North Carolina: Poll worker training highlights voter ID, many Election Day tasks | Winston-Salem Journal

Poll worker training for the March primary kicked off last week in Forsyth County, and for seasoned precinct officials, most of the information is familiar. But one element is new for everyone: voter ID. By the end of the month, more than 300 precinct officials will have attended the class, which covers everything from voting machine setup and voter check-in to provisional ballots and photo identification requirements. The class is mandatory for chief judges and judges, the precinct officials who run the polling places on Election Day. In about two and a half hours, Forsyth elections office employees hit the highlights from the State Board of Elections’ voting site guide and the county’s poll worker manual, which contains about 100 pages of instructions and forms.

Editorials: Poll workers needed | Cincinnati Enquirer

Hamilton County elections need your help. That’s the obvious takeaway from the county Board of Elections’ recent post-mortem of the snafu-filled Nov. 3 election. The board found that 84 percent of its polling stations had problems on Election Day. Among other issues, many poll workers struggled with the setup for electronic poll site equipment. Some local high school seniors assisting at the polls played hero by adroitly dealing with electronic issues. Clearly, Hamilton County needs more poll workers comfortable with troubleshooting a wi-fi router connection. It takes about 2,600 workers to operate the county’s polls on Election Day, and while the Board of Election has done well making sure polling locations are staffed, it needs workers who are fluent in using technology.

Voting Blogs: Election Day 2015 had a little bit of everything: glitches, snafus, rats, successful pilots and unsuccessful pilots | electionlineWeekly

“There was no line at the polling place. The line was almost out the door at Starbucks.” — an email from a Kentucky voter to her daughter.

There was snow, there was rain, there were blue skies and warm temperatures. Poll workers overslept, stole voting equipment and didn’t know how to use new technology. Voting machines malfunctioned and ballot-counting machines chugged along. There were new voting systems that worked flawlessly and there were those that didn’t. Turnout out was historically low and turnout was relatively high. Oh and there were rats.

Ohio: On the front lines of an awful election | Cincinnati Enquirer

The election went very badly. As a poll worker, I know that better than anybody. Really. It was awful. Because of this, they decided to keep the polls open late (“Problems, delays keep the polls open” Nov. 4). That was not a good idea. It fixed nothing. Many of the problems were blamed on the new technology. But that wasn’t the real issue, per se. I hear some locations gave up on the new machines and reverted to paper because they couldn’t get the printers hooked up. But that’s human error and inadequate training. The training was, indeed, inadequate. Only about half the poll workers – the precinct managers and deputies – were trained on the complete setup. It was assumed the regular precinct officials wouldn’t need to know.

Voting Blogs: A case study on college poll workers – An in-depth look at the Chicago Program | electionlineWeekly

Elections officials looking to improve efficiency on election day should look no further than the nearest college, university or community college according to a recent study of the college poll worker program in Chicago. Among other things, the Student Leaders in Elections: A Case Study in College Poll Worker Recruitment found that recruiting college poll workers helps improve the transmission of election results, makes it easier to staff polling places in need because students aren’t married to a location and students who served as bilingual poll workers are more likely to serve in future elections. The U.S. Election Assistance Commission has long supported the practice of college poll workers and one of the recommendations of Presidential Commission on Election Administration was for jurisdictions to recruit more college students as poll workers.

Indiana: Poll workers provide important yet often overlooked service to voters | News-Sentinel

When you’re out at the polls today, don’t just think about the candidates running for office, also keep in mind the the dedicated poll workers. After hours of training and — for many — more than 10 years of experience, poll workers flood into area voting sites at 5 a.m. to gear up for a 14-hour workday. While it pays well, anywhere from $95 to $175 for the day, the job involves a huge amount of responsibility as well as a deep knowledge of the election process and Indiana election laws. Poll workers are supplied to the election board thanks to the local political parties. Each party is responsible for providing poll workers.

Alabama: House passes bill allowing voters over 70, disabled skip line at polling places |

A piece of legislation that would allow voters over the age of 70 and the disabled to avoid waiting in line at polling places passed in the Alabama House today after little discussion. Rep. David Standridge, R-Hayden, said he sponsored the bill after witnessing elderly citizens standing in long lines waiting to cast their votes. “This would just merely allow them to move up in line if they so request it,” he said today on the House floor.

