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electionlineWeekly--February 10, 2011

Table of Contents

II. Election News This Week

  • The Virginia Attorney General’s office has launched an investigation into the Montgomery County board of elections after the Virginia State Board of Elections expressed concerns that election laws had been broken in the county. According to the Roanoke Times, the state board of elections asked for an investigation of glitches that left voting open to irregularities in several county precincts for several hours during the November 2 election. After a breakdown in computer access, poll workers in five Montgomery County precincts were unable to check to ensure would-be voters coming in the door were registered and in the right precinct. County BOE members agreed that poll workers would record the name and address of each person, confirm it with identification and let them vote electronically. By 9 a.m., every polling place had either an operating laptop or a paper voter list, and normal check-in procedures were followed for the rest of the voting, the officials said. "I don't think they will find anybody did anything with malice or with intent to affect the election," Randy Wertz, registrar of voters told the paper. The state board also reviewed glitches with the county’s May 2010 election.
  • Relations on the St. Louis board of elections have gotten so bad, that one board member actually drove past the house of another board member to make sure he wasn’t skipping out on work. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Commissioners and employees say meetings have descended into name-calling and finger-pointing which threaten to stall board business and drive off staff. Leaders have accused each other of being mean-spirited, vindictive or even racist. The Board of Election Commissioners is a state-mandated and city-funded agency charged with maintaining the city's voter registration list and running all elections in St. Louis. The top two employees are its directors, a Republican and a Democrat. The board comprises four commissioners — two Republicans and two Democrats — who are appointed by the governor and annually receive either $6,000, for members, or $7,000, for the board secretary and chair. According to the paper, city leaders expect Gov. Jay Nixon to replace some or all of the appointed board members.
  • Legislators in North Dakota haven’t taken too kindly to the state’s move to vote-by-mail and so this week the House passed a bill that would require counties to open at least one polling place in every city with more than 200 people. "We need to have good elections. We need to have opportunities and accessibility for every voter," Rep. Lee Kaldor, D-Mayville told The Associated Press. "I know this bill has some problems, but I think it's too great an issue, too important an issue, for us to simply abandon." Secretary of State Al Jaeger has estimated the legislation will require spending $156,000 on additional voting equipment, $124,200 on 54 new polling locations, and a recurring $35,000 cost in wages and expenses for election workers. In the November 2010 election, more than 20 of North Dakota's 53 counties relied mostly on mail balloting. State law requires vote-by-mail counties to open only one walk-up voting station on Election Day.“There is nothing in current law that prohibits any county from having as many polling places as they like," Rep. Robin Weisz, R-Hurdsfield told The AP. "We have no business mandating, for our counties, how many polling places they have to have." In Colorado, state legislators were set to take up the vote-by-mail argument in a House committee at press time. Opinions are divided on the legislation with the House Majority leader State Rep. Carole Murray, R-Douglas County—who is also a former county clerk—sponsoring the vote-by-mail legislation and Secretary of State Scott Gessler opposing the move.
  • Personnel News: Riverside County, Calif. has hired Kari Verjil to serve as its new registrar of voters. Verjil is currently the San Bernardino County registrar of voters and had previously served as deputy registrar in Riverside County.