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II. Election News This Week
- Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy and Secretary of State Denise W. Merrill joined forces this week to announce a list of initiatives that would make registering to vote in the Nutmeg State easier. Under the proposal, voters would be able to register and vote on election day, voters with Connecticut driver’s licenses could register online and absentee voting would be expanded. "We need to reflect how our people live," Malloy told the Connecticut Post.. "There is no reason to maintain archaic laws any longer. It's time to reflect the technologies available to us." The initiatives will be presented to the General Assembly in February.
- Summit County, Colo. reversed course this week and decided to conduct the 2012 elections at regular polling places on election day instead of by mail. “I think elections are important enough that we should pick the process that is best for the people in the county in terms of getting them access to the ballot box,” County Commissioner Thomas Davidson told the Summit Daily News. County commissioners decided to make the switch back to polling places to keep from confusing voters on how the election would work.
- Officials in Tennessee are scrambling to fix an oversight in the state’s new voter ID law that if not remedied could prevent thousands of residents from voting in the state’s March primary. Currently residents aged 60 and over do not have to have a photo on their driver’s license, but the problem is voters cannot request a no-excuse absentee ballot until age 65. Sen. Bill Ketron and Rep. Debra Maggart are pushing a bill that would allow Tennessee voters to qualify for automatic absentee ballots at 60.
- Personnel News: Brandi Orth has been named the new Fresno County, Calif. clerk following the unexpected retirement of former clerk Victor Salazar. Orth has been a long-time county employee and also previously served as the county’s elections coordinator. Longtime Monroe County, Conn. Registrar Jeannette Benson is retiring after more than 15 years on the job. Mike Oatney and Allan Reid were both nominated by their parties this week to serve on the Fairfield County, Ohio board of elections. Former Election Assistance Commissioner and Colorado Secretary of State Donetta Davidson will serve as the Colorado County Clerks Association’s first executive director. Escambia County, Fla. Supervisor of Elections David Stafford has filed to seek a third term as the county’s elections official. Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp has been installed at the National Association of Secretaries of State’s Southern Region Vice President. Drew Turiano recently dropped his bid for governor in Montana and instead plans to enter the race for secretary of state. Late last week an arbitrator found that the city of Holland, Mich. had the right to fire City Clerk Jennifer French in 2006. French was fired after officials alleged she lied about her principal residence on a number of forms including voter registration form. David Deininger has been appointed chairman of the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board.
- In Memoriam: Berkeley, Calif. City Clerk Deanna Despain died on January 7 from a fall in her home. She was 37. Despain was praised by city officials for bringing Berkeley “into the 21st Century.” Despain successfully implemented the city’s first ranked-choice voting system in November 2010. She is survived by her husband Andrew Dickson and their 10-month old baby Adele. Betty F. Carter, former Orange County, Fla. supervisor of elections died last week from complications of Alzheimer’s. She was 81. Carter won her first term as elections supervisor in 1980 and immediately set out to make the voting and ballot count more efficient. “She was always a forward thinker and she was always trying to improve the process and see how things could be more technologically advanced,” current Elections Supervisor Bill Cowles told the Orlando Sentinel. Carter served the voters of Orange County for 16 years. She is survived by five children, six grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.