Six Greensboro residents joined the city itself in a lawsuit filed Monday that seeks to overturn a recent state law that would radically alter the method of city council elections. In the court filing submitted to the US District Court on Monday, attorneys from Brooks, Pierce and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice claimed the redistricting move “destroys self-government by the City of Greensboro and its citizens. If permitted to take effect, the Greensboro Act would destroy municipal government crafted and controlled by the citizens of Greensboro and replace it with a city council founded upon unconstitutional voting districts and expressly limited in its powers of self-government,” the suit states.
board of elections
A Republican member of the North Carolina elections board worked closely with local officials in their effort to eliminate a heavily Democratic voting site, a plan a judge ruled was intended to suppress voter turnout, according to hundreds of emails reviewed by The Associated Press. The state Board of Elections is supposed to act as a neutral arbiter when policy disputes arise involving county elections boards. The emails show that Paul J. Foley worked closely behind the scenes with GOP officials in Watauga County as they crafted a plan to eliminate the early voting site at Appalachian State University. Foley is already under scrutiny for failing to recuse himself for 17 months from the state election agency’s investigation into political donations from an Oklahoma sweepstakes mogul represented by his law firm. He recused himself only after staff learned the mogul had paid nearly $1.3 million to his firm. Details of that investigation are to be released Wednesday.
Gov. Bruce Rauner replaced a longtime state election regulator Wednesday. In paperwork filed with the Illinois Secretary of State, the Republican governor announced the end of former Bloomington Mayor Jesse Smart’s 14-year tenure on the Illinois State Board of Elections. Smart, who served as mayor of Bloomington from 1985 to 1997, is being replaced by Madison County Republican Party Chairman Andy Carruthers of Edwardsville.
Hamilton County leaders can move elections operations to Mount Airy, but the issue about where to put early voting remains unsettled in the wake of Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted’s tie-breaking vote on the matter. The decisions have national implications. Ohio – and Hamilton County in particular – are key battlegrounds in presidential elections, and how elections are conducted here can affect whose votes get counted. In the 2012 presidential election, more than 24,000 people voted early, in-person, at the Downtown location. “They need to find a place everyone can live with,” Husted told the Enquirer. “I’m not trying to tell anyone in Hamilton County where their early voting should be.” Husted added: “Honestly, the current location is not the best location.”
Both sides have made their case to state officials in the dispute over whether a local elections board member should be removed. The North Carolina State Board of Elections has received a completed formal complaint asking for the removal of Wilson Board of Elections Secretary Joel Killion. Asa Gregory and Barbara Dantonio alleged in their complaint that Killion violated state statues that limit election board members’ political activities. As exhibits to prove their complaint, Gregory and Dantonio sent information from the Tea Party website, information from Killion’s Twitter account, pictures of Killion in a Tea Party tent and newspaper articles. Gregory is former chairman of the Wilson County Democratic Party. Dantonio is former treasurer of the Wilson Democrats. But Killion has sent a response to the state elections board asking that the complaint be dismissed. Killion’s position is that he is not in violation of any statutes with his Tea Party activities. He even said Gregory’s statements were “libelous.”
The man who taxpayers are paying more than $70,000 to investigate what caused Richland County’s election meltdown eight months ago explained his final findings to a nearly empty room last week. Attorney Steve Hamm presented his completed report to the county board of elections June 26. There were hardly any bombshells, nor members of the public there to hear them had they dropped. Perhaps the biggest news was that Hamm confirmed he’d alerted law enforcement to the actions of a male part-time elections agency employee he said had “sabotaged” the number of voting machines deployed to precincts, causing long lines and some voters to leave before casting ballots. The Nov. 6 county election was plagued by snarled lines, broken machines — too few of them — and ballots that were never even counted. Much of that can be attributed to the actions of one unnamed person, Hamm said, although he wagged a finger at the elections board and agency management for not catching the problems early. That one elections worker, Hamm found in his investigation, had coaxed another employee into writing down wrong numbers on a spreadsheet, drastically reducing the number of voting machines that would be allocated to Election Day precincts. Hamm said he doesn’t know why the unnamed man might have wanted to choke off the number of voting machines on Election Day. He said he wondered if law enforcement might be able to find out.
A new GOP-majority state elections board takes office Wednesday as new details raise deeper questions about $240,000 in campaign contributions funneled to the governor and top Republican lawmakers from the sweepstakes gambling industry. State Board of Elections investigators are reviewing more than 60 donations from sweepstakes company owners – and still unearthing more money – as part of a complaint filed last week that suggests the checks may violate campaign finance laws. A majority of the outgoing elections board wanted to pursue the investigation but took no action on the matter Tuesday at its final meeting, saying the decision should fall to the new board.
Newly appointed members of the State Board of Elections say they will start their tenure Wednesday with no marching orders as to who should serve as their most senior staff member or how to pursue a high-profile campaign finance investigation. Gov. Pat McCrory appointed five new members to the board Friday, sweeping out incumbents with decades of experience. Each governor makes his or her own appointments to the board, based on recommendations from the chairman of the Republican and Democratic parties. But a 20-year run of Democratic governors – Jim Hunt, Mike Easley and Bev Perdue – has led to stability among the boards’ membership.
Gov. Pat McCrory announced late Friday that he was replacing all members of the State Board of Elections as of Wednesday, just as an investigation into political contributions made to McCrory and other top Republicans’ officeholders’ campaigns is getting underway. Three Republicans, including Winston-Salem lawyer Paul Foley, and two Democrats will replace the current three-Democrat, two-Republican board. The board’s majority represents the governor’s party. The move puts the progress of the board’s investigation into campaign contributions from an indicted sweepstakes software company owner in question. Bob Hall, executive director of Democracy North Carolina, last week asked the board to investigate more than 60 campaign contributions totaling more than $230,000. Some of the contributions went to McCrory, House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate leader Phil Berger.
Ohio: Elections chief Jon Husted restricts methods to notify voters of absentee ballot errors | cleveland.com
For the presidential election, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted has placed new restrictions on how local boards of elections can notify voters if their absentee ballot contains an error. Husted, a Republican, issued a directive Oct. 4 that limits the method of communication to first-class mail when a voter’s absentee ballot identification envelope contains errors, such as a missing name or signature, or if the information on the envelope does not match voter registration records. Election officials cannot notify voters by email or phone, even though voters may provide that information when applying for an absentee ballot, the directive said. Husted’s office says the directive was issued to ensure uniformity across the state. But Democrats say the directive is another example of Husted making it more difficult to vote. Earlier this week, Husted appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court an appellate court decision that allows in-person early voting the weekend before the Nov. 6 election.