II. Election News This Week
Alabama Special Election: The eyes of the world turned to Alabama this week for the Senate special election. While the election was not problem-free, there were not widespread problems and polls closed on time. With turnout around 40 percent, long lines did form in some voting locations. In Montgomery, only one vote tabulation machine was working during the morning hours which added to the lines. There were issues in Mobile when some voters whose addresses on their license did not match that on their voter registration. Voters were referred to a clerk rather than being allowed to vote. A voter’s ID address does not have to match their registration address in order to be able to vote. At one polling place in Morgan County, poll workers were improperly requiring voters to declare party affiliation before allowing them to vote. There was also a lot of discussion about a court decision — ultimately going to the state’s Supreme Court—that did not require the state to preserve digital images of ballots cast. In the days leading up the election, a 2015 news story about voter ID in Alabama began making the rounds with many armchair election geeks expressing concerns about voter suppression. The Washington Post’s Wonkblog does a great deep dive into the story and how old news can affect current situations.
U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) sent a letter to National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster asking McMaster to take additional steps to secure elections. According to FCW, in the letter Wyden asked McMaster to designate a senior White House election security czar to brief Congress of executive branch election security efforts, direct the National Institute for Standards and Technology and the Department of Homeland Security to grade states on their election infrastructure and designate political campaigns as critical infrastructure.
In an attempt to boost voter registration and turnout in Tennessee, U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Nashville) and state Sen. Steve Dickerson (R-Nashville) are teaming proposing Project Register. The project, which is similar to one they started for young voters, would reach adults in workplaces by getting employers to send out reminders to vote in company emails and links to online voter registration and to include voter registration information in the hiring process. As of this week, 75 businesses representing 125,000 employees have signed on to participate in the project. These businesses range from major corporations to local nonprofits to an association of real estate agents and local universities.
We mentioned in a previous edition that there were a lot of tied races on Election Day 2017 and when we said there were a lot, we weren’t kidding. Mercer County, Pennsylvania alone had 47 tied races. All of the ties were for municipal auditors and poll workers. All but four of the elections were won by candidates receiving one vote. The ties were broken by the drawing of lots…a lot of lots. Washington County also had its fair share of ties, most of which were positions on local boards of elections, but there were also ties in commissioner, auditor and tax collector races.
It’s a major award, times two! The Seminole County, Florida supervisor of elections has won the First Time Voter Award from ICPS and the International Electoral Awards Committee. The award recognizes electoral management bodies and electoral officials who have taken outstanding measures to facilitate and optimize the electoral experience for first time voters. Seminole County won for the county’s Future Voter program. Also at the awards, Los Angeles County’s Dean Logan was named winner of the 2017 Electoral Ergonomy Award. The category of Electoral Ergonomy recognizes election officials who have tailored electoral procedures to the psychology of the voters and the specific characteristics of their electorate.
And a hearty congratulations to the Miami Dolphins who were successfully able register every single player to vote.
Personnel News: Harrison County, Texas Clerk Patsy Cox is retiring after 18 years on the job and before that she was appointed Texas’ first elections administrator in 1985 and served in that role for nearly 15 years. Kankakee County, Illinois Clerk Bruce Clark, the longest serving clerk in Illinois, announced his retirement this week after 32 years on the job. His last day will be December 31. Longtime Napa County, California, assessor-clerk-recorder John Tuteur has announced plans to seek another term. Finney County, Kansas Clerk Anita Garcia has announced her resignation, effective Jan. 9, 2018. Will Gardner (R) has announced he will run for secretary of state in North Dakota.