II. Election News This Week
The Senate Intelligence Committee and the House Intelligence Committee held dueling hearings this week on role Russia played in the 2016 election. According to The Washington Post, Samuel Liles, the Department of Homeland Security’s acting director of the Office of Intelligence and Analysis Cyber Division, told the Senate committee that vote-tallying mechanisms were unaffected and that the hackers appeared to be scanning for vulnerabilities — which Liles likened to walking down the street and looking at homes to see who might be inside. But hackers successfully exploited a “small number” of networks, Liles said, likening the act to making it through a home’s front door. Over on the House side, former DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson testified that Russia’s meddling, directed by President Vladimir Putin, was “unprecedented, the scale and the scope of what we saw them doing.” Wisconsin Elections Commission Administrator Mike Haas, Illinois Board of Elections Director Steve Sandvoss and Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson (R) testified before the Senate committee.
While much has been made recently about the impacts Texas’ voter ID law had on the 2016 election a study of provisional ballots in Travis County found that it wasn’t just ID impacting a voter’s ability to cast a ballot. A total of 477,588 overall ballots were cast in the November election. Nearly 6,000 of those votes were provisional ballots, and over 4,300 of those were rejected. According to the Travis County Elections Division, of the 4,358 provisional ballots that were rejected in the November election, 44 rejected ballots were due to photo ID issues and 15 were because the voter was out of their assigned jurisdiction. The remaining 4,299 provisional ballots were rejected because a voter was not registered to vote in Travis County. “When in doubt check yourself out,” Michael Winn, director of elections for Travis County told Community Impact Newspaper.
We feel a bit like Oprah with this post. You get a vote center. You get a vote center. Everybody gets a vote center! Maricopa County, Arizona is gearing up for its first major election with a vote-by-mail/vote center system. Maricopa will join Yavapai, Yuma, Cochise, Graham and Santa Cruz which typically employee this hybrid system to conduct elections. Putnam County, Indiana is joining a growing list of Hoosier counties to move to the vote center system. While the county is still working on the details, the plan is to have them ready to go in 2018. The Texas secretary of state has approved Gregg County’s application to move a to a vote center process beginning in November 2017. And although they aren’t quite there yet, Sebastian County, Arkansas is on its way to moving to the vote center model. This week the county election commission approved the vote center proposal it will be submitted to the Quorum Court.
The Durham County, North Carolina Public Schools Board of Education is considering a new policy that will encourage high schools to register eligible students to vote. According to the Herald Sun, under the proposed policy, the superintendent would create a committee of high school social studies teachers and other appropriate school personnel to collaborate with the Durham County Board of Elections to facilitate and encourage voter registration at high schools. The policy also reminds school of the state law requiring high schools to keep registration forms on hand and make them available to students or anyone else who is eligible to register to vote. “It really puts into policy some of the practices that we already have in place,” Kelvin Bullock, the school district’s executive director for equity affairs told the paper.
Speaking of voter registration! The Miami Dolphins are looking to make history off the field by making sure that every player on the roster is registered to vote by National Voter Registration Day. According to ESPN, if they accomplish this feat, they will be the first professional sports team to do so. "The Dolphins are well on their way to being the first professional ball team in American history to have a roster of fully registered voters, and this is just the beginning," Bill Wachtel of the Drum Major Institute told ESPN.
Personnel News: Sandy Cherry, Cheatham County, Tennessee elections administrator has announced her resignation effective July 28. Cook County Recorder of Deeds Karen Yarbrough said she plans to run for clerk. Congratulations to Donna Maldonado who was recognized by the Floyd County, Georgia board of commissioners for 19 years as an elections technician with the county’s board of elections and registration. New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver has announced that she will seek a full four-year term as secretary of state in 2018. Art Auer, the Boone County, Missouri director of elections has been appointed interim clerk. Wayne Bena, Sarpy County, Nebraska election commissioner has been hired to serve as the new deputy secretary of state for elections. Longtime Cook County, Illinois Clerk David Orr announced this week that he will not seek re-election for an eighth term [Don’t worry, we’ll be sure to sit him down for an exit interview before his term ends]. Ian K. Linnabury has been appointed to the Illinois State Board of Elections.