IV. Election News This Week
Things aren’t always what they seem. At a recent auditors’ candidate forum in Pennington County, South Dakota, one candidate claimed that hundreds of people were illegally registered to vote at the local Wal-Mart. The Rapid City Journal looked into the claims and found 162 people registered to vote at the Wal-Mart. Forty-one of those voters were considered inactive. Many of the rest however, are RVers who use the Wal-Mart or mail-forwarding companies to register to vote. Voters are allowed to remain registered there because the state constitution allows it. It says, "Each elector who qualified to vote within a precinct shall be entitled to vote in that precinct until he establishes another voting residence. An elector shall never lose his residency for voting solely by reason of his absence from the state."
Elections officials are prepared for and have to deal with all sorts of natural phenomena from hurricanes to tornadoes to the occasional earthquake. And in Hawaii, they aren’t going to let any historic lava flows get in the way of democracy! On the Big Island, elections officials are mailing out absentee voting applications to 6,000 residents assigned to polling places in the pathway of the lava flow. Officials are also visiting shelters for displaced residents to make sure that they know how to get an absentee ballot.
This week, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) issued conditional pardons restoring the voting rights to more than 24,000 Empire State parolees. The original executive order, issued last month, covered all parolees. Cuomo’s actions this week raised concerns because one of the parolees with restored voting rights is Herman Bell, a parolee who service more than 40 years in prison for killing two NYPD police officers. According to The New York Post, Cuomo said those who’ve served their punishment in prison deserve their voting rights restored upon release and that it was “unconscionable” not to do so. “The right to vote is fundamental and it is unconscionable to deny that basic right of citizenship to New Yorkers who have paid their debt to society,” Cuomo said.
Barbershops have a long history of voting activism in the black community and now The Post and Courier in South Carolina has a story about how beauty shops are stepping up their game for the ladies. Brittany Mathis has launched the Soul to Sol Salon Project. Mathis works with beauty salons that allow her hang posters and leave information about registering to vote, update voter information or request and absentee ballot. The information in in English and in Spanish. "Not all of us go to church, but we all get a haircut," she told the paper.
Personnel News: After 27 years at the Oregon Elections Division, Deputy Director Brenda Bayes is set to retire May 31. Dennis Taylor, former secretary of the Kansas Dept. of Administration has announced that he will seek the GOP nomination for secretary of state. Jevon Williams has joined the St. John-St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands board of elections. William Gardner, the GOP nominee for secretary of state in North Dakota has withdrawn from the race leaving Democrat Josh Boschee to face Libertarian Roland Riemers in November. On Monday Incumbent Secretary of State Al Jaeger announced that he would run as an independent in the November general election. R. Kyle Ardoin has officially been sworn in as the Louisiana secretary of state. Diane Magra has announced her resignation from the St. Thomas-St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands board of elections.