III. Election News This Week
A file containing the names, addresses, dates of birth and other information of about 1.8 million Chicago voters was publicly accessible for an unknown period of time on Amazon Web Services, a cloud system. The data was uploaded by ES&S which maintains Chicago’s poll books. "We were deeply troubled to learn of this incident, and very relieved to have it contained quickly," Chicago Election Board Chairwoman Marisel A. Hernandez said in a statement to the Chicago Tribune. "We have been in steady contact with ES&S to order and review the steps that must be taken, including the investigation of ES&S' AWS server. We will continue reviewing our contract, policies and practices with ES&S. We are taking steps to make certain this can never happen again." The data was discovered by an employee UpGuard, a cybersecurity firm that was doing routine research on the Amazon cloud. It is unclear if anyone else discovered the data.
This week, the Gwinnett County board of elections sent 12,000 letters in English and in Spanish to inform voters in two towns about changes to their polling location. This was the first time that the county has sent out bilingual materials since the U.S. Department of Justice determined that the county had “a significant number of voting-age citizens with limited English proficiency. Gwinnett is the first county in the state required to comply with the Voting Rights Act language requirements.
According to new research from the Pew Research Center, more voters than ever will have access to bilingual materials in the 2018 election cycle. New data from the Census Bureau show that 263 counties, cities and other jurisdictions in 29 states will now be subject to this requirement in future elections, a slight increase from five years ago. The jurisdictions that now must provide non-English ballots and other elections material – which include some communities on tribal lands – encompass 68.8 million voting-age U.S. citizens. That is 31.3 percent of the total U.S. voting-eligible population of 220 million, which consists of citizens ages 18 and older.
The City of Hartford, Connecticut and the State Elections Enforcement Commission have reached a settlement in a case over the problem-plagued 2014 election. Hartford will have to pay nearly $10,000 in fines after voters list were not delivered to polling places on time causing at least 14 sites in the city to open late. According to WVIT, the investigation was not able to determine exactly how many voters were turned away or how many voters might have decided to stay home when word of the problems spread.
The Southern Poverty Law Center has written a letter to Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill asking the state to restore hundreds of thousands of voters to the rolls who were put on the inactive list. There were widespread reports of confusion during the recent special election primary with voters showing up at the polls only to find out they were on the inactive list. Merrill insists that his office followed the law. In other inactive voter news, Georgia is changing its policy on how it treats voters who move within the same county. In the past, those voters had 30-days to respond to a post card or they would be placed on the inactive list.
Hamilton County, Indiana commissioners voted unanimously to eliminate the county’s bipartisan board of voter registration and instead transfer those duties to the county clerk’s office. The decision was met with surprise by both Democrats and Republicans, particularly because the vote was not listed on the commission’s agenda.
This is an idea that we can get behind! The Indian River County, Florida supervisor of elections office is conducting a contest to design the county’s new “I Voted” stickers. The contest is open to high school and college students. "The ‘I Voted”’ sticker contest is to inspire young adults to role in the democratic process and raise awareness about upcoming elections,” Leslie Swan, Indian River County’s supervisor of elections told the TC Palm. The winner will also receive a $50 gift card to Michaels from the Supervisor of Elections Office, family membership to the Vero Beach Museum of Art, and an artist membership to the Cultural Council of Indian River County. We cannot wait to see the winners in late September.
And speaking of “I Voted” stickers, a special shout out to Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Schedler for preaching about the power of the sticker, in particular Louisiana’s Blue Dog sticker. "It's the best investment we've ever made," Schedler told the Louisiana House Appropriations Committee hearing. "The buzz from voters and the publicity generated for Louisiana has been amazing.
Personnel News: Deputy Clerk Teresa Powell has been appointed Cabell County, West Virginia clerk. Stan Grot (R), Shelby Township clerk has announced his candidacy for the Michigan secretary of state’s office. State Sen. Mike Kowall is also seeking the Michigan secretary of state job. Connecticut Secretary of State Denise Merrill has announced that she will seek a third term as the state’s chief elections official. Steve King has resigned from the Wisconsin Elections Commission. Joey Keefe is the new director of communications for the New Mexico secretary of state’s office. Robert Rapoza has been named the new executive director of the Rhode Island board of elections.