International election observers have said problems with the electoral roll in Papua New Guinea that prevented thousands of people from voting are “widespread”. In its interim statement, the Commonwealth Observer Group called for an urgent review after the election to improve the accuracy of the roll. Elections are in their third week and while polling continues in a small number of areas, the counting of ballots has started in others. Thousands of people were prevented from voting because their names were not on the electoral roll, despite saying they had registered. The Commonwealth Observer Group sent teams to 12 provinces to monitor the polling. The group’s chairman, Sir Anand Satyanand, said his observers found the problem was “widespread”.
Counting is under way in Papua New Guinea’s sprawling elections, officials said Thursday, but voting has been marred by claims of rigging, electoral roll flaws and ballot paper shortages. The last polling stations are due to close Saturday after two weeks of voting for the 111-seat parliament across the vast and remote country where previous elections have been tarnished by violence. The Pacific nation’s leader, Peter O’Neill of the People’s National Congress (PNC), has hailed this year’s poll as “calm and peaceful”, even as some voters complained their names had vanished from the electoral roll.
Virginia: Three bills arise from Lynchburg ballot shortage; registrars to retain choice when ordering ballots | The News & Advance
Local registrars will retain autonomy to order the number of ballots they choose for each election after legislators cut language from twin bills arising from the Lynchburg special election ballot shortage. The pair proposed by Sen. Steve Newman, R-Bedford County, and Del. Scott Garrett, R-Lynchburg, are two of three pieces of legislation arising from the Jan. 10 special election in which several Hill City precincts ran out of pre-printed ballots in the morning. The resulting confusion led to angry and confused voters, some of whom left without casting a ballot.
Virginia: Lynchburg voters continue to report problems after ballot shortage during special election | News Advance
Lynchburg voters looking to cast their ballots in the special election for the 22nd Senate District today are encountering an unusual snag in the democratic process – voting precincts out of ballots. For voter Leighton Dodd, who said he planned to vote for Democrat Ryant Washington, he told The News & Advance that he tried to vote at 11:30 a.m. at Bedford Hills School precinct, but there were no ballots. When he came back after lunch, around 1 p.m. the precinct had run out again. “To not have enough ballots is ridiculous,” Dodd said as he sat in a line of 30 voters who were waiting for more ballots to be delivered so that they could cast their votes in the special election. Dodd expressed concern that the ballot snafu could affect the election.
There’s no dispute that the 2012 general election was marred by widespread ballot shortages that caused confusion and delays at many polling places. Now the Hawaii Supreme Court will have to decide what, if anything, needs to be done about it. The court heard oral arguments last week in the appeal of a lawsuit brought by the Green Party of Hawaii and seven individual voters stemming from the 2012 ballot fiasco. The plaintiff’s contend the methods and procedures for printing and handling ballots are in fact agency rules that should have been adopted pursuant to the state’s Administrative Procedures Act. They sought a ruling that elections officials be required to go through the public rule-making process before applying them in future elections.
Missouri: St. Louis County election board suspends top director for ballot blunder | St. Louis Public Radio
The St. Louis County Board of Election Commissioners suspended its top official, a move that comes after dozens of polling places ran out of ballots during this month’s municipal elections. After the four-person election board went into closed session on Tuesday, it voted to suspend Democratic director Eric Fey for two weeks without pay. Commissioners also suspended elections coordinator Laura Goebel without pay for one week. The board did not exert any punishment against Republican director Gary Fuhr.
A voting debacle in St. Louis County left residents in more than 60 precincts unable to cast ballots Tuesday, leading the St. Louis County Council and Secretary of State Jason Kander to announce separate investigations. Gov. Jay Nixon called the problems “inexcusable,” adding: “The St. Louis County Board of Elections, and particularly its two directors, must rectify these mistakes, explain how they occurred, and be held accountable for this unacceptable failure.” Kander said his office’s Elections Integrity Unit would review the election in St. Louis County. He also called the election performance “unacceptable.”
As voters in the key primary state of Florida head to the polls Tuesday, reports of voting problems in some towns and counties have begun to surface. In Apopka, Fla., outside of Orlando, voters reported being turned away at two polling places because they ran out of Republican ballots. And later Tuesday, WKMG News 6 reporter Amanda Castro tweeted that the same polling places had also run out of Democratic ballots, with Democratic voters being turned away as well. Other polling places in the area faced technical glitches Tuesday, per WKMG, causing a switch to paper ballots. But no voters were turned away, local officials said.
