III. Election News This Week
This week, the Alaska Division of elections sent out a mailer to 75,000 Alaskans asking whether they want to opt-out of the state’s new automatic voter registration program. Unlike other AVR states, Alaskans are automatically registered if they receive payments from the Permanent Fund Dividend. The state compares the voter registration database to the PFD database and then registers people or updates addresses. Residents have 30 days to respond to the mailers. Director of the Division of Elections Josie Bahnke said about 25,000 people have been added to the voter rolls and the information for 50,000 has been updated.
A new study from Yale University published in Political Behavior confirms prior research that those who vote are less likely to be convicted of crimes than non-voters, but it also shows that voting alone does not directly reduce criminality. "While voting is a worthy activity, it does not appear to prevent people from committing crimes or set them on a virtuous path toward good citizenship," said Gregory A. Huber, professor of political science at Yale University and a co-author of the study. "This does not mean that participatory democracy has no positive transformative effects on people, but it suggests that scholars should reconsider whether the simple act of voting or other civic engagement is sufficient to promote other pro-social behaviors." Overall, study subjects who voted in November 2010 were 55 percent less likely to be under state supervision -- incarceration, parole, or probation -- two years after the election than those who did not vote.
In 2016, the California Secretary of State’s office and the University of California system signed a memorandum of understanding with the university system committing to working to make it easier for students to register and vote. UC Student Regent Paul Monge told the Daily Bruin several student groups, are working with the university to implement the recommendations by the 2018 congressional elections. Some elements of the plan include creating an online voter registration portal that will automatically populate voter registration forms with student information, centralized polling places on campus and one university office that will be responsible for student voter engagement. “With the 2018 elections coming up, we want to have strong systems in place and we should have confidence in people getting registered and engaged,” Devon Graves, UC student regent-designate told the paper. “This is an important piece of a much bigger picture.”
Former Boone County, Missouri Clerk Wendy Noren was recently honored by the Boone County Democratic Party which recently dedicated the Wendy Noren Room at the group’s headquarters in her honor.
Our good friend Jamal was famous for saying that the same things that make you laugh will make you cry so we were happy to see that the folks in the Colorado secretary of state’s office were able to find some humor in an issue many of us have been “crying” about. According to 9 News, on Halloween staff member Steve Boueyput on a Russian hat and an elections security badge, and then walked around the office with a SOS voting systems book. Thanks for the laugh Steve. Wish we had thought of this one!
A Happy Belated Birthday (or Anniversary) to the Help America Vote Act of 2002. What a long, strange trip it has been indeed.
Personnel News: Rebecca Connors, Missoula County, Montana elections administrator, has announced that she will be stepping down to move to Helena. Efrem Elliot has been appointed Jefferson County, Arkansas election coordinator. Justin Lee has been appointed the new state elections officer in Utah.
In Memoriam: For this week’s In Memoriam, we hope you’ll indulge us just a bit as we say good-bye to Lulu the Wonderdoodle. Lulu was Doug Chapin’s 12-year-old golden doodle who passed away suddenly this week. Although she was never an office dog, Lulu was as much a part of the fabric of electionline as any of the two-legged members of the staff. She was by Doug’s side (well, snoozing on the nearby sofa) on many election days as Doug fielded phone calls from reporters and followed the news from around the country. She was always waiting for him when he returned home from the University of Minnesota or one of his many elections-related trips. She had to suffer through more of Doug’s puns than any of us ever did and no doubt did it with good humor. Run free Lulu.