The review of absentee and questioned ballots cast in Tuesday’s municipal election revealed a general sense of confusion among many Juneau voters. City and election officials tallied 1,447 additional ballots during a public review Friday at the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly Chambers. The certified official results will be announced Oct. 14, after the remaining mail-in ballots trickle in. Election officials noted that counting machines continually rejected “over-voted” ballots in which too many candidates were chosen in a particular race. These errors disqualified that race on those ballots, though the rest of the correctly completed votes on the erroneous ballots were counted.
Thousands of North Carolinians have already locked in their ballots for this year’s general election, courtesy of the state’s postal voting period that began Sept. 5. But for some who’ve tried, compliance with voting law has been an issue. By early October, elections officials had marked more than 80 absentee-by-mail ballots as invalid. In most cases, they simply lacked the signatures of two witnesses – a change due to the voting law enacted by the legislature last year. Previously an absentee voter only needed one witness signature. Now if the voter doesn’t have two people witness as the ballot and accompanying envelope are filled out, he or she must have the ballot notarized. Without those signatures, the ballots go to the dead pile.
Minnesota voters can now request an absentee ballot online at mnvotes.org through a new tool launched by the Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State. The service allows voters to apply for an absentee ballot quickly and easily without the need to print, scan forms, and return by mail, fax or email. A similar tool for military and overseas voters was introduced in September 2013. Voters may request an absentee ballot for both the August 12 Primary Election and November 4 General Election. Ballots for those elections will be mailed when they become available on June 27 and September 19, respectively.
Tess Castle, drinking a mid-afternoon pint at the Wolf Creek Restaurant & Bar on a recent afternoon, admitted something she had never told anyone before: She doesn’t vote. “Shame on you. I didn’t know that,” said bartender Danea McAvoy, 51, after selling lottery tickets to tourists passing through this bucolic town of 210 residents. “Shame on you.” The reaction may seem sharp, but it’s because Castle, 28, is in a distinct minority in this picturesque county seat of tiny Alpine County. Nearly everyone in this community along the crest of the Sierra Nevada — carved through graceful, tall pine groves and mountain peaks, halfway between Lake Tahoe and Yosemite — makes their mark on election day. On June 3, in one of the least compelling gubernatorial primary elections in memory, nearly 70% of voters cast ballots, the largest turnout per capita in the state. California as a whole is on track to hit a record of a more dubious nature — 18.3% of voters cast ballots through election day on June 3. Absentee and provisional ballots are still being counted, but voting experts expect the state to end up with a turnout of 22% to 23% — far less than any in recent history — when the tally is finalized in early July.
The debate over unsolicited absentee voter applications first heated up in the fall of 2011. Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald wanted to send these forms to every voter in his county, which gives those individuals a chance to request an absentee ballot. Secretary of State Jon Husted disagreed with FitzGerald because of the lack of uniformity it would bring among the other counties. As part of a compromise, FitzGerald agreed to hold off on sending out the applications and instead, Husted’s office mailed them to voters throughout the entire state for 2012’s presidential election. Now Republican Senator Bill Coley, of southwest Ohio, wants to lock down the rules on these applications in state law. His proposed bill says the Secretary of State can mail unsolicited applications for absentee voter ballots, but only on an even-numbered year and only if the General Assembly provides the money.
A Milwaukee man pleaded guilty Monday to illegally voting five times last year in West Milwaukee, when in fact he did not have residency there. Leonard K. Brown, 56, still faces a charge of voting twice in the November presidential election and making a false statement to an election official on election day. Those cases have been rescheduled for trial in January. His sentencing on the five convictions resulting from Monday’s pleas will be scheduled sometime after that trial. Brown was among 10 people charged in March with a variety of charges related to voter fraud. He is charged with voting twice in the Nov. 6 election — in person in Milwaukee on that date and by absentee ballot in West Milwaukee four days earlier.