Nearly a week after Election Day, Democrats and Republicans were closely monitoring three races that could determine control of Virginia’s House of Delegates. The parties were especially focused on the House seat being vacated by retiring Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford). Republican Robert Thomas is ahead of Joshua Cole by 86 votes. Democrats claim 55 absentee ballots mailed in that race by active-duty military voters went uncounted because they were left in the Stafford County registrar’s mailbox on Election Day — an account the registrar disputes. “It’s disgraceful that the registrar and two members of the Stafford County Electoral Board refuse to count military votes,” Susan Swecker, chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Virginia, said in a statement.Full Article: Democrats claim absentee ballots in a key Va. House race were uncounted - The Washington Post.
Sagauche County had an unusual problem with its election on Tuesday. The Post Office in the town of Saguache was burglarized Monday night, turning it into a crime scene and making it difficult to retrieve mail-in ballots. The county’s clerk and recorder, Carla Gomez says there were only six ballots at the Post Office that day. She says most of the county’s voters drop their ballots off in-person. “We were obviously concerned because we wanted to pick up any ballots that we needed to collect to get through the day and there was no mail available because the post office was closed,” Gomez said. “So what I did then was just notify the Secretary of State’s office immediately.”Full Article: In Saguache On Election Day, Mail-In Ballots Were Sitting In A Crime Scene | CPR.
Perhaps no part of California has thought more about the future of voting than Orange County. And yet when it comes to a sweeping change to state elections, the county has decided to take a pass. In fact, recent events serve as a cautionary tale that changing elections is hard, even when the plan is praised by “good government” advocates as the kind of reform that will make voting fit in better with the way we live and work. Less than two weeks ago, the Orange County Board of Supervisors quietly scrapped years of work by its elections officials on a plan to swap neighborhood polling places for universal absentee ballots and a limited number of all-purpose vote centers. There, voters could access a variety of election services — including last-minute registration, a few voting booths and a place to drop off absentee ballots. There would also be ballot drop boxes in heavily trafficked areas of the county.Full Article: Political Road Map: California's big change in voting rules is off to a rocky start for 2018 - LA Times.
The state Democratic Party on Monday slammed Maricopa County election officials who decided not to try to verify questionable signatures on some early ballots. Spencer Scharff, the party’s director of voter protection, said the county recorder’s office wasn’t following rules outlined in the state election procedures manual. That manual said election officials must make a reasonable effort to contact early voters if there are questionable signatures before discarding their ballot. “They’re clearly violating that requirement by failing to call them,” Scharff said. “We’re doing everything we can to encourage the county to simply follow the law.”Full Article: Arizona Democrats cry foul over Maricopa County election officials' inaction - KTAR.com.
We like to think of California as the center of the tech universe. But, apparently, all that know-how has not helped us figure out how to run more efficient elections. Three weeks after the state’s Democratic presidential primary, half a million votes remain uncounted. The final tallies, whenever they come in, are not expected to change the result. Hillary Clinton declared victory the night of the June 7 primary, when she was up by more than 10 points. In videos, in blog posts and on social media, some supporters of Bernie Sanders are pointing to the uncounted ballots as evidence that Mr. Sanders was robbed. Long waits for final totals are not rare in California. Most of the 2.5 million votes that were not counted by June 7 were mail-in ballots that were not returned until Election Day, or even a few days after.Full Article: California Today: Yes, They’re Still Counting the Presidential Primary Votes - The New York Times.
It was billed as a “Still Sanders” rally, a way to shame CNN and the rest of the media for covering up the success of Bernie Sanders’s campaign for president. It took over a street in Hollywood area of Los Angeles yesterday — coincidentally, a day that Sanders was appearing on CNN to discuss his future plans. And to the faithful, it shared new information about how Sanders, counted out in California, was gaining ground. “It is absolutely true that San Francisco has flipped for Bernie,” said organizer and emcee Cary Harrison. This was not true. The consolidated city-county of San Francisco gave a victory to Hillary Clinton, of 116,359 votes to 99,594 for Sanders. As of June 24, there were no mail-in or provisional ballots left to count. Yet for a small group of Sanders diehards, California’s ridiculously slow count of mail-in and provisional ballots is a source of hope, and evidence of media’s failure. Since election day, three of the 58 California counties that at first seemed to vote for Clinton flipped to Sanders. A 12-point Clinton victory margin has shrunk to nine points. The relative lack of coverage here fuels events like the Still Sanders march, a look at a world in which the Vermont senator remains in the hunt for the presidency.Full Article: ‘Still Sanders’ activists cling to hope of ‘flipping’ California - The Washington Post.
