III. Election News This Week
Pedro Cortes, one of the longest-serving secretaries of state in Pennsylvania’s history unexpectedly stepped down this week. According to The Philadelphia Inquirer no explanation for the resignation was given and the announcement was included in a personnel update from the governor’s office that included information about other personnel moves in the state. The governor’s office provided no explanation for the resignation, although Cortes’ office had recently come under fire about reports of noncitizens being able to register to vote through the state’s DMV voter registration process. “I’m not sure why [Cortes resigned] or what’s going on, but we’re hopeful to get answers to very important questions,” said Rep. Daryl Metcalf (R-Butler County) who had recently scheduled a hearing of the House State Government Committee about the noncitizen accusations. “We were hoping to hold [the hearing] to get answers to questions that are important to Pennsylvania voters about how these foreign nationals have gotten onto the voter rolls.”
U.S. Virgin Islands Supervisor of Elections Caroline Fawkes announced recently that the Sunny Isle Annex office of the Elections System for USVI was destroyed by Hurricane Maria. “The St. Croix office located in the Sunny Isle Annex has been destroyed. The voting equipment however and other election equipment in the main storage room was not damaged. We are cleaning up, planning to place our equipment in storage while we look for office space in coordination with the Department of Property and Procurement,” Fawkes told the Virgin Island Consortium. The St. Thomas-St. John District office survived both hurricanes but is functioning at limited capacity for the time being.
We have a winner! The votes are in and the residents of New York have chosen an “I Voted” sticker that depicts Rosalie Gardiener Jones, who led a two week, 150-mile march from New York City to Albany where more than 200 suffragettes hand over a petition for women’s voting rights in 1912. More than 18,000 votes were cast with the winning design receiving 9,322. “The "I Voted" sticker is our way of paying tribute to their struggle while challenging the women of today to not only exercise our right to vote, but to think about how we can continue to work together to achieve true equality for everyone," Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul said according to the Democrat & Chronicle.
But wait! There’s more! We have another winner! William Johnson, a student at Saint Edward’s School in Indian River County, Florida is the inaugural winner of an “I Voted” sticker contest conducted by the county supervisor of elections office. Students from six different schools submitted 37 designs. Johnson’s sticker features an Indian River skyline and a view under the sea. We like it!
Follow Up: Last week we wrote about a policy in Alabama that prohibits ex-felons who have completed their debt to society other than their monetary debt from voting. The practice left thousands of poor Alabamians without the right to vote. Secretary of State John Merrill has since clarified that the voters featured in AL.com’s story are in fact eligible to regain their voting rights. "The voter would be eligible to register to vote and would be allowed to do so regardless of whether they have come to the end of their assigned incarceration period," Merrill wrote in a Thursday email. "The voter would not be required to pay fines, fees, or restitution to register to vote."
Personnel News: Nellie Anderson, Stewart County, Tennessee election administrator since 1983 is retiring effective November 30.