V. Election News This Week
Recounts Update: Recounts concluded in several states this week. In Nevada, the partial recount of the November 8 presidential election concluded with no change in numbers for the candidate requesting the recount. In North Carolina with a statewide recount of the auditor’s race almost complete, Republican candidate Chuck Stuber conceded, bringing the remaining recount to a halt. The Michigan Court of Appeals ordered the state board of canvassers to reject Green Party candidate Jill Stein’s request for a recount of the presidential ballots. The state Supreme Court affirmed that ruling Although the recount ended in Michigan, many questions still swirl about the voting process in Detroit and the state will audit the city’s election. Wisconsin was the only state to begin and complete a statewide recount of the 2016 presidential election and the recount found only a 131-vote change. "This was really a remarkable achievement by the county clerks, the canvassing boards, the tabulators, the municipal clerks," elections administrator Michael Haas told The Capital Times. The recount did reveal some problems with older voting machines, but no major issues. And in Pennsylvania, U.S. District Judge Paul S. Diamond ruled against the Green Party’s request for a statewide recount. Diamond said that the last-minute tactics would mean “all of Pennsylvania’s six million voters could be disenfranchised.”
The DuPage County, Illinois board chairman, clerk and election commission have formally proposed merging the election commission and the county clerk’s office into one. When introducing the proposal, Chairman Don Cronin said the move could realize a cost savings for the county while expanding the bipartisan board of election commissioners. The proposal, which will need to be approved by the state legislature, would expand the board from three to five members, including two representatives from each major political party, appointed by the County Board chairman, and the county clerk as chairman.
Citing the success of the state’s new “Motor Voter” program which automatically registers Oregonians to vote, officials announced this week that Oregon shattered the state’s record for voting-age voter turnout. Overall, 70.4 percent of the state’s voting-age population sent in ballots. The previous record, set in 2008, was 66 percent. According to The Oregonian, about 44 percent of the new “motor voters” cast a ballot.
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted announced this week that his office will not seek any operational funds from the state in the next two-year state budget and that he’s asking for a 100 percent cut in his funding. Through a business licensing fees and cost-cutting measures, the secretary of state’s office has a $19 million surplus. “Well, I do want to lead by example in the sense that, let’s face it, if I had asked for an inflationary increase, everyone would have said ‘well, that’s just fine, go ahead, it’s just same old, same old.’ Well we are not going to do the same old, same old. We are trying to act responsibly. We are trying to act differently.”
After a printing error forced poll workers in Hudson County, New Jersey to hand count 20,931 mail-in ballots, the printing firm that made the mistake said it will reimburse the county almost $30,000 in costs that the county incurred from the hand count. According to the Burlington County Times, In addition to being reimbursed by the printer, the County Clerk's Office, the Election Board and the Superintendent of Elections Office have identified additional actions and checkpoints that workers will perform before future elections in order to detect a similar error sooner.
Sometimes the real news is just as strange as the fake news. Recently, officials in Douglas County, Colorado told an election judge that he was no longer welcome to work for the county after a member of public heard the election judge boasting that on Election Day he had destroyed all the Democrat ballots. Despite the allegations, Douglas County said it knows none of their ballots were destroyed. "The fact that we received a complaint about the behavior of an election judge is enough to call into question that election judge's ability to continue as an election judge in future elections," Wendy Holmes, director of public affairs, told ABC7.
Personnel News: Hays County, Texas Elections Administrator and Voter Registrar Joyce Cowan will retire on December 31 after 31 years on the job. Lisa Terry, Montville, Connecticut clerk will retire on December 31 after nearly 20 years on the job.
In Memoriam: Ken Hechler, West Virginia secretary of state from 1985 to 2001, died this week. He was 102. Hechler became secretary of state after serving nine terms in the U.S. Congress. He stepped down as secretary of state—at age 95—to challenge then Gov. Joe Manchin in the Democratic primary for Senate. Hechler graduated from Swathmore College and Columbia University. He was a combat historian during World War II. He marched with Martin Luther King in Selma, Alabama. He was an adviser and special assistant to President Harry Truman. Hechler is survived by his wife Carol whom he married in 2013 at the age of 98, and a stepson.