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II. Election News This Week
- The nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau released an audit of the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board late last week that found no major problems with the nonpartisan board that oversees the state’s elections. According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the audit had two recommendations: that the board consistently resolve complaints in a timely manner and that staff consistently provide the board with the names of three people who can be hired to work as special investigators. "It puts to rest any questions as to whether the six board members exercise independent judgment when they make decisions about complaints, investigations and penalties," Director Kevin Kennedy told the paper.
- The U.S. Election Assistance Commission has ruled that states are free to use HAVA grant funds to pay for criminal investigations of potential voter fraud. According to The Associated Press, the 3-0 decision, that wasn’t discussed in public, was delivered on August 13 in response to former Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz’s decision to use the federal funds to pay for a staff member to investigate potential voter fraud.
- In a letter released this week Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney Michael Herring said that he will not seek charges against former Botetourt County Voter Registrar Phyllis Booze. According to The Roanoke Times, Herring wrote that while Booze may have violated state law by living outside of the county, she lacked criminal intent.
- According to The Associated Press, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and Secretary of State Pedro Cortes plan to announce the launch of online voter registration in the Commonwealth on Thursday, August 27. The launch would make Pennsylvania the 23rd state with an active OVR system. Despite protests from some lawmakers, officials in the Wolf administration said legislative approval to create and launch an OVR system is not necessary.
- While the debate rages in the op-ed pages, Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon has gone on the record to point out that under Minnesota law, ballot selfies are in fact legal—though showing anyone a ballot to someone else in the place is not. “It’s a fascinating debate,” Simon told the Pioneer Press. “You really better have a good reason before you clamp down on political speech.” Simon said he isn’t worried about vote-buying because the state’s law prohibiting it are pretty ironclad. “That’s probably the better approach than to risk encroaching on people’s free speech rights.”
- Personnel News: Lonzie White is the new Dougherty County, Georgia elections board chairman. Pinki Jackel has been named the Apalachicola County, Florida supervisor of elections. Martin County, Florida Supervisor of Elections Vicki Davis has filed paperwork to seek a fourth term in the office. Ogle County, Illinois Clerk Rebecca Huntley announced that she will retire following the 2016 primary in March.