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electionlineWeekly--November 3, 2011

Table of Contents

II. Election News This Week

  • Two top House Judiciary Committee Democrats this week asked Committee Chair Lamar Smith, R-Texas to hold hearings on the many new voter ID laws across the country. According to McClatchy Newspapers, Smith is reviewing the request. "As voting rights experts have noted, the recent stream of laws passed at the state level are a reversal of policies, both federal and state, that were intended to combat voter disenfranchisement and boost voter participation," Reps. John Conyers, D-Mich., and Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y. said in a statement. While Conyers and Nadler have formally called for hearings, that didn’t stop other members of the House from debating the issue late into the night on Tuesday.

  • The unexpected October snows just didn’t put a damper on Halloween for folks in the Northeast, they also caused problems for elections officials. In Connecticut, which seemed to suffer the brunt of the storm, Secretary of State Denise Merrill and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy extended the state’s voter registration deadline for upcoming municipal elections. "The severity of the power outages and other damage from this past weekend's snow has the potential to disenfranchise thousands of Connecticut voters who are without electricity and even unable to leave their homes," Merrill said in a statement. Registrations had been due by 8 p.m. on Nov. 1, but the new deadline is now midnight on Monday the 7. In addition to pushing back the registration date, Merrill is working with local elections officials to make sure that polling places are open and accessible. Some towns have had to relocate polling sites.

  • Personnel News: Longtime Martinsville, Va. Registrar Ercell Cowan is set to retire in mid-December after almost 24 years on the job. Cowan will be replaced by Cindy Barbour who is already busy learning all she can from Cowan. Michael Susek is the new Broomfield, Colo. elections administrator. Janet F. Clair is hanging up her elections bona fides and retiring after 28 years on the Lake County, Ohio elections board.

  • In Memoriam: Longtime Richmond, Va. Registrar Alice Clarke Lynch died this week. She was 81. Lynch served the voters of Richmond from 1971 till 1995. Lynch is credited with hiring the first African-American assistant voting registrar in the city, launching the first successful campaign to bring voting registration to the people and making polling places more accessible for the handicapped. “She worked with anyone interested in getting people to vote,” her husband Robert Lynch told the Richmond Times Dispatch.