electionline Weekly

Yes, sign me up for the Daily Newsletter.
Yes, sign me up for the Weekly Newsletter.

October 9, 2014

October 9, 2014

In Focus This Week

I. In Focus This Week

Secretary of state races move into spotlight in 2014
Elections chiefs on the ballot in 24 states

By M. Mindy Moretti

In addition to making sure all the I’s are dotted and all the T’s are crossed for the upcoming November election, the top elections chief in 24 states is also on the ballot in November.

Although we won’t know who is in charge till sometime after November 4, one thing is certain that 12 states will have a new chief elections official since that many incumbents are not seeking re-election.

This is just a brief look at all the candidates with links to their campaign websites where available.

When Secretary of State Jim Bennett stepped in to complete the term of Beth Chapman, he said he would not seek election to the seat so facing off are Republican John Merrill and Democrat Lula Albert-Kaigler in what the Montgomery Advertiser referred to as a “quiet campaign.”

Merrill, a former Democrat served as director of community relations and education for the Tuscaloosa County board of education before being elected to the Alabama House. In 2013, Albert-Kaigler ran for a vacant seat in the U.S. House of Representatives but lost the Democratic nomination. Albert-Kaigler told the paper she hopes to use her office to help educate voters on the issues.

Current Lt. Governor Mead Treadwell chose to run for the U.S. Senate (he lost in the primary) instead of seeking re-election in 2014 therefore opening up his seat.

In Alaska, like many states, the lieutenant governor runs on a ticket with the gubernatorial candidates. The candidates include Republican Dan Sullivan, Maria Rensel (Constitution Party), Libertarian Andrew Lee and Democrat Byron Mallott.

Sullivan is currently mayor of Anchorage. Rensel is the founder and executive director of the Interior Alaska Conservative Coalition and served as an administrative specialist in the Utah Air National Guard. Lee, a Libertarian is running under the motto of “Sufficiently Adequate For Our Needs At This Time Democrat Bryron Mallott is running on a ticket with Independent Bill Walker. Walker and Mallott were the subject of an unsuccessful lawsuit over their merged ticket. Mallott is of Tlingit heritage is a business executive and served as mayor of Juneau.

Incumbent Secretary of State Ken Bennett chose to run for governor instead of seek re-election. Vying to replace Bennett are Republican Michele Reagan and Democrat Terry Goddard.

Regan, who is currently a state senator and before that served in the state House of Representatives, has received the endorsements of several organizations and newspapers. Goddard previously served two terms as the state’s attorney general and also served four terms at the mayor of Phoenix. On of Goddard’s top campaign themes is the emphasis on getting “dark money” out of political races in Arizona. Goddard has also received his own endorsements from major newspapers.

The candidates recently met for a debate where voting rights took center stage.


In Arkansas, incumbent Secretary of State Mark Martin R will face two challengers: Democrat Susan Inman and Libertarian Jacob Holloway.

Martin is running for his second term in office. Inman is the president of the Arkansas County Election Commissions Association, serves on the Board of Election Commissioners and the Pulaski County Election Commission. Holloway is a freelance political activist and an advocate for community agriculture.

With current Secretary of State Debra Bowen term-limited two candidates are vying to replace here. Republican Pete Peterson and Democrat Alex Padilla.

Padilla is a state senator and former member of the Los Angeles city council.

Peterson is a businessman seeking his first foray into elected office. Peterson was the first executive director of Common Sense California, which later joined with the Davenport Institute at Pepperdine University.

Papers in California have covered this race closely. A recent news article noted that the candidates are really quite similar in their policies despite their different political backgrounds.

When incumbent Secretary of State Scott Gessler decided to seek higher office instead of run for re-election (he lost the GOP primary for governor), El Paso County Clerk Wayne Williams sought the Republican nomination and Joe Neguse, an attorney and University of Colorado regent will represent the Democrats.

Neguse is a first generation American who serves on the CU board of regents and has served on several committees on the board of regents. Williams has been the El Paso County clerk since 2010.

Incumbent Secretary of State Denise Merrill D will face Peter Lumaj R/IP and Mike DeRosa Green in November.

Merrill, is seeking her second term as secretary of state. Lumaj is an attorney and a native of Albania. DeRosa is the founder of the nonpartisan citizen’s organization V.O.T.E.R. (Voter Opportunity Through Election Reform).

