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II. Election News This Week
- Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted has reversed course — sort of — on the state’s new elections law that shortened early voting in the Buckeye State. This week Husted said an expected fall campaign over the law would only confuse voters and he is asking the Legislature to come up with a new proposal after the November 2012 elections. "We don't need the confusion that will come by debating a referendum at the same time we're trying to inform people how to vote," Husted told local election officials at a conference in Columbus according to The Associated Press. A consortium of grassroots activists and Democrats gathered enough signatures in 2011 to put the new law on the November 2012 ballot as a referendum.
- Following the Jan. 21 GOP primary in South Carolina, the state’s attorney general asked the U.S. Department of Justice for an investigation into voter fraud. AG Alan Wilson said in a letter to DOJ that analysis found 953 ballots cost by voters listed as dead. Director of the South Carolina Election Commission Marci Andio disputes the claims and testified before a state House panel this week. “In many cases, these are people that our (county election officials) know, and these people are very much alive,” Andino said in her testimony. Andino said it is not unusual to find a certain number of dead people and clerical errors on the voting list. She testified that her office is not able to take anyone off the voter list without verification that a voter has died, moved out of state, or become mentally incapacitated or incarcerated.
- Voter ID Update: There was a lot of action this week across the country on the voter ID front. In Texas, the state sued the U.S. Department of Justice seeking swift enforcement of the state’s voter ID law, which the department is currently reviewing. “The U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled that voter identification laws are constitutional,” Abbott told the Amarillo Globe-News. “Texas should be allowed the same authority other states have to protect the integrity of elections.” Maine lawmakers signaled this week that they would gut the current proposed voter ID legislation and replace the language with a resolve directing the Secretary of State’s Office to propose voter reform legislation in 2013. A New Hampshire Senate committee heard testimony this week on a new bill that would require photo ID to vote. The bill would allow voters to show a variety of forms of ID including a driver’s license, state-issued ID card, Armed Services identification, a U.S. passport, a valid student ID card, or any other local, state, or federal identification that contained a name and photo. And in Missouri, legislators are once again pushing a bill that would require resident of the Show Me State to show some ID. The legislation, which would require voters to show any one of a variety of government-issued IDs to vote was approved by a House committee.
- This week, voters in Saguache County, Colo. voted overwhelmingly to recall Clerk Melinda Myers. Unofficial tallies show that 68 percent of voters chose to recall Myers. Carla Gomez, the Republican candidate who ran against Myers in 2010. Will replace her. Myers had been under fire since the 2010 election when she was accused of bungling the election so badly that a grand jury was convened to investigate the election. According to the Denver Post, although a lawsuit filed by Secretary of State Gessler and the grand jury report ultimately found no criminal wrongdoing and that the election had been accurate, residents still gathered signatures for a recall. The recall was conducted by the El Paso County clerk’s office.
- Personnel News: Andrea Eastman will serve another term on the Licking County, Ohio board of elections. Charles Knight will serve another term on the Seneca County, Ohio board of elections. Brandi Orth was sworn in this week as the new Fresno County, Calif. elections clerk. Kelia Cosme was appointed to the Lucas County, Ohio board of elections. She is replacing Jim Ruvolo who is stepping down after just three months on the board.
- In Memoriam: Jay C. Bennett, Jr., Kane County, Ill.’s chief deputy clerk died this week. He was 59. Bennett had been in the clerk’s office since 2006 and was in charge of running the county’s elections. “He was very highly thought of in the election community. He was a great asset to our office,” County Clerk Jack Cunningham told the Daily Herald. Bennett served as CEO of the Fidlar Election Co. in Rock Island, Ill., for 25 years.