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June 2, 2011

June 2, 2011

In Focus This Week

I. In Focus This Week

Director’s Note:As the announcement below indicates, I will be leaving Pew shortly to start a new adventure among my friends and colleagues in the elections world. I’ll have more details on the transition in the coming weeks – as well as lots (and lots!) of words of gratitude and reflection on 10 years at Pew – but for now I want to thank each and every one of you for your support through the years. Stay tuned! Doug Chapin

:Arial;”>Chapin to Join Humphrey School

Special to electionline.org

The Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota announced today that Doug Chapin, a leading national voice on election policy, will be the new Director of its Program for Excellence in Election Administration, which is part of the School’s Center for the Study of Policy and Governance (CSPG).

“We are excited to have Doug join us,” said Larry Jacobs, Walter F. and Joan Mondale Chair for Political Studies and Director of CSPG. “He has always been a valued advisor to Humphrey in our efforts to professionalize the practice of election administration, and I look forward to working with him as we seek to realize that vision.”

Chapin comes to the Humphrey School after 10 years at The Pew Charitable Trusts, where he served as Director of Election Initiatives for the Pew Center on the States. Under his leadership, Pew’s elections team successfully lobbied for enactment of military and overseas voting reform in Congress and state legislatures, enlisted dozens of states and technology partners like Google, Microsoft and Facebook to provide official voting information online and via mobile technology, and worked with election officials, academics and technical experts to design and implement efforts to upgrade the nation’s voter registration systems.

“I look forward to working with states and localities across the nation on programs that identify and share the best and most innovative approaches to election administration,” said Chapin. “I have long advocated for a more formal approach to recruiting and developing the next generation of election officials, and the Humphrey School is the perfect place to make those ideas into reality.”

Prior to serving at Pew, Chapin was an attorney in private practice specializing in election and ethics law. He also served as Elections Counsel to the Democrats on the U.S. Senate Rules Committee from 1997 to 2000, where he focused on federal election legislation and participated in the review of the disputed 1996 Senate election in Louisiana.

Chapin is a frequent speaker on voting technology, voter registration, election law issues and the status of election reform efforts nationwide, and has taught courses on election administration and the law as an adjunct professor at American University, Georgetown University Law Center and William and Mary’s Marshall-Wythe School of Law. He holds a law degree from Georgetown University, a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and a bachelor’s degree in politics from Princeton University.

Election News This Week

II. Election News This Week

  • Law and Order, Elections Division: For a second time, an Alabama appeals court reinstated five felony charges against former Secretary of State Nancy Worley; the charges stem from a campaign letter, contribution envelope and bumper sticker that Worley sent to five employees in the secretary of state’s office during her unsuccessful race for re-election in 2006. An Orthodox rabbi in the District of Columbia and two of his congregants filed a class-action suit against the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics. The complaint, filed May 27, claims the board placed an unconstitutional burden on observant Jews by scheduling a special election on the last day of Passover this year. The Mississippi Court of Appeals has denied a request to rehear the case of a former candidate for Benton County sheriff and another person convicted in a voter fraud case. A district judge in Montana ordered Secretary of State Linda McCulloch to appear before him to explain why she refused to allow a recall petition against Governor Brian Schweitzer. The Nevada Supreme Court indicated this week that it needs more time to hear arguments in the special election to replace U.S. Rep. Dean Heller which could place the election as late as October or November.
  • Primary changes: Several states are making changes to their primary election dates, some to comply with the federal MOVE Act and others to comply with party wishes. Colorado Gov. John Hicknlooper signed legislation that will move both the state’s primary elections and precinct caucuses to earlier months on even-numbered years. Colorado’s primary elections will now happen the last Tuesday in June, as opposed to the second Tuesday in August. Precinct caucuses will happen the first Tuesday in March, instead of the third Tuesday in March. In Delaware, the leaders of both parties are seeking to push the primary back almost three months to April 24. The primary is currently slated for February 7. With little debate, the Louisiana House unanimously approved legislation to move state’s presidential primary to the first Saturday following the first Tuesday in March. The primary now is held on the second or third Saturday in February, depending on the Carnival parade calendar. Oklahoma legislators recently voted to move the state’s primaries from late July to late June. About 3,200 soldiers from Oklahoma’s 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team will deploy next month to Afghanistan and they are expected to be there for the state’s 2012 primary. Like Delaware, legislators in Wisconsin are also seeking to move the state’s presidential primary back to the first Tuesday in April — the primary is currently held the third Tuesday in February. Wisconsin’s legislation would also move the state’s partisan primary to August.
  • Voter ID Becomes Law: Late last week Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed the state’s attempt at introducing voter ID. In his veto letter, Dayton said Minnesota’s election system is already “the best in the nation. The push to require photo identification in order to vote has been based on the premise that voter fraud is a significant problem in Minnesota,” Dayton wrote. “I do not believe that to be the case.” Dayton also issued an executive order to create a task force to study ways to modernize Minnesota’s voting system. The next day, Texas Gov. Rick Perry ended a six-year battle to bring voter ID to the Lone Star state by signing recently approved legislation. Perry had declared voter ID a legislative emergency at the beginning of the session. “This is what democracy really is all about,” Perry said. “It’s the integrity of every vote; that every vote counts. Today we take a major step in protecting the most cherished right of Americans.” On June 1 without comment or public ceremony, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam signed a bill into law requiring voters to present photo ID; at the same time Haslam also signed a bill eliminating the Voter Confidence Act and making paper ballots optional for counties.
  • Personnel News: Boone County, Ill. Clerk and Recorder Pam McCullough is retiring from the department where she’s worked since her teenage years. McCullough spent 41 years in the clerk’s office, beginning at age 18, and has been county clerk and recorder since July 2005. After assisting the voters of St. Martin’s Parish, La. for 33 years Registrar Sue Thibodeaux is stepping down. Thibodeaux was first hired as deputy registrar in 1978 and has been registrar for 21 years.

Research and Report Summaries

III. Research and Report Summaries


electionline provides brief summaries of recent research and reports in the field of election administration. Please e-mail links to research to sgreene@pewtrusts.org.

The Real Cost of Photo ID – DNC Voting Rights Institute, May 2011: The report finds that if legislation in all 36 states where photo ID legislation has been proposed were enacted, they will collectively cost at least $276 million and possibly as much as $828 million to implement in the first four years.


IV. Opinions 

National: Election reform; Voting Rights Act; Electoral College

California: Voter registration, II

Colorado: Vote fraud

Florida: Cost of elections; Election reform, II, III; Miami-Dade elections

Guam: Voting rights

Louisiana: Special elections

Maine: Same-day registration, II

Minnesota: Voter ID

Missouri: Vote fraud

Montana: Vote-by-mail

New Hampshire: Voter ID

North Carolina: Early voting

Ohio: Election reform, II, III

Pennsylvania: Voter ID

South Carolina: Voter ID

Tennessee: Voter Confidence Act; Vote fraud

Utah: Better elections

Wisconsin: Voter ID, II

Job Openings

V. Job Openings

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