II. Election News This Week
There were two storms brewing in New Hampshire this week. While snow, sleet and wind pounded the Granite State some local clerks were at odds with the secretary of state and the governor when they chose to cancel town elections because they were scheduled for Tuesday during the height of the late-winter blizzard. A lawyer for the New Hampshire Municipal Association said the towns have the authority to make the decision themselves to postpone elections while the secretary of state’s office insisted that voting could not be postponed. "There is some differing opinion on the state level as to ... whether that is a valid process for them to take," Gov. Chris Sununu told SeacoastOnline. "Given that there are differing opinions, the best we can do is strongly recommend that all towns stay open for voting…." Numerous town postponed their elections till later this week and through the weekend, but some did remain open for voting and for those that did, voters arrived any way they could.
Kids grow up so fast these days and last election season in Wisconsin, a few 17-year-olds took that just a step too far by casting ballots in the primary election although they were not eligible. While some states do allow 17-year-olds who will be 18 at the time of the general election vote in the primary, Wisconsin is not one of those states. According to a report from the Wisconsin Elections Commission, at least 60 17-year-olds voted. Reid Magney, spokesman for the commission told the Wisconsin State Journal that he’d never seen this issue crop up before and believes that the teens were likely encouraged to go to the polls by messages on social media. The cases have been referred to local prosecutors but it is unclear if they will result in any prosecutions.
A report by the Kansas Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights says that the state’s proof-of-citizenship requirement and voter ID law “may impose substantially higher burden than that which has been previously challenged in the U.S. Supreme Court.” The advisory committee report says that research has found that stricter ID and registration requirements can suppress voter participation. It goes on to say that a preliminary analysis of Kansas turnout data “suggests that voter participation declined following the implementation of the SAFE Act.”
Congratulations to Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate who won the National State Boards of Education Award for Outstanding Leadership in Voter Education. Pate was recognized for his efforts in conducting two statewide Iowa Youth Straw Polls and the Iowa Youth Caucus. “Our congratulations to Secretary Pate and his staff on their hard work teaching the next generation to carry the torch of liberty,” Gloria Kirshner, president of National Student/Parent Mock Election organization said in a statment. “Our mission is to light a fire in the hearts of our young, empowering them to preserve and protect government of the people, by the people and for the people for generations to come, and Secretary Pate’s efforts in Iowa align perfectly with that mission.” The Iowa Youth Straw Polls were the culmination of Caucus 101 and Elections 101. Those are free, online, social studies curricula developed by Secretary Pate and written by Iowa teachers for Iowa students. They are available for anyone to use at Elections101.org.
The John S. and James L. Knight foundation this week announced renewed support to two separate nonprofit organizations — Democracy Works and the Center for Technology and Civic Life — to help increase voter participation in elections and break down barriers to civic engagement through technology. Democracy Works will receive $2.5 million to expand its work in college and corporate outreach as well as expand its work with election officials by launching the Election Technology Cooperative. The Center for Technology and Civic Life will receive a grant for $508,000 to continue CTCL’s work in training municipal officials to use digital tools for community outreach and elections planning.
And our sympathies to Charlotte County, Florida Supervisor of Elections Paul Stamoulis. As reported by UPI a driver “cutting through” a Florida Wal-Mart parking lot accidentally hit the gas instead of the brake and her car ended up atop Stamoulis’ classic 1959 Corvette. The story notes that Stamoulis remained calm throughout the ordeal and if that’s case, we’re pretty convinced he must be downright stoic on an election night. Here’s hoping it’s not a complete loss.
Personnel News: After 22 years on the job, Chesterfield County, Virginia’s Registrar Larry Haake is retiring effective April 1 (seriously). South Dakota Secretary of State Shantel Krebs has announced that she is running for Congress. Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp has indicated his plans to run for governor although there has been no official announcement. Also in Georgia, State Rep. Buzz Brockway (R-Lawrenceville) has announced his plans to run for secretary of state in 2018. Linda Smith is retiring as the Klamath County, Oregon clerk. She was first elected in 1999. Congratulations to Eileen McCracken, Hingham town clerk, for being named citizen of the year. Congratulations are also in order for Sebastian County, Arkansas Clerk Sharon Brooks who received the National Association of Secretaries of State Medallion Award.