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II. Election News This Week
- New U.S. Election Assistance Commission Executive Director Brian Newby has sent letters to Kansas, Georgia and other states saying that the EAC has updated instructions on filling out the federal voter registration form to include the proof-of-citizenship requirement for would-be voters using the federal form in those states. This decision seems to be in conflict with past executive directors and at least one of the commissioners, Thomas Hicks (D) who issued a statement objecting to the move saying that it “contradicts policy and precedent previously established by this commission” and seeking a formal vote by the Commission on the change. Newby told NPR that he believes he is within his right to make the changes.
- The National Association of County Recorders, Election Officials and Clerks (NACRC) and the International Association of Clerks, Recorders, Election Officials and Treasurers (IACREOT) announce the name of their newly merged organization: International Association of Government Officials (IAoGO, pronounced "I-GO"). The merger and new organization announcement comes as a result of a vote by both organizations on June 30, 2015, to approve the proposed merger. The new merged organization IAoGO will officially begin operating on September 1, 2016.
- The elections offices in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina and Denver, Colorado are getting in on the Super Bowl fun by making a small wager over the game which, for those that don’t know, features the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers. Unlike some other big game wagers, this one doesn’t involve which team wins, but which elections office has the most team swag. And Mecklenburg County has brought in a secret weapon: Former Panthers wide receiver Muhsin Muhammad will appear in the photo to be posted on Facebook.
- The Saint Louis County, Missouri NAACP has asked county elections officials to consider using buildings other than police stations as polling places for the upcoming April primary and general election. “Why would we add an additional hurdle of having the fear of walking into a polling place, providing identification in a police department and thinking folks would be OK with that? Especially in an area where there’s real concern about the number of warrants that have been issued,” NAACP member John Gaskin said to CBS.
- Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted has proposed a rules change that should alleviate problems faced with delayed absentee ballots. Husted reversed his previous opinion that nothing but a postmark could be accepted and now will accept the barcodes that often appear on envelopes because they include the date mailed. It will require the purchase of a $500 reader. “This policy is consistent with the spirit of the law and common sense dictates that we should use technology to count every ballot we can,” Husted said according to the Akron Beacon-Herald.
- And it’s not just Ohio residents that are having issues with the U.S. Postal Service. Recently, several potential voters in Grant County, New Mexico who mailed in voter registration forms had those forms returned to them by the Postal Service. Turns out that the Postal Service had not notified the elections office that the funds in their account were running low so there was no money to cover the postage-paid envelopes. “Ever since I’ve been here, if there wasn’t enough money in the fund to cover those registrations, they would let us know,” Clerk Robert Zamarripa told they Silver City Daily Press. “They would hold them there for us to come pick them up.”
- This week Montana Secretary of State Linda McCulloch announced the establishment of five satellite elections offices on Indian reservations. The satellite offices will offer services that are typically only available in the main county offices including late registration and in-person absentee voting. “These offices will ensure American Indians’ ability to participate effectively in the electoral process is protected. I applaud the counties and tribes that have worked together to create expanded access to the voting process; this type of collaboration is what makes Montana a great state to live in,” said McCulloch.
- Pennsylvania has become the latest state to join the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC).
- The Republican Party of Virginia voted this week to ask the State Board of Elections to not enforce the statement of affiliation — loyalty oath — during the upcoming March 1. Primary.
- Miami-Dade County, Florida has introduced a new “I Voted” sticker just in time for the 2016 election cycle. The new sticker is in three languages — English, Spanish and Creole. The new stickers are larger than the old stickers. They are also round and red, white and blue. And because everything has a hashtag these days, the stickers also include #iamelectionready.
- Personnel News: Karen Rahn has been appointed as the new director of Chester County, Pennsylvania’s department of voter services. Jennifer Bellas is the new Armstrong County, Pennsylvania election director. Jim Ehrman has been named the new Seneca County, Ohio board of elections director. Former New Mexico Secretary of State Rebecca D. Vigil has said that she is considering a run for her old job. Ronnie Metsker has been appointed to serve as the new elections commissioner in Johnson County, Kansas. Cliff Marr has been sworn in as the new elections director in Polk County, North Carolina. Ron Buchanan, chair of the Davidson County, Tennessee election commission resigned this week in advance of an investigation into the office’s finances. Elizabeth Hundley is the new Livingston County, Michigan clerk. Jordan Esten is the new COO of Clear Ballot and Edwin Smith has been named vice president, products. John Lyon has been elected election commissioner in Crawford County, Arkansas. Santa Rosa City, California Clerk Terri Griffin is retiring after more than two decades on the job. Phyllis Wheeler has been rehired to run the McDuffie County, Georgia elections department. She previously held the job from 2006-2010. Sullivan County, Ohio board of elections commissioner Ann Prusinski is resigning.