After officials admitted to breaking state election law during the Nov. 4 general election, the Hinds County Election Commission is now on the radar of federal, state and local agencies. In late November, the Jackson chapter of the NAACP quietly filed a complaint with the U.S. Justice Department after numerous voters reported being disenfranchised because of ballot shortages at multiple precincts during the election. When questioned by The Clarion-Ledger about the shortages in November, Hinds County Election Commission Chairwoman Connie Cochran admitted that the commission broke state election laws by failing to order the required number of ballots “to save the county some money.” “We took a look at all the options and decided to file the complaint,” said Wayne McDaniels, president of the Jackson NAACP chapter. “We’re also waiting to hear back from the (Hinds County) district attorney’s office.” Mississippi state law requires election commissioners to order enough ballots for 75 percent of registered voters to cast votes.
Hinds County Election Commission Chairwoman Connie Cochran admitted Tuesday that she broke the law by not ordering the required number of ballots for last week’s general election. Cochran also said that election officials were still tallying affidavits and absentee ballots, and the Hinds County election results would likely not be certified until Friday — the maximum 10 days after the election, as set forth by state law. The secretary of state’s office confirmed that state law requires election commissioners to order enough ballots for 75 percent of registered voters to cast votes. In Hinds County, there are 155,912 registered voters, so the total number of printed ballots required by law was 116,934. Last week, Cochran said she only had 58,350 ballots on hand — less than half of what was required by law.
A Hinds County election commissioner is taking the blame after several polling places ran out of ballots on election night. Election officials said 35 to 40 polling locations in Hinds County ran out of paper ballots before the polls closed at 7 p.m. “I usually zip right in and right out, but not tonight. I’m going to sit here until I vote,” voter Susanna Green said Tuesday night. “Most of these people are taking it very nicely. They are, as you can see, sitting around waiting for the ballots to show up,” said poll worker Sandy Wilkerson. Connie Cochran, the District 4 election commissioner, apologized Wednesday to voters who were inconvenienced. Scores of voters were forced to stand in line, some for more than an hour, waiting for more ballots to be brought in.
From long lines, to near ballot shortages – Tuesday’s election left behind some questions. The last minute rush, absentee voting, and the ballot size itself are just a few of the challenges city officials faced. About 32,000 votes were cast. “We still seem to have a bit of energy,” Lorie Hogstad, Sioux Falls City Clerk, said. Hogstad’s office is a bit quieter the day after the big city vote. While she and her team work on post-election details, she touched on the previous night. Election night started like a sprint, but slowed to marathon pace down later in the evening. The polls were set to close at 7 pm, but the first voting center did not submit ballots until 8 pm.
The Walsh County election canvassing board spent more than seven hours Tuesday without successfully finding the source of a 301-vote discrepancy in the Nov. 6 general election. That is, there were 4,603 people that voted, but the tally came to 4,904 votes. The board was still working, with no decision, late Tuesday evening. It’s possible, but officials believe unlikely, that one Walsh County Commission seat may hang in the balance.
The state Elections Commission announced Friday that Chief Election Officer Scott Nago will keep his job and face no discipline after ballot shortages that affected 17 percent of Oahu’s polling places during the Nov. 6 election. Commissioners emerged from an hour and a half closed-door executive session at midday Friday and said would retain his job, in spite of calls by some people for him to be fired. “We felt there was a series of mistakes certainly, but none of them rose to the level where he would be dismissed because of those. And there’s some things that have to be fixed. And they will be,” said William Marston, chairman of the commission.
Lackluster leadership and internal disarray caused Fulton County to mismanage last year’s presidential election, according to a report obtained exclusively by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The county’s Registration and Elections Office kept the document hidden from the public for the past month in what may have been a violation of the state’s open records law. After the elections board’s private attorneys refused to release it, Commission Chairman John Eaves obtained it and gave it to the AJC.
The state Elections Commission Tuesday decided to appoint a subcommittee to investigate ballot problems on Oahu during the Nov. 6 election, following testimony from some members of the public who called for Chief Election Officer Scott Nago to be fired. The panel did not take steps to punish or terminate Nago after meeting for more than an hour behind closed doors to talk about his response to the problems on Election Day. Nago told the commission said the state had enough reserve ballots but his staff was not able to deliver them to 17 percent of Oahu’s polling places during the general election, causing them to run out of ballots, resulting in long lines and delays.
