Yes, state board member, Maja Kricker, really did rule at the State Board of Elections (SBOE) meeting today. Her opinion was the only opinion that counted when it came to the five member SBOE voting on one-stop variance requests made by county board of elections.
Here is the background to today's story. One of the provisions in VIVA (the Voter Identification Verification Act/HB 589) shortened the early voting period from 17 days to 10 days. At the same time, the number of early voting hours made available by the county boards of elections were to remain the same as in the most recent comparable election. This means the local boards must look back to the General Election of 2010 to determine how many hours they need to provide for this November's election. In addition, there is also a provision in the law that allows a local board to seek a reduction in hours, provided that the request is passed unanimously. In general, counties ask for a reduction when they have determined that the total number of hours required would exceed the number that was needed to accommodate voters. For example, one county reported that one of their early voting sites in 2010, on average, voted two people per hour. When a county board (made up of two Republicans and one Democrat) unanimously passes a plan they must then send it to the SBOE and the SBOE must approve it with a unanimous vote.
This is where the Kricker criteria 'kicks' in. Kricker, one of the two Democratic board members, devised rules that counties seeking to reduce their early voting hours must comply with in order for her to vote in favor of their plans. And, since the SBOE vote must be unanimous she is ultimately making the decision for the five member board. The Kricker rules are:
- On at least four weekdays, at least one site is open until 8:00 p.m.; OR alternately, on at least four weekdays, at least one site is open for at least 12 hours; AND
- On Saturday, 10/25/14, at least one site is open for at least 3 hours
In the end Kricker approved 15 county's plans:
One county's plans was conditionally approved:
And, 17 counties had their plans denied because they didn't comply with the "Kricker Criteria"
According to Howard, these counties will have a chance to rework their plans to comply with the Kricker rules.