I. In Focus This Week
‘Off-off year election’ still brings plenty of storylines
Polling places see glitches, snafus, relocations, fights, births (but no known deaths)
While many eyes and minds are focused on 2012, election administrators around the country spent this week finishing up the 2011 election season.
Of course there are still ballots to be counted — and recounted — and canvasses be completed, but for all intents and purposes Tuesday’s election marked the end of the 2011 cycle, which, by and large went smoothly in most jurisdictions.
Although pre-election polls showed a much closer race, when all was said and done on Tuesday, Mainers voted overwhelmingly to overturn LD 1376 and keep same-day registration part of the voting and registration process in The Pine Tree State.
With absentee and provisional ballots yet to be counted, “yes” to Question 1 was leading 60 percent to 40 percent. The measure won in every county.
“Maine voters sent a clear message: No one will be denied a right to vote,” Shenna Bellows, director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine. Told the Bangor Daily News. “Voters in small towns and big cities voted to protect our constitutional right.”
Proponents of Question 1 included the League of Women Voters, the Maine Municipal Association and the Maine Democratic State Committee. Those in opposition include current Secretary of State Charles Summers, the Maine Republican Party and Speaker of the House Robert Nutting.
Those opposing Question 1 took their loss in stride.
“I thought it would be closer, but having been outspent by a close-knit coalition, they did their job well. They did better than we did,” Maine House Speaker Robert Nutting told the Bangor Daily News.
Although much of the morning after reporting and commentary about Mississippi focused on the failure of Initiative 26, voters in the state voted largely (62 percent to 38 percent) to support Initiative 27 which will require voters to show a photo ID for all future elections.
"I'm very pleased with the outcome of Initiative 27," Sen. Joey Fillingane told the Clarion Ledger.
According to the paper, Fillingane collected more than 13,000 signatures to get the measure on the ballot.
“I'm proud that the citizens of Mississippi have finally spoken once and for all. We can put that issue behind us and move past it to other issues in January," he told the paper.
Voter ID has made several appearances in the state legislature, failing or failing to move forward each time.
Members of the state’s chapters of NAACP and American Civil Liberties union have not ruled out a legal challenge to the new law.
There is a 30-day waiting period before the law takes affect, but there are no more elections in the Magnolia State until the state’s March 13 primary.
Ranked-choice voting was used in three cities on Tuesday and the reviews are mixed.
Ranked-choice voting made its debut in Minnesota’s second largest city after becoming law in 2009 and according to media reports, by and large things went fairly well.
"That's the good news - that there's very little news," Jeanne Massey, executive director of FairVote Minnesota told the Pioneer Press.
One race remains outstanding though and those ballots will be hand-counted beginning at 8:30 a.m. on Monday.
In Portland, Maine, which was also using ranked-choice voting for the first time its mayoral election, there were few, if any media reports of voter confusion about the new system and the city clerk did not report any issues with the counting process.
With reports of confusion prior to and on Election Day from San Francisco voters about ranked-choice voting, two county supervisors are seeking to eliminate the voting system from Bay-area elections.
"Massive numbers of San Franciscans continue to be confused about our voting process in the city," Supervisor Mark Farrelltold the San Francisco Chronicle.
Farrell told the paper that he and Supervisor Sean Elsbernd hope to put a charter amendment before city voters in June to undo ranked-choice voting.
However, Supervisor John Avalos has asked the city attorney to draft legislation that would compete with the Farrell-Elsbernd proposal and keep ranked-choice voting in San Francisco.
Secretary of State races
In the only competitive secretary of state race in the country (Mississippi’s Delbert Hosemann ran unopposed), Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes defeated Republican Bill Johnson to become Kentucky’s new top elections official.
Glitches, snafus, biting, birthing and voter fraud
Those were the main election administration headlines coming out of Tuesday’s election; these are the other headlines.
As residents continue to adjust, some New York counties continue to have problems with the state’s new optical-scan voting system. In Westchester County all the voting machines were impounded by the state Supreme Court and ballots will not be counted until next week. In Ontario County, officials complained about a software “glitch” the prevented them from releasing the final election results until 9 a.m. Wednesday morning. Of course not all the problems in New York on Tuesday were machine-related. In Albany County voters had to wait 45 minutes for a polling place to open because no one had the keys. In Schenectady County voters had to clear a polling place after a fire and bomb scare.
Five voting machines in Warren County, N.J. malfunctioned Tuesday, but officials there told local media outlets that they are not overly concerned about the problems. “It happens,” Board of Elections Administrator William Duffy told The Express-Times. Despite the seeming lack of concern, Duffy and Clerk Patricia Kolb will meet with the voting system manufacturers to discuss the problems.
While reports of vote fraud in Linn County, Iowa are rare, what’s even rarer is when the accused turns themselves in even before they’ve been accused. That’s what happened on Tuesday when a voter who had previously voted by absentee ballot attempted to vote on Election Day and realizing her mistake, turned herself in to authorities.
In Ohio, a Cuyahoga County poll worker bit a voter’s nose after the two got into a tussle over a campaign sign. The poll worker in question has worked on eight elections for the county with no previous incidents. The poll worker turned himself in to authorities where he may face assault charges.
And finally, although he didn’t win a seat on the Schaghtioke, N.Y. town council, Fire Chief Dominic Pasinella, Jr. probably gained at least one vote on Tuesday—if he chooses to run for office again 18 years from now. After casting his ballot at one fire house, Pasinella heard a call about a “pregnancy problem” at another polling place. Pasinella rushed to the polling place—a firehouse—and with the help of two other firefighters delivered 7-pound, 10-ounc Charis Etman. ElectionlineWeekly wants to know if little Charis got her first “I Voted” sticker.
