election administration

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Texas: Flawed voting in Texas likely the result of confusion — not fraud, official says | San Antonio Express-News

After confusion over whether several hundred Texans voted improperly in the November election, local election officials say that the ballots in question likely were cast by eligible voters who got caught up in the chaotic scramble to implement a court order loosening the state’s strict voter identification law. The law, adopted in 2011 by the GOP-controlled Legislature and mired in a yearslong court battle, requires voters to show one of seven forms of government-issued photo ID. After federal courts found the law to be discriminatory, a judge in August ordered Texas officials to soften its requirements for the Nov. 8 election by allowing registered voters without one of the required photo IDs to cast ballots if they signed affidavits swearing that they had a “reasonable impediment” to obtaining ID and showed other documentation, such as a birth certificate, utility bill, bank statement or government pay stub. Read More

Mississippi: City of Meridian wants ES&S to manage their elections | Meridian Star

City of Meridian officials are considering managing the upcoming municipal elections in-house, rather than using the services of the Lauderdale County Election Commission. At Tuesday’s city council meeting, the city plans to ask the council to allow Election Systems & Software (ESS), to manage the May 2 municipal elections as a means of saving taxpayer money. The Lauderdale County Election Commission oversaw previous municipal elections. “ESS, our finance department and five election commissioners have been trying to oversee elections,” Meridian Mayor Percy Bland said. ” As an administration, we feel ESS, our finance department and five election commissioners will do a good job. We just handled the Food and Beverage Tax special election (in August). Going forward, we believe that ESS and our finance department team can oversee the municipal election compared to the prices that we paid in the past (to the county). We are doing it as a cost-saving measure.” The city will pay ESS $50,927 to oversee the municipal election. For the 2013 municipal election, the city paid the Lauderdale County Election Commission $24,414, which did not include rental fees for county voting machines. Read More

Illinois: GOP board members defend DuPage election commission merger process | Chicago Tribune

Republican members of the DuPage County Board defended the proposed merging of the county election commission with the office of county clerk’s office in the face of criticism leveled at last week’s board meeting. During public comments made at the Feb. 14 meeting, several people expressed concern over such issues as new election commissioner salaries and the merger provision that allows board Chairman Dan Cronin, a Republican, to nominate the Democrat serving on an expanded five-member election board. Read More

North Carolina: State Supreme Court halts legislature’s elections board revamp | News & Observer

The state Supreme Court has restored a block on the legislature’s overhaul of the state elections board and ethics commission while Gov. Roy Cooper’s lawsuit awaits resolution. The court sided with Cooper in an order released Monday. It did not explain its reasoning. The decision is the latest legal twist in a power struggle between Cooper, a Democrat, and the Republicans at the helm of both General Assembly chambers. Cooper sued Phil Berger, the leader of the state Senate, and Tim Moore, the state House speaker, earlier this year over a December law that called for the merger of the five-member elections board and the state Ethics Commission, which administers ethics laws governing lobbyists, elected officials and government employees. At issue is whether the General Assembly overstepped its state constitutional authority when it adopted a law that establishes an eight-member board to oversee elections and consider ethics complaints and issues. The governor would appoint four members and legislative leaders would appoint the other four, with the board split evenly between Democrats and Republicans. Read More

North Carolina: Judges hear arguments over restricting governor’s powers | Associated Press

North Carolina’s new Democratic governor and the entrenched Republican-led legislature battled in court on two fronts Friday over efforts to restrict the chief executive’s ability to alter the state’s recent conservative direction. A panel of three state trial court judges spent three hours listening to arguments over whether to continue blocking a law requiring Senate confirmation of Gov. Roy Cooper’s Cabinet secretaries. The judges did not say when they would decide whether to continue blocking the law. Any order would be in effect until after a full hearing next month. Meanwhile, a revamped state elections board met for the first time Friday, hours after an appeals court temporarily reinstated a law stripping Cooper of his oversight of elections. Cooper’s attorneys are asking the state Supreme Court to step in and again block that law. The General Assembly passed the law requiring Senate consent to Cooper’s top appointees in December. It came in a surprise special session barely a week after Republican incumbent Pat McCrory conceded to Cooper in their close gubernatorial race and just before the Democrat took office. Read More

