registrar’s office, first in Allen Parish and now in Beauregard Parrish, Evelina Smith is hanging up hat. Smith has seen a lot of changes during her time as registrar including the abolishment of a civics test required to register to vote, lowering the voting age to 18, and of course a variety of voting technologies.
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