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II. Election News This Week
- According to Yahoo News, the Barack Obama administration is preparing to announce the Commission on Election Administration’s full roster some time in May. Steve Croley, deputy White House counsel said the committee will be a mix of individuals including elections officials at the state, county and local levels.
- Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann is questioning the integrity of the municipal elections across the state. Absentee voting is underway and Hosemann said the number of absentee ballot requests is troubling. “It tells me that the integrity of the vote is at issue here,” Hosemann told WLOX. Hosemann cited one town where more than 20 percent of registered voters requested absentee ballots. He told the television station that the average number of absentee requests should be less than 5 percent statewide. The secretary of state’s office will be reviewing the absentee ballots.
- Late Friday, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) announced that he was replacing the entire state board of elections on May 1. Three Republicans and two Democrats will replace the current board that is made up of three Democrats and two Republicans. The change comes at a time when several controversial elections administration bills are making their way through the state Legislature and just as an investigation into campaign contributions to McCrory is getting underway. A spokesperson for McCrory told the Winston Salem Journal that the timing of the board changes had nothing to do with the campaign finance investigations. During its first session, the new board voted 3-2 along party lines to replace long-time Elections Director Gary Bartlett with Kim Westbrook Strach. Bartlett had served as elections director under the past three Democratic governors.
- The U.S. Department of Justice and the City of Falls Church, Va. reached an agreement freeing the Northern Virginia town from preclearance under the Voting Rights Act. General Registrar David Bjerke said the biggest change will allow the city to go through the redistricting process without first getting DOJ approval. “As of Thursday, we no longer have to ask the DOJ for preclearance,” Bjerke told the Falls Church Patch. “We still have to adhere to the rest of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, just not the preclearance.”
- Personnel News: Eric Marshallis leaving the Lawyer’s Committee to join State Voices as the senior manager of election administration and voting rights. Sye Broussard, an attorney from Houma has been appointed to serve on the Terrebonne Parish, La. elections board. Also in Louisiana Albert Simien Sr. has been appointed to the St. Landry Parish board of elections. Steven Hall has been appointed to the Coshocton County, Ohio board of elections. Richard Barron, currently the elections administrator for Williamson County, Texas has been tapped as the top pick for the Fulton County, Ga. election director position. Margaret “Peggy” Toomey, Haverhill, Mass. clerk is retiring after nine years on the job. The Rhea County, Tenn. election commission has requested the resignation of Administrator of Elections Theresa Snyder. Cory McCray is resigning from the Baltimore County, Md. board of elections to seek a seat in the House of Delegates.
- In Memoriam: Lawrence C. “Larry” Long, chairman of the Columbia County, Ga. board of elections died Monday. He was 79. Long died following triple-bypass heart surgery. Long had served on the three-member board for 12 years. In recent months, the board had grappled with replacing its long-time elections director who was forced to retire following brain surgery and proposed legislation on how the board members are appointed. “It’s a terrible thing for us,” Board member Neal Johnson told The Augusta Chronicle. “It seems like our board has really caught it this year. … I know he was excessively worried and concerned about the board, and I’m sure that didn’t help any. Nobody can say what the cause was – only the good Lord knows that.”
- Editor’s Note: May 3 is Larimer County, Colo. Clerk and Recorder Scott Doyle’s last day on the job. When people ask how/why I got involved in writing about elections, I often “blame” Scott. What seems like a million years ago, I was writing for County News at the National Association of Counties and I did a story about the birth of vote centers. Scott was a fantastic source and super patient with my millions of questions. Best of luck to Scott in whatever the next chapter of his life may bring.