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II. Election News This Week
- Even though the Idaho primary is still almost two months away, auditors throughout the state are busy preparing for what some have said could be a very complicated election to run. In addition to polling place location changes due to redistricting, for the first time ever, voters will have to declare a party at the polls on May 15th. In addition to picking a party, voters must then pick a ballot — Democrat, Independent, Republican — but because it’s a closed primary, only Republicans may pick a Republican ballot. After voters have declared their party affiliation and chosen their ballot, for the first time ever, that information will be part of the public record. "This is becoming the most complicated election we've ever run," Ada County Chief Deputy Clerk Phil McGrane told NWCN. All of these changes have created quite a challenging preparation for auditors. For instance, Ada County has 145 precincts with three different ballots in each precinct. Fortunately the auditors did have a chance try out the changes during a school levy election in March. "We learned lessons from that election. So we're really working on our processes. We have been for a while," McGrane said. "Ever since that election ended, we've been looking at how can we change some of our practices to ensure that everyone can easily identify which ballot is which, that each voter gets the right ballot."
- A proposed constitutional amendment aimed at making it easier for convicted felons to vote in Delaware has cleared the House after a second roll call. The bill failed to garner the required two-thirds majority in the first vote earlier this week but was resurrected after a dissenting lawmaker was assured that a lifetime ban on voting for felons who commit violent crimes would remain in place. The bill would amend the state constitution to eliminate the five-year waiting period before eligible felons who have fully completed their sentences could have their voting rights restored. The bill now moves to the Senate and must pass two consecutive general assemblies before it becomes law.
- Voter ID Update: Another attempt to legalize voter photo ID in Illinois failed again this week in a Senate committee. By a 36-30 vote, the Minnesota Senate approved a proposed constitutional amendment that would require voters to show photo ID at the polls. The amendment will now go before the voters in November, although several groups have threatened lawsuits. Elections officials in Pennsylvania are scrambling to implement a test of the state’s new voter ID law in time for the upcoming May primary. The law will be fully in place for the November general election. Several North Carolina counties continue to push for voter ID on a local level including Forsyth County that recently passed a resolution supporting a bill that would require photo ID. The resolution passed on a contentious 4-3 vote. And on Wednesday, after eight hours of debate, the Nebraska legislature voted to kill a proposed photo ID law. A vote to end a filibuster on the voter ID billed failed by three votes and therefore the bill died and according to the Omaha World-Herald is dead for 2012. In South Carolina, the League of Women Voters asked a three-judge panel for permission to join the legal challenge of the state’s voter ID law. An attempt to repeal Tennessee’s new voter photo ID law has stalled in the state legislature after it was killed by a Senate panel early this week. According to media reports, two legal challenges to Wisconsin’s photo ID law seem to be headed to the state’s Supreme Court.
- Personnel News: After seven years on the job, Heather Maddox is stepping down as the democratic co-chair of the Tippecanoe County, Ind. election board. Maddox helped implement Tippecanoe County’s successful vote center program. She will be taking on the job as director of the 51% Club, a new organization that works to engage female voters to continue to vote in upcoming elections. Maddox will be replaced by Amy Wenrick. Randy Gravley has been tapped to serve as the new chairman of the Cherokee County, Ga. board of elections and registration. Maine Secretary of State Charlie Summers announced his bid for the Senate seat being vacated by Olympia Snowe. Summers has said he will remain on the job during the election. Longtime Black Hawk County, Idaho Auditor Grant Veeder announced this week that he will seek a seventh term in office. Donna Patterson, Arlington County, Va.’s deputy general registrar is heading south. Patterson is stepping down from her position in Arlington to take over registrar duties in Virginia Beach, the state’s second largest voting jurisdiction. Six of the seven members of the St. Croix, V.I. Board of Elections are facing recalls.