Connecting state and local government leaders

Voting Systems Used in Georgia Prompt Lawsuit to Void Special Election Results

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp David Goldman / AP Photo

 

Connecting state and local government leaders

Also in our State and Local Daily Digest: Getting rid of 26,000 tons of highly flammable fiber waste in a Maine town; Portland, Ore., police disband horse-mounted unit; and overlapping local ID programs in Illinois.

ELECTIONS ADMINISTRATION | The Coalition for Good Governance and six Georgia voters have sued Secretary of State Brian Kemp and the Center for Election Systems at Kennesaw State University, among others, to void the results of the most expensive U.S. House race in history. The aging electronic touchscreen voting systems used are “completely vulnerable and unreliable and should not have been used” in the recent special congressional election, according to the coalition’s executive director, Marilyn Marks. Kemp declined to institute paper-based, risk-limiting audits as a safeguard against possible Russian attempts to hack the election results. Republican Karen Handel defeated Democrat Jon Ossoff by almost 4 percentage points in the June 20 runoff for the state’s 6th Congressional District. A lawsuit attempting to force Kemp to use paper ballots prior to the vote was thrown out by a judge because the party suing lacked standing. [Atlanta Journal-Constitution; AP via The New York Times]

The Electronic Privacy Information Center, a Washington, D.C.-based privacy group has filed a lawsuit to stop Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s attempt to collect personal voter data on behalf of Donald Trump’s voter fraud commission. So far, 44 states have refused to provide that information to the commission. [The Kansas City Star]

LAW ENFORCEMENT | Tracking data on the race of drivers that get pulled over by police can be a vital early warning system that can help departments take action against potential bias. But, many departments choose not to collect this information. The federal government does not make racial data collection mandatory, and only 10 states do. “Every single police department in this country should know who they're stopping and what happens after that stop,” said Christy Lopez, who worked at the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and lead the investigations into police behavior in Ferguson, Mo.; Chicago; and Newark, N.J. As a case study, The Philadelphia Inquirer looked into 264 agencies in the eight-county metro area region. They found that 113—or 43 percent—of those counties mandate racial tracking in police stops. And most people in the counties surrounding the city—2 million of the 3.8 million—are served by police that don’t always track the race of drivers who are pulled over. [The Inquirer / Philly.com]

Horse-mounted police patrols in Portland, Oregon came to an end Saturday, after money was not allocated in the city budget for the Mounted Patrol Unit to continue operating. The Portland Police Bureau released a farewell video commemorating the disbanded unit. [OregonLive / The Oregonian] [Link to video: https://youtu.be/g6ZZScW9q6Q]

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT | Chicago is looking to spur business and real estate development in low-income areas with a city-backed investment fund. The city plans to initially seed the Chicago Community Catalyst Fund with $100 million. It will issue affordable loans between $100,000 and $1 million. The loans will not be awarded to businesses directly. Instead the city will consider broader proposals to create a variety of independent investment funds. Managers of the funds would lay out plans for targeted investments and additional funding from the private sector. "The world of traditional financing still views investments in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods with skepticism and is loath to lend money or take equity stakes on reasonable terms,” City Treasurer Kurt Summers said. [Chicago Tribune]

ENVIRONMENT | Maine officials are trying to figure out how to get rid of about 26,000 tons of highly flammable fiber waste dumped on a rifle range in the 1990s in the town of Warren. The Maine Department of Environmental Protection signed a contract in 2013 to have the material trucked to a manufacturing plant in Pennsylvania where it could be turned into composite lumber. But only 1,000 tons of the waste was removed and the company handling the cleanup did not want to sign a new contract to continue removing the fiber. The DEP previously estimated that the prior owners of the property where the waste pile is located received about $1 million to have the material dumped there. The agency later took control of the site. “People are frustrated, aggravated, whatever adjective you want to use,” said Wayne Luce, the chairman of Warren’s Board of Selectmen. [Portland Press Herald]

INFRASTRUCTURE | The U.S. Department of Transportation has told the Gateway Program Development Corporation, that the federal government would “permanently withdraw from group that is responsible for a $24 billion rail project to replace an aging set of tunnels under the Hudson River connecting Penn Station in New York City with New Jersey, a critical choke point along Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor and pain point for commuters who use North America’s busiest rail station. “It is not DOT’s standard practice to serve in such a capacity on other local transportation projects, and DOT’s Trustee has had to recuse from several board actions already,” the USDOT’s acting general counsel wrote in a letter. [amNewYork; The Hill]

IMMIGRATION | Cook County, Illinois is considering ID cards for undocumented residents, with proponents arguing the move makes more sense than letting Chicago have its own. "While we applaud the efforts of the city of Chicago in issuing a municipal ID, approximately 2.4 million residents of Cook County do not have access at this time to such a card," said Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, who lost to Mayor Rahm Emanuel in the last city election. Chicago’s card will allow those without other forms of ID access to public services, but overlapping local ID programs could cause confusion. "In the dark climate of xenophobia and divisiveness at the national level, here at Cook County we can choose to be inclusive and welcoming," Garcia said. [Chicago Tribune]