II. Election News This Week
- This week the U.S. Postal Service announced plans to eliminate next-day service for first class mail meaning that most mail, which is typically delivered in one to three days would now be delivered in three to five days. With the popularity of vote-by mail and absentee voting growing with each election, how this could impact the delivery of ballots remains to be seen. Oregon, one of two mail-only states has already weighed-in on the issue. Secretary of State Kate Brown said that moving forward, voters should mail their ballots on the Thursday prior to a Tuesday election to ensure timely delivery. Brown said that she will work with state lawmakers to approve an earlier date for county elections office to mail out ballots to give voters ample time.
- Although a St. Bernard Parish, La. judge called the state’s election code “a legal quagmire,” he ruled against a request to hold a new election for a parish council seat that was ultimately won by just 16 votes. Losing candidate Peter Rupp contended that at least 40 voters had residences that did not qualify them to vote. According to the Times-Picayune, Judge Manny Fernandez determined that Rupp did not properly file his voter challenges and therefore the court could not act. In his ruling, Fernandez wrote at length about the state’s complex voting laws that became even more complex after Hurricane Katrina.
The Missouri auditor this week released a review of the St. Louis board of elections and gave the board an overall rating of “fair”. In his report, Auditor Tom Schweich said the board has seen vast improvements since voters were turned away from the polls in 2000. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the report did however note that concerns persist including duplicate registrations.
- Primary Problems: With military and overseas voters in New Hampshire already casting their ballots in the first-in-the-nation primary, some states are still trying to figure what to do with their primaries. In Ohio, Republicans in the state legislature are working on a plan to consolidate the state’s primaries into a single date. Currently Ohio’s primaries are scheduled for March and late June because of issues surrounding the state’s redistricting. But with concerns over the $15 million price tag for a second primary, lawmakers are looking to combine the primaries to one day, possibly in late April. And in Massachusetts, officials are figuring out what to do with the state’s primary which in order to accommodate Jewish holidays was moved from Tuesday Sept. 6 to Thursday Sept. 16. Problem is, the new date coincides with the Democratic National Convention. This of course presents a problem because many of the state’s delegates are elected officials.
- Personnel News: Long-time Hernando County, Fla. Supervisor of Elections Annie Williams announced that she will not seek re-election in 2012 ending a 38 year career in the elections office. Term-limited State Rep. Rich Glorioso has filed paperwork to run for supervisor of elections in Hillsborough County; current supervisor Earl Lennard had previously announced his retirement. Also in Florida, Collier County Supervisor of Elections Jennifer Edwards has filed to run for re-election. Cass County, Ind. Clerk Beth Liming announced she will seek a second term as clerk. Liming was heavily involved in the implementation of vote centers in the Hoosier State. Outgoing Kentucky Secretary of State Elaine Walker will be the new commissioner of the state Department of Parks upon completion of her term. Nathan Burd is stepping down from the Franklin County Board of Elections to run for the Ohio House of Representatives.
- Get Well: Pike County, Ky. Clerk Lillian Pearl Elliot was injured in a head-on collision on Dec. 4. Although not life-threatening, Elliot’s injuries are said to be serious. Electionline.org wishes Elliot a speedy and complete recovery.