Incumbent Secretary of State Brian Kemp R will face off against Democrat Doreen Carter in November.

Kemp is seeking his second term as secretary of state. Carter is businesswoman and entrepreneur and has served on the Lithonia city council.

The race was relatively quiet until recently when Kemp pushed a voter fraud investigation against a Democratic organization.

With longtime Idaho Secretary of State Ben Ysursa retiring at the end of his term, Lawrence Denney R and Holli High Woodings D are facing off to be his replacement.

Denney is currently a member of the state Legislature and has served as assistant majority leader and majority leader. Woodings is also a member of the state Legislature and founder of an energy consulting group.

The two recently faced off in a debate.

Incumbent Secretary of State Connie Lawson R is facing Marion County Clerk Beth White D in November for the state’s top elections spot.

Although the incumbent, Lawson, a former state representative is running for election as secretary of state for the first time. She was initially appointed to the seat after former Secretary of State Charlie White was forced to resign. White is serving her second term as Marion County clerk and previously worked for the mayor of Indianapolis and served as an attorney.

Current Secretary of State Matt Schultz decided not to seek re-election. The seat is being sought by Democrat Brad Anderson, Republican Paul Pate, Libertarian Jake Porter and New Independent Spencer Highland.

Anderson served as state director for President Barack Obama in 2012 and has worked on numerous Iowa campaigns. Pate is president of small business and has served as mayor of Cedar Rapids, and Porter is a businessman and nonprofit manager.

A recent poll found the race to be quite close between Anderson and Pate.

In what is probably the most closely watched secretary of the state race in the country incumbent Kris Kobach R will face Democrat Jean Schodorf in less than a month.

Kobach is seeking his second term as secretary. Schodorf has served on local school boards as well as in the Kansas Senate for more than a decade.

Recent polls have shown the race to be much closer than it previously was.

Incumbent Secretary of State William Galvin D faces two challengers this year in Republican Dave D’Arcangelo and Green-Rainbow Party candidate Danny Factor.

Galvin is seeking his sixth term in office. D’Arcangelo is legally blind, and most recently a city councilor in Malden. Factor is a longtime community activist.

Incumbent Secretary of State Ruth Johnson R faces three challengers this November: Democrat Godfrey Dillard, Libertarian James Lewis and Natural Law candidate Jason Gatties.

Johnson is seeking her second term as secretary. Dillard is an attorney and civil rights activist. Lewis is a printing press operator and has run for several offices in Michigan. Gatties has previously run for U.S. Representative.

Four candidates are seeking to replace outgoing Secretary of State Mark Ritchie: Steve Simon, DFL; Dan Severson, R; Bob Helland, IP; and Libertarian Bob Odden.

Simon is a member of the Minnesota House. Severson is a former member of the state Legislature. Helland was a process analyst for the state. Odden is a former insurance agent.

Incumbent Secretary of State John Gale R will face Libertarian Ben Backus in November.

Gale was appointed to the secretary’s position in 2000 and first elected in 2002. Backus is a broadband services manager for a communications firm.

With incumbent Secretary of State Ross Miller seeking the attorney general’s seat, Democrat Kate Marshall will square off against Republican Barbara Cegavaske for the vacant spot.

Marshall served in the Peace Corps, worked for the U.S. Department of Justice and has been the state’s treasurer since 2006. Cegavaske served in the state Legislature for six years and has been in the Senate since 2002.

New Mexico
Incumbent Secretary of State Dianna Duran R will face off against Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver D in November.

Duran is seeking her second term as secretary of state. Toulouse Oliver has been the Bernalillo County clerk since 2007.

Media in New Mexico have closely followed the race.

North Dakota
Incumbent Secretary of State Al Jaeger R will face two challengers this year: Democrat April Fairfield and Libertarian Roland Riemers.

Jaeger is one of the longest serving secretaries of state in the nation having first been elected to office in 1992. Fairfield served in the Legislature from 1996 to 2002 and in the Senate from 2002 to 2006. She is currently the executive director of a nonprofit. Riemers is self-employed and previously ran for governor.

Incumbent Secretary of State Jon Husted R will face two challengers: Democrat Nina Turner and Libertarian Kevin Knedler.

Husted is seeking his second term as secretary. Turner currently serves in the Ohio Senate. Knedler has worked in sales for almost 40 years.

