II. Election News This Week
Despite a report saying the county would save more than $10 million by adopting a new mail-ballot/vote center voting system, the Orange County Board of Supervisors voted down the proposal citing concerns about increased voter fraud. California Secretary of State Alex Padilla told the Orange County Register he was “surprised … shocked and deeply disappointed” by Orange County’s decision. Supervisors directed Registrar Neal Kelley—who supported the switch to the new system—to provide them with a proposal to replace the voting machines in all of the county’s 1,000 polling places. The paper said that could cost as much as $40 million.
Caledonia, Mississippi is taking a mulligan on its recent mayoral and alderman elections after the election commission voted 4-0 to toss the results of the election when questions arose about the handling of ballot boxes. One election commissioner allegedly took home a ballot box that was not properly sealed. That election commissioner — Ken Byars — has since resigned. “I'm good with that," Byars told the Commercial Dispatch. "I know that I didn't do anything intentionally wrong. To tell you the truth, we didn't even know we had the seals and I didn't know there was anything wrong with taking the ballot box with me. I had to take it somewhere when we left at midnight Tuesday. I put it in my locked truck and the box was padlocked and I had the key. In the past, we never had a situation where the election carried over until the next day. I regret what happened. It wasn't intentional." The new election is scheduled for July 18, but now there is a new wrinkle. One member of the election commission is the aunt of one of the candidates and that commissioner has chosen to resign so unless one of the three remaining election commissioners is able to get off of work, there will not be enough election commissioners to legally conduct the election.
One Illinois school district is on a mission to eliminate county elections officials from using schools as polling places. The Indian Prairie District 204 School Board wants the counties to pay for the security the schools require on election day — about $10,000 each election day. The board agreed to charge the counties the money and then leave it up to elections officials whether or not they wanted to pay for the security and therefore be able to use their buildings.
On the move: Several elections offices are making moves this week. In Monterey County, California’s elections office is moving to a new, bigger facility. The new facility is 20,000 square feet, while the old space was 14,000 square feet. The Schenectady County, New York board of elections is moving into the county’s unified communications center to avoid problems with flooding that the BOE experienced in the past. And in Ohio, the Muskingum County board of elections is moving to a new 6,500-square-foot building that also includes a 6,000-square-foot warehouse.
Congratulations to the Jackson County, Missouri Board of Elections that on June 18th will celebrate its 100th year. The BOE is hosting a centennial celebration with a century’s worth of elections memorabilia on display. Director Tammy Brown told KSHB that she hopes the celebration will encourage people to participate in the process. “It’s amazing what people went through for the right to vote. Minorities, women, I mean there’s so much history out there," Brown told the station. "People have fought for this right and it gets really depressing when you see election results coming in at fifteen percent.”
Personnel News: Kelly Arnold, Sedgwick County, Kansas clerk is considering a run for secretary of state. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has announced his candidacy for governor. Rossie Ross has been voted out as the Stewart County, Georgia board of elections chair. Dr. Anthony Bland has announced his campaign to run for Arkansas secretary of state.
In Memoriam: Marilyn Bensman, Democratic supervisor for the Lucas County, Ohio board of elections for 25 years died June 10. She was 84. Bensman spent her career at the board of elections, where she had a reputation as an efficient and well-organized supervisor whose petite frame belied a strong will, co-workers said. In the late 1980s, she oversaw the board’s transition to a digital system for verifying petition signatures. “Marilyn was always a pleasant person, always happy, but she was always worrying about the election,” Gary Byers, a municipal judge who worked with her at the board of elections told The Toledo Blade. “She always worried about getting it right. She would check and re-check and double check again. She was the kind of person you’d want overseeing elections.”