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electionlineWeekly--January 12, 2012

Table of Contents

II. Election News This Week

  • South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson announced this week that he will file a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Justice’s decision to block the state’s new voter ID law. “Our intent of the office is to look at this legislation through the litigation process and to ensure that no voter is suppressed in the right to vote and that the integrity of the electoral process is protected,” Wilson told The State. “That is of paramount importance that we protect the electoral process and ensure that voter irregularities and potential voter fraud is curtailed, curbed or prevented.” Wilson told reporters that he was not ready to put a dollar amount on the cost to sue the feds. The state has hired Paul Clement, a former U.S. Solicitor General in Washington D.C., and Chris Coates, a former Department of Justice official in Charleston, to represent the state.

  • Redistricting is often a stressful time for county elections administrators, but when a “glitch” in the process puts voters in incorrect locations not only statewide, but throughout the world, well that’s a whole different level of stress. Clerks throughout Wisconsin are faced with such a problem and a primary a little more than a month away. According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the errors affect thousands of voters around the state and stem from different sources, including inaccuracies in U.S. Census Bureau data and problems with a new way of assigning voters to districts in a state database. "We're not only changing and moving districts, we're changing the system beneath it," Julie Glancey, Sheboygan County clerk told the paper. "We had many, many voters who showed up (on the computer map) on the coast of Africa and we had to drag them back to the state of Wisconsin and put them where they belonged." State elections officials said they were trying to help clerks resolve the problems.

  • By all reports, the first election under Kansas’ new voter ID law went well this week. Approximately 460 residents in the town of Cimarron cast ballots with another 18 casting provisional ballots. According to Gray County Clerk Bonnie Swartz, only one of those provisional ballots involved a voter who did not have proper ID. Secretary of State Kris Kobach told KAKE that the relatively smooth election proved that voter ID will not be a problem for Kansas voters. Several legislators told the TV station that the true test of the law will come during the state’s upcoming primary when more people vote.

  • Personnel News: Florida Secretary of State Kurt Browning announced this week that he will resign following the state’s Jan. 31 primary. Browning was first appointed by former Gov. Charlie Crist and reappointed by current Gov. Rick Scott. Prior to the secretary’s job, Browning was the supervisor of elections in Pasco County for 26-years. He was the first top state election official in Florida with an actual elections background. Browning said he has no specific plans following his resignation although he may throw his hat into the ring for superintendent of Pasco County Schools. Victor Salazar, Fresno County clerk, resigned suddenly this week. Salazar was one year into a four-year term. He cited his age, 65, and unspecified health concerns for his reason for resigning. Long-time Democratic registrar of voters in Old Lyme, Conn., Patricia M. McCarthy retired on December 30 after 20 years on the job. New Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes appointed several key staff this week including Lynn Sowards Zeller as director of communications. Harnett County, N.C. Elections Director Sherre Toler resigned last week after more than 11 years in charge, over complaints about the state’s proposed marriage amendment. Anita Fowlkes, Dyer County, Tenn. administrator of elections, received her certification as an administrator of elections this week. Tess Eubanks has been hired as the new Franklin County, Ga. elections supervisor. West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant announced this week that she will seek a second term as the state’s top elections official.