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III. Election News This Week
- A federal judge in North Carolina rejected an effort, supported by the U.S. Dept. of Justice, by civil rights groups to block the application of a new state law curtailing early voting and other elections changes.
- Back when MTV was still showing music, Rock The Vote launched as a way to get young people off their couches and into the voting booth. The group has morphed into voting rights organization that now has its eyes set on voter ID. Following the North Carolina decision, the group formed a coalition of numerous musical acts and voting rights organizations to speak out against voter ID laws.
- Following a review of the state’s voter rolls, it appears that there are about 696,000 Hoosiers registered to vote in Indiana, but listed as inactive. The Indiana Secretary of State's Office originally mailed 4.4 million postcards to all active registered voters in an effort to scrub the voter file of duplicate or inaccurate voters. But about 16 percent of those were returned as undeliverable – causing the need for the second mailing. A second mailing was sent in June to 755,000 people, asking voters to update their registrations.
- No one tried to bring a gun into a polling place during last week’s Washington primary, but questions did arise in Clark County when an elections observer showed up to watch the vote tally sporting a .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol. While the observer was permitted to carry the weapon and no one approached him about it, according to The Columbian, some elections workers expressed concerns after the fact. "We're going to discuss this with the Prosecuting Attorney's Office and see what our options might be," Auditor Greg Kimsey told the paper.
- With limited funds available, registrars in Virginia are trying to figure out how to replace their aging voting machines before problems arise and to fulfill a state mandate. Registrars are not able to repair existing touch-screen machines and must instead replace them with a paper-based system. “I’m a huge fan of touch screens, but if a machine fails, you can’t get another,” Botetourt County Registrar Phyllis Booze told the Roanoke Times. “The biggest question for all of us is the cost of democracy. Do we want to take a chance? Basically those [touch-screen] vendors were legislated out of business. There are no software updates. We’re just sitting and waiting. What might happen and what kind of risk do we want to take?”
- Personnel News: Chris Piper of the Virginia State Election Board is leaving the SBE to become the executive director of the Virginia Ethics and Conflict of Interests Advisory Council. Nora Madru, the Ross County, Ohio board of elections director for more than 20 years is planning to retire at the end of this year.