Ohio: Local Government Insider: Not voting won’t cost local poll workers | The Columbus Dispatch

About 12 percent of people who worked the polls in Franklin County on Election Day last fall never cast their own ballot. Does that matter? It does in Hamilton County, where The Cincinnati Enquirer reported this week that about 100 poll workers were fired for not voting in 2013 or 2014. That made us ask what happens here, and this is what we found: The percentage of local poll workers who didn’t vote in the last four elections has declined since the primary election in 2013. That year, 577 of the 2,219 eligible poll workers (26 percent) did not cast ballots. It has gotten better since, with about 17 percent of poll workers not casting ballots in the general election that year, and 18 percent of poll workers not casting ballots in last year’s primary election. In November, 367 of 3,001 poll workers did not vote. So will they the get fired for it? No.

Ohio: 100 Hamilton County poll workers fired for not voting | Cincinnati Enquirer

More than 100 Hamilton County poll workers got fired Tuesday for failing to do the one thing that matters most on Election Day. They didn’t vote. The board of elections said goodbye to the 104 workers after learning they had not voted in either the 2013 or 2014 elections, despite spending most of those Election Days in a polling place, surrounded by voters and ballots. “I’m frankly kind of shocked by the number of people on that list,” said Tim Burke, chairman of the board and leader of Hamilton County’s Democratic Party. “We want everyone to vote. If we have poll workers who don’t vote, we’re not encouraging that.”

Voting Blogs: How Young Is too Young for Poll Workers, and How do We Adapt to a Younger Generation? | State of Elections

It is no secret that the typical poll worker tends to be a senior citizen; indeed, the average age of those volunteering to work the polls is seventy-five. As new technologies are implemented for use in elections, however, there has been a growing push for younger volunteers who are presumably more tech-savvy. In efforts to recruit this younger demographic, California amended its election law statutes to allow high school students to serve as poll workers if certain conditions are met, including a minimum GPA and age requirement. On its face, this law appears like an excellent way to encourage young people to volunteer to serve as poll workers, especially as they are compensated for their time spent both in training and on Election Day. However, one question that remains unanswered is whether high school students, and minors in general, are mature enough to handle the responsibilities that come with the position.

Mississippi: Hinds County election official takes blame for ballot shortage | WAPT

A Hinds County election commissioner is taking the blame after several polling places ran out of ballots on election night. Election officials said 35 to 40 polling locations in Hinds County ran out of paper ballots before the polls closed at 7 p.m. “I usually zip right in and right out, but not tonight. I’m going to sit here until I vote,” voter Susanna Green said Tuesday night. “Most of these people are taking it very nicely. They are, as you can see, sitting around waiting for the ballots to show up,” said poll worker Sandy Wilkerson. Connie Cochran, the District 4 election commissioner, apologized Wednesday to voters who were inconvenienced. Scores of voters were forced to stand in line, some for more than an hour, waiting for more ballots to be brought in.

Mississippi: McDaniel supporters pore over ballots | Clarion-Ledger

A preliminary examination of ballots cast in Tuesday’s Republican U.S. Senate primary runoff between incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran and state Sen. Chris McDaniel has found irregularities in at least 800 ballots, tea party officials said. Mississippi Tea Party Chairwoman Laura Van Overschelde said Thursday that the examination of ballots isn’t complete and will continue until all ballots are examined. “Looking at the poll books, we found some evidence we are concerned about,” Overschelde said. “The investigation is still preliminary.”

South Carolina: Richland election better but more improvements needed, director says | The State

Two years after a disastrous election process left people waiting hours in line to cast ballots, Richland County kept long waits at a minimum during Tuesday’s primary and reduced the frustrations so many voters expressed during the 2012 general election. But far fewer people voted in the primary election, and county voting director Samuel Selph acknowledged that Richland has “some more work to do” before the upcoming general election in November. The county needs to ramp up training for poll workers, who had difficulties Tuesday operating equipment that is vital to the election process, he said. He said human error, as opposed to malfunctioning equipment, led to the majority of problems.

California: No ballots, no voting machines and other glitches at Los Angeles County polling places | Daily News

With some 5,000 polling places operating throughout Los Angeles County on Tuesday and a shortage of volunteers, some voting locations reported problems such as missing ink and other materials and a lack of staffing. Loyola Marymount University’s Center for the Study of Los Angeles, which had students at polling sites throughout the area, was keeping track of the problems through its Twitter feed, noting issues such as an absence of workers at one site, and voting machines without ink. “Still no ballots at Fire Station 99. Polls have been open for FOUR HOURS,” one tweet noted, referring to a site on the Westside.

