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II. Election News This Week
- The war of words between Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R) and Democratic lawmakers continued this week with lawmakers announcing a plan to introduce legislation that would give the authority to appoint election commissioners to county commissions in four of the state’s largest counties. Currently, the secretary of state appoints all election commissioners. According to The Wichita Eagle, the idea has been floated before with little success, although election-day problems in some of the state’s larger counties is prompting the renewed discussion. Kobach, according to the paper, said he wants to retain the power to appoint election commissioners in the state’s four most populated counties because it provides more accountability.
- So far we’ve had FAST and SIMPLE federal legislation introduced to help speed up Election Day lines and now we’ve got the LINE Act. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) said she will introduce the Lines Interfere with National Elections Act which would require the U.S. Attorney General to set national standards for minimum numbers of voting machines and poll workers during federal elections. If approved, the law would require the new rules in place by Jan. 1, 2014.
- Pima County, Ariz. had more than 27,000 provisional ballots on Election Day. This week, Recorder F. Ann Rodriguez announced that about 5 percent of those ballots were due to errors by her office, although she acknowledged that there is no way to know how many voters simply failed to vote when their names were not found on the voter rolls. Rodriguez announced that her office would be overhauling the software that creates the voter lists for polling places. She also said there would be an overhaul of her office’s quality-control systems.
- Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson has sued the city of Troy after the city council appointed a new mayor instead of conducting a special election. The mayor was recalled during the November 6 election and Johnson and the state’s attorney general argue that the seat must be filled during the next statewide election on February 26. Troy’s city attorney argues that state laws are conflicted about how to fill the seat. According to The Detroit Free Press, municipal law experts see this as a classic test between state and local governments.
- The hearts of Gov. Pat Quinn and legislators grew three sizes this week when Quinn signed legislation that will move the filing deadline for spring elections from December 24 to December 26. Originally the filing deadline had been 5 p.m. on December 24 and while the date is not a state holiday, many elections office are short-staffed or close early. With the deadline moved, elections offices won’t have to open at all on Christmas Eve.
- Personnel News: Andrea Carroll has been appointed to serve as the new elections director for Seneca County, Ohio. Carroll will replace Janet Leahy who is retiring at the end of the year. Barbara Young has retired after serving more than 20 years on the Danville, Ill. election commission. David M. Cross will remain a member of the Kentucky Board of Elections after Gov. Steve Beshear determined that Cross did not violate state law by running for office while serving on the board. Luzerne County, Pa.’s interim elections director Marisa Crispell-Barber now has the job permanently. And a welcome back goes to Matt Dunlap who has been nominated to serve at Maine’s secretary of state for a second time. Dunlap had previously held the seat from 2004-2010 when Republicans gained control of the state house and appointed Charlie Summers.