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II. Election News This Week
- For a place that is without a doubt one of the most beautiful places in the world, things sure aren’t pretty in the elections department in Hawaii County. This week, the West Hawaii Today show obtained documents that show state and county officials knew that most of the Big Island’s permanent elections staff planned to call in sick on primary election day. Two days before the election, Scott Nago, the state’s chief election officer wrote to the Hawaii County clerk: “As you might surmise, the Office of Elections was understandably concerned to learn that the services of certain Hilo elections staff will not be available on election day,” the letter said. “We now understand that you anticipated months ago that some election workers might not show up this week or on election day, and as such, you developed a backup plan.” According to the Honolulu Star Advertiser, the letter was just one of 400 documents the television station obtained through a Freedom Of Information Act request.
- The National Congress of American Indians released a report this week that highlights states where new elections laws—including voter ID laws—could have an impact on Native Americans and Alaska Natives. According to the report, problems with new voter ID laws include requirements that voters provide home address, but some tribal communities have no street addresses. The report also cited the “barriers of cost, logistics and distance to obtaining required IDs.”
- Oregon made a splash earlier this year when the state employed the use of iPads to help disabled voters mark their ballots. Now the state is giving Apple’s competition a whirl by using tablets that run on Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system. Samsung will be loaning the state 10 of its tablets for the trial. All counties in the state have at least one iPad available for accessibility use and about 200 voters used the iPads during the primary.
- California’s new online voter registration system, which went live on Sept. 19 drew more than one million users in a month including at least 380,000 voters who signed up for the first time.
- Add Ottawa County, Ohio to the list of counties that have produced elections materials with the wrong date for the general election. The county sent out about 2,200 notices with the wrong date — November 8 instead of November 6 — and the wrong polling places. Elections Director JoAnn Friar attributed the problem to a computer glitch and told The Washington Post that the county would be sending out corrected notices.
- Personnel News: Steve Quillen, Miami County, Ohio director of elections resigned late last week citing “the stress of the upcoming presidential election.” The Fulton County, Ga. board of elections has hired former Forsyth County elections supervisor Gary Smith to work with Fulton County on the Nov. 6 election. Fulton County fired former elections director Sam Westmoreland after his probation for DUI was revoked. In other consulting news, Lake County, Ohio hired former director Janet F. Chair as a consultant through Nov. 3.
- Get Well: Electionline wishes a speedy recover to Montgomery County, Ohio Elections Director Betty Smith who is on medical leave through the end of 2012. In the spring Smith missed time due to a virus that damaged her spinal cord, but had slowly resumed duties over the summer.