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II. Election News This Week
- Through a Freedom of Information Act request, The Topeka Captial-Journal has gained access to an analysis of Kansas’ suspended voter registration list. Secretary of State Kris Kobach has touted the analysis — conducted by True the Vote — as proof of the need for Kansas’ proof-of-citizenship law, but his office has failed to release the information, even to lawmakers. While the analysis purports that 1 percent of the 25,000 people on the list are in fact non-citizens questions continue to swirl about how the data was reviewed and even the secretary’s office has said it is continuing to review the list and the analysis. Rep. John Carmichael, D-Wichita told the paper that even if the list contains some noncitizens, thousands of legal Kansans are being denied the right to vote.
- Maine’s possible move to ranked choice voting in local elections is on hold until at least 2016. The Committee for Ranked-Choice Voting, which had been gathering signatures to force a 2015 referendum on the matter has now said that it needs more time to educate voters and will work to get the measure on the 2016 ballot.
- Although the November 4 election is long certified and newly elected and re-elected officials are sworn in and hard at work, questions are swirling around the outcome of the Mineral County, Nevada election. According to a report first published in the Mineral County Independent News, 172 votes may not have been counted and the electronic cartridge and paper record containing those early votes are now locked in vault in the clerk’s office. The district attorney’s office is now investigating. "Was this an error or was this intentional?” Mineral County District Attorney Sean Rowe told KOLO-TV. "If there is any intentionality obviously this becomes a criminal matter." Regardless of whether an accident or intentional, with the election long-since certified by the elections office, canvassing board and county commission, there are many questions to how it got to this point with no one questioning the results.
- Perhaps we’ve watched The Departed one time too many, but when we think of things found floating in a Massachusetts river, elections documents aren’t one of them, but that’s exactly what happened. Recently, check-in sheets used by poll workers in 2012 were found floating in the Salisbury River and on its banks. “Somebody took our trash for whatever reason, and it ended up with a couch and some other trash in the river,” John McGarry, executive director of the Brockton election commission told The Enterprise. McGarry said no sensitive information was on the check-in sheets, but his office will still look into how it happened.
- Vote-by-mail is growing in popularity nationwide this story has to give some elections officials heartburn. An Oregon postal worker recently plead guilty to misdemeanor mail obstruction charges after failing to deliver two bins of mail including 27 ballots for a special election in May. Former postal worker Alex Douma told investigators that there was no malice in his failure to deliver the mail, he “just got lazy.”
- Yikes! The Niagara County, New York Sheriff’s Department is investigating a possible bullet hole found in the wall of the Niagara County board of elections storage building. Employee Lisa Gianquinto told The Buffalo News that the hole was definitely not in wall in November. A second hole was found in the interiors of the building and it was determined the bullet is still lodged in the wall.
- Personnel News: Freddie Harris has joined the Pope County, Arkansas election commission. Kentucky Secretary of State Allison Lundergan Grimes has announced that she will seek re-election instead of pursuing higher office. At this time, only one candidate — Steve Knipper — has filed as a GOP candidate. Hans Odde is the new deputy clerk in Park County, Wyoming. Tom Wiktorek and Miller Wilson have joined the Mississippi County, Arkansas election commission. Katrina Holbrook is the newest member of the Dawson, Georgia board of elections and voter registration. She replaces Charlie Vincent. Former Cass County, Missouri Clerk Janet Burlingame is the new city clerk in Peculiar. Grace Cherrington will replace Steve Harrington (see below) on the Licking County, Ohio board of elections. Bruce Coleman is the new chairman of the Crawford County, Arkansas election commission. Logan County Clerk and Recorder Pam Bacon has been named vice president of the Colorado County Clerks Association. Matthew Ward has been named Lucas County board of elections warehouse supervisor.
- In Memoriam: Former Licking County, Ohio board of elections member Steve Harrington died last week following a short illness. Harrington served on the board of elections for 11 years including as chairman. He resigned from the board on January 14 citing health reasons. "He certainly was a go-to person when they needed help at a polling place," Licking County Clerk Marcia Phelps told the Newark Advocate. "He valued the integrity of the election process."