I. In Focus This Week
Director’s Note: Several hundred words from a grateful election geek
Plus FAQ on the future of electionline and Pew’s elections portfolio
As announced a few weeks ago, today is my last day as director of Election Initiatives at the Pew Center on the States. Starting tomorrow, I will be joining the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota to help develop and expand their election program.
After 10 years crisscrossing the country talking about the future of election administration – especially the need for a better-developed system of recruiting, training and recognizing election administrators – it’s incredibly exciting to, in essence, have my bluff called on making it happen.
The best part of the new job is that I will get to keep doing what I love most: work with the women and men across the country who do what it takes to make the American election system function day-to- day – not just on Election Day. You’ll still see and hear from me in all of the old familiar places, and I hope to find new avenues to spread the word about developing an election system that keeps pace with the way Americans live today.
As I depart, however, I can’t help thinking about everyone who has made my 10 years at Pew so deeply rewarding, both personally and professionally. Specifically, I want to thank:
- The Board of The Pew Charitable Trusts for their generous support of election administration reform beginning in 2001 and continuing today. After more than 60 years, the Trusts represent the Pew family’s commitment to a better world - and I am humbled to have had the opportunity to help put that commitment into practice;
- Rebecca Rimel, president and CEO of the Trusts, both for being such an ardent public supporter of Pew’s elections work but also for setting a high standard of excellence in everything we say and do;
- Sue Urahn, managing director of the Pew Center on the States, who is one of those (sadly, rare) people who manages to bring a potent combination of book smarts, street smarts and a heaping helping of humanity to her leadership of PCS;
- Michael Caudell-Feagan, deputy director of PCS, for being a great guide and mentor and someone from whom I’ve learned to become a passable manager – but mostly for getting to know me well back in 2006 and continuing to work with me anyway;
- Colleagues throughout Pew who I dare not name individually (for fear I’ll forget someone) but who have made ideas, words, things and resources flow when and where they should – making my job easier even as I occasionally made theirs more difficult;
- All of the academics, advocates, vendors, technology experts and others who have been generous both with ideas and criticism through the years – we might not always have liked what one another had to say, but I have learned a lot and I dare say the field of election administration is better off as a result;
- The Election Initiatives team – David Becker, Elyse Berkowitz, Sam Derheimer, Courtney Dozier, Olivia Doherty, Paul Gronke, Tanner Horton-Jones, Emily Huston, John Lindback, Zach Markovits, Scott Melamed, Matt Morse, Carolynn Race, Gita Ram, Alexis Schuler, Charles Stewart, Stacie Temple, Stan Turner and Andreas Westgaard – whose excellence has been a inspiration every day and will make it hard to leave; and
- Of course, my electionline.org colleagues past and present – Sean Greene, Mindy Moretti, Kat Zambon, Alyson Freedman, Aron Goetzel and of course, my longtime friend and co-conspirator Dan Seligson – who have made the last 10 years literally a dream come true in every way.
Finally, a deep and heartfelt thank you to the thousands of election officials and policymakers across the nation for allowing me to be a part of your work. As far as I’m concerned, election administration is the coolest job in America (if not the world) – and I look forward to continuing the journey together.
To all of you – thanks for 10 great years. I can’t wait to see what the next ten have in store.
Ever since the announcement, I’ve gotten several questions about what my departure means for other parts of Pew’s portfolio. As a service to all of you, here are the answers:
Q: What’s going to happen to electionline.org and the newsletter?
Q: What’s the future of the Pew elections portfolio?
A: The work will continue at its impressive pace. The success of the Election Initiatives team in our campaigns to reform military and overseas voting and expand the Voting Information Project is well-documented, and we are excited about the future of our efforts to upgrade the nation’s approach to voter registration. We also have some other interesting ideas in the pipeline – like the focus on evidence-based election administration – that you may be hearing more about in the future.
Q: Who’s replacing you at Election Initiatives?
A: I would expect that there will be an announcement soon about the structure of the Elections team; until then, you should use the following contacts:
Q: Speaking of which, how do I contact you?