The state’s recent battles over early voting have become a focus of the race, particularly between Husted and Turner.

Rhode Island
With Incumbent Secretary of State Ralph Mollis choosing to run for Lieutenant Governor the seat was open for three candidates: Democrat Nellie Gorbea, Republican John Carlevale and Independent Pamela Azar.

Gorbea served as deputy secretary of state from 2002 to 2006 and was the executive director for HousingWorks RI. If elected, Gorbea would become the first Latina elected statewide in the Northeast. Carlevale has been a social worker and professor. He previously ran for secretary of state in 1992 and 1994. Azar is a teacher and advocate and is running a write-in campaign.

South Dakota
When Incumbent Secretary of State Jason Gant chose not to seek re-election, that left his seat open for four candidates: Republican Shantel Krebs, Democrat Angelia Schultz, Libertarian Emmet Reistroffer and Constitution Party member Lori Stacey.

Krebs was first elected to the South Dakota House in 2004 and has served on the Senate since 2010. Schulz is a children’s author and creative writing teacher. She was an intelligence officer at the Pentagon. Reistroffer is 24-years old and has experience working on political campaigns. Stacey is a writer and paralegal.

Incumbent Secretary of State Jim Condos D, faces two challengers in Liberty Union Party member Mary Alice Hebert and Progressive candidate Ben Eastwood.

Condos is seeking his second term as secretary of state. Hebert is a retired school teacher who previously ran for vice president as a candidate for the Socialist Party. Eastwood is running as part of the Progressive Party’s slate.

With Incumbent Secretary of State Max Maxfield not seeking a third team, the position is open to three candidates: Republican Ed Murray, Libertarian Howard Carson and Constitution Party candidate Jennifer Young.

Murray is a Laramie businessman. Carson is a frequent candidate for office in Wyoming and has previously run for governor. Young is a community activist and trained in search and rescue.

Editor’s Note: We had to look at a lot of campaign websites for this piece and just a couple of suggestions to the candidates: One, make sure you actually have a website. Two, if you aren’t an incumbent, do what you have to do with Google to make sure your campaign website is the first thing that pops up in a search under your name. And last, but not least, while using website templates from campaign tools like NationBuilder is great, try to make that template your own and make sure it doesn’t look like the other guys!

Election News This Week

II. Election News This Week

  • With lawyers arguing over the state’s primary system, a 51-member panel tasked with reviewing Mississippi’s election procedures rejected the idea of moving the state to closed primaries and instead embraced the idea of a top two primary similar to those in California, Louisiana and Washington.
  • Even though vote-by-mail is growing in popularity by leaps and bounds, voters in one Alaska borough said no. The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly recently held an advisory election and 66 percent of those voters casting ballot opposed the borough moving to all vote-by-mail elections. Voters told the Peninsula Clarion that they voted against the measure for a variety of reasons including concerns about voter fraud and enjoyment of going to the polls on Election Day.
  • Early voting has begun in many areas throughout the country and there have been some issues. In Burlington, Vermont early voting had to be halted after it was discovered that five candidates had been left off the ballot.
  • A finally released report about the primary election indicates the District of Columbia Board of Elections needs to replace all of the city’s voting machines.
  • In other voting machine news, Union County, Indiana is on the hunt for a new place to store the county’s elections equipment after it was discovered that boxes holding the equipment were damp and mildewed. According to the Palladium-Item, while the machines do not appear to be damaged, some of the back-up batteries were only charging to 75 percent and need to be replaced.
  • Many Pennsylvania counties make it a tradition to celebrate hall of fame voters — people who haven’t missed a general election in 50 years — but unfortunately not Luzerne County. Although state law mandates that counties keep district register cards, the cards in Luzerne were destroyed and the county has no voting history prior to 1999. Elections Director Marisa Crispell is encouraging voters who feel they qualify to apply as individuals.
  • Last week we reported on the unique efforts of Johnson County, Iowa to bring the ballot box to the people. Well not to be outdone with good ideas, elections officials in Linn County are spending their early morning hours on city buses making sure riders are registered to vote. The team from the elections office is armed with a tablet computer to check voters registration, help them apply for absentee ballots and let them know where their polling place is located.
  • Sometimes in the elections world you just need to have a bit of fun — while still making your point. That’s happened twice this week. First with the return of Chad Vader in Dane County, Wisconsin to help that elections office explain the state’s new and enforced voter ID law (and poke a bit of fun at motor vehicle offices everywhere). Secondly, Rock the Vote, Lil Jon, Lena Dunham and a host of other celebrities teamed up to encourage young voters to get out and vote. The Rock the Vote video, #turnoutforwhat, encourages young people to find their cause and turnout to vote for that. It’s a fun video even if the elections geek in you notices the spoiled ballot.
  • Personnel News: Devra Steckler, Hopkins County, Kentucky clerk is retiring. Lori Lott is the new interim administrator of elections for Crockett County, Tennessee. Marjorie Johnson is the new chairwoman of the Richland County, South Carolina elections board.