Ohio voter Keith Dehmann failed to list his birthdate when casting his absentee ballot in the 2014 general election and later tried to remedy the mistake. That same year, Linda and Gunther Lahm mixed up the envelopes for their absentee ballots and then overlooked birthdate errors when fixing the problem. All three eligible voters in the key swing state had their ballots tossed under laws one federal judge has ruled unconstitutional, and another found otherwise. The conflicting decisions for absentee and provisional ballots have put the state’s rules — and its voters — in legal limbo ahead of the presidential election as the issue is appealed.Full Article: Conflicting court rulings put Ohio's voting rules in limbo.
More than 7 million ballots have been counted across the state from last week’s primary election. But in California, counting votes takes a long time: as of Thursday, the Secretary of State’s office reported there are still about 1.4 million ballots remaining to be counted. In Los Angeles County, the latest numbers from the registrar’s office shows about 350,000 ballots still need to be counted. About 1.7 million ballots were cast and counted so far. The Secretary of State has about a month to process all ballots statewide. Counties have to submit their results to the state by July 8, and the state has until July 15 to certify the statewide results. As for how many people voted, the numbers will go up as more votes are counted, but right now statewide voter turnout is tracking at about 41 percent.Full Article: California ballots still to be counted: 1.4 million | 89.3 KPCC.
California: One week later, almost 2 million California primary ballots still must be reviewed | Los Angeles Times
Elections officials across California continue to work through a stack of unprocessed ballots, now totaling more than 1.9 million potential votes in last week’s local and statewide races. About 60% of the unprocessed ballots are in just a half dozen counties. By law, local officials have another three weeks to count votes, a process slowed down in part by the large number of ballots cast by mail. This is also the first year for a new state law allowing any ballot received 72 hours after election day to be counted, as long as it was postmarked in time.Full Article: One week later, almost 2 million California primary ballots still must be reviewed - LA Times.
Nearly 12 percent of absentee and provisional ballots rejected by Ohio elections boards in 2014 and 2015 general elections were bounced for technical issues, according to documents filed in federal court Thursday. Those technical issues — names that don’t exactly match voter records, missing or incorrect dates of birth, improper voter ID or conflicts in voters’ addresses — are the target of a lawsuit. The suit claims that state rules enacted in 2014 violate constitutional rights and disproportionately hurt African-American, Latino and poor voters. In addition to identifying 4,105 ballots disqualified for technical errors, data collected by the plaintiffs show that the rate of disqualification varies widely from county to county. In the 10 largest counties, that rate was as low as 1 percent and as high as 24.8 percent. Unless the boards of elections are able to contact a voter to get a ballot corrected, the voter’s ballot may not be counted and the voter may never know.Full Article: 4,100 Ohio ballots tossed in 2014-15 for technical errors, lawsuit says | cleveland.com.
For nearly two years, election officials in Northeast Ohio have known that the state’s failure to keep pace with modernization at the U.S. Post Office could result in absentee ballots getting tossed, even if voters followed the rules perfectly. Beacon Journal interviews last week revealed that officials in at least Summit, Stark and Portage counties were aware in 2014 that a problem loomed as the U.S. Postal Service increasingly used bar codes to process mail and did not print the time and date across the postage stamp. State law continues to require an old-fashioned postmark, and as a result last year, nearly 1,800 absentee ballots were rejected in Summit and Cuyahoga counties alone. Now, with Ohioans only weeks away from voting in a highly charged presidential primary — and their governor among the contenders — the issue remains unresolved and there is no guarantee that ballots dropped in the mailbox will get counted.Full Article: Ohio heads into presidential primary with unresolved ballot problems - Break News - Ohio.
A House committee has passed a measure that would block voter-outreach groups from collecting and dropping off early ballots as the state prepares for the 2016 election season. The proposal would make it a felony for anyone but a family member, roommate, caregiver, postal worker or candidate to collect early ballots from another person in an act sometimes called “ballot harvesting.” The House Elections Committee chaired by Ugenti-Rita passed the measure along party lines in a 4-2 vote Monday. The outcome of the legislation could impact the state’s general and primary elections if the bill is signed into law and enacted before elections take place.Full Article: House committee OKs bill outlawing early ballot collection - HeraldCourier.com: News.
With a presidential primary right around the corner, many Florida voters are being told they must update their legal signatures to ensure that their absentee ballots will be counted. Hundreds of thousands of voters have received letters from county elections supervisors urging them to fill out new voter registration forms or risk having their ballots rejected. The practice of signature verification is becoming increasingly common as more Floridians vote by mail rather than at early voting sites or on Election Day. Now that the Legislature allows voting by mail for any reason, experts say it’s inevitable that it will become the preferred way of casting ballots in Florida. “You MUST complete the enclosed voter registration application and check the ‘signature update’ box so that we can update your voter registration record,” reads a letter from Miami-Dade Supervisor of Elections Penelope Townsley. “If you plan to vote by absentee ballot in an upcoming election, be sure to submit your signature update at least 15 days prior to the election.”