Pennsylvania: Kensington election craziness raises doubts about weird poll-watcher rules | Philadelphia City Paper

During Tuesday’s primary, various candidates in Kensington alleged that their opponents were bribing voters, campaigning inside polling places, and, in one instance, distributing anonymous fliers that claimed one candidate was gay — and those were just the complaints made to a reporter over a few hours time. An assistant district attorney showed up at Stetson Middle School in Kensington to respond to reports that campaign workers were accompanying voters into voting booths. After observing a raucous scene that involved dozens of different political supporters in colorful campaign T-shirts, his walkie-talkie crackled and he departed — there had been another report of electioneering at the Bayard Taylor School, on the other side of the neighborhood. In theory, there are poll watchers who can respond to such Election Day complaints. Each candidate is entitled to a certain number of poll-watcher certificates, issued by the City Commissioners office, entitling that person to enter and observe activity at any polling place.

India: Election Officials Brave Hungry Crocodiles to Reach Voters | Wall Street Journal

The midday sun was blazing when Biswajit Roy, a middle-aged Indian high-school teacher, gingerly pulled himself, and two voting machines, into a modified dugout canoe. His mission: Traverse crocodile-infested mangrove swamps, cross a stretch of open sea and then hike through a jungle to the remote village of Hanspuri so its 261 voters could cast ballots in India’s national elections. “When I got my orders, I was thunderstruck,” said Mr. Roy, 41 years old, an election officer in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. India is the world’s largest democracy, with 814.5 million registered voters. When election time rolls around, the government and its foot soldiers go to extraordinary lengths to make sure that citizens in this largely rural and infrastructure-challenged country can participate. Put another way, the national elections trigger the world’s biggest obstacle course for some Indian election officials.

Voting Blogs: Richland County South Carolina elections still in turmoil | electionlineWeekly

In the heart of South Carolina lies Richland County. Home to the University of South Carolina, the second largest county in the state is celebrating its 215th anniversary. By all accounts, it’s a nice place to live and work. Recently though, it has not been a good place to vote. The Richland County Board of Elections and Voter Registration has been under a cloud of controversy since 2011 when the General Assembly passed a law merging Richland County’s elections office and voter registration office. During the 2012 presidential election, voters in Richland County faced some of the longest lines in the country. Some of the problems were blamed on a lack of poll workers, malfunctioning machines and that in many cases there were simply too few voting machines at precincts. There were anecdotal reports that hundreds of voters ultimately gave up and never cast a ballot.

New York: Elections Board head claims agency deliberately underfunded | New York Post

The head of the city Board of Elections stunned City Council members on Tuesday by claiming that the long-battered agency was purposely shorted funds by the city so it would fail. BOE director Michael Ryan made the conspiracy-laden accusation as part of a pitch to secure a whopping $55 million in additional funding from the city’s coffers, even as his agency remains under investigation by the city. A recent Department of Investigation probe identified a host of failings at the agency — including nepotism, voter roll deficiencies and poor training of poll workers. “While the board has historically been a convenient foil for public criticism, it has at the same time been the victim of a funding scheme that seems to have been intentionally designed to ‘cash starve’ the agency to accomplish some unknown and ultimately inconceivable goal,” Ryan said of the city’s preliminary $75.6 million fiscal 2015 budget for his agency.

Mississippi: State releases absentee ballot report from Hattiesburg election | The Clarion-Ledger

A Secretary of State analysis said about 10.4 percent of absentee ballots that were definitively accepted or rejected in Hattiesburg’s special mayoral election in September were incorrectly counted. According to a “Report of Absentee Voting” released Friday morning by the Secretary of State’s Office, a review of 1,044 of the 1,048 absentee ballots cast showed about 8.5 percent of those marked “accepted” should have been rejected, while about 31.9 percent of those marked “rejected” should have been accepted.

New York: The dead can vote in New York City | New York Post

Death doesn’t necessarily disqualify you from voting in New York City. Investigators posing as dead voters were allowed to cast ballots for this year’s primary and general elections, thanks to antiquated Board of Election registration records and lax oversight by poll workers, authorities said. The election board’s susceptibility to voter fraud by people impersonating the departed was uncovered during a massive probe of the agency by the Department of Investigation. The probe uncovered 63 instances when voters’ names should have been stricken from the rolls, but weren’t — even though some of them had died years before. “The majority of those 63 individuals remained on the rolls nearly two years — and some as long as four years — since a death, felony conviction, or move outside of New York City,” said DOI Commissioner Rose Gill Hearn.

