From Augusta

Gov. Mills applauds municipal clerks during annual elections conference

Tue, 05/21/2019 - 12:45pm

    AUGUSTA - Gov. Janet Mills addressed a gathering of town and city clerks from across the state Monday evening, at the annual Maine State Elections Conference in Augusta.

    "I am very appreciative of the work that you do," Gov. Mills told the clerks. "You're the reason Maine people feel confident that their voice will be heard on Election Day. For many, voting is the only chance they have to raise their voice to demand a better and brighter State and nation for us all," she said, according to a news release.

    Citing Maine’s high voter turnout rates, she added, Im so proud of our state and so proud of what you do to make that happen."

    The conference, which began Monday, continues through today with workshops and sessions on a variety of elections topics, such as voter registration laws and procedures, processing petitions, absentee voting, accessible voting, election security and proper administration of elections. Staff from the Elections Division of the Bureau of Corporations, Elections and Commissions present these workshops to keep clerks informed of current laws, procedures and best practices for elections administration in the State of Maine. More than 250 clerks are attending the conference this year.

    Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap presented two awards during the conference:

    Mary-Anne Szeniawski, town clerk of the Town of York for 37 years, is the recipient of the 2019 Lorraine M. Fleury Award, which is named after a former long-time state director of Elections. The department presents the award annually to recognize and honor an individual who has made a significant contribution to the election process and who exemplifies the qualities of fairness, experience, knowledge and service. In her award nominations, co-workers described Szeniawski as the most conscientious and dedicated public servant they know, with a focus on fair and proper successful management of State and municipal elections while keeping costs at a minimum. Szeniawski expressed appreciation for the award, saying it is a whole team effort to administer elections.

    Phyllis Gardiner, Esq., assistant attorney general in the Office of the Attorney General, is the recipient of the National Association of Secretaries of State Medallion Award, for her extraordinary commitment to democracy through her unwavering devotion to justice and the law. The NASS Medallion Award allows Secretaries of State to honor individuals, groups or organizations with an established record of promoting the mission of NASS, including service to state government, specifically as it relates to the duties of the office of the Secretary of State. In his presentation of the award, Secretary Dunlap noted Gardiners considerable work in navigating the legal process of implementing ranked-choice voting.

    "Phyllis is the kind of person you turn to and say, 'What is the right thing to do here?" said Secretary Dunlap, in presenting the award. "Her word is unimpeachable ... she should have a national reputation, but she stays mostly behind the scenes."

    Gardiner, in accepting the award, said that her work with elections has been some of the most rewarding of her career.