The former head of the Pennsylvania Department of State didn’t resign on his own but appears to have been ousted by Gov. Wolf, according to newly released documents. In an email he wrote to the governor on the day of his Oct. 11 resignation, Pedro Cortes indicated he didn’t know why he was being forced from office. “I have done a great deal of soul searching in the last 24 hours,” Cortes wrote. “I remain at a lost [sic] to understand why you would dispense with my services without sharing with me concerns you had about my professional performance or personal life.” “Wished I had that opportunity,” Cortes wrote.
Virginia: State officials decide not to certify two House races amid claims that voters got the wrong ballots | The Washington Post
Virginia’s Board of Elections voted unanimously Monday to delay certification of two House races, amid new claims that dozens of voters got the wrong ballot in a tight contest that could determine control of the legislature’s lower chamber. The board called a “time out” after state Elections Commissioner Edgardo Cortés announced that in April 2016, Fredericksburg registrar Juanita Pitchford erroneously assigned 83 voters from the 28th House District to the 88th. It was not clear how many of the 83 voters actually cast ballots on Nov. 7, but the 28th District race is tight. Republican Robert Thomas leads Democrat Joshua Cole by 82 votes in the contest to fill the seat held by retiring Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford).
The Wisconsin Elections Commission asked for three more workers Monday because it has seen its staff cut by 28% over two years. In the most recent round of cuts, Gov. Scott Walker in September used his veto powers to eliminate five jobs from the agency. In all, six jobs were lost because lawmakers had already agreed to trim one position. Since 2015, the agency has lost 10 positions, reducing its ranks from 36 to 26. “These realities pose a risk to the smooth administration of elections in Wisconsin, and also create a greater challenge for the agency and local election offiicials to meet their legal obligations to fully implement federal and state laws,” Michael Haas, the administrator of the Elections Commission, wrote in a recent memo.
The head of Wisconsin elections wants the Legislature to approve hiring three additional staff, with two focused on bolstering security following news that the state’s voting systems were targeted by Russian hackers. A 28 percent reduction in staff since 2015 weakened the ability of elections workers to address voter safety and eroded fulfilling all other state and federal law requirements, Wisconsin Elections Commission Administrator Michael Haas said in a memo released Friday. “The agency for an extended period of time has been operating with less than optimal staffing,” Haas said in an interview. “We are falling behind with just our regular day-to-day responsibilities so we can be prepared for the 2018 election.”
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani sacked the chairman of the country’s Independent Election Commission on Wednesday, raising doubts over whether parliamentary and council ballots scheduled for next year will take place as planned. Najibullah Ahmadzai, head of the body charged with organizing the elections, had faced growing pressure following repeated delays to preparations for them and had lost the support of both Ghani and disillusioned foreign donors. The 2018 votes are seen as dry runs for a presidential election in 2019 and a key test of the progress made by Afghanistan’s Western-backed government towards establishing durable democratic institutions.
Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich says county election officials can maintain separate voter databases but are legally required to send voter information to the secretary of state’s office. Brnovich also said in an opinion released Monday that Secretary of State Michele Reagan can’t refer public records requests or legal subpoenas to counties since she also maintains the voter rolls. The opinion also clarified what voter registration information county recorders are required to provide to Reagan’s office. Solicitor General Dominic Draye wrote that includes everything, and immediately.
Kane County Clerk John Cunningham said Monday he is looking at ways to handle Aurora elections if a referendum concerning the elimination of the Aurora Election Commission passes. Still, Cunningham was adamant in saying that even though he is an Aurora resident, he does not have a public opinion either way. “It’s not up to the county clerk to be involved in this,” he said. “It’s up to the people.” Cunningham said with a movement afoot to put a referendum question on the March 2018 ballot asking voters to eliminate the election commission, he needs to look at what might happen if voters approve it. An informal group of residents has been passing petitions seeking about 1,000 signatures they would need to put the question on the ballot. If they succeed, state statute mandates that Aurora voters be asked the question: “Shall the city election law be rejected?”
Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes, a week after apologizing for insulting a voter, flubbed an election place rule Tuesday as he was trying to promote Election Day. Fontes, a lawyer and Democrat who took office this year following voting-day problems with his predecessor, recorded a Facebook Live video promoting Election Day within 75 feet of the Surprise City Hall ballot center. Arizona law restricts photography and video recording within that area at voting locations. Fontes downplayed the apparent violation, and a Republican election law expert said no harm was done. Voting otherwise appeared to be going smoothly at ballot centers across the Valley for school-district and city bond and override measures, a year after former Recorder Helen Purcell came under fire for long lines at too few polling locations. And this year’s voter participation seemed on track to exceed previous low-profile elections.
Maryland: Baltimore County orders extra voting scanners, but not as many as elections officials say are needed | Baltimore Sun
Baltimore County is ordering extra ballot scanning machines for four dozen of the county’s busiest polling locations — far fewer than the 200-plus scanners sought by county elections officials. Rob Stradling, the county’s information technology director, said Tuesday that paying for 47 scanners for polling sites and five backup locations represents a “fiscally responsible” solution to easing lengthy backups that frustrated voters during the 2016 election. Stradling said the additional machines and other changes — such as having existing machines serviced, having manufacturer representatives on hand on Election Day and tweaking training for election judges — should make the voting process more efficient. His office spent five months researching the problem and posted its findings online Tuesday. But the county’s top elections official had sought much more. Director of Elections Katie Brown has previously asked the county to purchase a second ballot scanner for each of its 236 polling precincts. Only one precinct had two scanners in 2016.
Nepal: Court seeks amici curiae in petition seeking voting rights for public servants and security personnel | Republica
The Supreme Court on Sunday asked the Nepal Bar Association (NBA) and the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) to send amici curiae to plead in the apex court Monday in relation to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) that demands voting rights for public servants and security personnel deployed on election duty. Following Sunday’s hearing on the petition, a division bench of justices Deepak Raj Joshee and Dambar Bahadur Shahi asked the bar bodies to send one representative each to plead as amicus curiae. Stating that this issue was sensitive as it is associated with the fundamental rights of citizens, the bench asked the two bodies to send their representatives.