III. Election News This Week
A new study from the University of California, Davis found that 61 percent of Californians are not too keen on the state’s plan to move to a vote-by-mail/vote center combo. The UC Davis study found that voters who currently vote using mail ballots instead of at neighborhood polling places preferred the vote centers in greater numbers, although a majority still rated the centers unfavorably. Fifty-three percent of voters who vote by mail said they do not like the idea of voting centers versus 71 percent of polling place voters. The study also found significant demographic differences. As a group, African Americans showed the most dislike for voting centers with 72 percent opposed followed by 65 percent of whites who don't like the idea. “Change can be difficult or it can be confusing, right, whether it’s big or small,” researcher Mindy Romero of UC Davis' California Civic Engagement Project, who conducted the study told SCPR. The study recommended extensive voter education efforts. While the public may still be unsure of the new system, some counties are rushing to have it in place for the 2018 election cycle. Those counties include Sacramento, Napa, San Mateo and Nevada.
After adding 11 new drop boxes, 94 percent of King County, Washington residents live within three miles of a drop box. Despite the increase in drop boxes, during the August 1 primary about 52 percent of ballots were sent through mail compared with 48 percent dropped at a box. According to the Kent Reporter, elections officials don’t know why fewer voters used the drop boxes in the August primary, but some speculate that with school out many families may have been on vacation and therefore used the mailbox instead of drop box. Still, drop box use is growing and the majority of ballots returned in the 2016 general election were done so via drop box.
The Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy has an interesting article about how foundations are helping to ensure access to the voting booth.
Personnel News: Gordon Ward has been appointed deputy Democratic elections commissioner in St. Lawrence County, New York. Congratulations to Danda Parker, Navarro County, Texas elections administrator for receiving the CERA designation. Mary Morgan has retired from the Sequoyah County, Oklahoma election board after 17 years on the job. Jeanne Survell is the new Pepperell, Massachusetts clerk. Kansas House Speaker Pro Tem Scott Schwab has filed exploratory paperwork for a run for secretary of state. Congratulations to Ann Kurasaki of Show Low, Arizona for being named the Clerk of the Year by the Arizona Municipal Clerks’ Association. Joseph Guzman (R), an assistant professor at Michigan State University has joined the race for Michigan secretary of state.