III. Election News This Week
- Fifty members of Congress have joined together to form the Voting Rights Caucus. According to Roll Call, the caucus will work to educate the public about voting restrictions enacted since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a key section of the Voting Rights Act in 2013. "It is a shame that in 2016 we still need a caucus," said Alabama Rep. Terri A. Sewell, who will co-chair the new caucus.
- This week, the South Dakota State Board of Elections adopted 45 pages of rules changes. According to the Rapid City Journal, some of the proposals covered establishing governments for new cities, adopting armed sentinel programs in school districts, filling vacancies and how ballot petitions are reviewed. Nearly all of the proposals were unanimously approved by the board.
- Since their voting rights were restored in April, almost 5,000 ex-felons have registered to vote in Virginia. Elections Commissioner Edgardo Cortés said that 4,935 ex-offenders had registered since McAuliffe signed the restoration order on April 22. The total represents an increase of about 1,000 voters registered since last week. The deadline to apply for June’s primary was Monday but those who applied and still have to be verified will be included in the rolls for June 14.
- By a 2 to 1, the Vigo County Board of Elections once again voted down including a voting center on the campus of Indiana State University. Although the state had approved the location, the county board had to unanimously agree. Republican Kara Anderson voted against it. Democrats Michael Slagle and Dave Crockett voted in favor. At a packed meeting Anderson said it would be unfair to take voting machines from other locations, but the University and county said they would pay for additional machines. This is the second time in 2016 the board had denied a voting center at ISU.
- That sound you hear is this Gen-X writer grumbling while writing that apparently a new analysis of Census data shows that Millennials are now tied with Baby Boomers for the largest percentage share of eligible voters. Each age group comprises about 31 percent of the electorate. That being said, the Boomers turn out in a higher percentage — 69 percent — than the Millennials do — 46 percent.
- Speaking of Millennials, while voter registration numbers for Millennials are up in California, whether or not they cast a ballot remains to be seen. In Sacramento County, where 65 percent of the new voter registrations were voters under 35, so far only 9 percent of the returned mail-in ballots are from voters under 35. "A lot of younger voters, they might not even know where they keep their stamps," Paul Mitchell, vice president of Political Data who is tracking registration and voting numbers told KCRA.
- In other young voter news, Wyoming Secretary of State Ed Murray said this week that he was “appalled and shocked” that only about 10 percent of the people aged 18-24 bothered to vote in the Cowboy State. According to KGAB Murray is calling for a return to civics courses at state schools. He also plans to hold a statewide summit later this year to discuss the problem.
- Oof…The New York City Board of Elections recently sent letters to some voters whose ballots were not counted during the April primary. The letters read, in part: “Dear Voter: We have received your Absentee Ballot for the Primary Election held September 13, 2016. We could not count your vote because it was not in compliance with Election Laws,” the notices read.
- Personnel News: Members of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission’s Standards Board and Board of Advisors recently selected officers for new terms at their annual meetings. Grand Blanc Township, Michigan Deputy Clerk Sue DeVernay has been fired.
In Memoriam: Longtime Laramie County, Wyoming Clerk Debbye Balcaen Lathrop died on May 18. She was 64. Lathrop was first elected to office in 1994 and was serving her sixth term as county clerk.
“There was nobody, as far as I’m concerned, in the state of Wyoming or the nation who was a better county clerk than she was,” County Commission Chairman Buck Holmes told the Wyoming Tribune Eagle. “She knew the statutes, how to get ready for the audits we go through. She was just so knowledgeable.”
According to the Tribune Eagle, Lathrop was a vocal proponent of the county’s current vote center election model.
“She was always looking forward. While we would get kind of comfortable with one kind of voting machine, something better would come along,” former Commissioner Diane Humphrey told the paper. “And thanks to her, we were always ahead of the curve. Laramie County was where we would try all the new stuff out, and Debbye had a lot to do with that.”
Lathrop’s husband of 31 years, Steve, passed away in April. She is survived by several children and grandchildren.