III. Election News This Week
Officials in Fulton County, Georgia have reversed course and no longer plan on closing a number of polling places in majority black neighborhoods. “We heard from members of the public that they would be very inconvenienced and disrupted by certain changes,” Mary Carole Cooney, the chairwoman of the elections board told the Atlanta Journal-Consitution. “We decided that we would not change anything prior to the November election. We can always revisit that” after the election is complete, she said. The county had been sued by the ACLU of Georgia over the changes.
A group of former aides to President Donald J. Trump have created a new organization called Look Ahead America. According to the New York Times, the prospectus for the organization says that it will focus on engaging “disaffected” Americans and encourage them to vote and/or register to voter. The document also says that the group will seek to discourage or invalidate fraudulent votes by deploying poll watchers with cameras and conduct what it calls a forensic voter fraud investigation.
Several Utah counties conducted vote-by-mail elections this week and in a world of instant gratification that we now live in, Utah County, Utah’s clerk/auditor Bryan Thompson is warning candidates and residents that life may be forever changed now that the county has moved to vote-by-mail. “In a way, convenience and voting by mail may be mutually exclusive of more final results on election day,” Thompson told the Daily Herald. Also in in Utah County, some voters confusingly showed up at the polls on Tuesday due to a mail error that sent unaffiliated voters a GOP ballot.
In other vote-by-mail news, more than 100 mail ballots for the June primary in Mercer County, New Jersey were found in the Post Office in early July and therefore unable to be counted in the primary. Most of the found ballots were postmarked May 31 or June 1. Mercer County board of elections chairwoman Joanne Palmucci said the board was willing to hold a special meeting to count the ballots but that the state’s attorney general advised against it. Palmucci points the finger directly at the Postal Service. “There was no rhyme or reason for this, because every municipality had some in there and both parties were affected,” she said.
Good news for voters in Manatee County, Florida and Supervisor of Elections Michael Bennett. The American Legion Kirby Stewart Post 24 that had previously said it could no longer serve as a polling place because elections would interfere with BINGO night has had a change of heart. “I am grateful for the post’s flexibility that will allow our continued partnership serving the voters of Precinct 315. It is always in the best interest of Manatee County voters to preserve relationships that result in positive experiences at the polls,” Bennett wrote in a letter to the editor.
Personnel News: Stephen N. Reed has been named communications director for the National Association of Secretaries of State. Reed previously served as deputy secretary of state in West Virginia under Ken Hechler. Amanda Hutchinson is the new Uinita County, Wyoming clerk. Sandy Delhaye is the new Danville, Illinois election commission director. Cameron Quinn, former general registrar of Fairfax County, Virginia has been appointed the officer for civil rights and civil liberties at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Navarro County Elections Administrator Danda Parker has been appointed president of the Texas Association of Election Administrators.
In Memoriam: Longtime Cabell County, West Virginia Clerk Karen Cole has died. She was 57. Cole was appointed clerk in 2001 after serving as deputy clerk for 12 years. She was elected to the position four times, most recently in 2016. “She cared about her employees in a way few could,” Joe Fincham, assistant Cabell County prosecutor told the Herald-Disptach. “She loved her job. She loved the people that worked for her, and I really don’t think that the average citizen knows just how much of herself that she put into her job. She is survived by a fiancé, two adult children and several grandchildren.
Donna Defazio, executive assistant to the Butler County, Ohio board of elections director has died. She was 63. Defazio had worked for the board of elections for about 10 years. “She’ll be hard to replace,” Diane Noone, BOE director told the Journal-News. “She was my employee and my friend.” Defazio is survived by her husband, David, and two daughters, Holly Defazio and Heather Drinan. The board of elections office will close on Friday for her funeral.