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III. Election News This Week
- Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe used his executive powers to restore voting rights to about 206,000 ex-felons. While ex-felons who have completed their sentences had been apply to apply to have their rights restored, the move by McAuliffe will automatically reinstate those rights without waiting for the approval process. “Once you have served your time and you’ve finished up your supervised parole … I want you back as a full citizen of the commonwealth,” McAuliffe said at a press event announcing the executive order. “I want you to have a job. I want you paying taxes, and you can’t be a second-class citizen.” The move drew praise from advocates and condemnation from Republicans who are considering calling a special session of the General Assembly to see if they can make changes to the order. Large numbers of ex-felons are already taking advantage of the order and some local registrars are struggling to keep up with the numbers.
- In the ongoing back-and-forth over U.S. Election Assistance Commission Executive Director Brian Newby’s decision to modify the federal voter registration form allow Kansas, Alabama and Georgia to require proof-of-citizenship, Sen. Clair McCaskill (D-Missouri) has weighed in with a letter to EAC saying that Newby lacked the authority to unilaterally modify the form. In a letter to the EAC, McCaskill asked that the commissioners ignore Newby’s actions and publicly consider the changes by the full commission.
- New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has set aside $20 million for the board of election to implement reforms following issues during the April 19 primary. Di Blasio wants the board to hire an outside operations consultant, establish a blue-ribbon panel to identify failures, enhance poll worker training and improve communications.
- Democracy North Carolina recently released a report that asserts that about 29,000 voters had their ballots count in the March primaries using the “safety-net provisions”. The safety-net provisions were an injunction by the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals that prevented the state from eliminating same-day registration and out-of-precinct voting while the 2013 law was being challenged [see Legal Updates]. According to the report 22,855 used same-day registration for the primaries and 6,327 cast out-of-precinct ballots that were counted.
- Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman said this week that she will not attend this summer’s National Association of Secretaries of State conference in Tennessee in part because of recent legislation signed by Gov. Bill Haslam that allows counselors to refuse to treat patients based on the therapist’s religious or personal beliefs.
- When it rains it pours. It will cost Maricopa County, Arizona about $400,000 to reprint nearly 2 million ballots for the upcoming special election in May. There are two propositions on the ballot and in the Spanish-language portion of the ballot, the title listed for each proposition is the same, although the text of the proposition is correct. The County plans to reprint 700,000 ballots for use at the polls on election days. The 1.3 million early voters who received their ballots by mail will get a postcard explaining the error.
- Speaking of pouring, unfortunately, this is not the first time we’ve had to post a story like this. Just days before voters in Waller County, Texas were set to begin early voting for the May 7 election, a pipe burst in the county courthouse drenching 60 of the county’s voting machines. "All I heard was water running, falling like crazy from the ceiling - and when I got in there and saw it I was like oh my goodness,” Waller County Election Administrator Daniel Teed told KBTX. Not all of the county’s voting machines were drenched and Teed hopes that those that were will dry out by May 7.
- Personnel News: Congratulations to Tonya Moore, director of the Catoosa County, Georgia elections & registration department for being named the Catoosa County employee of the month.