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electionlineWeekly--March 3, 2011

Table of Contents

II. Election News This Week

  • This week, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted unveiled a series of election reforms, including allowing people to register to vote online. Husted also proposed statewide standards that would set the window for absentee voting at 21 days by mail currently it is 35 days and 16 days in-person prior to Election Day. All county boards of election would be required to open from 8 a.m. until noon on the two Saturdays during the in-person voting period and they would be closed on Sundays. All in-person voting would end the Friday before the election in order to give county boards time to update their poll books. According to the Columbus Dispatch, legislative enactments will be necessary for most, if not all, of Husted's proposed changes.
  • Halfway across the country from Ohio, Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller was introducing his own set of election reforms. Although many of Miller’s reforms were related to campaign finance, he did also propose election administration reforms including online voter registration and stiffer penalties for those found guilty of voter fraud or accused of illegally attempting to influence an election. Voter registrars Larry Lomax of Clark County and Alan Glover of Carson City both told The Lahontan Valley News that they support online reporting and voter registration. Glover also backed centralizing all filings with the Secretary of State. “The biggest confusion we have is where to file,” he said noting that his office gets reports that should go to Miller's office and vice versa every election cycle.
  • The Colorado Attorney General has opened an investigation into the November 2, 2010 election in Saguache County. Allegations that incumbent County Clerk Melinda Myers falsely certified the election, and that election laws and regulations were violated, were brought to the secretary of state’s attention in November. Staff from the secretary of state’s office traveled to Saguache County to work with the clerk to address the complaints. The secretary’s office reported that while there were problems with compliance, those could be addressed through election worker training. According to The Crestone Eagle, six citizens were not satisfied with the report and filed a complaint with the district attorney. Because the district attorney had a conflict—a member of his staff challenged Myers in the election—the matter was referred to the state’s attorney general. The attorney general has referred the matter to a statewide grand jury.
  • Voto aquí. The U.S. Department of Justice has told the Lorain County (Ohio) Board of Elections to give Spanish-speaking voters greater access to the voting booth, including printing ballots and other election materials in both English and Spanish and hiring more bilingual poll workers. The recommendations stem from a review launched last year of the county’s compliance with the Voting Rights Act of 1965. “We note that while the County has undertaken some laudable efforts to serve the needs of its limited English proficient residents, it needs to significantly expand its bilingual elections program to meet its obligations under (the law),” Justice Department attorneys Ali Ahmad and Katherine Culliton-Gonzalez wrote in the letter. County elections board Director Paul Adams told The Chronicle-Telegram that although the board still needs to fully evaluate the Justice Department recommendations, he doesn’t believe the county has any choice but to comply or face a federal lawsuit similar to the one filed against Cuyahoga County’s elections board last year. “Their intention was to work with our county and get to the same place without having to go that route,” Adams said.