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.
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.
A name that has graced the city political scene for four decades is on its way to the dustbin of history: The D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics is now officially the D.C. Board of Elections. The change follows enactment of the city’s new ethics law; that established the new Board of Ethics and Government Accountability to handle the matters encompassed under the “ethics” portion of the BOEE name, which dates back to the earliest days of home rule. Legally speaking, the BOEE became the BOE in late January, when the ethics bill became law. But only in the past few weeks has the board — busy earlier with a primary and special election — moved to publicly change its name.
Five months away from Election Day with marquee races for president, governor and dozens of other offices, North Carolina legislators have again voted to slash the battleground state’s election budget — a move that will cause N.C. to forfeit $4 million in federal funds and which election watchdogs fear could make voting more chaotic this fall. The budget just passed by Republican lawmakers includes $102,000 in cuts to the N.C. State Board of Elections, which oversees the state’s voting systems. That’s on top of a $660,000 slashing of the Board’s budget in 2011 for a critical state agency whose core operating budget for running elections had been just under $3.5 million a year. That means that the state election board will have less money to train poll workers, maintain voting machines and other measures to keep elections running smoothly. It also triggers a more damaging blow to election funding: By failing to maintain a level of core election spending outlined by the Help America Vote Act, or HAVA, it will also cause North Carolina to forfeit $4 million in federal funds to improve voting systems in the state.
Virginia voters will see changes at the polls come November. They will now be required to provide identification within three days after the election for their vote to count. Although the new law is designed to combat voter fraud, it comes with a hefty price tag. The State Board of Elections said the cost of mailing voter cards will be about $1.36 million.
New York: Redistricting Battle Threatens to Leave New York Election Day in Chaos, Critics Say | DNAinfo.com
The drawn-out redistricting battle in Albany has paved the way for election day chaos in New York City, critics warn. As legislators and the courts finally wrap up the bitter fight over how to carve up the state following the latest census count, the city’s already-strained Board of Elections has been struggling to make preparations while voting districts were still in flux. “I don’t think they will be ready,” said City Councilwoman Gale Brewer, who is planning to outline her concerns about the board’s ability to be adequately prepared for the races in a letter addressed to the state’s Board of Elections later this week. Brewer, who chairs the council’s Committee on Governmental Operations, said she has heard from staffers at the city board concerned about whether they’ll be ready for the petitioning process, which is set to kick off Tuesday, and then the state’s primaries, expected to take place June 26. “Nothing is clear. I’ve never seen anything like this before,” Brewer said.
Voting Blogs: Hurry Up Already: In What Could Be a Busy Election Year, New York City Urged to Pick Up the Pace | Doug Chapin/PEEA
This blog has already covered – in great detail – the frustrations many feel about New York state’s seeming inability to find a way to schedule and administer elections in a way that doesn’t do violence to common sense and, potentially, the state’s finances. An editorial in today’s Daily News suggests that this approach is not unique to Albany, but also exists in New York City as well. In particular, the Daily News complains that the City Board of Elections is treating its new voting machines like old technology in a way that unnecessarily complicates and delays the count.
Secretary of State Jason Gant attempted Tuesday to bypass the state board of elections — which has rule-making authority under state law — in approving new forms and introducing legislation. At the regular meeting in Sioux Falls, board members questioned Gant’s attempt to change forms such as those used for voter registration without the board’s final approval on the actual form.
One board member also questioned Gant bringing forth legislation this session without the board’s approval. The board, in place since the 1970s, is composed of auditors and former legislators from both parties. Its purpose is to help make bipartisan decisions and ensure public participation on election rules and policy.
Whether you voted or not, counties use that data to save money. But Board of Elections commissioners at Washington County take things a step further. Not only do they look at voter turnouts from previous elections, they’ve adopted a strategy similar to Wal-Mart’s “just-in-time” inventory, projecting the ballot needs of each polling site beforehand and hand-delivering extra ballots when needed.
With traditional lever-type voting machines, election boards simply stored a summary sheet along with affidavit, emergency and absentee ballots. But for the last two years, with electronic voting ballots in use, the state and printers have informally recommended that election boards look at the number of registered voters, then print out 110 percent of ballots needed, according to state and local officials.
Republicans appeared to have taken control of the Virginia Senate on Tuesday, but their razor thin majority rests on 86 votes and may not be settled until a lengthy recount is concluded. It’s process that could extend a bitter campaign season into December.
The Republicans managed to take back control of the Senate by edging out senior Democrats in two central Virginia districts. Control of the Senate rests in District 17 where Spotsylvania Sen. Edd Houck, the third ranking Democrat in the Senate, lost to political newcomer Bryce Reeves by less than 86 votes of the 45,000 cast, as of early Wednesday morning.