February 2016

NC Board of Elections Orders Watauga County to Establish Polling Place at ASU

The North Carolina State Board of Elections ordered Watauga County to establish a polling place at Appalachian State University after the local board was unable to unanimously agree on a plan. A majority of the county board cited demographics and budget in denying the ASU site, but state officials relied upon recent litigation citing partisan motivations in ordering an on-campus site.

YIKES: Lee County Hacking Controversy

A candidate for Lee County, FL Supervisor of Elections and a cybersecurity consultant are under investigation by state authorities after they hacked into the election office’s website. Whatever their motivation – and whatever value there is in penetration testing of government sites – there’s something deeply unsettling about candidates using hacking as a campaign tactic.

Connecticut SoS Proposes Automatic Registration

Connecticut SoS Denise Merrill is asking the legislature to consider automatic registration. The idea will likely engender the usual partisan feelings (for and against), but there are also concerns on both sides of the aisle about whether the state DMV is up to the task.

Wyoming SoS Names Kai Schon New State Election Director

Wyoming’s Secretary of State has tapped HAVA Coordinator Kai Schon to take over the state election director position vacated last year by longtime incumbent Peggy Nighswonger. Mr. Schon will focus on working with county clerks on 2016 election preparations and also on boosting voter turnout, especially among young voters. His experience with the state will help in what promises to be a busy election year.

electionlineWeekly Profiles First Month of Oregon’s “New Motor Voter”

The new electionlineWeekly looks at the first month of Oregon’s new motor voter system, which uses DMV information to add eligible but unregistered voters to the rolls. The launch is smooth so far with more than 4,600 new voters – with a surprise additional benefit of updated addresses for nearly 17,000 existing voters already on the rolls.

Too Many Candidates? Maryland Seeks to Use Paper Ballots in Early Voting for April Primary

[UPDATED 945am Central] Maryland is seeking to use hand-marked optical scan ballots for early voting in the April primaries after the discovery that the large number of candidates in some races means they can’t all be displayed on the new touchscreen ballot marking devices. It’s a potentially big change that has to happen quickly – and regardless of the outcome it will require special attention to helping voters navigate their ballots.

Virginia “Loyalty Oath” to Cost Commonwealth More Than $62K – and Might Not Be Used

Virginia’s so-called “loyalty oath” for the Republican primary has generated debate, controversy and litigation – and as a result the party has asked for it to be scrapped for the March 1 vote. Unfortunately, even if it is not used, the state has already incurred significant costs to print and distribute the oath as part of its role in administering an official election.

EAC Adds Proof of Citizenship Instructions to Federal Form

The long-running battle over proof-of-citizenship requirements on the federal voter registration form – thought to have been settled somewhat by federal and state court rulings, who have said they cannot be enforced – is once again in doubt in the wake of the EAC’s decision to add proof-of-citizenship language from Kansas and other states to the form’s instructions. [POST UPDATED 330pm Central Tuesday]

Buckeye Ballot Barcode Brouhaha (cont.): SoS to Permit Barcodes

Ohio’s Secretary of State has issued a directive giving counties the authority to use postal barcodes to determine whether or not a late-arriving ballot was mailed on time. Perhaps more importantly, the SoS and local officials are going to notify voters about the best ways to return ballots and the likely delivery time – which could go a long way to reducing the number of ballots that can’t be counted.