California elections officials want state lawmakers to place a $450 million voting-equipment borrowing measure on the June 2018 ballot, saying that many counties’ voting machines rely on outdated equipment that make them vulnerable to breakdowns and hacking. The bond measure in Assembly Bill 668 by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzales Fletcher, D-San Diego, would be more than double the size of the last voting machine borrowing proposal to go on the ballot. In March 2002, voters approved Proposition 41, a $200 million bond prompted by disputed Florida presidential vote in 2000 that highlighted hanging chads and other voting equipment problems. Some of the machines purchased with Proposition 41 money later were decertified after state officials imposed new paper-trail requirements and other rules. Counties either retrofitted machines to bring them into compliance, or pulled older equipment back into use.
Republican House Speaker Austin Knudsen is using his parliamentary power to kill a measure allowing counties to hold an all-mail ballot in Montana’s May 25 special congressional election. Knudsen has refused to schedule a floor vote on House Bill 83, which Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock sent back to the House on April 7, with amendments giving counties the option to conduct an all-mail ballot. Without a floor vote, the bill is dead – unless at least 60 House members vote to overrule Knudsen’s decision, which is unlikely. In a statement Tuesday, Bullock said Knudsen is “playing procedural games to prevent this (bill) from reaching the House floor.”
After debating a voter ID bill for more than five hours Monday, Rep. Bruce Hunter wasn’t about to ignore its $700,000 cost. Hunter, D-Des Moines, challenged the line item in the Secretary of State’s budget during a meeting Tuesday of the Administration and Regulation Appropriations Subcommittee. He challenged any committee member to explain why the money was needed to implement House File 516, which is awaiting final approval in the Senate. Hunter and fellow Democrats repeatedly asked majority Republicans what problem they were trying to solve. There have been few problems with voter fraud and impersonation, “but we give them $700,000 to chase Don Quixote,” Hunter said. “Given the cuts in other departments, it is unconscionable to put in $700,000 for a problem that doesn’t exist,” he said.
Iowa: Budget includes funding for voter ID initiative, cuts for other programs | Des Moines Register
Legislative Republicans unveiled a budget proposal Tuesday that includes nearly $650,000 to implement a new voter ID initiative but makes $1.4 million in cuts to other departments and programs. Republicans said they were glad to support the Secretary of State’s voter identification plan, but Democrats were immediately critical that it would come at the expense of other programs such as the Iowa Public Information Board and the Child Advocacy Board. “Given the cuts of every other department, this is unconscionable that we would put $700,000 into a problem that doesn’t exist when we have other problems that do exist and we’re cutting those departments,” said Rep. Bruce Hunter, D-Des Moines. The proposal would provide about $47.4 million in funding to administration and regulation services. It’s part of the state’s overall $7.245 billion spending plan, which includes cuts to nearly every area of the state budget.
Using state-of-the-art voting machines wouldn’t have changed the controversial results of Michigan’s presidential election last fall, according to Detroit and state election officials. But new digital machines unveiled Saturday — to about 1,200 volunteer supervisors of Detroit’s polling sites — won’t suffer the frequent breakdowns of the old machines, causing lines to back up with impatient voters, and soon will be used statewide, officials said. “At the end of the day, we all have one goal, right? To ensure that every person that wants to vote gets to vote and we count that vote accurately,” Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey told the poll workers. In an event billed as an equipment fair, Winfrey and her staff showed off the new, $4,000 voting tabulators to noisy, curious crowds of election volunteers who gathered — one group in the morning, another in the afternoon — at Wayne County Community College in downtown Detroit.
Gov. Steve Bullock revived debate over mail-only voting on Friday when he used his veto power to rewrite a routine bill to allow counties to conduct the May 25 congressional election by mail. The governor’s action caught Secretary of State Corey Stapleton off guard. His fellow Republicans in the House, who had killed the bill last month, were scrambling to see if there was a way to prevent the governor’s changes from being debated and getting a floor vote. They could run down the clock — because they can choose to take up the matter any time during the remaining days of the session. The 11th-hour political maneuver might be too late for some counties, who are already planning to print ballots, arrange polling sites and assemble thousands of poll workers.
County election officials are securing polling places, hiring election judges and bracing for higher costs for this spring’s special election now that any hope that votes will only be cast by mail has been quashed. A bill to give counties the option of making Montana’s May 25 special election a mail-ballot only contest has been all but buried at the Montana Legislature despite support from many county governments. Those counties said the bill would save them money, but some Republican leaders opposed the measure because they said it would give Democrats an edge in the race to fill Montana’s one U.S. House seat. A final effort to move the bill forward failed last Friday, and now that the bill appears dead, county officials are plugging ahead and dealing with the challenges of organizing an election in a hurry.
New electronic poll books for elections are supposed to make voting faster, more accurate and more secure, but Butler County commissioners don’t like the state’s “use it or lose it” policy regarding money to pay for them. County elections officials presented a plan Monday to spend $524,900 on the new technology. The state will pick up the lion’s share, $394,465, for the equipment, but county leaders said the catch is the elections board must be under contract with the vendor by May 31 or the money will vanish. “I don’t like the state saying you have to use it or lose,” Commissioner Don Dixon said. “I think if they are going to allocate that money, then if we have a plan to bundle that with something else, and it may be a year before we’re there, we should be allowed to do that.”
California: Here’s why California counties can ignore a half-dozen election laws | Los Angeles Times
In the partnership between state and county governments that underwrites California’s elections every two years, one of the partners has racked up a sizable IOU. Yes, it’s the state. And the running tab is almost $76 million. Whether that tab gets paid off, or keeps growing, is an open question. In the meantime, the unpaid bill means local officials can legally refuse to follow a half-dozen election laws. Small ones? Hardly. They could refuse to provide absentee ballots to anyone who wants one. Or perhaps even more provocative in the current election-integrity climate, they could refuse to use long-standing legal rules when asked to verify a voter’s signature on a provisional ballot. No money, no mandated services.
Monday is the final day that Franklin County residents can register for the May primary. Voters will weigh in on 16 different issues, including for members of City Council and the Board of Education. In 2017, Ohio became the 38th state to implement online voter registration. According to a report by the Pew Research Center, this minor modernization has a number of benefits. According the Pew report, online registration is more accessible, especially for young adults who tend to move more frequently. And because it’s instantly cross checked by records at the BMV, it’s more accurate than the standard paper system.