III. Election News This Week
ES&S has hired risk management firm Kroll to provide fraud prevention and identity theft recovery services for registered voters in Chicago for a year. ES&S provides the city’s poll books and in 2016 the city’s voter rolls were found posted on Amazon Web Services. According to the Chicago Tribune, while ES&S maintains "investigations have not uncovered any evidence that any voter's personal information stored on the AWS server was misused," the firm said in a news release Thursday that it was bringing in Kroll "out of an abundance of caution."
According to an article in AL.com, Alabama’s law that requires ex-felons to repay all outstanding court fines, legal fees and victim restitution before they may regain their right to vote, has created an underclass of thousands of people who are unable to vote because they do not have enough money. Although Alabama has recently changed its law to make it easier for felons convicted of certain crimes to regain their voting rights, they still must fulfill all financial obligations. Researchers with the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard and Yale published a study earlier this year which states that “a majority of all ex-felons in Alabama, white, black or otherwise, cannot vote because they owe a debt to the state.”
Harris County, Texas officials announced this week that as many as three dozen polling places were damaged during Hurricane Harvey and may not be available for November. Harris County Clerk Stan Stanart urged voters to cast early ballots using one of the county’s 45 early voting sites. According to the Houston Chronicle, Harris County had 765 polling locations in November during the presidential election and about 5 percent might not be available for the upcoming election. Stanart also encouraged those who were eligible to vote-by-mail. With the election still a month away, Stanart was hopeful that some of the damaged polling sites would be back online. "It might be that we're finding out they're becoming available at the last minute," Stanart said.
Governing Magazine has an interesting look at automatic voter registration and how, as it expands nationwide, it may impact who is registered to vote. The article questions whether or not AVR may actually be more beneficial to Republicans than Democrats because there are 1.6 times as many unregistered non-Hispanic whites as there are unregistered minorities. “Not all minorities are Democrats,” Justin Leavitt, law professor at Loyola Marymount Univeristy told the magazine. “Not all Anglos are Republicans. Not all of either group would register even in an automatic registration structure. So there's no way to know whether more of one group would register than the other.”
Hmmmm, we’re not sure how the elections dog will feel about this one, but the Adams County, Pennsylvania board of elections voted this week to ban the presence of animals at polling places. According to The Evening Sun, the ban doesn’t stem from a specific incident, but just a prohibitive county stance based on the uptick of people traveling with animals. "We're just trying to get ahead of the curve in having some type of policy, not only in our polling places, but also in our county buildings as well," Commissioner Randy Phiel told the paper. Service animals will be allowed at polling places as long as they have a leash or other kind of restraint. "Some people's comfort animal is another person's phobia," Commissioner Marty Qually said.
Personnel News: Maxine Daniels is retiring as the DeKalb County Georgia director of voter registrations and elections after 16 years on the job. Mark Robert Gordon, an elections law attorney has announced his candidacy for the Arizona secretary of state’s office. Gary Mordica has been appointed to the Forrest County, Mississippi elections commission. Tracy Overstreet has been appointed Grand Island, Nebraska election commissioner.