California: Special elections: They mostly just waste money | Los Angeles Times

There was a special election in Los Angeles County last week. Didn’t know? Didn’t vote? Didn’t care? Well, you’re in the majority. Less than 9% of registered voters in the 54th Assembly District bothered to show up at the polls or mail in ballots. Angelenos, a generally disunited bunch, coalesced around apathy. But what does it say about us that the one thing we can agree on is indifference? The appalling turnout last week is a symptom of a much larger problem. Why did we even have a special election Dec. 3 in this district that includes Westwood, Ladera Heights, Culver City, Mar Vista and other neighborhoods in west and southwest Los Angeles? It was held to replace former Assemblywoman and current state Sen. Holly Mitchell. Thanks to term limits, which were enacted as a political “reform,” politicians in Los Angeles and California play an endless game of musical chairs, hopping from one elected office to another, sometimes in the middle of their terms.

Pennsylvania: Lawmakers won’t stop tinkering with election rules | CNHI

Conflicts caused by the state’s last attempt to improve the integrity of elections was the biggest source of complaints logged by a watchdog group during the 2012 presidential race. But that isn’t stopping lawmakers from trying to tinker even more with the state’s election rules, again in the name of improving voting integrity. The Legislature’s state government committee held a hearing last week on a package of bills that includes tougher penalties for voter intimidation and a ban on promotional materials inside polling places. The bills come up as the state’s controversial voter identification law remains in legal limbo, blocked from taking effect by a state appeals court judge’s order. The law passed in March 2012 has never been enforced, but it has resulted in confusion and anger among poll workers told they had to ask for ID and voters told they didn’t need to show it. Like the voter ID law, a proposed ban on promotions in polling places could create conflict between voters and those who are supposed to be assisting them, advocates worry. Barry Kauffman, executive director of the Pennsylvania chapter of Common Cause, said a ban on posters would be acceptable. But it would cause problems, he said, “if that is interpreted to mean you can’t walk in wearing a pin with the name of your preferred candidate.” Poll workers shouldn’t be judging what voters are wearing, Kauffman said.

Alaska: Language of Voting | State of Elections

Proper oversight of voting policy and procedure is being questioned in Alaska’s elections due to the lack of language assistance for Yup’ik speakers. The federal lawsuit, Toyukuk v. Treadwell, filed by the Native American Rights Fund (NARF), claims that Alaskan officials have violated the Voting Rights Act, as well as the 14th and 15th Amendments, by failing to provide appropriate language assistance to native Yup’ik speakers. The suit claims this lack of assistance has  prevented them from fully participating in the election process and suppressed voter turnout. According to a case update on the NARF website,  Natalie Landreth, Senior Staff Attorney with NARF, “Without complete, accurate, and uniform translations, the right to register and to vote is rendered meaningless to many Native voters.” Precedence on this issue is found in similar lawsuits (such as Nick et al. v. Bethel et al settled in 2010) that have questioned the implementation of language assistance mandated by the Voting Rights Act of 1965. According to the Alaska Division of Elections, the state of Alaska is covered under section 203 of the Act which has led to specific implementation strategies. The Alaska Division of Elections website states “In addition to on-call translators available on Election Day, the Division of Elections provides oral language assistance through the use of bilingual registrars, outreach workers, bilingual poll workers, and translators in communities where there is a need.”

Wisconsin: Elections official testifies in voter ID case | Journal Times

One of the biggest challenges in rolling out Wisconsin’s 2011 photo voter ID law was training the state’s unusually large number of election clerks, a top elections official testified Thursday during a federal hearing over the stalled law. Kevin Kennedy, the head of the state’s Government Accountability Board, said there were about 1,850 clerks in Wisconsin at the time the law was passed. That’s one-sixth the number of clerks in the entire nation, he noted. An attorney asked Kennedy whether it was difficult to train so many workers on the details of the new law. “It’s never an easy process,” he said, shaking his head. Wisconsin is one of a handful of states that administers its elections at the local level, Reid Magney, a Government Accountability Board spokesman, told The Associated Press. Many states run elections at the county level, but Wisconsin defers control to the state’s 1,852 cities, towns and villages. That means the state elections board has to train all 1,852 clerks, who then instruct 30,000 poll workers, Magney said.