Research and Report Summaries

III. Research and Report Summaries

electionline provides brief summaries of recent research and reports in the field of election administration. The summaries are courtesy of the research staff of The Pew Charitable Trusts Elections Initiatives. Please email links to research to Sean Greene at Pew.

Issues Related to State Voter Identification Laws – United States Government Accountability Office (GAO), September 2014: The GAO examined 10 studies of driver’s license and state ID ownership which showed estimated ownership rates among registered voters ranging from 84 to 95 percent. They also noted these rates varied by racial and ethnic groups. Additionally they looked at the impact on voter turnout from 2008 to 2012 in two states with changes in ID laws, Kansas and Tennessee, and found that turnout decreased more in these states than in comparison states – Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, and Maine – without changes in ID laws in the same time period.

Online Voting: Rewards and Risks – Peter Haynes and Jason Healey, The Atlantic Council, October 2014: This report examines online voting and highlights its potential rewards in terms of reach and access as well as its significant security risks.

Legal Update

IV. Legal Update

National Lawsuits: The Electronic Privacy Information Center is suing the U.S. Department of Defense over the department’s testing of an online voting system for military and overseas voters. The suit alleges that the department is wasting millions of dollars on voting experiments.

Arkansas: Last week at press time, lawyers in the Razorback State were arguing over the state’s voter ID law, which a lower court had deemed unconstitutional. According to The Baxter Bulletin, following the 45-minute hearing, justices did not indicate when they would rule, but did show some skepticism with the law. “I’m having trouble equating lawfully registered to vote with requiring all these various ID things you’ve got here,” Justice Donald Corbin told attorneys for the secretary of state’s office

Mississippi: The Mississippi Supreme Court heard arguments in U.S. Senate GOP primary runoff. Attorneys for Sen. Thad Cochran argued that challenger state Sen. Chris McDaniel waited too long to file a lawsuit seeking to overturn the election. McDaniel’s attorneys argued that state statute does not specify a deadline. At press time, there was no indication when the court may rule.

North Carolina: On Wednesday evening the U.S. Supreme Court rule 7-2 to overturn an Appeals Court ruling and reinstate North Carolina’s new elections law that eliminated same-day registration and out-of-precinct voting. Voters in the Tarheel State now have until Friday to register to vote/update their voter registration.

Texas: While Texas’ voter ID law is considered by a federal judge, another judge, one on the highest criminal appeals court in the state, has filed suit in Dallas County claiming the state’s ID law violates the Texas Constitution.

Virginia: The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia ruled this week that the commonwealth’s congressional map is unconstitutional because it unfairly concentrates African-American voters. While the commonwealth must redraw it’s voting maps, it will not impact this election. The deadline for the new maps is April 2015.

Wisconsin: Opponents of Wisconsin’s voter ID law made a final effort this week to block the law for the upcoming November election. The ACLU, the Advancement Project and other civil rights groups filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court arguing that putting the law into place for the November election will lead to problems at the polls.

Legislative Update

V. Legislative Update

New York: Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan) has introduced legislation that will require an additional 15 city agencies to distribute voter registration forms. The agencies, NYPD, FDNY, Human Resources Administration, Dept. of Aging to name a few, would also be required to mail the forms back to the board of elections instead of requiring the voter to do so.

Tech Thursday

VI. Tech Thursday

National News: The U.S. Vote Foundation has teamed up with FactCheck.org to provide voters with nonpartisan political news. Voters simply need to create a “My Voter Account” on U.S. Vote’s website and they will receive timely and relevant political news and information that has been vetted through FactCheck.org. The project is funding by the Democracy Fund, which also funds electionline.org.

