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III. Election News This Week
- Unless Florida Gov. Rick Scott vetoes sweeping election reform legislation that the Florida Legislature approved late last week, the Florida League of Women Voters will discontinue their voter registration workand may even sue the state. Among other things, the law would require third-party registration groups to register with the state and fine them $50 for any voter application they fail to turn in within 48 hours. Current law makes it voluntary for such groups to register and allows 10 days for forwarding the forms before the fine kicks in. “Every few years, the Legislature likes to put into place draconian laws that make it harder to vote," League president Deirdre Macnab told the Tampa Tribune. She argued that fraudulent third-party voter registrations have not been a problem in Florida and accused the bill's sponsors of failing to offer evidence to the contrary. "They're using 'fraud' as a red herring to pass a number of laws that not only will reduce voter registration, it will frustrate voters on Election Day."
- Unemployed poll workers seeking unemployment compensation from Arkansas because their work as election officials has run out is probably a futile effort, unless their earnings in a year as poll worker exceed $1,000. According to the Baxter Bulletin, the Baxter County Election Commission grappled with the issue recently after about six claims for unemployment compensation were filed with the state using employment as a poll worker for Baxter County as basis in part for the claim. Commission Chairman Bob Bodenhamer objected to the claims because, he says, the nature of the work of a poll worker is temporary and none were hired with any expectation for continued employment with the county. Kimberly Friedman, a spokesman for the Arkansas Department of Workforce Security, told The Bulletin lawmakers addressed the issue in 1999 regarding poll worker employment status for purposes of filing claims for unemployment compensation. "IRS laws may be different, but if the county is paying the workers less than $1,000 a year, the wages are not reportable to DWS and therefore cannot be used to set up a claim for unemployment insurance," Friedman told the paper.
- The Indiana Recount Commissionannounced it will appeal a judge’s ruling ordering it to reconsider whether Republican Secretary of State Charlie White was a valid candidate for the office to which he was elected. According to The Associated Press, the commission did not lay out its case in the notice of appeal it filed in Marion Circuit Court, and officials at the commission and attorney general’s office, which represents it in court, declined to discuss the substance of the appeal until it is filed. There is currently no timetable for the filing, Bryan Corbin, a spokesman for the attorney general’s office told the AP.
- IFES, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems is currently in the process of evaluating its programs and initiatives. IFES is seeking public input and has created an online survey. The entire process should take about 15 minutes and is confidential and anonymous. As a token of IFES’ appreciation for filling out the survey, they will make a $10 donation to one of the three charities selected when filling out the survey.
- Voter ID: Members of the Kansas Senate began expressing regret for voting in support of the state’s recently approved voter ID bill when they were asked this week to move up the implementation timeline for proof-of-citizenship. A new poll by the Minneapolis Star-Tribune found that 80 percent of those polled support voter ID for Minnesota. After final approval by the Missouri Senate this week, voter ID and early voting will be on the ballot for voters to decide in 2012. A Pennsylvania House committee has approved the Keystone State’s photo ID proposal; the bill now moves to the full House. At press time, the Rhode Island Senate was expected to vote on the Ocean State’s version of voter ID. The South Carolina Senate has given final approval to that state’s version of a photo ID bill; the legislation now heads to the desk of Gov. Nikki Haley (R). The Texas Senate gave final approve to photo ID legislation this week and Gov. Rick Perry is expected to sign the bill. On Wednesday, the Wisconsin Assembly voted to approve voter ID for the Badger State 60-35; the bill moves next to the Senate where approval is expected.
- Tennessee Personnel News: It was another topsy-turvy week in Tennessee. Clifford Rodgers is the new Knox County elections administrator. Also in Knox County, attorney Denis Francis was recently appointed to the election commission. And in Rutherford County, Tenn. Denice Rucker resigned from the election commission citing her displeasure with the recent election administrator hiring.