II. Election News This Week
- The NAACP will join labor groups and others at a series of protests around the country on December 10. The protests, according to the organization, are mean to move the discussion of voter ID laws out of policy circles and onto street corners. According to the Post, the United Federation of Teachers, the health care workers’ union 1199SEIU, National Council of La Raza and the Asian-American Legal Defense Fund were among the groups represented at Tuesday’s news conference. George Gresham, the president of 1199SEIU, told the paper his organization would bus 10,000 of its members to participate in the Dec. 10 protests.
- Although a court has ordered the release of ballots in Aspen for review by former candidate Marilyn Marks, the city council is still trying to determine how to deal Marks’ lawsuit. According to The Aspen Times, the city had previously said that it would appeal the state court ruling giving Marks the right to review the ballots. The city has yet to file its appeal, but the Nov. 14 deadline is fast approaching.
- According to the Santa Fe New Mexican, Secretary of State Dianna Duran has informed the state’s attorney general’s office about two noncitizens who have asked to have their names removed from the state’s voter rolls. According to Duran, one person incorrectly registered while going through the citizenship process and another claimed they were forced to register by a third-party organization.
- Personnel News: After a dozen years on the job, Colorado Deputy Secretary of State Bill Hobbs, 64, announced his retirement. Hobbs was first appointed by Secretary of State Donetta Davidson and served five secretaries of state. Gov. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) has removed Madison County Supervisor of Elections Jada Woods Williams from her position after she was arrested on voter fraud charges. In Sedgwick County, Kan. Deputy Election Commissioner Tabitha Lehman will be moving on up to the top elections official position following the resignation of Commissioner Bill Gale. State Rep. Zack Hudgins (D-Tukwila) has announced that he will seek Washington’s top elections job. Two other candidates have previously announced their intentions to seek the job. No one is really sure how long Austin Hallinan, 92 has been working for the Blair County, Pa. elections office, but he’s seen the county go from paper ballots, to punch card ballot to electronic voting machines. Hallinan worked his last election last year at 91 and finally decided to call it quits this year.
District of Columbia: Board of elections and ethics
Maine: Same-day registration
Michigan: Election reform
Mississippi: Voter ID
Missouri: Voting rights
Oregon: Secret ballot
South Carolina: Voting rights
Washington: Missing ballots
IV. Job Openings
Assistant City Clerk, Minneapolis — direct, manage, organize, coordinate, plan and conduct accurate, timely and efficient local state and federal elections within the corporate boundaries of the City of Minneapolis. Supervise all elections staff, seasonal/temporary personnel, election judges, interns and others, and all related activities, and participate in voter outreach and engagement strategies to inform citizens of the election process and encourage registration and participation in elections; negotiate, draft, and finalize comprehensive election contracts; serve as authorized media representative and spokesperson on election related matters; supervise and participate in voter outreach and engagement strategies to inform citizens of the election process and to encourage registration and participation in elections; create, improve, and maintain standard operating procedures and training; ensuring adherence to relevant election laws, regulations, and policies; ensure timely hiring and training of all election judges, poll workers, and temporary staff; serve as a Municipal candidate filing officer; foster cooperation and coordination, as appropriate, with the Office of Secretary of State, Hennepin County, and other local, county, and state agencies and officials to achieve common goals and to support shared interests, particularly with respect to assigned responsibilities; serve as School District Clerk for Special School District No. I Qualifications: A Bachelor’s Degree in Public Administration, Political Science (or equivalent field of study) and four years of experience in a public setting performing related duties, including elections management with a minimum of two years of management experience that demonstrates administrative capabilities. Salary: $73,783-81,550. Application: Click here. Deadline: Dec. 2
Director, Registration and Elections, Fulton County, Ga. — incumbent in this class performs duties related to directing the overall activities of the Department of Registration and Elections. Responsibilities include overseeing elections administration, voter registration, absentee balloting, voter education and outreach, and support services and establishing the department’s mission, vision, goals, and objectives. Qualifications: Bachelor’s degree in business or public administration, political science, organizational development, project management, social science or related field, 7 years of progressively responsible management experience in government administration, business administration, or a legal field involving interpretation of governmental laws, rules and statutes, including 3 years of elections experience and 5 years of supervisory experience. Valid Georgia driver’s license and proof of residency may be requested. Salary: $93,489-$151,455. Application: Online application is available at the county’s website. Completed forms will be accepted at the County Personnel Dept., 141 Pryor Street, Ste., 3030, Atlanta, Ga. 30303. Deadline: Nov. 21.
Program Analyst, Dept. of Defense, Arlington, Va. —researches subject matter and develops plans of action and milestones with metrics to measure success for assigned Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) programs or projects; monitors overall state legislative actions and analyzes the impact on Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) citizens and the FVAP; provides problem resolution of more complex problems to citizens worldwide to ensure enfranchisement; provides assistance and support to customers to ensure understanding of the electoral process and enfranchisement and expand voter outreach; assist with the implementation of an informational and education program. Qualifications: At least one year of specialized experience equivalent to the GS-11 grade level in the Federal service or equivalent level of experience gained in the private sector that is in or directly related to the line of work of the position. Knowledge of FVAP programs as well as pertinent laws, regulations, policies and skills applicable to the organization’s mission; knowledge of the principles of research in the development of reports and briefings; ability to provide problem resolution of problems to a wide variety of constituents worldwide to ensure enfranchisement; expertise in communication and stakeholder relationship management. Salary: $74,872-$97,333. Application: Click here. Deadline: Nov. 22.