A top Republican lawmaker is proposing legislation that would strip embattled Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes of her authority over the Kentucky State Board of Elections. Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, said he will introduce a committee substitute Wednesday to Senate Bill 34 that would make the secretary of state a symbolic, non-voting member of the elections board, stripping her of any day-to-day authority over the group. It also would block Grimes and others in her office from accessing to the state’s voter registration database.
Florida’s new secretary of state and two key election supervisors in some of the state’s most-populous counties have never run an election. The officials have taken over central roles for future elections, with no previous experience besides voting themselves. They include recently appointed Secretary of State Laurel Lee, Broward County Supervisor of Elections Peter Antonacci and Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Wendy Link. Broward and Palm Beach are the second- and third-largest counties in Florida by the number of registered voters, with a total of more than 2.1 million voters – and far more registered Democrats than Republicans. nGov. Ron DeSantis appointed Lee, 44, when former Secretary of State Michael Ertel resigned after a photo surfaced of him wearing blackface.
A series of Republican-sponsored bills seek to tighten rules on elected officials running for another office and for minor-party office seekers who switch parties to run. A third item would make the registrar of voters in the state’s two largest counties, Washoe and Clark, an elected rather than appointed post. All three measures were heard Monday by the Senate Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections, which did not vote on them. A “resign-to-run” measure would require elected officeholders to resign their current office if they announce candidacy for a different elected office more than a year before their current term ends. They would be resigned automatically if they don’t resign on their own. Resulting vacancies would be filled under current procedures for vacant seats.
Maryland: Hogan, Franchot grill elections director Lamone over delayed release of voting results | Baltimore Sun
Gov. Larry Hogan and Comptroller Peter Franchot on Wednesday grilled the administrator of Maryland’s elections — after problems on Election Day in November caused polls to stay open late and postponed the release of results for hours. The Maryland State Board of Elections did not post election results online on Election Day until after 10 p.m. — two hours after polls were scheduled to close in the state. Hogan said he and many others were frustrated they had had to wait for hours for the results to be announced. “This was a black eye for Maryland around the country,” Franchot told Maryland elections administrator Linda H. Lamone, who appeared before the spending panel. “They were making fun of us on the national television about how bad the Maryland election was being administered,” Hogan said. “You are the Maryland state election administrator.” “Indeed, I am,” replied Lamone, who has served in the role since 1997.
Kansas: Judge: Kansas’ Largest County Violated Law By Not Specifying Rejected Ballots | Associated Press
A judge has ruled that election officials in Kansas’ largest county violated open records law by refusing to provide names of hundreds of people whose provisional ballots were not counted in last August’s primary. Davis Hammet, president of Loud Light, asked for the names of 898 people whose ballots were thrown out and for justification on why they didn’t count. Johnson County election commissioner Ronnie Metsker rejected Hammet’s request, prompting the American Civil Liberties Union to join Hammet in a lawsuit. District Judge David Hauber ruled in Hammet’s favor on Thursday, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported. Metzger didn’t immediately return a phone call seeking comment on the ruling.
North Carolina: With deadline looming, effort to name new state elections board hits a snag | Charlotte Observer
The effort to find members for a new North Carolina state elections board has hit a snag, just before a deadline for a new board to be named. Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s office on Tuesday found two of the four Democrats nominated to the board ineligible. A new board is scheduled to be appointed by Thursday. The new board will oversee the investigation into alleged election fraud in the 9th District, a probe that has put into question the results of last November’s election. Republican Mark Harris leads Democrat Dan McCready by 905 votes in unofficial results. But the old elections board twice declined to certify his victory because of alleged irregularities with absentee ballots in Bladen County. The old board was dissolved by court order Dec. 28 as part of a separate case.
Election security experts are watching a Wisconsin court case stemming from the 2016 presidential recount that could result in the first public conclusions on whether closely guarded ballot-counting machines were hacked or failed to perform. The key question at the heart of the case is whether former Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein will be allowed to comment publicly on what her auditors find in a review of Wisconsin voting machines’ computer code. Stein’s request for a recount of the presidential election results in Wisconsin gives her the right to review the code under state law. All the parties involved must sign an agreement to keep propriety information confidential. The voting machines’ manufacturers argue that agreement should bar Stein’s group from making any conclusions or opinions about the machines’ performance public.
Georgia election officials on Monday asked a judge to toss out a lawsuit filed by an organization backed by unsuccessful Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams that challenges the way the state’s elections are run. Lawyers for recently sworn-in Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who is the state’s top elections official, and election board members said in a motion to dismiss that the lawsuit fails to bring valid claims. They also argue that state officials are not responsible for any of the harm alleged and are immune from such suits. The lawsuit was filed by Fair Fight Action, a group associated with Abrams and staffed by some of her former campaign workers. In a speech ending her bid for governor 10 days after the November midterm election, Abrams promised a lawsuit against the state “for the gross mismanagement of this election and to protect future elections from unconstitutional actions.”
North Carolina: New elections board won’t start for a week. But it’s already deep in controversy. | Charlotte Observer
North Carolina’s new bipartisan elections board won’t be named for a week, but it’s already sparked more partisan sniping in the midst of what could be the state’s biggest election scandal in years. The attacks began after former board Chairman Josh Malcolm, a Democrat who sparked the investigation into election fraud in the 9th Congressional District, told the Observer that he will not serve on a new board. Republican Sen. Dan Bishop of Charlotte and GOP Rep. David Lewis of Harnett County, who chair election committees, called Malcolm’s decision, coupled with the December resignation of then-Chairman Andy Penry, “the inevitable result of (Gov. Roy) Cooper’s crusade to make the Board an arm of his political machine.”
Florida: DeSantis rescinds Rick Scott’s suspension of Broward County elections supervisor Brenda Snipes | Miami Herald
Brenda Snipes received about the closest thing to an apology she’s likely to get from Florida’s governor, when Ron DeSantis on Friday rescinded his predecessor’s suspension of the former Broward County elections supervisor. But that doesn’t mean she’s getting her job back. In an executive order, DeSantis voided a Nov. 30 directive issued by former Gov. Rick Scott removing Snipes from office. DeSantis said he was instead accepting the Jan. 4 resignation that Snipes had submitted on the final day of a controversial midterm election recount, granting her the soft exit she’d wanted (albeit without the quiet goodbye).