I. In Focus This Week
Off to the races
Secretary of state races featured in three states
While much of the nation’s focus is on the 2012 election season, some voters are going to the polls in 2011 and casting ballots including in secretary of state races in three states.
After a close and contested primary against Hilda Legg, Republican Bill Johnson will face Democrat Alison Grimes who defeated incumbent Elaine Walker. Walker had been appointed to the position of secretary of state after former Secretary Trey Grayson left for a position with the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
According to his campaign website, Johnson is a proponent of voter ID and he has pledged to work with the state legislature to ensure passage of photo ID legislation.
“I will ensure honest, clean elections,” Johnson says on his site. “Votes from illegal immigrants and other ineligible voters will be kept away from the ballot box.”
Prior to running for secretary of state, Johnson had a career in business. He is a graduate of the University of Kentucky with a Master’s from the College of William & Mary, has his pilot’s license and served in the U.S. Navy.
Facing Johnson on the ballot is Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes. Grimes is a Lexington-based attorney focusing on business litigation.
On her website, Grimes says her two main election focuses will be on voter turnout and increasing access the voting for veterans, seniors and add protections for victims of domestic violence.
Grimes is a graduate of Rhodes College in Kentucky and received her law degree from the Washington College of Law at the American University in Washington, D.C.
Although potential candidates have until 5 p.m. today, September 8, to file their candidacy for secretary of state in Louisiana, two candidates have already filed their paperwork to run for the Republican nomination in the October 22 primary.
The winning candidate in November’s general election will fill the unexpired term of former Secretary of State Jay Dardenne as well as serve a full four years. Dardenne resigned to become lieutenant governor.
Incumbent Secretary of State Tom Schelder (R) has filed his paperwork to run for an office that he has held since November of 2010 when Dardenne resigned. Schedler was appointed to first assistant secretary of state in December 2007.
According to his campaign website, Schedler will continue to work to streamline elections in Louisiana as well as eliminate the overall number of elections the state conducts in order to save costs.
Before joining the secretary of state’s office, Schelder served three terms in the Louisiana State Senate.
Schedler is a native of New Orleans and a graduate of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
Facing Schedler on the primary ballot will be Jim Tucker. Tucker currently serves as the Speaker of the House in the Louisiana legislature.
According to a YouTube video on Tucker’s campaign website, Tucker says he is the best candidate to bring integrity to the elections process.
Like Schedler, Tucker is a native of New Orleans and graduated from the University of New Orleans.
At press time, no Democrat had filed to run for the party’s nomination although press reports indicate that Democrat Caroline Fayard may enter the race. Fayard most recently lost to Dardenne in the lieutenant governor’s race.
Although he faced competition in the Republican primary, incumbent Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann is alone on the general election ballot. However, there have been some news reports about a possible third-party candidate.
During his tenure as secretary of state, Hosemann has worked extensively to get voter ID legislation approved in Mississippi as well as purging the voter rolls in 29 counties. Although voter ID legislation has not been approved, it will appear on the ballot in the November election. Hosemann sponsored the ballot initiative petition.
Hosemann was first elected to the secretary’s office in 2007. Prior to that he was a partner in a Mississippi law firm focusing on business and taxation. Hosemann is a graduate of Notre Dame and has a law degree from Ole Miss and a Masters of Laws in Taxation from New York University.
As an aside, Hosemann has completed both the Boston and New York marathons.
II. Election News This Week
- With no official word from the U.S. Department of Justice, 16 Colorado county clerks began printing ballots in English-only for the upcoming elections. Ballots were certified Friday by Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler, and a spokesman for his office said it is too late for Spanish ballots. "That ship has sailed," Gessler spokesman Rich Coolidge told The Denver Post. Ten Colorado counties already are required to provide Spanish-language ballots or interpreters for Ute voters because more than 5 percent of residents of voting age, or more than 10,000 residents, have limited English proficiency. According to the paper, the Justice Department initially had told Gessler's office that the potential dual-language orders would be forthcoming in July, but then recently changed that to late September at the earliest. Clerks in the affected counties had been waiting for orders so they could carry out the process of having all election materials available in Spanish as well as English and have interpreters lined up for polling places. Since that deadline has passed, clerks are still working on contingency plans to provide help for Spanish voters who request it. "We're just being prepared. It's best to err on the side of caution," said Garfield County Clerk Jean Alberico.
- Controversy has swirled about a new Indiana law that would omit uncontested races from ballots in a cost-saving effort. Candidates and clerks alike have criticized the law saying it will depress voter turnout. Late last week, party officials, candidates and voters in Wayne County filed suit asking that County Clerk Jo Ann Stewart be prohibited from dropping the uncontested races in an upcoming election. The suit also names the Indiana Election Commission and Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White as defendants. According to the Palladium-Item, many county clerks have questions about the new law and numerous emails are flying back and forth to state election officials and clerks. Some clerks have said they are not certain if the new rule applies to all elections or just city and town elections.
- Several jurisdictions have recently started to look at the prospect of nonpartisan elections as a cost-cutting measure. In West Virginia, the Charleston city council recently voted down a proposal to make city elections nonpartisan. After heated partisan debate the council instead decided to work on a proposal that would move the city council elections to a Saturday in 2015 and then move them to presidential election years which will ultimately save the city $400,000.
- Voter ID Update: The New Hampshire Senate was expected to vote at press time on legislation that would override Gov. John Lynch’s veto of the state’s voter ID legislation. In other override news, although North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue vetoed voter ID legislation earlier this summer, legislators are hoping to revive the issue in the coming weeks. Officials in South Carolina have said they will offer free rides to DMV branches to members of the disabled community in order for them to get their free state-issued ID card to vote. Officials in Texas are dismissing concerns that driver’s licensing bureaus will be overwhelmed with people need to get state-issued IDs in order to vote.
- In Memoriam: Irene Leadbetter, former New Bedford, Mass. deputy registrar of voters died this week. She was 91. Long-time Hanover County, Va. Registrar Bobby Ostergren passed away this week. He was 65. Although an avid computer enthusiast, Ostergren — he had 10 at home — he preferred using paper ballots for elections, no matter how annoying all that paper was. Ostergren served as registrar for 23 years.
III. Research and Report Summaries
Gender, Race, Age and Voting: A Research Note - Stephen Ansolabehere and Eitan Hersh, APSA 2011 Annual Meeting Paper, August 17, 2011: Using a dataset of two million voter registration records, this paper shows that gender, race, and age do not correlate with political participation in ways that previous research has shown. For example many blacks participate at higher rates than whites. Additionally the relationship between age and participation is not linear and varies by race and gender. The researchers call for a renewed effort to understand voter participation by using large datasets and by being attentive to linearity assumptions.
Arizona: Voting Rights lawsuit
California: Election reform
Connecticut: Primary ballot
Iowa: Scott County
Mississippi: Absentee ballots
Nebraska: Secretary of state
New Hampshire: Voter ID
New Jersey: Ballot problems
New Mexico: Voting Rights Act
Texas: New election laws
V. Job Openings