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II. Election News This Week
- With the State Elections Enforcement Commission beginning an investigation into the breakdowns in Hartford, Connecticut on Election Day, the city is continuing to face struggles related to the November 4 election. On Tuesday, the secretary of state’s office denied Hartford officials a 30-day extension to submit final results from November 4. The registrars asked for the extension because of “discrepancies” in the numbers and then turned in numbers showing 100 more absentee ballots than had previously been reported. "We have no explanation for their numbers. You would need to ask Hartford," secretary of the state spokesman Av Harris told The Hartford Courant. "Certainly, absentee ballots can be rejected, but you would need to get that explanation from them."
- Add the entire state of Florida to the growing list of jurisdictions concerned about its aging voting machines. Secretary of State Ken Detzner told Florida media that he would meet supervisors of elections next month to determine which counties are most in need of new equipment before the 2016 election season. “It’s kind of one of those things that you don’t think about until something happens,” Detzner said. “We know we need to do something.” Detzner anticipates about 30 counties will need new equipment.
- Mississippi law requires counties to order enough ballots to accommodate a 75 percent voter turnout. Since the law went into effect in 2013, Hinds County election commission chairwoman Connie Cochran has never ordered that many ballots and it’s never been a problem till this November. Cochran is now under fire for not ordering enough ballots that lead to long lines on Election Day. "You're damned if you do, damned if you don't," Cochran told The Clarion-Ledger. "We have never ordered 75 percent for any of those four elections." The county board of supervisor passed a resolution asking the state’s attorney general and secretary of state to impose sanctions on Cochran and also asked the county attorney to conduct an investigation. Hinds County has a runoff election on November 25 and Cochran told the paper she has ordered the required 75 percent of ballots. The state’s chapter of the NAACP has called for Cochran’s resignation.
- With Santa Clara County, California still counting ballots from the November 4 general election, there is now at least some clarity on what happened with the county’s IT director who abruptly quit the day before the election. Joe Le spoke with the San Jose Mercury News and told that paper that he left the job due to stress and frustrations. Le had been in the registrar’s office for 15 years and said he resigned after working a long stretch of hours. “I had just kind of had it," he told the paper.
- There was another type of vote shaming at work in New York, and the State Board of Elections Commissioners wants it to stop. The SBE received complaints from voters in Nassau County, that when they undervoted a certain race, an alert went off in the ballot scanning machine and poll workers would come to offer advice and possible see the voters ballot. Peterson said that poll workers should be trained about not requiring a voter to cast a vote in a given race. “If you undervote, you undervote,” he said at the end of the SBE’s recent meeting.
- Personnel News: It’s finally official, Byron Mallott is the new lieutenant governor of Alaska and therefore the state’s new chief elections official. Ken Cochran and Ann Jones will represent the GOP when the new Hall County, Georgia elections board is sworn in on January 1. For the Democrats it will be Gabe Shippy and Kim Copeland. Marvin McFadyen, the New Hanover County, North Carolina elections director has been arrested and charged with assault. Jason Barnett, Williamson County, Texas election administrator has resigned. The Rockwall County, Texas commissioners voted 4-1 to dismiss Elections Administrator Glenda Denton effective November 30. Danville, Illinois Election Commission Director Barbara Dreher announced this week that she will retire effective December 1. Dreher has come under fire from the local GOP recently for counting absentee ballots early. Dreher noted that the election was extremely stressful with changes to voting times, policies and procedures. "I don't need this," Dreher told The News-Gazette.
- In Memoriam: Lorain County, Ohio Board of Elections Chairman Robert G. Rousseau died suddenly on Monday. He was 64. Rousseau had served had on the board since 1984. “It’s a great loss to all of us, whether it’s politically among us Republicans, or at the board of elections. It’s a very personal loss, a good friend,” Helen Hurst, chairwoman of the Lorain County GOP told the Morning Journal. Rousseau also served as chair of the county’s GOP. Rousseau is survived by his wife, Carol; three sons; three grandchildren; his mother; and other family members.