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electionlineWeekly--February 16, 2012

Table of Contents

II. Election News This Week

  • Voters in Oklahoma went to the polls this week for the first time since the state purchased all-new voting equipment and according to officials, things went fairly well. “From the election administration point of view, just about everything is new,” Paul Ziriax, secretary of the state board of elections told the Tulsa World. Seventy-three of the state's 77 counties held elections Tuesday, providing election officials with a test run of sorts before the March 6 presidential primaries. The state conducted a mock election earlier this year, but this is the first time the new machines were used when the results mattered. The state also used a new online reporting system for the first time. The system provides comprehensive results for every election. In the past the website only provided information on federal and statewide elections. Ziriax told the paper that the major issue the board dealt with Tuesday night was a delay in reporting on the website the total number of precincts reporting.

  • Voting for America filed a federal lawsuit against the state of Texas this week. The nonprofit’s lawsuit alleges that Texas voter rolls have been actively suppressed by excessive restrictions on volunteers who conduct registration drives. "A developing body of state practices and provisions targeted at voter registration activities is endangering the rights of many Texas voters," the lawsuit alleges. According to the Houston Chronicle, Voting for America is affiliated with Project Vote. In other Texas news, a federal court in San Antonio announced Wednesday that Texas’ primary elections won’t take place until at least May 29 due to the ongoing battle over the state’s redistricting. “It appears based on all the things that are going on here that it is extremely unlikely there will be a primary in April or for that matter before May 29,” Judge Jerry Smith said. “Based on the discussion we just had with the political parties, we asked that they start working on an election schedule.”

  • A group of Colorado activists, including Marilyn Marks who founded the Citizen Center, filed a federal lawsuit against Secretary of State Scott Gessler and six county clerks this week. The lawsuit purports that their election practices are unconstitutional because they allow some ballots to be traced to the person who cast them. According to The Denver Post, the lawsuit argues that voters in the six counties cited are being deprived of their right to a secret vote. The Colorado Court of Appeals ruled last year that voted ballots are public records and should be made available for inspection. That case is being appealed to the Colorado Supreme Court. "The right to a secret ballot is a revered principle of American democracy," Marks told the paper. "No one, most particularly government officials, should have access to information that can connect ballots with voters," Marks said. Gessler called the lawsuit "misguided." He also told the paper his office is working with lawmakers, and "is here to do what's necessary to make sure people's votes are secret." The lawsuit names clerks in Boulder, Chaffee, Eagle, Jefferson, Larimer and Mesa counties.

  • Personnel News: Former Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels is “testing the waters” to run for Washington secretary of state. Tim Gorbach, director of the Summit County, Ohio board of elections resigned late last week after being told that his contract would not be renewed at an upcoming board meeting. Washington County, Tenn. Administrator Connie Sinks was fired by the county’s election commission late last week after Sinks terminated one employee and demoted another over an open meetings issues. The commission also reinstated the fired employee and gave the title of acting administrator to the demoted employee.