A veteran election official resigned abruptly on Friday at Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott’s request. The Walker-Mallott administration was Gail Fenumiai’s third as head of the state Division of Elections. Claire Richardson is special assistant to Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott. She says they accepted Fenumiai’s resignation on Friday. “There’s nothing personal in the request. The lieutenant governor would like to move in some new directions with the Division of Elections and it was felt that it was time for different leadership.” Fenumiai has been director of elections since 2008, and has 10 years of earlier experience in the division. She didn’t return calls for comment.
The Voting News
Florida: Auditor general’s report critical of how Florida handles voter information | Tampa Bay Times
A highly critical state audit casts new doubt on whether Florida is ready to count votes in the 2016 presidential election and puts added pressure on Gov. Rick Scott’s top elections official to show improvement. The report by the state auditor general, an independent officer hired by the Legislature, criticizes the Department of State for its handling of the voter registration database in the nation’s biggest electoral battleground, a state with nearly 12 million voters and a long history of controversy involving voting. “It’s troubling,” Pasco County Supervisor of Elections Brian Corley said of the report, which was released late last week. The Florida agency is run by Secretary of State Ken Detzner, a Scott appointee and a former lobbyist with no previous expertise in election systems. He tried unsuccessfully last spring to kill legislation creating an online voter registration system, and issued ominous warnings to lawmakers that “forces of evil” could harm the database.
Florida: Legislature sets special session for October to redraw Florida Senate districts | Miami Herald
The Florida Legislature has set yet another special session, this time for October to redraw the Florida Senate district lines that opponents had argued violated the state constitution prohibition on gerrymandering to favor or disfavor politicians. The Legislature will meet from Oct. 19 to Nov. 6, according to a joint statement put out by House Speaker Steve Crisafulli and Senate President Andy Gardiner.
As a Leon County judge finalized the dates for a hearing on a third draft of Florida’s congressional districts, a key lawmaker Monday refused to rule out the possibility of continuing the legal fight over the map, this time in federal court. Meanwhile, attorneys for the Legislature and critics of the 2012 redistricting process declined to discuss whether settlement talks were underway in a separate case dealing with a state Senate map that opponents also say was tainted by political considerations. The legal maneuvering came in the wake of a Florida Supreme Court decision July 9 that struck down eight of Florida’s 27 congressional districts and called for wide-ranging changes to some of them. One of the most dramatic shifts is likely to be switching the district of Democratic Congresswoman Corrine Brown from a north-south configuration that runs from Jacksonville to Orlando to an east-west arrangement that runs from Jacksonville to Tallahassee.
One of the strictest voter ID laws in the country will be under the microscope when the Kansas Committee of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission holds hearings to determine whether the law has suppressed voter turnout in some communities. The Civil Rights Commission has advisory committees in all 50 states and the Kansas committee voted Tuesday to move forward with its investigation. “Some of the initial information with the respect to the law is that it disproportionately impacts certain age groups and certain racial categorizations,” says Elizabeth Kronk who chairs the Kansas committee. Kronk is a law professor at the University of Kansas.
A federal judge on Monday rejected Citizens United’s effort to block New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman from demanding that the conservative group disclose more information about its major donors. U.S. District Judge Sidney Stein in Manhattan refused to impose a preliminary injunction that would stop Schneiderman from requiring charities to disclose names, addresses and total contributions of big donors in order to solicit funds in the state. Citizens United argued that Schneiderman’s interpretation of a 2006 state regulation on donor disclosures violated its First Amendment free speech and association rights, and invaded the privacy of donors who wished to remain anonymous.
North Carolina: Expert: New voting law wouldn’t have affected black turnout in 2014 | Greensboro News & Record
An elections analyst testified Monday that North Carolina’s new voting law had no discernible impact on black voter turnout in the 2014 election. But attorneys for the N.C. NAACP and other groups suing the state and Gov. Pat McCrory objected to testimony from Sean Trende, the senior elections analyst for RealClearPolitics, saying he is not qualified to be an expert. House Bill 589, which became law in 2013, is at the center of a federal trial in U.S. District Court in Winston-Salem, which is in its third week. House Bill 589 eliminated same-day voter registration, reduced the number of days for early voting from 17 to 10 and prohibited out-of-precinct provisional voting. The law also eliminated preregistration of 16- and 17-year-olds, among other provisions. Plaintiffs, including the U.S. Department of Justice, allege that the law imposes disproportionate burdens on blacks and Hispanics, poor people and young people, and that state Republican legislators had discriminatory intent in passing the law.
Republican leaders of Virginia General Assembly on Tuesday rebuffed an effort by Gov. Terry McAuliffe to strike a deal on the state’s congressional elections map before a court-imposed deadline. According to a June ruling, the General Assembly has until Sept. 1 to redraw congressional district boundaries, which the court said illegally pack African Americans into a single district to dilute their influence elsewhere. On Tuesday, McAuliffe (D) sent a letter to House Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford) and Senate Majority Leader Thomas K. Norment (R-James City) requesting a meeting “to forge compromise on a plan that is agreeable to the General Assembly and can be reviewed quickly by the public and our congressional colleagues.”
People registering to vote in Virginia would no longer be required to check boxes to indicate whether they are U.S. citizens or felons barred from voting if changes being considered by the Virginia Department of Elections are adopted.Voters would still have to affirm elsewhere on the application – under the threat of a felony conviction – that they are citizens and otherwise eligible. But instead of responding to separate questions about their citizenship or felony status, they would simply sign off on language that attests to their eligibility based on those and other requirements. The distinction may seem small, but it is one that hits the political hot buttons of voter fraud, illegal immigration and the restoration of felons’ voter rights.
There is no more powerful tool to increase citizens’ confidence than a referendum, Bulgarian head of state President Rossen Plevneliev told the National Assembly on July 28, making the case for a referendum on three questions on electoral reform proposed for October 25. The proposal is to hold the referendum on the three questions along with scheduled mayoral and municipal elections, the first round of which will be held on the last Sunday in October. Plevneliev has long been campaigning for a referendum on electoral reform, but his proposals were blocked by the previous parliament, at the time of the now-departed ruling axis of the Bulgarian Socialist Party and Movement for Rights and Freedoms in 2013 and 2014.