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II. Election News This Week
- On Wednesday, several civil rights organizations filed paperwork with the U.S. Department of Justice asking them to oppose an earlier “pre-clearance” of Texas’ new voter ID law. The groups — which according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram include the American Civil Liberties Union, the Asian American Justice Center, the Advancement Project, the Southwest Workers Union, and the New York-based public policy and advocacy group DEMOS — said the law discriminates against black and Hispanic voters. "This law is a part of the largest legislative effort to turn back the clock on voting rights in our nation in over a century," Judith Browne Dianis, co-director of the civil-rights "action tank" the Advancement Project told the paper. "If this bill is allowed to stand, it will undermine the basic fabric of our nation's democracy." The groups filed a 31-page letter with the department's Civil Rights Division asking federal officials not to give "pre-clearance" to the new law. They challenge whether there is a big voter fraud problem and say "voters of color" are less likely to have the identification. They also say it will be harder to get free election identification certificates as some Department of Public Safety offices have cut back hours or closed.
- A number of elections were held throughout the country this week with few, if any reported problems. In Washoe County, Nev., where more than half of the voters in the special congressional race live, elections officials reported no problems and the ballot count began on time. A new state law requiring voters to show identification created fewer headaches than Tulsa County, Okla. elections officials expected on Tuesday. In New York, which held a special election and several other previously planned elections, the biggest issues arose before primary day. Several counties, including Broome had asked for a two-week extension because thousands of residents remain displaced from recent flooding. State officials refused to grant the extension and voting went on as scheduled although it remains to be seen what turnout was and how it was impacted by the flooding. In Oneida County, only a small handful of volunteers showed up to answer the 24 phones at the election call center. The county uses volunteers to take election results over the phone. Reportedly due to mistakes made by voting inspectors primary results in Suffolk County were delayed until Wednesday.
- You know how we at electionlineWeekly feel about stickers, so of course we had to bring you this item from Wisconsin. The Government Accountability Board, which overseas elections for the state of Wisconsin, unanimously adopted a policy this week that said universities could put stickers on existing student IDs to include information necessary to make the IDs compliant with the state’s new voter ID law. Many of the state’s student IDs do not include signatures or an expiration date which is required by the state’s voter ID law. The stickers will allow students to use their IDs without universities having to completely overhaul their ID systems.
- Personnel News: Long-time Rockford, Ill. board of elections Executive Director Nancy Strain retired this week after 30 years in the elections office and 10 years as executive director. Florida Gov. Rick Scott announced the appointment of Vicky Oakes as the supervisor of elections for St. Johns County. Oakes has served as the assistant supervisor of elections since 1988. Michael Morley officially resigned from the Mahoning County, Ohio’s board of elections this week. Toni Pippens-Poole has been appointed elections administrator for Dallas County, Texas. Pippens-Poole replaces Bruce Sherbert who was forced out in February. Cameron Quinn, previously Virginia’s chief state election official, was sworn in as general registrar for Fairfax County on Sept. 12, following her appointment by the Electoral Board.
- In Memoriam: Richmond County, Ga.’s original board of elections director Linda Beazley died this week. She was 71. According to Patrick Rice who served as the first chairman of the BOE when Beazley became executive director, Beazley was the driving force to bring the county’s election process into the modern age and it wasn’t an easy task in Richmond County where partisan politics have been contentious many times in past three decades, Rice said.
- Upcoming Event: The U.S. Election Assistance Commission will host roundtable on contingency planning in elections on Tuesday, Sept. 20 from 9am to 4pm. The roundtable will be available via webcast.