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III. Election News This Week
- In an interview with ABC News, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said the Department of Justice plans to challenge voting restrictions — voter ID and early voting limitations — in Wisconsin and Ohio. In an un-aired interview, Holder say DOJ plans to soon file in cases that are already in existence in both states.
- This week, the North Carolina State Board of Elections and the Wake County BOE rejected a request by the Voter Integrity Project to stage a photo shoot inside a polling place that would have had “a number of masked people lined up attempting to vote as unidentified voters.” According to WRAL, the Voter Integrity Project is a group that lobbies for stricter photo ID laws in the state. The initial request incited an email war-of-words between elections officials and the group’s president.
- Officials in Iowa are considering whether or not the state should move to a primary runoff system. Currently, if a winning candidate does not receive at least 35 percent of the vote, party delegates choose a candidate at a convention. Although a bill to move to a primary runoff system failed last year, the conversations continue. “I didn’t like the idea of having just a very few people make the final decision and end up with a situation where they picked somebody who wasn’t even close,” Rep. Guy Vander Linden, who is chairman of the House State Government Committee told Radio Iowa. One of the sticking points though is that a statewide runoff could cost counties up to $500,000.
- Based on preliminary turnout numbers, the District of Columbia will end up spending about $200 per vote for a school board special election it held this week. The D.C. Board of Elections had requested that the Council allow them to conduct the election by mail, but the Council failed to act. Turnout was about 2.6 percent.
- The Washington Post has an interesting article on what happens when elections end in a tie. The paper reviewed state laws and found that 35 states allow tied elections to be decided by a coin toss or other means of chance. The paper found that most states are vague in how the lots are cast, but some like Idaho (coin toss), Oklahoma (pulling names from a container) and North Carolina (drawing of lots or a do-over, depending on turnout) are specific.
- Personnel News: State Sen. Will Kraus (R) announced his intentions to run for Missouri secretary of state in 2016. Rosalind Watson, Kershaw County, South Carolina director of voter registration has retired after nine years on the job. Lake County, Florida Supervisor of Elections Emogene Stegall was recently honored by the county for her years of service. She joined the supervisors’ office in 1958 and became supervisor in 1972. Kay Basler, St. Genevieve County, Missouri clerk recently announced that she will be forced to retire before her term is up on December 31 due to health reasons. Late last week, New York City Board of Elections President Gregory Soumas quit in advance of a possible ouster by the city council. John Frankee, a former Milwaukee judge has been appointed by Gov. Scott Walker (R) to serve on the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board. Lynda Roberts will be the new Marin County, California registrar of voters when current registrar Elaine Ginnold retires later this month. Montgomery County, Pennsylvania Voter Services Assistant Director Patricia Allen and Voter Registration Supervisor Rhonda King were fired this week when their positions were eliminated through an office reorganization. Eugene Wilbur, chair of the Lexington County, South Carolina election commission resigned in protest this week when the county council refused to give the election commission the space it said it needed to properly conduct the November election.
- In Memoriam: Barbara Ramus Major, longtime New London, Connecticut Republican registrar of voters has died. Major served as the registrar for almost 20 years. “There is no one in New London who typified Whaler Pride more than Barbara Major,” Democratic Registrar of Voters William Giesing told The Day. “She put her heart into New London, and this city is a better place for it.” Giesing, who worked alongside Major for about nine years, said Major excelled at making contacts and organizing to make sure Election Day went off without a hitch. “So many elections went off very smoothly because of Barbara,” he told the paper.