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II. Election News This Week
- Two Democratic congressmen—one from Pennsylvania and one from Texas—asked the U.S. Dept. of Justice to investigate whether Colo. Secretary of State Scott Gessler (R) violated federal law when he asked a judge to stop the Denver clerk and recorder from mailing ballots to inactive voters. In their letter Rep. Robert Brady (D-Pa.) and Charles Gonzalez (D-Texas) cited the possible violation of the Voting Rights Act. “Given the diversity of the state of Colorado, and particularly that of Denver County, there is a high likelihood that the barrier to voting Secretary Gessler seeks to impose…will have such a discriminatory result.” According to The Denver Post, a Gessler spokesman accused the congressmen of playing partisan politics.
- GOP lawmakers in Wisconsin are questioning a recent decisions by the state Government Accountability Board on policies related to campaign petitions and voter ID rules. According to Wisconsin Radio Network, the lawmakers want to know why the rules were not done through an administrative rule. GAB director Kevin Kennedy says the policies are examples of the decisions the GAB is forced to make as it attempts to interpret laws approved by the Legislature.
- For almost a century, the Simpson Voting House was the spot to be on election day in the suburbs of Pittsburgh. Following the 2004 elections, Westmoreleand County officials closed the polling house because it lacked modern amenities. However, the county has partnered with the Derry Area Historical Society to relocate the building and bring it up to modern standards for voting. Although there is no timeline for the restoration, Elections Bureau Executive Director Jim Montani told the Pittsburgh Tribune it could be ready in time for the 2012 election season.
- Even though more than 200,00 registered voters in South Carolina lack the proper identification to cast a ballot and even though the state made arrangements to give those voters a free ride to their local department of motor vehicles, fewer than 600 voters have taken the state up on their offer for a ride. The state provided a toll-free number for those seeking a ride to call, but according to a DMV spokeswoman, most people who called the hotline were seeking information about the new law and not a ride.
- Money Matters: Counties in South Carolina aren’t the only ones having issues with spending money for elections. In Florida, Hernando County Supervisor of Elections Annie Williams pleaded with the county administrator to increase the 2011-2012 budget saying in a letter that there is no way she can adequately hold two elections next year. Nassau County, N.Y. Executive Edward Mangano increased the county elections board budget by $3.1M. Two weeks ago an outside consulting firm recommended that the board’s budget bet cut by as much as $4M. La Crosse County, Wis. Clerk Ginny Dankmeyer is not happy about having to go back to the county to ask for more money for more elections — specials, recalls, recounts. According to the La Crosse Tribune, she’ll need to ask for an additional $9,000 — on top of the more than $23,000 she has already asked for — from the county’s contingency fund.
- Personnel News: District of Columbia Mayor Vincent C. Gray pulled his nomination of Robert L. Mallett to head the city’s board of elections and ethics after residency questions were raised. Jennifer Kozlowski is the new elections supervisor for the Dona Ana County, N.M. bureau of election. Kozlowski is a former field coordinator for the secretary of state’s office.
- In Memoriam: Former Columbus County, N.C. elections board member Jessie F. Graham died this week. He was 78. Graham is believed to have been the longest-serving member of the Columbus County BOE. Robert L. Rosengren, a former foreman for Automatic Voting Machine Corp. died last week. He was 83. According to the Post-Journal, Rosengren worked for Automatic Voting Machine Corp for almost 50 years and travelled to 47 of the 50 states setting up voting machines for elections.