By the week before the election, Quinn’s office had not acted on Democratic nominations of about 250 elections officials, Farrell said. The office cited a lack of paperwork or other shortcomings that Farrell said had not caused such delays in previous elections.
Moreover, at the same time, 140 Democratic-nominated officials had been approved by Quinn’s office and were ready to get the okay from the Electoral Board. But the two GOP-appointed members of the three-member board chose not to hold a meeting as scheduled on the Friday before the election. They did so over Stark’s objections.
Von Spakovsky said the meeting was called off at the request of senior staff, who had lost two days of preparation time because county offices were closed for Hurricane Sandy. He said the Democrats’ complaints were “much ado about nothing.”
Quinn was unavailable to comment for this column because of illness, Fairfax County spokeswoman Merni Fitzgerald said. Fitzgerald said many of the names submitted by the Democratic Party, when contacted by Elections Office staff, failed to follow up or failed to attend training.
“Every year, we assume that hundreds of submitted names will drop off the list for various reasons, which is why we always try to recruit as many persons as possible,” Fitzgerald said.
If such an appetite exists, however, then why wasn’t there more urgency about getting nearly 400 Democratic-nominated officials approved to work before Election Day? Fitzgerald said the office was short by as many as 500 of what was needed.
In another curious twist, according to initial assignments by Quinn’s office, Republican electoral officials outnumbered Democrats at 55 precincts in Fairfax. State law says the numbers are supposed to be equal “if practicable.”
The Democrats complained about that in court on the day before the election, but the judge said it was too late to do anything about it. Republicans, meanwhile, said they were outnumbered in more precincts than the Democrats.
For the sake of legitimacy, let’s make sure these kinds of problems get sorted out well in advance the next time around.