II. Election News This Week
According to the Wisconsin Elections Commission, the number of late absentee ballots not counted in the 2016 general election more than doubled from 2012 after lawmakers moved up the return deadline by three days. In 2012, there were 498 late-arriving ballots and in 2016 there were 1,208. The new deadline, used for the first time in November 2016, required that absentee ballots be received by the municipal clerk’s office by 8pm on Election Day instead of just postmarked by 8pm on Election Day.
Although Montana’s May 25 special election will not be an all-mail ballot affair, many Montanans will cast their ballot by mail in the special election as well as the May 2 school board election, which is causing some confusion. Voters who have received their school board ballots have been calling elections boards to find out why the congressional race is not on the ballot. Missoula County Elections Coordinator is hoping some foresight she had will help. All the school board ballots have a large green stamp on the front of the envelope that says they are due May 2. “We saw the overlap of the two elections earlier this year and were proactive about it by making sure that the packets were color coded and also had Due By dates printed on outside of the envelope,” Connors told KGVO.
This week, Rhode Island Secretary of State Nellie M. Gorbea released a report of election improvements compiled by an Elections Task Force. Among the recommendations discussed were legislative initiatives such as In-Person Early Voting, Automatic Voter Registration, Post-election Audits, and clarifying the number of voting machines that the Board of Elections can allocate at each polling place. These initiatives are currently under review at the General Assembly. “2016 was quite an election year with the administration of three statewide elections and the implementation of new technology like online voter registration, new voting equipment and an electronic poll book pilot program,” Secretary Gorbea said. “Any time you implement something new, it’s good to debrief and discuss what worked and what didn’t go as planned. As the state’s Chief Elections Official, I convened this task force to do just that.”
New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver has announced the formation a Native American Voting Taskforce. The taskforce will be charged with identifying ways to boost voter registration, education and election participation in tribal communities. The taskforce will include representatives from the Navajo Nation, the Jicarilla Apache Nation, the Mescalero Apache Tribe, the Fort Sill Apache Tribe, the nineteen pueblos, and a Native American who resides in an urban area. “It’s imperative that we do all we can to register New Mexico Native Americans to vote, to educate them about the timing of elections and what’s on the ballot, and to get them to the polls to vote,” said Secretary Toulouse Oliver. “I’m confident my Native American Voting Taskforce will generate new and creative ways to effectively engage Native voters and increase their election participation.”
By a 3-2 vote, the St. Thomas-St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands election board voted not to certify a recent special election over ongoing concerns whether or not they need to decertify the losing candidate first. Senate President Myron Jackson has said that the court will have to have the final say on the election.
Congratulations to Ada County, Idaho for being name a finalist in Fast Company’s 2017 World Changing Ideas Awards for its food-truck style mobile voting unit. “It’s not often that government is recognized for innovative ideas," Ada County Chief Deputy Clerk Phil McGrane stated in a press release. "We appreciate being among the businesses and nonprofits that make up the list of finalists. With our successful rollout last November, we hope other jurisdictions will take up the Food Truck Voting concept and we’ll see voting expand even wider." Congratulations! ElectionlineWeekly is proud to say we knew you when…
In other congratulations news, a hearty congratulations to Charles Stewart, III of MIT who was named to the 2017 class of Andrew Carnegie Fellows. Stewart is among 35 scholars and intellectuals who will receive up $200,000 to support a research sabbatical. According to MIT News, The Carnegie fellowship will allow Stewart to write more for electionlineWeekly…or possibly take an overview of all the questions about elections he has been working on, and analyze the state of democratic voting from a larger perspective.
Personnel News: Henry Ficklin has been sworn into the Bibb County, Georgia elections board. South Dakota State Auditor Steve Barnett has announced that he will run for secretary of state in 2018. James Hartley has officially been removed from the Lucas County, Ohio board of elections. After 27 years on the job, Maria Tomasia is stepping down from the New Bedford, Massachusetts elections commission. Will Nesbitt is stepping down as the Danville, Illinois election commission director. Sandra Smith has been appointed chair of the Limestone County, Alabama board of registrars. David Belle Isle, mayor of Alpharetta, Georgia has announced he is running for the secretary of state position in 2018. Rokey Suleman has been appointed the elections director in Richland County, South Carolina (congratulations Rokey!).