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Tribal advocates keep up legal pressure for fair political maps; 12-member jury sworn in for Trump's historic criminal trial; the importance of healthcare decision planning; and a debt dilemma: poll shows how many people wrestle with college costs.

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Civil rights activists say a court ruling could end the right to protest in three southern states, a federal judge lets January 6th lawsuits proceed against former President Trump, and police arrest dozens at a Columbia University Gaza protest.

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Rural Wyoming needs more vocational teachers to sustain its workforce pipeline, Ohio environmental advocates fear harm from a proposal to open 40-thousand forest acres to fracking and rural communities build bike trail systems to promote nature, boost the economy.

High election worker turnover troubling sign as 2024 approaches

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Wednesday, December 20, 2023   

High turnover rates are plaguing local elections offices across the West, which is causing concern as the 2024 election approaches.

A recent study found about 40% of chief election officials in western states have left office since November 2020. Idaho and Washington saw the lowest turnover, each at 23%.

Michael Beckel, research director for Issue One, the organization behind the research, said the Idaho officials who left oversaw a large portion of the state's population.

"In Idaho, about 40% of the state's population will see the election administered by somebody different than who administered the last presidential election," Beckel reported.

In Issue One's study, Arizona saw the highest turnover in election officials by far, at 80% since November 2020.

Beckel noted elections are complex and technical to administer, requiring experience to do so effectively. According to his organization's research, officials who left office in the past three years took 1,800 years of combined experience with them.

Beckel added the knowledge would have been valuable during the high pressure election season.

"There's a real risk that if there are innocuous mistakes," Beckel emphasized. "Innocent errors that get made in this political environment, those types of minor administrative mistakes could get blown out of proportion, turned into new conspiracy theories that cause people to lose faith in the elections process."

Beckel argued election officials need more resources and his organization has pushed Congress to invest in critical election infrastructure. He stressed politicians have a role in ensuring elections run smoothly.

"It would be really incumbent on a lot of our political leaders to take that temperature down, to ratchet down the rhetoric," Beckel urged. "Remind people about all of the checks and balances that are in place, all of the transparency measures that are in place."

Support for this reporting was provided by The Carnegie Corporation of New York.


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