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II. Election News This Week
- As a way to boost turnout, elections officials in Alaska are considering a program that would automatically register Alaskans to vote when they apply for annual dividend funds. Kim Reitmeier, executive director of the ANCSA Regional Association is working on a ballot initiative that could merge Permanent Fund dividend applications with voter registration. We're constantly watching what other states are doing and how we can adopt best practices, but obviously in Alaska we have this great thing called the PFD, which you know hits such a large number of Alaskans,” Reitmeier, told the Alaska Daily News.
- A report released by the Florida auditor general this week criticizes the Department of State for its handling of the voter registration database in the Sunshine State. According to the Tampa Bay Times, the review of the state's management of the Florida Voter Registration System, or FVRS, which contains data on all voters, found that maintenance and performance controls need to be improved; disaster recovery plans have not been tested for four years; 14 workers had "inappropriate" access to the database; employees on the job for less than a year received no security training; and protection of confidential data on voters has to be more secure.
- Election administration is once again taking center stage in the 2016 presidential election this time with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) targeting the state’s nonpartisan Government Accountability Board for elimination. Kevin Kennedy, director of the GAB recently told a Sunday morning talk show that the accusations against the board were “absolutely ridiculous.” "I think most of the work we do takes place outside of all the political dramas, and it's not unusual that the referees can make calls that the people in power don't like," Kennedy said according to The Cap Times.
- The Virginia State Board of Elections is considering allowing people registering to vote to skip several questions on the application including those that ask about citizenship and felony convictions. Needless to say, this has sparked some partisan consternation. “We’re opening up huge, huge doors for opportunity for fraud,” Charlie Judd, chairman of the Virginia State Board of Elections during the term of Gov. Bob McDonnell told The Washington Post.
- Commissioners at the New York state board of elections are asking New York City election commissioner to develop a specific plan to combat the long lines that have occurred during recent elections.
- Personnel News: Democracy Live has hired Paul Caranci, former Deputy Secretary of State from Rhode Island and winner of the NASS Margaret Chase Smith award to represent Democracy Live in the Northeast. Timothy Thompson is the new Muskingum County, Ohio director of elections. Raymond Lembke has been appointed to the Clermont County, Ohio board of elections. Constance Messick is the new general registrar in Augusta County, Virginia. Richard H. Pierce, chairman of the Rhode Island board of election has resigned. Mac Butner has joined the Rowan County board of elections. Longtime Alaska elections director Gail Fenumiai was forced to resign by Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott late last week. Fenumiai had been with the department for 15 years and director since 2008. “He’d like it to be the best in the nation, so he was looking for some new leadership,” a spokesperson for Mallott told the Alaska Daily News. Josie Bahnke, Nome city manager, has replaced Fenumiai as elections director.