With a little over three weeks to go before elections in close races for U.S. Senate and governor, an escalating fight between Georgia’s Republican secretary of state and a Democratic-leaning voter registration group is moving to court. Third Sector Development Inc., the parent nonprofit of the New Georgia Project that has been working to register minority voters, has filed suit in Fulton County Superior Court against Secretary of State Brian Kemp and five county election boards, claiming officials have failed to process tens of thousands of voter applications ahead of the Nov. 4 vote. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People joined the suit, which calls on the court to force the secretary of state and the boards to speed up processing the applications.
Secretary of State
Secretary of State Jon Husted wants a court to throw out his own directive. Under an order to county elections boards Husted issued on Friday, Ohioans could start voting a week earlier than he’d planned and cast a ballot during the two weekends before Election Day. But at the same time, the Republican is pushing for a higher court to overturn the lower-court ruling that added the days of early voting and eliminate them. Battling in court over when Ohioans can vote has become almost a biennial ritual, seemingly taking place every time the state has a gubernatorial or presidential election. This year, the dispute involves whether voters can start casting ballots on Sept. 30 or Oct. 7, and whether additional hours will be allowed on weekends and evenings.
Democrat Chad Taylor’s lawsuit against Secretary of State Kris Kobach will be heard by the Kansas Supreme Court on Tuesday in an unprecedented case that could help decide the balance of power in the U.S. Senate. Never before has a major party candidate sued to be removed from an election in Kansas. Taylor, the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate, wants his name off the November ballot and has called in one of the Democratic Party’s top attorneys for help. Kobach ruled that Taylor failed to properly withdraw because he did not include a declaration that he is incapable to serve in a letter that he submitted to the Secretary of State’s Office on Sept. 3, the deadline to withdraw.
Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s position as chief Kansas elections officer is allowing him to play a marquee role in the political drama surrounding Democrat Chad Taylor’s attempt to get off the ballot in the U.S. Senate race. Taylor ended his campaign last week, nudged out of the race against three-term Republican Sen. Pat Roberts by Democrats who viewed independent candidate Greg Orman as the stronger rival and wanted to consolidate most of the anti-Roberts vote behind Orman. The stakes are high: The GOP hopes to recapture control of the Senate, and those efforts would be hindered by a Roberts loss. Kobach, a conservative Republican and a member of Roberts’ honorary campaign committee, has faced a torrent of negative reviews for refusing to remove Taylor’s name from the ballot and for concluding the Democrat didn’t comply with a state law limiting when candidates can withdraw. The decision has Kobach’s political opponents adding new chapters to their existing narratives about how, in their view, he’s mishandled his official duties. But those official duties made Kobach — or any secretary of state — an administrative gatekeeper for Taylor or any other nominee seeking to get off the ballot. He couldn’t avoid coming on stage.
With control of the Senate up for grabs and a Republican House looking to expand its majority in November, it would seem strange for DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz to spend even a minute thinking about usually sleepy down-ballot races like the open seat for Iowa’s Secretary of State. But at the Democratic National Committee summer meeting last month, Wasserman Schultz not only talked about that Iowa contest—she also promised to campaign for the Democrat in the race, Brad Anderson, and four other Democratic secretary of state candidates in swing states across the country this fall. Why use so much fire power on such low-profile offices? “We’re committed to ensuring that those who administer elections do so fairly,” Wasserman Schultz said, singling out five races in Ohio, New Mexico, Colorado, and Nevada, in addition to Iowa, as the ones she’s most focused on. “The fights over voter ID and early voting are just the latest reminder of how important the rules for elections are in shaping the electorate and determining the eventual outcomes.”
Voting is supposed be a right and a privilege. But in the pint-sized, high-mountain town of Montezuma it also has become grounds for a lawsuit. The town and its novice clerk have filed suit against every registered voter in the town, claiming that an election held last spring had numerous errors. The lawsuit filed in Summit County District Court last week lists errors that include numbers that don’t add up and mismatched ballots that had to be patched together with the clerk’s sewing machine. The lawsuit asks a judge to command all 61 registered voters in Montezuma to appear in court so the judge can sort out an election mess that the petition calls “fatally flawed.” ”I have never heard of anything like this,” said Andrew Cole, a spokesman for the Colorado secretary of state’s office. “This is certainly an unusual step to take.”
Both candidates vying to be California’s next secretary of state say the controversial recount in the controller’s race demonstrates the need to change election laws. Sen. Alex Padilla, the Democratic candidate from Pacoima, called the process “embarrassing.” Pete Peterson, a Republican who leads a public policy institute at Pepperdine University, said recount laws are “a mess.” The recount was called by Assemblyman John A. Pérez after he finished 481 votes behind Betty Yee, a Board of Equalization member, in the June 3 primary. The two Democrats are vying for the chance to face off with Ashley Swearengin, the Republican mayor of Fresno, in the November general election. In California, any candidate or registered voter can call for a recount, but he or she has to pay for it.
Colorado: Secretary of State adopts emergency rule related to Loveland special election | Loveland Reporter-Herald
The Colorado Secretary of State’s office adopted an emergency rule Tuesday that forces the Larimer County Clerk and Recorder to count Loveland special election ballots that come in a county primary envelope. As a result of the city of Loveland running its own election separate from the Larimer County primary election, affiliated voters in Loveland received two ballots — one encased in a blue envelope that needs to be returned to the city and one in a white envelope returnable to the county. Larimer County Clerk and Recorder Angela Myers said last week that approximately 40 Loveland ballots that were received in Larimer County envelopes have been disqualified.
Officials with the North Dakota Secretary of State’s office said the cause of an election night technical problem with the state’s election results page has been fixed. Secretary of State Al Jaeger said safeguards have also been put in place to ensure any similar problems don’t occur during the Nov. 4 general election. To prevent a repeat of the primary election, a load test of the department’s site will be conducted sometime prior to the November election. Jaeger said testing of the state election website was done prior to the 2012 general election, which produced the largest voter turnout in state history. Deputy Secretary of State Jim Silrum said the problem was a relatively minor one discovered in the system. ”It was a query that was running inefficiently,” Silrum said. “I can’t blame it on Information Technology Department; I can’t blame it on our vendor.”
Ohio’s elections director will be taking a close look at one of the state’s largest counties, where a series of missteps and squabbling among election board members delayed voting results for hours in this past week’s primary. The latest trouble comes on top of several years of infighting and accusations of wrongdoing within the Lucas County’s elections board. Secretary of State Jon Husted called the situation there the worst he’s faced from an elections board. “There’s not even a close second,” he said. A committee appointed by Husted in early April to look into the board’s operations recommended Friday that the county’s top two elections officials be fired and that three of its four board members be replaced.