A: Doug Chapin
Humphrey School of Public Affairs
130 Humphrey Center
301 19th Avenue South
II. Election News This Week
- This week, the Indiana Recount Commission ruled 3-0 to reject claims by Democrats that Charlie White was ineligible to run for secretary of state because he was improperly registered to vote. The commission reached its decision one week after it heard seven hours of testimony from White and others regarding White's residency. Democrats argued that White shouldn't have been registered to vote at his ex-wife's address when he entered the race. White testified that he considered his ex-wife's home to be his permanent address at the time. Commission members said this week that White's intent to live at his ex-wife's house was clear at the time, and they unanimously decided he was eligible to run for office. The members ruled that he needed only to be registered in Indiana because that's the "district" he represents as a statewide officeholder. The Democrats can appeal this ruling to the courts. Despite the positive ruling by the Recount Commission, White isn’t in the free and clear yet as he still faces criminal charges including felony voter fraud. That trial is set for August 8.
- Not only will they live free or die in New Hampshire, but they won’t have to show a photo ID to do it either. This week, New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch joined North Carolina’s Bev Perdue and Missouri’s Jay Nixon in vetoing a bill that would have required voters to show a photo ID to cast a ballot. Lynch said the plan risks denying residents their right to vote if they can’t get an ID or get back to the city or town clerk within three days, as the law would have required. “Voter turnout in New Hampshire is among the highest in the nation, election after election. There is no voter fraud problem in New Hampshire,” Lynch said in a statement. “We already have strong election laws that are effective in regulating our elections.”
- Although they still need approval from the state legislature, the Montgomery County, Ala. commission voted this week to provide return postage for absentee ballots. The pre-paid postage will come at the cost of about $1,000 per election, but commissioners felt it was a beneficial expense to help elderly and disabled voters especially. The program would begin in 2014.
- The state of Georgia may have shortened the period of time for early voting, but folks in Bibb County were so anxious to cast their ballots they started early voting a day early. Although early voting was set to begin on Tuesday, with voting machines already set up, election officials started the balloting a day early. According to The Telegraph, by the end of the day on Monday, 117 people had cast their ballots. Bibb is one of several counties conducting a primary on July 19, but they were the only county start early voting early. Other counties are actually running a bit behind schedule on early voting as they await the delivery of paper ballots.
- Personnel News: Three-term Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed announced this week that he will not seek re-election for a fourth term as the Evergreen State’s top elections official. After 37 years of working elections in Richland County, S.C. Elections Director Mike Cinnamon is retiring. The Stafford County, Va. elections board voted this week to replace veteran registrar Sharon Persinger. Persinger had been on the job for 25 years. Down the road a bit in Charlottesville, Sheri Iachetta was sworn in for another four years as registrar, a job she’s held since 1999. After 10 years serving as second-in-command and three months as acting clerk and recorder, the Broomfield council made it official this week and appointed Jim Candelarie to serve as the county’s next clerk and recorder. The N.C. Board of Elections has reappointed Linda Sutton to the Forsyth County Board of Elections, thwarting a bid by former county Commissioner Beaufort Bailey to gain a seat on the board.
III. Research and Report Summaries
The Impact of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 on the Administration of Elections for Federal Office 2009-2010 – Election Assistance Commission, June 30, 2011: In a mandated report to Congress, the EAC provides state-by-state voter registration data including registration totals, active and inactive voter totals, the number of voter registration forms received and the source of these forms, and the number of voter registration forms processed.
Civil and Voter Registries: Lessons Learned from Global Experiences - Edited by Michael Yard, International Foundation for Electoral Systems, June 2011: This report examines the experiences of election administrators around the globe in designing and implementing registration systems to identify key principles and lessons learned.
Legislative Action Bulletin – National Conference of State Legislatures June 24, 2011: This bulletin provides an update on state election legislation including bills related to voter identification, early voting, MOVE Act implementation, and primary dates
Alabama: Military and overseas voters
Arizona: Voting laws
Connecticut: Election reform
Florida: Barriers to voting
Mississippi: Saturday voting
New Mexico: Voter fraud investigation
Ohio: Voter ID
Utah: Early primary
V. Job Openings