II. Election News This Week
That’s some pig! We’ll get to that pig in a moment, but voters in New Hampshire headed to the polls this week for the first-in-the-nation primary and while there were early concerns about the impacts the state’s new voter ID law may have on turnout or the process, those fears seemed to be unfounded. There were of course lines and traffic jams. In Merrimack, the polls had to be kept open past the 8 p.m. closing time to accommodate a line of voters who were caught in a traffic jam outside of the polling place. Plymouth polling places reported lines for those who wanted to register and vote that day. In the late afternoon there was a line in Manchester that was more than 100 feet long. Oh, and as we mentioned there was a pig. It seems a 600-lb sow broke free of her enclosure and headed toward a polling place in Pelham to check out what all the fuss was about on Tuesday. After spending about 45 minutes trying to round up the pig, Pelham police eventually called the farm from where they believe the pig escaped and the farmer came to get her. No word on whether she got an “I Voted” sticker or not, but we sure hope she did! Just think of what Charlotte would have had to say about that!
- Green is the new yellow in Maricopa County, Arizona. The county is changing the color of its ballots from yellow to green because apparently in some light it is possible to see the marked yellow ballots through the ballot secrecy envelope. Apparently, you can see through yellow," Karen Osborne, the county's elections director told The Arizona Republic. "But you have to work real hard at it." Osborne didn’t know what color green the ballots will be because she is color blind, but Yavapai County Recorder Leslie Hoffman told the paper that the ballots are a dark mint green.
- The Summit County, Ohio board of elections recently held an hour-long fact-finding hearing over whether or not black voters had been mistreated by white poll workers in 2015. While the board did not determine whether the incident in question actually happened, they did determine that there are practices or procedures in place to prevent an incident like the alleged one from happening and that the board would be creating new cultural and racial sensitivity practices and possibly additional training for poll workers.
- Although not mandated by law, Chicago and suburban Cook County, Illinois will offer ballots in Korean at 23 precincts that have a heavy concentration of Korean-Americans. The precincts will also have bilingual election judges available. “We are finding ways to open the doors to people to vote and make it easier, make it less intimating, less frustrating and find ways to bring people in,” State Rep. Elaine Nekriz (D-Northbrook) said at a recent press conference.
- We’ll file these under things that only happen every four years. Unaffiliated voters in Sacramento, California angrily flooded the county elections office with calls when a mailer they received did not give them the option of voting in the Republican primary. “The way I was reading this letter, I would have to chose one of the following options if I wanted to be able to vote,” Barbara Wells told CBS. But out of the three options, the Republican party was not one of them. “I almost drew a box and said ‘Republican’ next to it,” she said. Turns out there was nothing wrong with the mailer, the Republican party in California doesn’t allow unaffiliated voters cast ballots in its primary unless they want to register as a Republican. This affects about 1 in 4 voters in California. And in Massachusetts elections officials are concerned that as many as 20,000 voters who enrolled in the United Independent Party may have actually intended to register as independents and not with the small political party. Brian McNiff, a spokesman for the secretary of state’s office said that numerous emails and calls to the office by voters complaining that they had incorrectly signed up for the UIP prompted the secretary of state’s office to craft a statement on the voter registration form clarifying the difference between registering UIP and independent.
- Personnel News: Kai Schon is the new election director in the Wyoming secretary of state’s office. Schon had previously served as the state’s HAVA coordinator for eight years. Wendell Jones has retired from the Jackson County, Ohio board of elections. Sheila Mautz will serve as the interim Ontario City, California clerk. Jesse Neil has been tapped to serve on the Davidson County, Tennessee election commission. Lisa Lewis, deputy elections supervisor in Volusia County, Florida has announced that she will seek that office’s top spot. State Sen. Alan Hays (R-Umatilla) announced that he will seek the Lake County, Florida supervisor of elections seat.
- In Memoriam: Ed Lyons, Iredell County, North Carolina board of elections chairman died last week after a lengthy battle with cancer. He was 55. Lyons first joined the board of elections in 2007 and was appointed chairman in 2013. Becky Galligher, director of the county board of elections said that despite Lyons’ heavy involvement with the local Republican party, when he was doing elections board business “he was gracious to everybody -- he looked after both parties. My heart is just broken,” she told the Statesville Recorder & Landmark. “Ed was such a genuine person. I called him ‘the rock’.” Lyons served as treasurer of the Iredell County Republican Party and was a member of the executive committee of the N.C. Republican party. He was licensed to practice law in North and South Carolina, and was admitted to practice before the United States Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals and federal courts in the Carolinas.