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II. Election News This Week
- More than 61 percent of voters in Fort Collins, Colo. rejected a plan to move the city to a system of ranked-choice voting during a ballot initiative vote this week. The ranked voting idea got endorsements from several groups, including the League of Women Voters. But ultimately, people didn't feel the need to change the system, Rudy Zitti, a vocal opponent of ranked voting told The Denver Post. "I think most people thought it was unnecessary, and the complexity just turned people off," Zitti said.
- This week, Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp launched a 16-member elections advisory council that will review the Georgia Election Code and State Election Board Rules. The council comprises election officials and leaders from across Georgia, including city and county officials, county election directors, representatives from Democratic, Independent, Libertarian and Republican backgrounds, and members of the Georgia General Assembly. According to Kemp, the council will make recommendations designed to improve and strengthen Georgia’s election laws and procedures. The council will look particularly at improvements that create cost savings and increase efficiencies for state, county and local governments, Kemp said.
- This week the Tucson city council voted 5-2 to move to all-mail ballots for the 2011 elections. "This is all about increasing voter participation, so there's more people electing their elected officials, and it also streamlines the cost of elections," F. Ann Rodriguez, Pima County Recorder told KGUN9. "We've been preparing. If you look at the city elections, more and more people have been voting by mail," Vice Mayor Richard Fibres told KGUN9 News. Elections are trending in the mail-in direction, with two-thirds of city voters in casting their ballots by mail in the 2009 city election and the 2010 general election. Supporters believe the move cuts administrative and logistical costs by reducing expenses on polling places, poll workers, or elections equipment. The decision only applies to this year's August and November elections; it does not mandate all-mail ballots for future elections. At least one polling place for each ward will be open on Election Day for voting, as well as to re-issue ballots that people lose in the mail.
- While the nightly news programs lead off each evening with stories about the impending doom of a federal government shutdown, what many folks don’t know is that if the federal government shuts down, so does the government of the District of Columbia. With an April 26 special election looming, the Board of Elections and Ethics (BOEE) has been working with the Office of Personnel Management to ensure that the duties of the BOEE are considered essential. Thirty-five staff have been deemed essential which means they will work throughout any government shutdown to keep the preparations for the special election going. Those 35 staff will be paid, but will not get paychecks until after the government reopens. It has yet to be determined by Congress if furloughed staff will be paid. In addition to a looming government shut down, the DCBOEE has also had to make accommodations because the special election falls on the last day of Passover.
- Forget Match.com, there’s a new way to meet your future Mr. or Mrs. Right Now and that’s at your local polling place! In Illinois, election judges Carl Lashley and Eve Parojcic met on Election Day 2008 and plan to be married before they work on Election Day in 2012. "We chatted throughout the day," Lashley said of the first time he met Parojcic. "At the end of the day, I said, 'Hey, maybe we should get together for dinner sometime.'" He told WBBM that their recent engagement is an example of bipartisan cooperation. The wedding is set for September 24. And while Lashley and Parojcic are just beginning their life together, in Wisconsin Joyce and Howard Washechek have been married for more than 50 years and working as poll workers for at least half of that time. Joyce said she became lead inspector when her husband was alderman and joked that she refused to give up that role. "I'm the chief, he's the Indian," she said, smiling.