New York: Broken voting machines, mistranslated ballot measures plague low-turnout election | New York Daily News

The modest number of New Yorkers who bothered to vote Tuesday encountered short lines and a good number of busted voting machines, officials said. The problem hit Brooklyn’s 52nd Assembly District hard, where 70 machines at 21 poll sites were out of commission all morning. Voters had to fill out emergency affidavits. Michael Ryan, executive director of the city Board of Elections, said the machines in these neighborhoods — including Park Slope, Carroll Gardens, Boerum Hill and Prospect Heights — were improperly set up. “We traced the issue back to a technician who improperly set up the backup memory device,” Ryan said, noting that all the machines were back up and running by 11 a.m. Ballots in Chinese were mistranslated, swapping text for one proposition measure with another.

Wisconsin: Voting wars coming to Wisconsin | Washington Post

As if Wisconsin needed another debate to divide its citizens, the voting wars are coming to Madison. The state Senate last week passed four measures, three almost exclusively on party-line votes, to make minor changes to election day procedures. One measure would require two poll workers of opposite party affiliation to oversee securing ballot containers. Another would require any job that needed two or more poll workers to be performed by members of different parties. A third bill would mandate damaged or problem ballots be marked in a uniform manner. And a bill that is likely to cause the most outrage among Democrats would require election workers to record the type of documents newly registered voters use as proof of residence. That bill passed the Senate on a straight 18-15 party-line vote. The new rules are relatively minor tweaks to the state’s election rules, a far cry from a law requiring voters to show identification at the polling place the Republican House and Senate passed back in 2011. That law was blocked by a state judge, a decision that’s being appealed in federal court. The fact that even the smallest changes to state law come down to party-line votes highlights the partisan divide in a state that’s accustomed to compromise. Democrats see the Republican-initiated changes as the first step toward more regulations that will make it harder for their voters to cast a ballot.

Wisconsin: Senate adopts election bills; poll workers of each party would do certain tasks | Journal Sentinel

The state Senate on Tuesday adopted four bills tweaking how elections are administered, including measures requiring that poll workers of opposite parties perform certain tasks. Sen. Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin), the author of the bills, said she advanced them to avoid what she considered irregularities and “sloppy” practices in the recount of the 2012 recall election for state senator in Racine County. Democrats contended Republicans were getting carried away in presuming poll workers are allied with political parties or prone to act corruptly. “Obviously, these bills are designed to do one thing — make it more difficult to vote, make it more difficult to be a clerk,” said Sen. Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay). All Republicans supported the measures and most Democrats opposed them. The measures now go to the Assembly, which like the Senate is controlled by Republicans.

Alabama: Secret Society Dips Toe in City Politics, Prompting Lawsuit | New York Times

The college students began arriving a little before lunch at Calvary Baptist Church, far more than usual for a local election. The poll workers knew immediately: the Machine was here. The school year at the University of Alabama has barely gotten started, and already the campus has found itself in a charged self-examination on issues of politics, power and race, with the exposure of tenacious segregation among fraternities and sororities drawing national attention. But the turmoil began some weeks earlier. It raised the specter of the Machine, a secret society representing a league of select and almost exclusively white fraternities and sororities, which has been around for a century or more. Once a breeding ground for state political leaders, the Machine (it has long been known by that nickname) today maintains a solid hold on student government through an effective, and critics say coercive, brand of old-fashioned organization politics. But the Machine’s apparent involvement in an August school board election, a rare appearance in municipal politics, has prompted a lawsuit, accusations of voter fraud and an outcry that in many ways primed the campus for the larger storm over inclusion and tradition that is now taking place.

Alabama: $300K Madison County special election price tag included manpower, equipment costs | WAFF

After Madison county voters took to the polls in a special election, two county jobs will not be merging into one job. County commissioners said the election cost taxpayers more than $300,000. “Special elections are always a big production,” said Probate Judge Tommy Ragland. On the ballot for the special election held Tuesday was a proposal to combine the county tax assessor and tax collector jobs into one.  Voters ultimately decided to keep the two jobs separate. “Everybody is needed in both offices,” said tax collector Lynda Hall. “There are over 175,000 parcels in this county that are supposed to be appraised annually, mapped and valued – and this is just in the assessor office.” After county commissioners said the election would cost taxpayers around $300,000, we started asking questions.

Pennsylvania: State: Only opinion on voter ID should come from court | Observer-Reporter

Mum’s the word when it comes to local election board members discussing the status of the Pennsylvania Voter ID law with prospective voters at the upcoming election. Larry Spahr, Washington County elections director, told a group of trainees gathered Friday morning to learn about operating the new electronic poll book that he had just received notification from the Pennsylvania Department of State that it intends to provide a flier to counties to disseminate to election boards. “You are not to verbalize an opinion on the law’s constitutionality to any voters,” Spahr told the election board members.