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II. Election News This Week
- Three towns in Maine — Litchfield, Greenville and Winterport — will continue to hand-count ballots on election night after they turned down an offer from the state to provide each locality with a free ballot-counting machine. The machines were offered to all municipalities with more than 1,500 voters. Officials in Litchfield told the Kennebec Journal that elections were too important to rely on machines. “Litchfield is very much not a technology-oriented group,” Rayna Leibowitz, chair of the Board of Selectmen told the paper. Deputy Secretary of State Julie Flynn said funds for the machines are coming from a Help America Vote Act grant. "I don't know why you'd pass it up," Flynn told the paper. "The cost for the state election is completely borne by us. We're just offering them the freebie. This is like Christmas."
- Takoma Park, Md. is considering pushing the envelope again, this time by lowering the voting age for local elections to 16. “I really care about making elections easier,” Tim Male, council member for Ward 2, told the Takoma Patch. “I have honestly been interested in this since I’ve been campaigning. You meet young people who are really engaged but cannot vote." According to the Patch, these election proposals are within the city's domain as long as they do not go against pre-existing state or national laws. It is unconstitutional to deny anyone 18 or older the right to vote on the basis of age but nothing deters the government from make less restrictive voting laws. Male told the paper lowering the voting age will benefit Takoma Park. He said it would increase voter turnout, start positive voting habits and diversify the voting demographic in Takoma Park.
- About 100 voters in Bel Aire, Kansas will be taking a mulligan on ballots they’ve already mailed-in for the city council election. Sedgwick County Election Commissioner Tabitha Lehman told The Wichita Eagle a new ordinance changed how city council candidates are listed on the ballot. But when her office received candidate information from the Bel Aire city clerk’s office, she said, the candidates were listed the way they used to be. Lehman told the paper her office is sending out new advance mail-in ballots, and the clerk’s office also is notifying people who have returned their ballots to cast a new one.
- The Simpson Voting House in Derry Township, Pa. may be back in business for the May 21 primary. The building had been used as a polling place for 122 years before 2004 when it had to be taken out of service for a variety of reasons. Although the building still needs some work — handicapped accessible railing and the parking lot paved — local officials expect it to be ready for about 500 voters in May. “It's been a long time coming, but I think it's a unique voting experience for the people in the Simpson district of Derry,” Ted Kopas, county commissioner, told the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. “These are minor things that need to be taken care of, and they will.”
- Even though this is technically “personnel news” it really needs its own paragraph. This week, all three sitting members of the Lenior County, N.C. board of elections resigned. Earlier this year, the board petitioned the State Board of Elections to allow them to fire Elections Director Dana King. The board alleged mismanagement. According to WRAL, Gary Bartlett, executive director of the state board denied the request and said both sides were to blame for poor communications and personality conflicts. County leaders will need to find three individuals to replace Sharon Kanter and Kim Allison, both Democrats, and Oscar Herring, a Republican.
- Personnel News: The Miami County, Ohio board of elections has parted ways with longtime Deputy Director Pam Calendine. Sharon Benjamin has been appointed acting deputy supervisor of elections for St. Thomas-St. John, USVI. Also in the Virgin Islands, James Weber, III has stepped down as the deputy elections supervisor for St. Croix. Dana Dumezich and William Fine are joining the Lake County, Ind. board of elections. Former Assemblyman Joe Canciamilla was formally appoint as Contra Costa County, Calif.’s next clerk-recorder and registrar of voters. Rob Frost, head of the Cuyahoga County, Ohio GOP will replace Debbie Sutherland on the county board of elections. Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos has appointed Will Senning to serve as the director of elections and campaign finance. Senning replaces Kathy Scheele who is retiring at the end of the month after 13 years on the job. Matt Crane has been appointed the new clerk and recorder for Arapahoe County, Colo. Crane had previously served as the deputy clerk. Eric Morgan has been hired to serve as the new deputy director of elections in Miami County, Ind.
- Get Well: Although the media reports don’t mention it, the elections grapevine has informed us that retiring Vermont Elections Director Kathy Scheele is recovering from a fall. We wish Kathy a speedy recovery.