III. Election News This Week
Voters in Texas and Puerto Rico are still feeling the effects of Hurricanes Harvey and Maria. In Harris County, Texas, frustrated voters have reached out to local television station airing their concerns about being placed on a suspended voter list after voter registration confirmation post cards were returned to the elections office. “I want to make it very clear: if you are on the suspended list you are still eligible to vote,” Mike Lykes, voter registration office chief of staff told KHOU. Lykes said the office simply needs to know where displaced voters live. That means they need to turn in signed paperwork either in person or by mail. And in Connecticut, Secretary of State Denise Merrill said that her office is working with local governments and community groups to identify and register as many hurricane-displaced Puerto Ricans as possible. Although advocacy groups are busy registering residents, Merrill said at a press conference that she felt it was important that her office be involved. It’s estimated about 4,000 Puerto Ricans have relocated to Connecticut.
The top elections official’s job is on the ballot in 24 states this year and iVote, a “left-leaning ballot access group” plans to spend at least $5 million across swing states to elect Democratic secretaries of state according to The Washington Post. “Republicans have understood the importance of the office,” said iVote president and founder, Ellen Kurz. “There isn’t a single Democratic swing state secretary of state. And dozens of states have taken away opportunities to vote, purged voter rolls and disenfranchised certain voters every year.” According to the AP, the group will focus their attention on Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico and Ohio.
Although we don’t talk about the candidate-side of elections too often, we thought this partnership between the Kentucky and West Virginia secretaries of state was a good idea given the times we live in. Secretary of State Allison Lundergan Grimes (D-Kentucky) and Mac Warner (R-West Virginia) are both distributing the Cybersecurity Campaign Playbook to all candidates seeking office in 2018. According to the Huntington News Net, the Playbook was created by Defending Digital Democracy (DDD), the bipartisan initiative at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard Kennedy School. The document was originally released in print and online formats in November 2017 with the goal of providing political campaigns, candidates and their staff with the basic information to prevent digital attacks. "Election officials are constantly on guard to protect our election infrastructures from those who seek to undermine our democratic process. And campaigns and political organizations are targets, too," Grimes said in a statement. "I'm proud to partner with Secretary Warner to provide candidates in our states with the Cybersecurity Campaign Playbook. It is a fundamental resource to help them defend their campaigns in an environment of unprecedented cyber risks."
Throwback Thursday: We’re going to participate in a bit of throwback Thursday and take you all back to a gentler time, all the way back to 2013 when the biggest concerns about a hacked election came from a fictional TV show!
Personnel News: Rebecca Little is the new Crawford County, Pennsylvania director of elections and voter services. Tiana McCall has been appointed clerk of Winnebago County, Illinois. Chris Piper has been appointed commissioner of the Virginia Department of Elections. Piper is the former executive director of the Virginia Conflict of Interest and Ethics Advisory Council and more recently served as deputy director of the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission. Danda Parker is stepping down as the Navarro County, Texas elections officer. Dayna Causby is the new Missoula County, Montana elections administrator. Causby was formerly the Cleveland County, North Carolina board of elections director. Attorney Jose Slavador Tellez has been appointed interim elections administrator in Webb County, Texas. North Dakota Secretary of State Al Jaeger (R) officially announced that he is seeking re-election. Joe Bridgman is the new Livingston County, Michigan elections coordinator. George Wolfe, professor emeritus at Ball State University has announced that he is running for Indiana secretary of state. Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos has joined the executive committee of the Council of State Governments. Rep. Josh Boschee (D) has announced his candidacy for North Dakota secretary of state. Spencer Danner, a former City of Omaha department head has announced his candidacy for secretary of state. Mark Snell, is out as chief of staff in the Iowa secretary of state’s office. Susan Chapman, a former first selectman, is running for Connecticut secretary of state.