A contested election. Accusations of election fraud. Widespread attention from the national media. No, it’s not in Florida, which has had its fair share of election hijinks over the decades. It’s in North Carolina, where a Congressional race might get a rare election do-over after allegations surfaced that a political operative helped the Republican candidate win by illegally collecting absentee, or vote-by-mail, ballots. The case highlights a notable difference between the two states, however: North Carolina has much tougher laws than Florida when it comes to voting by mail. Although Florida, like many states, has imposed strong voter ID laws for casting a ballot at a polling place, it’s done virtually nothing to stop fraud in the vote-by-mail process.
Florida officials say thousands of mailed ballots were not counted because they were delivered too late to state election offices. The Department of State late last week informed a federal judge that 6,670 ballots were mailed ahead of the Nov. 6 election but were not counted because they were not received by Election Day. The tally prepared by state officials includes totals from 65 of Florida’s 67 counties. The two counties yet to report their totals are Palm Beach, a Democratic stronghold in south Florida, and Polk in central Florida. Three statewide Florida races, including the contest for governor, went to state-mandated recounts because the margins were so close.
California: Judge says San Diego County must change vote counting procedures in future elections | The San Diego Union-Tribune
A judge has determined that San Diego County didn’t follow proper procedures in an audit of the June primary election and must use a different process when verifying future contests. In a Jan. 10 judgment, San Diego Superior Court Judge Joel Wohlfeil determined that state election law says all mail-in ballots need to be included in a manual count of votes from 1 percent of precincts. Previously the County Registrar of Voters only used mail-in ballots received by Election Day in its manual count, while excluding mail-in votes received after polls closed. All ballots – including votes cast by mail, at polling places and accepted provisional ballots – are counted toward election results, but only a small portion are used in an audit used to double-check that votes are accurately counted by automated tabulation systems. Ray Lutz, the head of government watchdog organization Citizens Oversight Inc., said in his lawsuit that all types of ballots cast, including mail-in votes received by the registrar before and after Election Day as well as provisional ballots, should be included in the manual tally to ensure that election fraud has not occurred.
The Anchorage Assembly unanimously passed a resolution Tuesday night to support conducting the 2017 city election by mail, rather than by in-person polling precincts. In a vote-by-mail election, the city will automatically mail ballots to every registered voter in Anchorage, deputy clerk Amanda Moser said in a recent interview. Voters would no longer visit a polling precinct on Election Day to fill out a ballot. Officials have been exploring the change for several years and say it will boost low voter turnout in city elections.
Monmouth County officials — for yet another year — are trying to figure out how election results ended up so jumbled online that they made a handful of candidates and referendum questions look like they lost when they actually won. Monmouth County officials said they believe staff from Dominion Voting Services, the county’s elections software vendor, accidentally “deleted” results Tuesday night from the vote-by-mail ballots. The mailed ballot numbers were later recovered and added to the final tally online Wednesday morning. Monmouth County Clerk Christine Giordano Hanlon apologized to candidates whose results changed and vowed to push for a solution from Dominion. “Our problems with Dominion have become chronic and will not be tolerated. We are continuing to investigate the situation and will be holding Dominion fully accountable,” she said in a five-paragraph statement issued Wednesday morning. The flaws came in an off-year election where New Jersey had anemic voter turnout. Monmouth and Ocean counties had voter turnouts of 23 percent.
Voting Blogs: Plenty to watch during ‘off-year’ election – U.S. Postal Service may play biggest role in 2015 | electionlineWeekly
While the focus of many Americans — well, at least the American media — seems to be on the election that is still more than year away, elections officials across the country are gearing up for state and local elections next week on November 3. Just because this isn’t the big show 2016 will be doesn’t mean that there isn’t plenty to keep an eye on as voters in more than half of the states will head to the polls in some capacity on Tuesday. We’ve been watching the news in the months leading up to November 3 and these are some of the stories we think are worth watching. By far, we think the biggest story for the 2015 elections will be voting by mail—whether it’s casting an absentee ballot or a vote-by-mail ballot. In the days leading up to the election, the U.S. Postal Service and elections officials in numerous states have urged voters to get their mail ballots posted even before this newsletter hits your inbox.