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electionlineWeekly--June 2, 2011

Table of Contents

II. Election News This Week

  • Law and Order, Elections Division: For a second time, an Alabama appeals court reinstated five felony charges against former Secretary of State Nancy Worley; the charges stem from a campaign letter, contribution envelope and bumper sticker that Worley sent to five employees in the secretary of state's office during her unsuccessful race for re-election in 2006. An Orthodox rabbi in the District of Columbia and two of his congregants filed a class-action suit against the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics. The complaint, filed May 27, claims the board placed an unconstitutional burden on observant Jews by scheduling a special election on the last day of Passover this year. The Mississippi Court of Appeals has denied a request to rehear the case of a former candidate for Benton County sheriff and another person convicted in a voter fraud case. A district judge in Montana ordered Secretary of State Linda McCulloch to appear before him to explain why she refused to allow a recall petition against Governor Brian Schweitzer. The Nevada Supreme Court indicated this week that it needs more time to hear arguments in the special election to replace U.S. Rep. Dean Heller which could place the election as late as October or November.
  • Primary changes: Several states are making changes to their primary election dates, some to comply with the federal MOVE Act and others to comply with party wishes. Colorado Gov. John Hicknlooper signed legislation that will move both the state’s primary elections and precinct caucuses to earlier months on even-numbered years. Colorado's primary elections will now happen the last Tuesday in June, as opposed to the second Tuesday in August. Precinct caucuses will happen the first Tuesday in March, instead of the third Tuesday in March. In Delaware, the leaders of both parties are seeking to push the primary back almost three months to April 24. The primary is currently slated for February 7. With little debate, the Louisiana House unanimously approved legislation to move state's presidential primary to the first Saturday following the first Tuesday in March. The primary now is held on the second or third Saturday in February, depending on the Carnival parade calendar. Oklahoma legislators recently voted to move the state’s primaries from late July to late June. About 3,200 soldiers from Oklahoma’s 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team will deploy next month to Afghanistan and they are expected to be there for the state’s 2012 primary. Like Delaware, legislators in Wisconsin are also seeking to move the state’s presidential primary back to the first Tuesday in April — the primary is currently held the third Tuesday in February. Wisconsin’s legislation would also move the state’s partisan primary to August.
  • Voter ID Becomes Law: Late last week Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed the state’s attempt at introducing voter ID. In his veto letter, Dayton said Minnesota's election system is already "the best in the nation. The push to require photo identification in order to vote has been based on the premise that voter fraud is a significant problem in Minnesota," Dayton wrote. "I do not believe that to be the case." Dayton also issued an executive order to create a task force to study ways to modernize Minnesota’s voting system. The next day, Texas Gov. Rick Perry ended a six-year battle to bring voter ID to the Lone Star state by signing recently approved legislation. Perry had declared voter ID a legislative emergency at the beginning of the session. "This is what democracy really is all about," Perry said. "It's the integrity of every vote; that every vote counts. Today we take a major step in protecting the most cherished right of Americans." On June 1 without comment or public ceremony, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam signed a bill into law requiring voters to present photo ID; at the same time Haslam also signed a bill eliminating the Voter Confidence Act and making paper ballots optional for counties.
  • Personnel News: Boone County, Ill. Clerk and Recorder Pam McCullough is retiring from the department where she’s worked since her teenage years. McCullough spent 41 years in the clerk’s office, beginning at age 18, and has been county clerk and recorder since July 2005. After assisting the voters of St. Martin’s Parish, La. for 33 years Registrar Sue Thibodeaux is stepping down. Thibodeaux was first hired as deputy registrar in 1978 and has been registrar for 21 years.