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June 14, 2012

June 14, 2012

In Focus This Week

I. In Focus This Week

Law & Order: Election Administration Unit
News Roundup: 2012 has been a litigious year

By M. Mindy Moretti

In the world of elections the voters are represented by two separate yet equally important groups: the elections officials, who administer elections; and the lawyers and legislators, who create and litigate the laws. These are their stories.

For those of you keeping score at home 2012 has been a particularly litigious year so far in the world of election administration. From the U.S. Department of Justice suing states to states suing the department the action this election year has been as much in the courtroom as it has been in the state house.

While voter ID lawsuits and the multiple lawsuits in Florida over the state’s voter purge seem to have stolen the spotlight of late, elections officials, civil rights groups and government attorneys are in court for a lot more.

Here is a sampling of some of the many election administration lawsuits pending or recently concluded.

National Voter Registration Act
Judicial Watch, a Washington, D.C.-based public interest group recently sued against the state of Indiana claiming that the state failed to comply with National Voter Registration Act by not maintaining clean voter lists.

The suit alleges that analysis of data from the 2010 election show that 12 counties had more people on their rolls than were actually registered to vote in the county at that time.

In Nevada, the NAACP and the National Council of La Raza filed suit in U.S. District Court claiming that the state is in violation of NVRA by refusing to help low-income residents register to vote.

Voting for America, an affiliate of Project Vote filed a federal lawsuit against the state of Texas this week arguing that the state law requiring third-party volunteers wishing to register voters be appointed as a volunteer deputy registrar violates NVRA.

Secretary of State Hope Andrade and Galveston County Registrar Cheryl Johnson are named in the suit that argues that state law have blunted registration efforts.

Although there have been countless lawsuits throughout this year’s redistricting process many of them have been resolved without having to delay a primary. However, recently the Native Americans Right Fund filed suit in Alaska to stop the state’s upcoming primary arguing that the old voting maps should be used instead of newly drawn boundaries that were approved under an emergency redistricting plan.

According to the Alaska Dispatch, the lawsuit grows out of fear of many Alaska Natives of their diminished representation because the emergency plan — a first in state history — will reduce the number of districts controlled by Native voters.

Election result
Late last week a jury in Jackson, Miss. threw out the results of a city council runoff race saying the results were tainted because of illegal behavior at the polls. The week-long trial was filled with emotions and accusations of racism. Although it would have only taken nine of the 12 jurors to overturn the election, the jury ruled unanimously that the election should be thrown out.

In May, six of the seven members of the St. Croix board of elections filed suit in Virgin Islands Superior Court against a fellow member of the board as well as the V.I. Action Group. The complaint charges that the defendants “created scandal and produced and published false, misleading and offensive material about them to recall them” as members of the BOE. The defendants have said the suit holds no merit.

At press time, the city of Phoenix was preparing to sue the state of Arizona over a new law forcing cities and towns in The Grand Canyon State to hold elections on the same years as state general elections. Councilmembers for the city allege that the state is infringing on their rights of self-governance. The League of Arizona Cities and Towns is expected to join the lawsuit.

Also in Arizona, this week that state asked the U.S. Supreme Court to allow the state’s proof-of-citizenship law to remain in effect during the current election cycle. The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the law, but the state is appealing.

In addition to being sued for failure to comply with NVRA, Nevada is also being sued over a quirky element in the state’s balloting process. The state is the only one in the country that allows voters to choose “none of the above” on their ballot. However, despite giving voters the “none of the above option,” state law prohibits elections officials from counting those votes.

A group of plaintiffs, including Republicans, Democrats, Independents and a variety former state and county officials argue that the votes should be counted because to not count the “none of the above” votes, the state is disenfranchising voters.

