III. Election News This Week
The National Association of Secretaries of State met in Indianapolis earlier this week and while the White House’s request for voter data was a major topic of conversation, so too was cybersecurity. According to the Chicago Tribune, secretaries of state voiced their frustration by the lack of information from federal intelligence officials on allegations of Russian interference with the 2016 election. "Over 20 states have been hampered with in some fashion, but no one seems to know what states they are, which means the Department of Homeland Security has not shared that information," says Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate. "We're still a little frustrated on that count."
Ten percent of the North Carolina county boards of elections cannot conduct business because they lack the required number of members. The 3-member boards have had someone step down and that person cannot be replaced because the governor is currently locked in a legal battle over how county boards of elections are chosen. Boards of elections are doing the best they can to prepare for upcoming elections. “This is all behind the scenes, it's not going to affect the voters. It's just headaches for those of us in the office,” Dave Davis, Pitt County elections director told The Reflector. “Voters are going to be able to vote.” “The boards with two members cannot hold meetings because they cannot make quorum,” said Patrick Gannon, a spokesman with the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement. “Counties without three members are directed to follow their usual business practices as to all matters that do not require a direct vote of the board.”
St. Louis conducted its first election under the state’s new voter photo ID law this week and according to published reports, while there was some confusion, there were no major problems stemming from the new law. Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft happened to be visiting a polling place when a voter arrived without ID and according to the St. Louis Post Dispatch, he informed the voter about the provisional ballot process. Some voters told the Post-Dispatch they were confused or nervous as they waited to cast their ballots, unsure if the identification they brought was sufficient. Ashcroft had high praise for poll workers and elections officials. Advocates had tried to block the implementation of the law before the election weren’t successful. “We weren’t throwing stones at Ashcroft. He didn’t have the money to do it,” Denise Lieberman of the Advancement Project told the paper. “But inadequate education and inadequate worker training leaves people in a state of confusion. What happens when voters get confused is they stay home.”
Officials in Missoula County, Montana are at odds with the secretary of state’s office over assertions by Secretary Corey Stapleton that voter fraud is a problem in the county. Of the 47,000 ballots cast in Missoula County during the recent special election, 91 were rejected as fraudulent but only one was incorrectly counted. The miscounted ballot was ultimately found and voided. The county reported that one case, not all 91 to the Missoula Police Department and the secretary of state’s office. “That’s where things got somewhat bizarre,” County Attorney Matt Jennings told the Missoulian. “We didn’t know the magnitude that the Secretary of State was treating this with until we received a press release saying they were treating this as fraud.” A heated email exchange ensued with the county questioning why it was being singled out when other counties had hundreds of rejected ballots. County commissioners has sent a letter to the secretary defending their elections office and seeking an explanation for the office’s assertions.
Personnel News: Phillip Warren, the Wilson County, Tennessee administrator of elections was recently elected president of the Tennessee Association of County Election Officials. State Sen. Josh McKoon has announced that he is running for secretary of state in Georgia. Pam Frejosky is the new Cheatham County, Tennessee administrator of elections. Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson is the new president of the National Association of Secretaries of State. Katie Harding is the new Lake County, Montana elections administrator. Twila Jones of the Pender County, North Carolina board of elections has been awarded with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine for being one of the longest-serving members of a county board of elections in the state. She has been on the board for 28 years. Alabama Probate Judge Alan King (D) has been appointed to the presidential election commission. Jena Griswold (D), an attorney with federal and state government experience has announced her campaign for Colorado secretary of state.