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II. Election News This Week
- The mystery of the 21 ballots in a Maine Senate race has been solved and it turns out that they weren’t so mysterious after all, they were simply counted twice, by mistake. Deputy Secretary of State Julie Flynn said it was likely that the 21 ballots mistakenly had been put into another bundle of ballot after having already been counted in the first bundle. “I believe (the error) happened in the recount, and I’m chagrined to say so,” Flynn said during five hours of testimony before a specially appointed task force reviewing the recount. “I’d eat my hat if I had one.”
- Residents of the town of Hobbs, New Mexico went to the polls this week and voted to require residents to show photo ID in order to vote in future elections. According to The Associated Press, about 78 percent of those casting ballots in the special election voted to amend the city’s charter. Several other cities and towns in New Mexico — including Albuquerque — already require voters to show photo ID in local elections.
- The Montana political practices commissioner dismissed a complaint that Secretary of State Linda McCulloch improperly used public resources to solicit opposition to a ballot issue. According to the Ravalli Republic, Commissioner Jonathan Motl found insufficient evidence to justify a civil or criminal prosecution. The complaint was brought by Senate President Jeff Essman (R-Billings) argued that McCulloch used her summer newsletter to improperly advocate against Referendum 126 that would have repealed the state’s election-day registration law. Voters rejected the referendum 57 percent to 43 percent.
- With people demonstrating against police brutality nationwide, returning citizens and faith leaders staged a silent sit-in this week at the Florida State Capitol in support of voting rights for ex-offenders. The protestors want a constitutional amendment on the 2016 ballot that would automatically restore the voting rights of ex-offenders once their sentences are complete.
- Elections that end in ties are more common than what most people think. However, what’s probably not as common are two races ending in ties with the exact same vote count! That’s what happened this week following recounts of two Advisory Neighborhood Commission races in Washington, D.C. Following manual recounts of each race, both were tied with 204 votes for each candidate. The D.C. Board of Elections will conduct a tiebreaker (names out of a hat) for both races next week.
- One hundred and forty five years ago this week Wyoming became the first state to give women the right to vote. According to KOTA when the law took effect there were only about 6,000 men and 1,000 women in Wyoming. Today, a little over half of the registered voters in Wyoming are women.
- A lot goes into the planning and timing of special elections and that is no different for Fargo, North Dakota which is facing a springtime special election to replace it’s long term mayor who died unexpectedly last week. The earliest the city can legally hold the election is mid-March, but logistically they may need to move it to April that would put the election right in the middle of flood season in the city nestled on the banks of the flood-prone Red River.
- Personnel News: Jake Spano has been appointed to serve as incoming Secretary of State Steve Simon’s chief of staff. Spano is currently the marketing director for the mayor of St. Paul. Sue Buitenhuis, Grand Haven Township, Michigan clerk submitted her resignation this week. Incoming South Dakota Secretary of State Shantel Krebs has hired Kea Warne to serve as her deputy in charge of elections. Warne previously worked in the secretary’s office from 1993 to 2010 with the last eight as elections chief. Debra Nickoloff has resigned from the Erie County, Ohio board of elections.