Voting Blogs: Where has supportthevoter.gov gone? | Center for Civic Design

“We have got to fix that.” On Election Night in 2012, six words by newly re-elected President Obama set a chain of events in motion. He was talking about the long lines at many polling places. A little over a year later the Presidential Commission for Election Administration (PCEA) presented their recommendations to help local and state elections officials improve all voters’ experience in casting their ballots. There were many amazing things about the PCEA. That it existed at all. Most of the time, the roughly 8,000 election administrators around the country do their jobs with little fanfare and little public attention. It was pretty exciting to see so many people working on fixing problems and offering best practices to support these officials as they support the voter. That it was bipartisan. In fact the chairs had been general counsel to opposing candidates in both the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections. But most of all, that their recommendations — a set of practical, useful guidelines addressing real issues — have made a real and measurable difference, upping the game of election officials around the country. Read More

Michigan: Detroit clerk addresses troubled election; state audit shows no proof of voter fraud | Michigan Radio

Detroit city clerk Janice Winfrey has broken her public silence about irregularities in the city’s November’s election results. Michigan’s presidential recount was halted mid-process. But the partial recount revealed that more than half of Detroit precincts were legally ineligible to be recounted, because reported vote counts didn’t match the actual number of ballots. That prompted the state to launch an audit, which is still wrapping up. Winfrey has said very little during that time. But state elections officials have now said there is no evidence of fraud, a finding Winfrey reiterated that at a press conference Friday. Instead, she said it mostly revealed a lot of “human error” at the “precinct level.” Read More

Fiji: Elections body allowed to lapse out of existence | Radio New Zealand

With an election looming in Fiji in 2018, the commission responsible for overseeing preparations has been allowed to lapse out of existence. On 9 January, the three-year term of the independent Electoral Commission, a constitutionally-mandated seven-member body tasked with supervising the Elections Office, which is responsible for preparing the vote, expired. Opposition parties say there appears to be no rush to replace the commission, which they say raises concerns about the state of Fiji’s nascent democracy as it prepares to enter its second elections since Frank Bainimarama’s 2006 coup. “There are no longer commissioners and there is no longer an Electoral Commission in place and that’s serious because it’s a constitutional office,” said Biman Prasad, the leader of the opposition National Federation Party. “It shouldn’t be allowed to remain vacant but that is exactly what has happened.” Read More

Michigan: Johnson: Michigan may boost post-election audits | The Detroit News

Secretary of State Ruth Johnson said Thursday voting irregularities in Detroit and elsewhere in Michigan that spurred a state audit of the city’s ballots are prompting consideration of expanding post-election audits. Voting machines in more than one-third of all Detroit precincts registered more votes than they should have during the presidential election, according to Wayne County records prepared at the request of The Detroit News. The voting irregularities prompted an audit of the city’s ballots following the election. “We’ve done 1,400 of them, and we’re going to be looking at how we can broaden those audits even further,” Johnson said after a celebration of Michigan’s 180th anniversary as a state, without providing further details. “We’re looking at that right now because we’re doing some auditing of some of the communities that had some issues, and then we’ll know more exactly what we need to do because there’s nothing more important to democracy than making sure that we have great elections.” Detailed reports from the office of Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett show optical scanners at 248 of Detroit’s 662 precincts, or 37 percent, tabulated more ballots than the number of voters tallied by workers in the poll books. Read More

Arizona: County recorders call relationship with Secretary of State ‘dire’ | ACIR

Arizona’s 15 county recorders this week delivered a letter to Secretary of State Michele Reagan in which they said communication between their offices and hers is “in a dire state” because state Election Director Eric Spencer has been “ineffective and disrespectful.” The county recorders said in the Jan. 23 letter that Spencer has been verbally abusive, “rude” and “dismissive” of questions posed to him by the recorders and their staffs. In one instance, they wrote, Spencer said the recorders were “incompetent,” and that he has refused to answer “questions of critical importance posed by those same elections officials.” The recorders also said Spencer has neglected statutory obligations and created legal and ethical conflicts with his demands that recorders remove voters from registration rolls. Read More