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II. Election News This Week
- While localities continue to debate the length of lines and vote tallies from the November 6 election, officials in Minneapolis are trying to figure out what, if anything, they can do to shorten the tally time for the upcoming 2013 city elections. The city uses ranked-choice voting and because their tally software is older, it takes longer to tally the RCV votes — it took the city 18-days in 2009 to complete the vote count. If the city is not able to purchase new software, it will have to hand-count the RCV ballots, which it estimated could cost an additional $113,000. Hennepin County, which purchases the voting equipment for its cities, has set aside $5 million to purchase new equipment and hopes to work with Minneapolis to get that equipment purchased and up and running in time, but isn’t certain at this point.
- The Commission to Study the Conduct of Elections in Maine met for the first time late last week to begin drafting a set of recommendations to improve the state’s voting system. Following their first meeting, a majority of the five-member panel said they oppose including a voter photo ID requirement in their list of recommendations. “It really comes down to the fact that there isn’t any need in Maine at this time, and there isn’t the will for it,” former U.S. Attorney Paula Silsby, one of the commission members told the Bangor Daily News. The commission held a series of public hearings throughout the state in the summer and fall months and is expected to present its complete report by the first of February.
- Rensselaer County, NY Democratic Elections Commissioner Edward McDonough was found not guilty on 61 counts in a ballot-fraud trial that last six weeks. This was the second time McDonough faced a jury on these counts. The trial ended in a mistrial. McDonough was found not guilty on 33 counts of second-degree forgery and 28 counts of second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument.
- Virginia State Sen. Chap Petersen (Fairfax) filed legislation that would restore voting rights to all felons upon the completion of their sentence. Under the proposed bill, rights would be restore automatically, which would eliminate the governor’s authority to determine who gets their rights restored and who doesn’t.
- Personnel News: Missouri Secretary of State-elect Jason Kander announced three hires in his office including Abe Rakov as chief of staff, Barbara Wood as general counsel and Casey Clark as senior counsel. Edward “Butch” Dzwonkowski, Democratic registrar of voters in New Britain, Conn. is set to retire next week after more than three decades of political service. He’ll still be on the job for a while, but Steve Weir, Contra Costa County, Calif.’s registrar of voters for almost 25 years is set to retire in the New Year. Jill Van Buren has been overseeing the elections in Benton County, Ore. for 15 years, but the Nov. 6 was her last and the 31st will be her last day on the job for this elections veteran.