New Jersey: Union County Clerk Joanne Rajoppi recently introduced a new voter assistance app for county residents. The app allows voters to find their polling place, request voter registration forms, request vote-by-mail ballots, view sample ballots and follow unofficial election results in real-time, to name a few of the app’s services.


VII. Opinions

National Opinions: Voting Rights Act | Early voting | Voter ID

Arizona: Vote-by-mail

Florida: Election month

Idaho: Secretary of state race, II

Iowa: Voter ID, II

Kansas: Secretary of state race

Michigan: Voter accessibility

Missouri: Early voting | Greene County

Montana: Election day registration, II | Early voting

New Hampshire: Secretary of state

North Carolina: Voting laws | Court ruling, II, III, IV | Voter suppression

North Dakota: Secretary of state race

Ohio: Election workers | Court ruling | Secretary of state race | Poll workers

Pennsylvania: Voter ID | Polling places

Utah: Vote-by-mail

Virginia: Voter ID

Wisconsin: Voter ID, II, III | Government Accountability Board | Voting rights

Upcoming Events

VIII. Upcoming Events

Please email upcoming events — conferences, symposiums, seminars, webinars, etc. to mmoretti@electionline.org.

EVOTE2014: Verifying the Vote — The Competence Center for Electronic Voting and Participation is hosting a 6th annual conference on electronic voting. This conference is one of the leading international events for e-voting experts from all over the world. One of its major objectives is provide a forum for interdisciplinary and open discussion of all issues relating to electronic voting. The format of the conference is a three-day meeting that deals with the topics from a both a theoretical perspective and a practical one. Practical papers should use case studies. No parallel sessions will be held, and sufficient space will be given for informal communication. Where: Lochau/Bregenz, Austria. When: October 29-31, 2014. For more information, click here.

National Student/Parent Mock Election — Now in it’s 34th year, the National Student/Parent Mock Election invites you to join the world’s largest national mock election and nation’s larges civic education project. Since 1980, students have learned what it means to be informed voters, casting votes for Presidential, U.S. Congressional and gubernatorial candidates. What’s more, students continue to demonstrate the value of civic engagement – from organizing their own debates and campaign activities to holding student rallies. When: October 30, 2014. For more information and to register, please click here.

National Conference of State Legislatures Forum— Fifty states, one voice is the theme for this year’s forum. Attendees will have the opportunity to discuss policy with national experts working on pressing issues as part of NCSL’s standing committees, advocate for the states on Lobby Day and participate in special programming developed for legislative staff. Where: Washington, D.C. When: December 9-12. For more information and to register, click here.

Job Openings

IX. 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.

Counsel, Brennan Center Democracy Program, New York City — The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law is seeking an experienced attorney to work in the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program. The Counsel will be assigned primarily to our Voting Rights and Elections team, which works to ensure that voting is free, fair, and accessible for all Americans. Our current signature proposal is to modernize the voter registration system which would save money, increase accuracy and participation, and add an additional 50 million voters to the rolls permanently. At the same time, we actively defend against to restrict the vote by spearheading strategic impact litigation, groundbreaking studies, and national public education campaigns. The Counsel may also be assigned to another team as well. Qualifications: The position requires a J.D.; 6 or more years of legal experience (including clerkships, if any) in the public interest, private, or government sectors; and admission in the New York State Bar either before or shortly after it commences. The ideal candidate will have a strong litigation background; demonstrated success in policy advocacy; a strong entrepreneurial spirit; a passion for the work of the Center; and experience working with the media. This position requires the ability to work effectively in a team-based and deadline-driven environment. It also requires exceptional writing skills (for a variety of audiences, including legal, legislative, journalistic, and public); excellent analytic, strategic, and research skills; creativity, versatility, and flexibility; strong coalitional and coordination skills; and the ability to work effectively with diverse clients and allies. Demonstrated commitment to the public interest field a real plus. Salary: The salary is highly competitive in the field and commensurate with experience. Excellent benefits package as well. Application: For the complete listing and to apply, click here.

< >
In Focus This Week

Previous Weeklies

Oct 2


Sep 25


Sep 18


Sep 11


Sep 4


Aug 28


Aug 21


Aug 14


Aug 7

Browse All Weeklies