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II. Election News This Week
- Following up on a story we reported on in April 2013, commissioners in Stark County, Ohio have approved an insurance settlement that will pay to replace 1,394 voting machines that were damaged when the county board of elections’ roof collapsed during heavy rains. According to the Akron Beacon Journal, the county will get $691771.64 to cover the machines as well as other odds and ends like wages for employees who moved the damaged machines.
- Ties in elections seem to happen at least once an election cycle, but this time around seven small towns in North Carolina had races end up in ties. State law dictates that the races be decided by lot and most towns will use a coin toss to make the decision, but in Garland, tied commission candidates chose colored pens.
- The Advocate in Louisiana has an interesting story this week about pretrial inmates rarely take advantage of their voting rights — which they have until they are convicted. Correctional officials and advocates cite several factors including the transient nature of the jail population and the difficulties in registering and/or requesting an absentee ballot. “They’re not really all that focused on voting,” Rob Reardon, corrections director for the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office told The Advocate. “What they really want is to get out. To go through the process of absentee voting, it’s not super complicated, but it does require a significant amount of effort.” Charlene Meaux Menard, Lafayette Parish’s registrar of voters, said she’s never counted a ballot from the parish jail in the 10 years she’s held her post. “I think they really don’t know that they’re eligible to vote,” Menard told the paper.
- The North Carolina Board of Elections is getting ready for 2016 by releasing a video explaining the state’s photo ID law. The video shows a mix of people explaining the types of IDs necessary to vote.
- The Daily Show had something to say about the American voting system and we’ll withhold commentary so you can watch for yourself, but hats off to Edgardo Cortes, commissioner of the Virginia Department of Elections; Joe Rozell, director of elections for Oakland County, Michigan and Lawrence Norden, deputy director of the Brennan Center for keeping a straight face.
- Composer Philip Glass and playwright Christopher Hampton are reviving their 2007 opera about the Civil War, but according to The New York Times, the collaborators are viewing it through the eyes of a post Shelby v. Holder world. “We were writing it [the original Appomattox] in 2005 and 6,” Glass told the Times. “But it never occurred to me that the Supreme Court would gut the Voting Rights Act.” In the rewrite, the second half of the opera is dedicated to civil and voting rights. The opera will premier at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. this weekend.
- It’s not an “I Voted” sticker, but electionline can certainly get behind the expansion of the “Honor a Vet with Your Vote” program in Iowa. Under the expanded program, any voter making a tribute to a veteran, either online or by mailing in a postcard will receive a Honor A Veteran vote lapel pin. The veteran being honored will also receive a pin.
- Personnel News: Former New Mexico Secretary of State Rebecca D. Vigil has submitted her name for consideration to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of Dianna Duran. Other applicants include Sandra Jeff and Janice Arnold-Jones, both former legislators, as we previously mentioned Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver and former Albuquerque Clerk Amy Bailey. The Modesto City Council has issued a written reprimand and docked the pay of City Clerk Stephanie Lopez because officials say she changed the election paperwork that caused a ballot measure in the Nov. 3 election not to reach all of the voters. Effective May 31, 2016, Christina White will be the new director of the Miami-Dade County, Florida elections department. She is replacing Penny Townsley who is retiring. Teresa Apgar a former account executive at The News-Journal has joined the race for Volusia County, Florida supervisor of elections race.