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electionlineWeekly--March 17, 2011

Table of Contents

II. Election News This Week

  • What began as suspicions of a "stolen" election has erupted into a fight between Secretary of State Scott Gessler and the Colorado’s county clerks over whether voted ballots should be public records. Gessler announced this week that his staff and local election judges will conduct a public hand review of ballots from the 2010 general election in Saguache County, where the attorney general's office already is investigating allegations of election fraud. According to The Denver Post, Saguache County Clerk and Recorder Melinda Myers sent a letter to Gessler indicating that she would not unseal the ballots without a court order. "These ballots have been counted twice, reviewed by your office, canvassed and recounted. The deadline for contesting the election has passed; therefore the outcome cannot change," Myers wrote. "It is unclear what this exercise would accomplish, and could only serve to undermine the work already done in this election." Gessler's office told the paper it will take the issue to court. The request to review the ballots has drawn the ire of the Colorado County Clerks Association, which says clerks are charged with maintaining the integrity and security of elections and that voted ballots should not be public. "Who knows what can happen when untrained people with an agenda get their hands on ballots," Larimer County Clerk and Recorder Scott Doyle, the association's president told the paper. "We can't watch everybody."
  • Cash-strapped clerks across the state of Wisconsin are bracing for something none of them saw coming when they were planning their budgets for this year — a recall election. Following the civil unrest in Wisconsin regarding collective bargaining for state employees, 16 recall initiatives are underway across the state to recall legislators on both sides of the aisle. "I certainly did not budget for a recall," Seymour City Clerk Susan Garsow told the Post-Crescent. According to the paper, even though only one race would be on the ballot, a special election could cost communities just as much as a general election. "An election's an election," Hesse told the paper. "Sometimes it doesn't even matter how big it is. You have to have the same process put together." According to Garsow, a recall election could eat up roughly 25 percent of the city’s election budget.
  • Following a review that compared voter records with driver’s licenses issued to foreign nationals, New Mexico Secretary of State Dianna Duran believes that she has found 37 possible incidents of voter fraud committed in the Land of Enchantment. Duran, testifying before a House committee on proposed voter ID legislation said the findings were “preliminary: and that more work must be done. New Mexico is one of three states that issues driver's licenses to people without proof of immigration status. Duran’s testimony came during a committee hearing on H351 that had 43 confirmed speakers, both pro and con on the voter ID issue.
  • Update: Late last week, Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White pleaded not guilty to seven felony counts. The indictment has caused two top staff members in the secretary’s office to resign: Sean Keefer, who held both the titles of deputy secretary of state and chief of staff in White's office resigned on Friday and Jason Thomson, the secretary’s chief spokesman resigned this week. Both Keefer and Thomson have already been replaced.