March 10, 2011

I. In Focus This Week

:Arial; color:black;”>An election in 140 characters or less:10pt;”>Orange County, Calif. registrar’s office tweets its way through a special election

:10pt; font-family:Arial;”>Just over 16,300 ballots were cast Tuesday for the San Clemente Special Municipal Election in Orange County, Calif.’s most southern city. And there were just over 60 tweets from the county about the election.

The Orange County Registrar’s office live- tweeted on Twitter from @OCRegistrar throughout the day to provide election day updates. The tweets, which began early Tuesday morning, told the story of election day from early morning coordinator arrivals to the return of the last truck of election supplies to the registrar’s office in the evening.

The tweets afforded county residents with a running commentary on how election day was progressing and gave those outside of San Clemente the opportunity to live vicariously through the election officials.

Here is a sample of @OCRegistrar’s tweets from Tuesday:

5:41 a.m.: Our coordinators will start to check in from the field via radio in 5 minutes.

6:27 a.m.: Out of 101 poll workers only one has not showed up this morning.

: We are sending a back up now.

7:00 a.m.:It’s 7 a.m. Polls are open. Let the voting begin!

7:03 a.m.:Headed to an electioneering call. Report of signs on home next to poll site

7:04 a.m.:8 people in line at a residence to vote. Good to see people out voting.

7:12 a.m.:Sign problem resolved – they are well over 100 feet.

7:40 a.m.:We set up 4 poll sites with ADA equipment to accommodate disabled voters.

: First time we’ve used internal teams to set these up.

8:19 a.m.:Small but steady stream of voters so far.

:Biggest issue for us so far? Poll worker accidentally kicked the cord out of a voting booth.

            : Problem solved.

8:44 a.m.: As of now we have deployed 6 back up volunteers to cover no shows. Poll sites are well staffed.

Beginning at 9 a.m., live tweets included updates on polling place turnout every one to two hours.

9:04 a.m.: Best poll site with a view? Pacific Coast Church in San Clemente.

: Not only do they have great views of the Pacific but they’ve had 31 voters so far.

10:10 a.m.: Another electioneering call just dealt with – volunteers on both sides of the issue are passionate but it’s our job to keep it fair.

11:13 a.m.: We just received 279 vote-by-mail ballots in today’s mail. We will be opening shortly.

3:01 p.m.: We are conducting extensive equipment surveys in San Clemente today. Overall performance is very good.

7:14 p.m.: As of 7:00 pm the polling place turnout for San Clemente is 10.58%. The next update will be at 8:00 pm.

At 8:05 p.m., the registrar’s office posted the first results from vote-by-mail ballots on its website.

10:06 p.m.: 1 precinct left for our final 10:30 p.m. update.    

10:07 p.m.: Following that we will sort all election supplies including paper ballots, vote-by-mail dropped off at polls, etc.

10:33 p.m.: Last truck has arrived and our last update has been posted.

II. Election News This Week

  • The Georgia Supreme Court on this week upheld a state law requiring voters to show identification before they cast ballots, dismissing objections from Democrats who contended lawmakers had no proof when they approved the new rules that anyone had tried to vote illegally. According to the Savannah Morning News, the court’s 6-1 decision found no voter has been disenfranchised by the 2006 law, despite claims by Democrats that the law creates an undue burden on the poor, the disabled and minorities. The decision, written by Justice Hugh Thompson, concluded that the law was a “minimal, reasonable, and nondiscriminatory restriction.” Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens told the paper that he was pleased by the decision, which he said allowed the state to safeguard the voting process by “ensuring that only lawfully registered voters cast ballots.” State Democrats said they were disappointed by the ruling, which spokesman Eric Gray said was a critical blow to the party’s efforts to protect voting rights.
  • Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler (R) released a report this week asserting that 11,000 voters on Colorado’s voting rolls are not U.S. citizens. Gessler and Rep. Chris Holbert, R-Parker, are pushing legislation that would allow the secretary of state to check the statewide voter database to determine whether registered voters are in fact citizens. “My office has every reason to believe that thousands of noncitizens are registered to vote in Colorado,” Gessler told the Denver Post. “House Bill 1252 will allow us to inquire for more information using public databases.” Gessler told the paper he’s not trying to be a prosecutor but an administrator cleaning up voter rolls. Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Shelia Reiner requested a list of the names Gessler asserts are non-citizens to check her county’s voter rolls and her request was denied.
  • Citing a lack of funds, a committee in the Tennessee House voted to derail the ‘Voter Confidence Act,’ which called for new voting machines to be in place for next year’s elections with most costs covered by $35 million in federal funds. According to the Knoxville News Sentinel, Democrats tried to amend the bill to allow each county commission to decide whether it wants the new machines, which will provide a ‘paper trail’ of ballots, and which may require some spending beyond the allotted federal money. Republicans killed the amendment.
  • Late last week, Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White was indicted on seven felony charges. Hamilton County grand jury indicted White on three counts of voter fraud alleging he lied about his address when he voted in last year’s Republican primary. He also faces charges of perjury and fraud on a financial institution — again, for allegedly lying about his address — as well as theft for continuing to collect his salary as a Fishers Town Council member after moving from his designated district. Gov. Mitch Daniels asked White to step down during the process, but White has refused. In addition to the felony indictments, White is also at the center of an inspector general’s inquiry in to allegations that as secretary of state, White improperly handled the voter fraud allegations against him. According to reports on local television stations, White has not been seen at his office since the indictment.

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


The Cost of Delivering Voter Information: A Case Study of California – Pew Center on the States, March 2011: This brief, based on a full report by Lauren Hengl at the Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley, examines the costs of disseminating voter information in California’s 58 counties and identifies opportunities to reduce spending without cutting essential services.


The Supreme Court’s Shrinking Election Law Docket, 2001-2010: A Legacy of Bush v. Gore or Fear of the Roberts Court? – Richard L. Hasen, Loyola-LA Legal Studies Paper No. 2011-10, UC Irvine School of Law Research Paper No. 2011, March 7, 2011: This paper describes a drop in the number of Supreme Court election law cases from 2001-2010 compared with previous decades and offers a partial explanation for this decline.


The Canvass: States and Election Reform – National Conference of State Legislature, March 2011: This month’s issue examines pre-Election Day voting, interviews two EAC commissioners, and discusses fiscal notes and how they relate to election administration legislation.

IV. Opinions 

National: Ex-felon voting rights; College student voting rights

California: Voting in Beverly Hills; Los Angeles election; Instant runoff voting

Colorado: Ballots; Non-citizen voters

Connecticut: Special election; Absentee ballots

Florida: Ex-felon voting rights

Georgia: Voter ID

Indiana: Charlie White, II, III, IV, V, VI

Kansas: Voter fraud

Maine: Voter ID

Montana: Vote-by-mail

New Hampshire: College voters, II

North Carolina: Voter ID; College voters; Cost of voting; Early voting

Ohio: Election reform, II

Pennsylvania: Election reform

South Carolina: Voter ID, II, III

Tennessee: Election hiring

Texas: Military/overseas voting

Wisconsin: Voter ID

V. 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 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.