Election News This Week

II. Election News This Week

  • The state of Washington has decided not to print a Voter’s Guide for the upcoming August primary. Instead, the information will be available online and individual counties publishing local information will decided whether or not to include state and federal information. This is not the first time the state hasn’t printed a Voter’s Guide.
  • Now this is something you don’t read about every day. A Nebraska woman who wants to open an island-themed restaurant in Kimball can’t because she’s not registered to vote. What? Yes, Nebraska has a pre-Prohibition law on the books that requires anyone wishing to obtain a license to sell liquor be a registered voter. The problem is Veronica Brown is a Jehovah’s Witness and therefore doesn’t vote. According to the Omaha World-Herald, Brown is asking the state liquor board to waive the voter requirement. She has submitted a letter from a church elder to back up her stance on the beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Brown told the paper that she had no idea about the voter requirement when she began the process to open her tiki-themed restaurant.
  • Two of my favorite things! Oklahoma elections officials are reassuring voters that should the NBA finals featuring the Oklahoma City Thunder, stretch to seven games that it won’t interfere with state’s primary scheduled for June 26. “I’m not worried about it either way, I think it will be over in five or six games,” state Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax told The Oklahoman. Ziriax said polls close at 7p.m., an hour before a potential tipoff. And if voters are still worried that the game might prevent them from doing their civic duty, Ziriax suggested requesting an absentee ballot.
  • Any long-time electionline readers are familiar with our love of the “I Voted” stickers so of course we could not pass up the opportunity to highlight this story. Voters in South Carolina had mixed reactions to the new “I Voted” stickers they got following this week’s primary. The stickers, provided by a nonprofit called the Palmetto Project have shrunk in size from years past. “Oh yeah, we got a lot of complaints about those small stickers. That’s what most of the complaints were about,” Howard Jackson, director of Orangeburg County Voter Registration and Elections told The Times and Democrat. Jackson said what while he can’t complain too much because county doesn’t have to pay for the stickers that didn’t stop voters from expressing their anger with the new dime-sized stickers. “We got everything from laughter to infuriation. They were really mad. You wear the ‘I Voted’ sticker to remind people to kind of get out and vote,” Jim Johnson, chairman of the Orangeburg County Voter Registration and Election Commission told the paper.
  • This next piece deserves more than just a mention in the Personnel News. Volusia County, Fla. Supervisor of Elections Ann McFall has done something most people dream of (or fear). This week she appeared on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.” According to the Daytona Beach News Journal, McFall taped the interview weeks ago but only found out this week when it would air. “I’ve seen the Daily Show. I know it’s a comedy show, but I think it’s done in good taste,” McFall told the paper. “When I saw the script (before the interview), I knew it was going to be OK.” Since the segment aired on Tuesday McFall told electionline that she has only gotten one negative feedback.
  • Personnel News: Pierce County, Ga. Elections Supervisor Kim Teabo was fired last week following an arrest on drug charges. The county board of elections appointed elections clerk Sandra Boatright to serve as the interim supervisor through January.


III. Opinions

National News: Voting rights, II; Election fraud; Latino voters; Vote fraud, II, III; Voter ID

Arkansas: Vote fraud

California: Vote-by-mail; Top-two primary, II; Election day registration

Colorado: Secretary of state

Connecticut: Voter ID

Florida: Voter purge, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI; Voter registration, II; Voter drives; Closed primaries, II; Voting rights

Illinois: State board of elections

Maine: Primary system; Voting rights

Michigan: Election reform legislation; Voter fraud, II

Minnesota: Politics of voting

New Hampshire: Politics of voting

New York: Redistricting

North Carolina: Election Day; Fair elections; Election money

North Dakota: Minot primary

Ohio: Voter suppression; Ballots

Oklahoma: Voter registration

Pennsylvania: Voting roadblocks

Texas; Voter ID; Voter rolls; Voter purge

Virginia: Voter ID

West Virginia: Voter rolls

Wisconsin: Madison clerk

**Some sites may require registration.

Job Openings

IV. Job Openings

electionlineWeekly publishes election administration job postings each week as a free service to our readers. To have your job listed in the newsletter, please send a copy of the job description, including a web link to mmoretti@electionline.org. Job postings must be received by 5pm on Wednesday in order to appear in the Thursday newsletter. Listings will run for three weeks or till the deadline listed in the posting.

Rules Committee Counsel, Washington, D.C. — Senate Committee on Rules and Administration Democratic staff is seeking an attorney to handle a variety of legal responsibilities, with emphasis on administrative and election law.  A minimum of three years’ legal experience and Capitol Hill experience are mandatory.  Senate experience, knowledge of Senate rules and procedures, and/or election and campaign finance experience are highly desirable.  Responsibilities include interpreting and drafting Senate rules, procedures and regulations, evaluating contracts and claims, drafting legislation, hearing development and preparation, memoranda, statements and speeches as well as training and providing guidance to Senate offices on administrative and rules matters.  Successful applicant will have the ability to operate in a fast-paced environment, excellent research and writing skills.  Applicants should possess excellent academic credentials. Please e-mail resume and writing samples to senate_employment@saa.senate.gov indicating job referral number in the subject line.

Statistician, U.S. Dept. of Justice — primary responsibility of the statistician is to provide technical guidance and statistical analyses used by the Voting Section to determine whether states and local jurisdictions are in compliance with the Voting Rights Act and other federal voting laws the Section enforces. Qualifications: degree that included 15 semester hours in statistic and 9 additional semester hours in one or more of the following: physical or biological sciences, medicine, education, or engineering; or in the social sciences. Combination of education and experience: courses as shown in A above, plus appropriate experience or additional education.  The experience should have included a full range of professional statistical work such as (a) sampling, (b) collecting, computing, and analyzing statistical data, and (c) applying statistical techniques such as measurement of central tendency, dispersion, skewness, sampling error, simple and multiple correlation, analysis of variance, and tests of significance. Application: Please submit your application via fax at 202-514-6603 or by email to crd.vacancies@usdoj.gov. Deadline: June 29, 2012. For more information and the complete listing, please click here or here (two openings).

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