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II. Election News This Week
- The League of Women Voters and a group of prisoners-rights organizations filed suit against California Secretary of State Debra Bowen seeking to restore voting rights of citizens convicted of but sent to county jails under California’s realignment program. Late last year the state began to reroute people convicted of most nonviolent felonies to county jails and probation departments due to overcrowding at state-run prisons. According to the Los Angeles Times, the lawsuit contends that the realignment should also enable tens of thousands of new convicts to vote. The state bars prison inmates and paroled felons from voting, but not convicted felons in county jails or on probation, the lawsuit contends. Bowen’s office issued an opinion in December saying that realignment does not affect a felons right to vote. The lawsuit was filed with state’s Court of Appeals.
- Voter ID Update: A Dane County, Wis. judge granted a temporary injunction against Wisconsin’s new voter ID law. The ruling means the law would not apply for the April 3 presidential primary and local general election. In his ruling, Circuit Judge David Flanagan called the Wisconsin law “the single most restrictive voter eligibility law” in the country. In granting the injunction, Flanagan found that the plaintiffs likely would succeed at trial and would suffer irreparable harm without the court's intervention. A spokesman for Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that the state likely would appeal, and other state election officials pointed out that other aspects of the law will remain in effect, such as having to sign a poll list. Legislation requiring a photo ID at the polls in Pennsylvania was approved by the Senate on Wednesday. The House approved an earlier version of the bill in June 2011. Gov. Tom Corbett has indicated he would sign the legislation is approved. Voters will be asked for ID during the Keystone State’s upcoming primary, but those without ID would still be allowed to vote. The law would take full effect in time for November’s general election. A committee of the Rhode Island General Assembly heard testimony this week on legislation that would repeal the states voter ID law that was approved last year. Although Texas is still waiting for the Dept. of Justice to rule on the legality of its photo ID law, concerns are already arising about it’s implementation. Following a review of voter rolls and other public records, the secretary of state’s office found that 2.4 million of the state’s 12.8 million registered voters do not have some type of government issued photo ID.
- Move over Match.com. Look out eHarmony. Election day may be the next big thing in matchmaking. The Annandale Patch has a cute story about two Fairfax County poll workers who met while working the 2008 presidential election and plan on marrying later this year. Stephen White, a Republican, was serving as a chief poll official. Carole Hirsch, a Democrat, was assigned to work with White as an assistant chief. While they met the day before Election Day, their “first date” began at 5 a.m. on Election Day and lasted almost 2 a.m. because of a cracked touch-screen voting machine. “We laugh and say our first date was 21 hours long,” Hirsch told the Patch. They’d like to work at the polls again this year. Hirsch plans to work at a precinct on Tuesday, but White will be busy at work that day. The two said they might serve as election workers during the presidential election in November, but they’re not sure if election rules allow married couples to work together.
- Personnel News: At a reorganization meeting last week, the Allen County Board of Elections named Ken Terry, a Democrat, as its director and Republican Keith Cheney as the chairman of the board. Joseph Masich is the new director of the Summit County, Ohio board of elections. Republican Roberta Halford is the new director of the Geauga County, Ohio board of elections. Also in Ohio, Warren County board of elections Director Keir Holeman has been replaced by Kimberlie J. Antrican. Long time Rockingham County, Va. electoral board member Lowell Hertzler was recently replaced by former Rockingham General Registrar Kay Shifflett. Montana Secretary of State Linda McCulloch made it official last week by filing the necessary paperwork to seek a second term as The Treasure State’s top elections official. And a hearty “get well” to Wallingford Conn. Republican Registrar of Voters Chet Miller who is recovering from injuries suffered in a fall in his home in January.
- In Memoriam: George Firestone, who was Florida’s secretary of state from 1978-1987 died last week of complications from Alzheimer’s disease. He was 80. Before becoming secretary of state he served as a state representative from 1966-72 and a state senator from 1972-78. Following his resignation from public service, Firestone worked for Smith Barney and opened his own investment company. He is survived by his wife and step-daughter.