Arkansas: Aging volunteers an election worry for Arkansas; fewer serving in newer generations | Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Election officials are concerned with the aging of the poll workers they rely on to run elections and are looking for ways to recruit younger workers. Washington County’s Election Commission discussed the issue at last week’s meeting. Jennifer Price, election director, sent the commissioners information she included in a report to the state about last November’s election. Washington County had three poll workers from ages 18 to 24, according to Price. In the group from 25 to 40, the county had 17 workers. The county had 63 poll workers from 41 to 60 and 129 from 61 to 70. The largest number in any age group was 166 who were 71 or older. The commission was aware of the age of most poll workers generally, from observation over time, but hadn’t seen the numbers until Price sent the report to them. “When you see it in print, it really jumps out at you,” Price said.

New York: New law allows split shifts for elections workers | Olean Times Herald

A new state law approved this week changed one word in the state’s elections laws, but it could eventually be a way to get more poll workers, local officials said. Senate Bill S.443A, signed Tuesday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, allows for county boards of elections to split shifts of poll workers — allowing workers to take shifts shorter than the 16-hour shifts for general elections and nine-hour shifts for primary elections, as long as there is at least one poll worker from each major party working at one time. The change in the law — which changes the word “half” to “split” — won’t mean immediate relief for long poll workers’ days, but local elections officials said it could be “a step maybe in the right direction.”

Voting Blogs: Want a role on Election Day? Go work — or watch — the polls | Wendy Underhill/electionlineWeekly

What’s all this we hear now about partisan poll watchers? Amid the heat of this election, candidates have already begun encouraging more partisan poll watchers to participate on Election Day. If this worries you, it shouldn’t. Poll watchers aren’t watching anyone actually cast a ballot. Most likely, they’re watching people check in to vote, and reporting back to their local political party headquarters about who has voted, and who still needs a rousing “get out the vote” call. Sometimes, in some states, poll watchers are authorized to question, or “challenge,” a person’s ability to vote at that location, based on information that indicates he or she doesn’t live in the jurisdiction or for some other concern. What they aren’t authorized to do is to campaign, to interfere with the voting process, or to talk directly to the voters. Instead, they can observe and report to the administrators if they see a procedural hitch. Traditionally, allowing representatives from major parties observe elections was intended as an integrity check. They still serve this function.

Editorials: Do South Carolina pollworkers know the law they’re enforcing? | Cindi Ross Scoppe/The State

I got an email early this morning from John Schafer, who reported that when he asked the poll workers at his Spring Hill precinct in the Richland County portion of Irmo what happened if he didn’t have a photo ID, “The two ladies said, simultaneously, ‘Then you can’t vote.’ ” He continued: “Since I was the only voter in the poll at the time, I let them expand on their answer before I corrected them and they eventually got around to the provisional ballot. I politely told them I had my ID, but I was quizzing them. They told me they were only responding as they were trained. The precinct manager was nowhere in sight, so I did not have a chance to talk with him.” Mr. Shafer had also contacted me two weeks ago to report a similar encounter, and I had heard similar stories from others since South Carolina’s photo ID law took effect last year, so I decided to conduct my own test when I went to the Meadowfield precinct near the VA hospital to vote for Molly Spearman and Henry McMaster.

New York: NYC Board of Elections wants to raise poll worker pay, already among nation’s highest | NY Daily News

The city’s embattled Board of Elections is lobbying City Hall for $7.4 million to boost the salaries of its 36,000 temporary pollworkers — many of them party insiders — by $100. The request, made to the City Council for the budget year that begins July 1, would raise the pay for the average pollworker to $300, and hike the pay for supervisors to $400. Pollworkers and supervisors receive an additional $100 for six hours of training. The board has been excoriated for running sometimes-chaotic elections that have left voters frazzled, frustrated, and, at times, disenfranchised. Board officials say raising the pay will help to attract more capable workers to staff elections.

South Carolina: Richland County elections officials, pollworkers say they’re ready for June 10 primaries | The State

The addition of precincts, equipment and pollworkers should add up to trouble-free June 10 primaries in Richland County, election officials say. “I feel good. I think it’s going to run well,” said Patrick Nolan, a retired USC professor who runs a Forest Acres precinct. He concurred with the assessment of fellow pollworkers that they are well-prepared for voting in two weeks. Officials at the elections office – still smarting from the fiasco of November 2012, when voters were outraged by long lines, misplaced ballots and a lack of accountability – say they’ve put new safeguards in place. “We have just buckled down and tried to look back – 2012, 2013 – and tried to find those things that did not play so well,” said Samuel Selph, who became Richland County’s interim elections director in February. “So what we’re doing is trying not to repeat the past.”

