II. Election News This Week
A report by a coalition of voting rights groups called Keystone Vote, charges that as many as 26,000 Pennsylvanians, including 17,000 Philadelphians, were left off the voter rolls for the 2016 election because their voter registration forms were not processed quickly enough. “We are in business of franchising voters, not disenfranchising voters,” City Commissioner Lisa Deely told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “I am really perplexed. … We need time to verify what they are saying. Where did they get these numbers?” Ray Murphy, a spokesman for Keystone Votes, said the Public Interest Law Center requested from the Department of State all voter-registration transactions from 2016 and noted whether the application was approved or rejected and when.
A report by the Election Integrity Project found more than 4,300 incidents in 15 California counties that the group believes threaten the integrity of elections. The incidents include things such as failure to ask for voters’ names at check-in, failure to ensure voter privacy and a lack of supplies at polling places. “California has a lot of work to do not only to ensure fair and honest elections, but also to convince the public that there is a reason to participate in the process,” the report concludes. According to the Press-Enterprise, the group describes itself as a “nonpartisan, citizen volunteer organization whose mission is to advocate for fair and honest elections in California.” Orange County Registrar of Voters Neal Kelley told the paper he’s not sure of the project’s methodology or where its data come from. “Unfortunately, not having received or reviewed the report, we cannot comment on any specifics,” said a statement from the LA County registrar’s office. “We have a very rigorous poll monitoring program and work cooperatively with individuals and organizations who observe elections – including providing direct access on Election Day to ensure quick response or corrective action, if needed.”
DuPage County, Illinois Board Chairman Dan Cronin said this week that he is prepared to seek voter approval to eliminate the county’s election commission. According to the Daily Herald, Cronin was waiting for the state Legislature to merge the current election commission with the county clerk’s office, but the bill got bogged down. Cronin said he's prepared to pursue a binding referendum to simply return election oversight to the county clerk's office -- power stripped from that office in the early 1970s to create the election commission. "I'm ready to dissolve the election commission and hand over all of the responsibilities for running elections and administering elections to the county clerk," Cronin told the paper.
In the latest round of Reagan vs. the Recorders, Arizona’s 15 county elections officials are at odds with Secretary of State Michele Reagan over whose fault it is that a committee that makes sure the state’s voter registration database is working has lapsed. Although the latest spat is over the state’s old voter registration database, officials who spoke with The Republic said it was really about the proposed new voter registration database. "I think the counties got tired of being pushed around," F. Ann Rodriguez, the Pima County recorder told the paper. Most counties have stopped payments to the state for the existing voter registration system in an effort to force the secretary of state’s office to schedule a meeting about the new voter registration database. “This is probably the biggest meeting of the year for us," David Stevens, Cochise County recorder told the paper. "We’re sort of flailing in the wind.”
Voters went to the polls (or mailboxes) in several states this week including California, Mississippi and New Jersey. Overall turnout was relatively light and the problems were few. In New Jersey, Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno pulled double duty by voting for herself in the Republican primary for governor and, as the state’s top elections official, assuring the public of the integrity of New Jersey’s voting system in the wake of reports of Russian hacking. Polls in Morristown opened about 75 minutes late because the head custodian of the polling place location was late. In Wanaque it was ballots vs. basketballs when there was an attempt to move a polling place — mid-vote — for a basketball fundraiser. The fundraiser moved instead. And hats off to Laura Wooten who at 96 served as a poll worker at the same polling site she’s worked for 78 years! In Mississippi, a voting location in Jackson ran out of ballots more than an hour before the polls closed. Voters had to wait in line while elections officials resupplied the polling place.
Personnel News: Christopher M. Thomas, director of elections for the state of Michigan will join the executive board of the U.S. Vote Foundation following his retirement later this month. Berniece Butler of Appanoose County, Iowa was recently presented with the Medallion Award from the National Association of Secretaries of State for her years of service to helping voters in the county. She will turn 100 later this summer. David Karmol has been appointed to the Lucas County, Ohio board of elections. Jennifer Hudon, Manitowoc, Wisconsin clerk for more than 20 years is preparing to retire. Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman has announced in her newsletter “Wyman’s Wire” that she has completed her cancer treatments. “Now there’s a period of recovery before I learn the results of the treatments,” Wyman wrote in her newsletter. “That will be a challenge, but I’m confident my doctors will help me through it.” We wish her a continued and speedy recovery.