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II. Election News This Week
- In a special election scheduled for later this month, voters in Hobbs, New Mexico will decide whether or not to amend the city’s charter to require photo ID in order to vote. According to The Associated Press, organizers behind the initiative said they are just part of a larger movement nationwide. The group is planning pushes in other New Mexico cities. Albuquerque and Rio Rancho already require photo ID to vote in local elections.
- Officials in the South are hoping to combine efforts in consolidated March 1, 2016 regional primary. Known as the SEC Primary, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi and Tennessee, as well as possibly Alabama and Louisiana would all hold their presidential primary on the same day. Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp is leading the effort. “As someone who went to the University of Georgia and lives in Athens and understands how powerful the Southeastern Conference is in football today, that is exactly what we want to be when it comes to presidential politics,” Kemp told The Associated Press.
- Nearly 800 Virginians were forced to cast provisional ballots because of the new state’s voter ID law, according to state election officials. “Localities are still entering provisional ballot information into the system, but so far, about half of these ballots were accepted and half rejected,” Edgardo Cortés, commissioner of the Virginia Department of Elections, said last week.
- According to an analysis by Tulsa World, hundreds of provisional ballots cast in Oklahoma on Election Day were not counted. The paper’s investigation found that many weren’t counted for valid reasons, but some were not counted election worker error. About 1,600 provisional ballots were cast with 699 cast because of failure to show a proper ID, all but 34 of those were valid ballots and counted. Of the other 878 provisional ballots cast only 138 of those were cast and most were due to a missing name on a voter registry. One potentially bright spot is that in 2012, 16 percent of provisional ballots cast were due to lack of proper ID whereas in 2014 it was only 5 percent.
- Turnout for the November 4 election was historically low nationwide, but New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman wants to find out why it was so bad in New York—less than 30 percent. Schneiderman said he will conduct an investigation to see what, if any impediments kept people from voting. “We don’t have voter ID laws, and yet we are always on the bottom of the list in terms of voter participation,” Schneiderman, a Democrat, said on public radio’s “The Capitol Pressroom.”
- A Union County, North Carolina woman has been charged with voter fraud after filling out her dead husband’s absentee ballot in 2012. According to WSOC, Verna Roehm pleaded guilty to misdemeanor voter fraud after submitting her husband’s absentee ballot, something she claimed was his dying wish.
- If at first you don’t succeed…The Washington Secretary of State’s office has successfully lobbied Ballotpedia to get a higher grade — an A — on the state’s voter guide. To get an A, Ballotpedia requires a voter guide to include six features. The Washington guide did, but still got a B. After pointing this out to Ballotpedia, the website upped the grade. Washington now joins Alaska, California and Nevada as state’s with As.
- Don Quixote would be proud. Tim Utz, a member of the Minnesota Constitution Party who lost his race by 44 points — percentage points, not votes — has asked for a recount in the race and said he has the funds necessary to pay for it, about $2,100.
- Personnel News: Doug Lewis, executive director of the Election Center is set to retire sometime in early 2015. We’ll have more from Doug closer to his departure. Paddy McGuire is resigning from FVAP effective December and 18 and making the leap to the private sector at Democracy Live. Joyce Reno is retiring as Chafee County, Colorado clerk and recorder. Reno has worked in the office for 41 years and served as clerk for 16. Jordan Karp has been approved as the new Democratic election commissioner in Oneida County, New York. Marilyn Jacobik has been named to serve on the Lorain County, Ohio board of elections. Jacobik is the former county BOE director. Doug Sorrells, member of the Forsyth County, Georgia board of voter registrations and elections announced that due to health reasons he will be stepping down in the New Year. Maine Secretary of State Mathew Dunlap has been elected to a fifth term by the state legislature. Aldo Tesi will step down as CEO of Election Systems & Software on January 1. Tesi will be replace by Tom Burt, the company’s current president and COO.
- In Memoriam: Longtime Chicago Board of Election Commissioners Spokesman Tom Leach died on November 23. He was 76. Leach retired from the board of election commissioner eight years ago after a 33-year tenure. Leach was an appreciated source by local media outlets. “He was honest in a position that it was little hard to be honest,” Rose Preski, his longtime assistant told the Chicago Sun Times. “He would take no guff from anybody as far as them telling him to do anything that wasn’t right.” Leach is survived by his wife Lyn, five children, and 13 grandchildren.