A national advocacy group for visually impaired people and three Ohio voters are suing Secretary of State Jon Husted, claiming some services provided by Husted’s office are in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The complaint, filed Monday in federal district court in Columbus, alleges the state’s voter services website is inaccessible to visually impaired voters and the state’s system of paper-only absentee ballots infringes on their right to vote. Visually impaired people use screen access software that reads websites aloud or displays the text on a Braille device. The secretary of state’s website, which allows voters to update their registration information and request absentee ballots, is incompatible with screen access software, according to the complaint. Blind voters must then complete forms on paper, which they cannot do without human assistance.Full Article: Blind voters sue Jon Husted over website accessibility | cleveland.com.
Ohio: Summit County voters not pleased absentee ballots weren’t counted for missing postmarks | Akron Beacon Journal
Fred Lefton took his and his wife’s absentee ballots to the post office the Sunday before the Nov. 3 election with more than enough stamps on them to cover the postage. He put the ballots into the mailbox there and assumed they would be postmarked the next day and sent to the Summit County Board of Elections. A few weeks later, Lefton received a letter from the elections board informing him that when the ballots arrived, they lacked a postmark and couldn’t be counted. Lefton, who cared deeply about issues on the ballot, was outraged. “It really is upsetting to know that you go to the trouble of casting a ballot and putting postage on it and it isn’t counted,” said Lefton, a pharmacist who lives in Hudson. “With some of the things, the vote went the other way. So why am I voting?”Full Article: Summit County voters not pleased absentee ballots weren’t counted for missing postmarks - Local - Ohio.
The House is poised to take up legislation that will make it easier to vote by absentee ballot, but eliminate straight-party ticket voting at the same time. Republicans in the Senate have already passed the elimination of straight-ticket voting, which Democrats believe is a partisan ploy to skew elections toward the GOP. The House Elections Committee will take up the legislation today after it voted Wednesday to pass a bill that would allow people to get an absentee ballot without providing a reason for needing to vote on a day other than Election Day. State Rep. Lisa Lyons, R-Alto, said she’d like to see the two bills passed together to ensure smooth and efficient elections.Full Article: House to take up absentee, straight-party voting today.
When service members take an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States of America, they also vow to defend freedom and the right to vote. Voting is essential to maintaining our democratic republic and is accessible to service members through voting assistance programs. The Installation Voting Assistance Office and Federal Voting Assistance Program provide Marines, sailors and family members accessibility to vote in upcoming elections.Full Article: FVAP simplifies absentee voting - Observation Post: News.
There was disturbing news from the Summit County Board of Elections last week. The absentee ballots of 861 voters who mailed their selections to the board were disqualified, even though they had done nothing wrong. What their ballots lacked was a postmark, or at least the kind required by Ohio law. The disqualified ballots from the Nov. 3 election represent 9 percent of the mailed-in absentee ballots in the county. No one familiar with Ohio’s role in presidential elections could ignore easily the thought that such a disqualification rate next year — multiplied across this battleground state — could throw the national results into controversy and lawsuits.Full Article: Other viewpoint: Tossed ballots show need to update law | The Columbus Dispatch.
Ohio: Postal Service to develop policy for postmarking absentee ballots after concerns raised about discounted ballots in Summit County | Akron Beacon Journal
The U.S. Postal Service will develop a policy on postmarking absentee ballots in light of concerns raised this week by Summit County elections officials about nearly 900 ballots discounted because they lacked postmarks. “We will be talking to the Ohio Secretary of State to reach a mutual understanding of acceptable postmarks for absentee ballots and develop a uniform policy addressing all concerns to help prevent this from happening again,” David Van Allen, a postal spokesman, said Thursday in a written statement.Full Article: U.S. Postal Service to develop policy for postmarking absentee ballots after concerns raised about discounted ballots in Summit County - Break News - Ohio.
Democrats in the swing state of Ohio have filed a federal lawsuit claiming a series of voting-related changes made by Republicans disproportionately burden voters who lean Democratic and violate certain constitutional rights. The state’s Republican elections chief contends the voting process is fair and has called the lawsuit politically motivated. … The Ohio Organizing Collaborative filed the lawsuit in May in Columbus federal court. But attorneys for the nonprofit recently withdrew the organization from the case, saying it lacked the “institutional capability” to remain a plaintiff. The state’s Democratic Party and Cuyahoga and Montgomery county parties took its place. They join three Ohio residents who are also plaintiffs. They are suing Jon Husted, the state’s Republican elections chief, and Mike DeWine, Ohio’s attorney general, over the voting policies.Full Article: Dispute over changes to Ohio's voting system heads to trial - Houston Chronicle.