Gov. Neil Abercrombie says his administration will propose voting entirely by mail in the wake of snafus during both the Primary and General Elections this year. The Attorney General’s Office will also be launching an investigation into the State Office of Elections, in addition to the Elections Commission asking its own questions. From the late-opening Big Island polling places in the primary to the ballot shortages in the General Election, many voters say they’re fed up with how Hawaii elections are run. “My first thought when it happened was am I really in the USA?,” voter Michelle Bartell said.
Lori Tomczyk, a long-time state election section chief, is taking the fall for Oahu’s ballot shortages on Election Day, and resigned at her boss’ request earlier this month, sources told Hawaii News Now Monday. During the general election on Nov. 6, 24 Oahu polling places ran out of paper ballots, causing long lines of voters and delaying the first printout of election results by two hours. Tomczyk is the ballot operations section head, who is in charge of distribution and collection of ballots statewide.
Public outrage is on the rise after more information about the Office of Elections management failures on General Election Day is documented. Hundreds of people at 24 precincts around Oahu waited as long as three hours to vote because of ballot shortages. In some cases, people left without voting because they could not wait. Callers to local talk shows are demanding a revote. Several note the precincts that ran out of ballots were largely in districts that opposed the controversial $5.2 billion rail project and supported the mayoral candidacy of former Gov. Ben Cayetano. Cayetano lost the election to union-backed Kirk Caldwell after a substantial lead in the polls.
The Anchorage Assembly is closer to deciding what changes might be in store for next year’s Anchorage city election. In April, several polling places ran out of ballots, sending voters across town to try and find a place to vote. The changes, meant to avoid a similar ballot shortage next year, may involve everything from where extra ballots are stored, to when people can protest a decision from the city’s election commission.
Voting Blogs: Report on Anchorage Ballot Problems Highlights Importance of Turnout to Election Planning | Election Academy
Dan Hensley, an outside attorney hired to investigate Anchorage’s troubled April election delivered hisreport to the Anchorage City Assembly last week. The report highlights management issues in the municipal clerk’s office – including the clerk’s “hands off” style that led to inattention to election preparations by the deputy clerk – but Hensley found that the biggest problem contributing to the widespread ballot shortages on April 3 was the deputy clerk’s failure to anticipate voter turnout. In particular, he found that the combination of a mayoral election year and a controversial gay rights initiative should have alerted the deputy to the strong likelihood of a turnout above the levels experienced in 2010 and 2011. Moreover, he learned that other members of the staff had alerted the deputy to higher rates of absentee ballot requests – a key indicator of turnout – which she failed to take into account.
The Anchorage city clerk’s office relied on an inexperienced deputy to run the trouble-plagued April 3 election, didn’t send enough ballots to polling places and failed to realize the depth of the problem as inevitable shortages began, a new report says. Released Monday, the review by independent investigator Dan Hensley spreads blame for the chaotic election among the outgoing city clerk, the now-fired deputy clerk who handled Election Day details and Assembly members who were not aware of the potential problems. Voter outcry over ballot shortages at more than half of Anchorage precincts spurred the review. “He hit it dead on. I think all of us became complacent over the years,” Assembly chairman Ernie Hall said of the findings. The Anchorage Assembly voted May 8 to pay Hensley, a retired Superior Court judge, up to $35,000 to conduct a month-long investigation. Hensley said he found no evidence of intent by any city or election workers to sway the election or influence voting results. Instead, the report describes a combination of inexperience, hands-off management and short-sighted planning that left printed ballots unused at City Hall even as Anchorage residents scrambled from precinct to precinct looking for a place to vote.
Hands-off management, cost cutting and inexperienced staff — not politics or intentional efforts to influence outcome — were primarily responsible for Anchorage’s embarrassing April municipal election. That’s according to a nine-page report by a former Alaska Superior Court judge hired by Anchorage Assembly Chairman Ernie Hall to investigate what led to ballot shortages at nearly half the city’s polling places, with some residents turned away, unable to cast a vote. The April election, which included votes for mayor and a contentious initiative to add sexual orientation to the city’s equal-rights protections, turned out to be one with higher turnout than expected or planned for by the Municipal Clerk’s office. Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan handily won re-election in the vote. Sullivan took his second oath of of office Monday via Skype from Hawaii, where he was vacationing with his family, according to a statement from his office. Proposition 5, which would have made it illegal to discriminate against Anchorage residents because of sexual preference or gender identity, failed.