New York: NYC Department Of Investigation Chief: Board Of Elections “Hostile” To Reform Recommendations | New York Daily News

The new head of the city Department of Investigation testIfied Friday that his staff has encountered “outright hostility” at the highest levels of the Board of Elections while trying to get the embattled agency to clean up its act. The Board has not been “anywhere near as cooperative” as necessary in responding to a 2013 DOI investigation that detailed nepotism, incompetence, inefficiency — and even possible crimes, DOI Commissioner Mark Peters (pictured center) told a joint hearing of the City Council Government Operations and Oversight and Investigations Committees.

Voting Blogs: War on Polling Places | Election Diary

It may not be as dramatic sounding as the media’s phrase, “War on Christmas,” or many of the other wars on societal issues, but as we prepare for more elections, we’re reminded of the constant war on polling places. Selecting polling places is a no-win endeavor. For instance, in April 2005, the election featured a question on same-sex marriage.  I received several complaints from voters that some of our polling places were churches, potentially influencing the outcome of this vote. Then, in September 2005, we had a special election for a sales tax that was directed to schools.  I received a similar number of complaints from voters that some of our polling places were schools, potentially influencing the outcome of this vote. We used the same polling places for both elections. Most of our polling places are donated space.  That’s important because one thing I hear often from our county manager is how expensive elections are. They are expensive.  But that expense is relevant if you are comparing the cost to zero.  Merely having an election is expensive because it’s an event for, in our case, 360,000 people.

Voting Blogs: Appleton’s Doughnut Controversy: Even Little Things Get Big Scrutiny | Election Academy

Last week, the Appleton, WI city attorney ruled that doughnuts – at least those provided by candidates to poll workers – were pastries non grata in city elections:

City Attorney Jim Walsh ruled on the sticky situation last week. In February, a conservative civic group cried foul over the pastries that are traditionally delivered to election poll workers as a thank you from elected officials. “We determined that there was no illegal activity, and there was no unethical activity,” Walsh said Thursday. “But because the state Government Accountability Board recommends only the clerk provide food, we suggested to the council we don’t do this anymore.”

At first glance, this dispute appears good for a chuckle, but the issues behind it are (believe it or not!) very serious. Many states and localities have detailed statutes in place regarding rewarding anyone for participating in the voting process; the most obvious of these is vote-buying, but in recent years we have seen concerns related to offers of free ice cream, coffee or other rewards to anyone sporting an “I Voted” sticker.

Texas: Voters? We don’t need no stinkin’ voters: Why recent changes to Texas election laws may unintentionally undermine voter turnout | State of Elections

The Texas Secretary of State is fighting to uphold Texas’s new voter photo identification law against federal scrutiny. The press has reported extensively on the battle brewing between the states and the United States Department of Justice over the impact that voter ID laws will have on voter turnout. Many groups believe that voter ID laws—which require persons to show photo ID before casting their votes—unfairly target minority voters, making it more difficult for them to participate in the democratic process. While the photo ID requirement is the most widely reported change to the Texas election process, it is not the only new roadblock likely to affect voter turnout in the Lone Star State’s upcoming elections.

Editorials: I don’t want to card my neighbors | Pittsburgh Post Gazette

If I need a cup of sugar, I just ask Marsha next door. She’ll even bring it into my kitchen if my hands are covered in flour. When we need an extra set of hands to move a heavy object, we know we can ask Joseph, who will help with a smile. If I need someone to listen, Janet lends me her ear.

What other relationship do my husband and I have with these and another 450 of my neighbors? I’m the election inspector at our polling place, and he is the judge of elections. Twice a year, five of your neighbors become public servants for the day.

… Poll workers serve for different reasons. Many, maybe the majority, are retired on limited incomes and want a little spending money. Some are students who want to earn a few extra dollars, but they also receive a valuable lesson in democracy. Others, like my husband and myself, don’t work for the money, but who couldn’t use a few more dollars these days? We want to serve the public and enjoy catching up with our neighbors and their families.

We also would like a little respect from Harrisburg. Under legislation which passed the state House, is pending in the Senate and is backed by the secretary of the commonwealth, we could be fined $300, jailed for one year or both if we allow someone to vote without a photo ID.

Tanzania: Kikwete promises to resolve National Electoral Commission hitches – highlights need for more election workers |

President Jakaya Kikwete has promised to solve four challenges facing the National Electoral Commission (NEC) in order to enable it to improve its performance.

Kikwete made the commitments yesterday in Dar es Salaam soon after he received the report on last October’s General Election which was handed to him by the NEC Chairman Judge (rtd) Lewis Makame during a short ceremony held at State House. Speaking soon after receiving the report, Kikwete thanked Judge Makame and members of the Commission.

While commending the commission for the job well done during the elections where CCM emerged the winner, the President said: “The work was done very well; it was a great job. We thank and congratulate you for it.”