Anchorage city clerk Barbara Gruenstein has submitted aletter of resignation (PDF) to Anchorage Assembly Chair Ernie Hall. Gruenstein is in charge of the office that runs Anchorage’s elections. Her resignation follows troubled city elections in April, in which election workers ran out of ballots at more than half of the polling places around the city. In Gruenstein’s letter of resignation, she writes, “There have been many successes, but I understand that the problems of the April 3rd election have caused you to doubt the effectiveness of my continuing to serve.” Gruenstein has apologized for the irregularities, which have since been investigated by both the city’s Election Commission and independent counsel hired by the Assembly.
The hand recount of votes cast in 15 of the precincts that voted in the April 3 Anchorage Municipal Election is heading into the home stretch. The initial recount is done, but workers are recounting seven races and one full precinct again. The Anchorage Municipal Clerk’s Office has completed their initial hand recount of ballots cast in the messy Municipal Election. Barbara Gruenstein is the Municipal Clerk. She’s supervising the hand recount. She says her team finished the count Friday, but found that 7 of the 15 precincts they looked at did not match up, so they are recounting those races again.
Anchorage Assembly chairman Ernie Hall fired a key planner in the troubled April 3 election Wednesday, though the city clerk responsible for overseeing the election remains on the job. Hall said he told deputy clerk Jacqueline Duke she was being dismissed Wednesday. The city clerk and deputy clerk are among the employees who serve at the will of the Assembly. Hall made the decision to remove Duke himself but had been talking with other assembly members about it, he said. The city clerk’s office oversees elections and came under fire this year after ballots ran out at more than half of all voting precincts on April 3. On Tuesday, the assembly voted to pay a retired judge $35,000 to investigate what went wrong and recommend ways to avoid similar problems in the future.
The Anchorage Assembly voted 8 to 3 Thursday to finally certify the flawed April 3 city election, subject to the results of a recount of 15 precincts. The election was plagued by ballot shortages at precincts all around town. Some people voted on sample ballots that couldn’t be counted until after election day. Some would-be voters said they gave up and went home. But a private lawyer hired to advise the Assembly on certification told the Assembly it can’t arbitrarily decide not to certify the election.
Pressure is mounting for Queensland councils to resume control of local government elections after a woeful voter turnout. The Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) will survey councils from next week, asking them to judge how the Electoral Commission of Queensland did running last weekend’s polls. It was the second time the electoral commission ran the elections, and LGAQ executive director Greg Hallam believes it should be the last. He says councils should resume control of the process, after a poor voter turn out of 60 per cent despite voting being compulsory.
Three weeks after an election marred by ballot shortages at precincts all over town, and a report that at least one ballot machine with a broken security seal was in use, the Anchorage Assembly has not hired an outside investigator to sort through the election mess. New Assembly Chairman Ernie Hall made a sobering announcement about the situation at the opening of Tuesday, April 24, Anchorage Assembly meeting. Hall had planned to—and he said, “hoped to”—announce two names that night. One would lead an investigation of election procedures and the other would provide a second legal opinion on whether election results can be certified. (Municipal Attorney Dennis Wheeler has previously advised the assembly to certify the results. Wheeler is a mayoral appointee whose boss just won re-election—just one of the sticky wickets assembly must navigate.)
“All I can do is ask for your continued patience and assure you that every effort is being made to get these individuals started absolutely as fast as we can,” Hall said. His announcement include a goal, to certify the election at a special assembly meeting Thursday, May 3, which he said also sets a deadline for an outside lawyer’s opinion on certification. “That is one [hire] I am particularly focused on,” Hall said.
As Assembly members sort through what happened at the polls April 3, national voting groups say the municipality isn’t the only jurisdiction facing electoral troubles. According to the organization Fair Vote, which pushes for election reform across the country, election difficulties are very common these days. The organization points to places like Connecticut, Miami, and now Anchorage. Fair Vote’s spokesperson says the biggest problem is how ill prepared cities officials are: In Anchorage, the most recent election has been called the city’s most chaotic. Critics say what happened on April 3 undermines the democratic process, and they’ve been complaining. “I’m as concerned about the ones I’m not hearing from,” said Assembly Chairman Ernie Hall.