I. In Focus This Week
News Analysis: The kids are alright
Millennials stayed away, but young people worked hard Nov. 4
Before the polls had even opened last week political prognosticators were predicting low voter turnout numbers, especially amongst Millennials.
Since then, much has been written about why young people didn’t bother to vote. Exit polls conducted by Fox and CNN peg the 18 to 29-year old age group with a 13 percent turnout.
While advocates and officials will spend the next two years wondering and worrying about getting young people to vote, one group of young people who can’t even cast ballots yet made all the difference on November 4.
From California to Ohio and everywhere in between thousands of young people got up earlier than usual and worked longer than normal to help make sure the vote went smoothly.
In San Joaquin County, California more than 600 high schools students worked the polls. The students accounted for about one third of the county’s poll workers.
Ted Younessi, a poll worker trainer for the county told KCRA that teenagers make great poll workers because they are “…used to have someone standing in front of them talking…”
While some polling places in Illinois were plagued with problems on Election Day, on bright spot in several jurisdictions were the teen poll workers.
“From what I’ve seen, the kids who help out are very educated about elections from their government classes in school,” said Barb Link, Henry County, Illinois clerk/recorder.
Link told the Dispatch-Argus that having students work at the polls helps instill in them a responsibility for a lifetime of voting.
Tech-savvy teens helped prove their worth at the polls in Minnesota where e-pollbooks were being more widely rolled out this election.
In St. Peter, Minnesota, head election judge Mike Torkelson, 72, told the St. Peter Herald that the teen elections judges at his polling site seemed to handle the technology better than some of the more experienced judges.
“It’s been a good addition to our group,” Torkelson told the paper. “They’ve really done a great job.”
When Monroe County, Indiana found itself short about 70 poll workers for a successful Election Day, the clerk’s office decided to tap into the teen population.
Before the clerk’s office even had an opportunity to set up recruiting events at local high schools, they received about 100 messages from students interested in working the polls on Election Day.
"Now (parents) have something to discuss with their kids," Mary Norman told The Herald-Times. "How do you talk to your kids about politics?"
Parker’s mom Aundrea works at the board of elections and Parker has long been a fixture around the office, especially on election nights.
“I started just because I was waiting for my dad to pick me up, and then it became a lot of fun,” Parker told the Athens Messenger.
Getting started in the elections business early is a family tradition, Parker’s mother said she started working at the board when she was 16 or 17.
“I started that and now I’ve done every job there is other than director or deputy director,”Aundrea Parker told The Messenger.
But having teens at the polls isn’t just about their ability to work long hours and use a computer, it’s also about camaraderie and bringing generations together.
In Contra Costa County, California longtime poll worker Enrique Suarez del Solar spent her 80th birthday working alongside 17-year-old Luis Nunez.
“I’m pretty much enjoying it,” Nunez told the Richmond Confidential. “I’m learning how to set up the polls and do some of the paperwork and talk to older people to get some knowledge and make new friends.”
Of course not everything goes as planned when you have teenagers working the polls on Election Day.
One teen poll worker Orange County, California had to be relieved of her duties after it was discovered that she was sending out inappropriate tweets during her shift.
“It’s completely inappropriate and she’s being removed,” Kelley told The Los Angeles Times on Election Day. “They’re trained very clearly that that kind of behavior is unacceptable.”
Obviously inexcusable, but at least she didn’t bite someone.
II. VIP Update
Voters use social media and mobile devices to find voting info
During the 2014 midterm elections, voters found election information on their mobile devices and shared it through the social networks at remarkable rates. Analytics from www.gettothepolls.com show that there were just under 8 million visits to the site, with most occurring on Election Day, allowing users to locate their polling places and see what was on their ballots. More than 72 percent of those users visited the site with a mobile device.
The states with the highest number of Election Day visits included:
- Texas: 538,694.
- California: 447,812.
- Georgia: 335,764.
- Florida: 332,107.
- New York: 315,548.
Some of this traffic was driven by problems with state and county websites. Georgia’s state election website crashed, requiring voters to use other sources to locate their polling places. Similarly, the Dallas County, Texas, website directed users to gettothepolls.com when it experienced a slow-down.
Get to the polls, a partnership between the Internet Association and the Pew Charitable Trusts’ Voting Information Project, was widely shared on Facebook through a feature that allowed users to tell their social networks when they were voting. Nearly 7 million Facebook users across the country shared the link. Recent research shows that social media and mobile Internet both played increasing roles as sources of political information in 2014.
III. Election News This Week
- Montgomery County, Maryland plans to seek an independent audit of voter registrations handled by the state’s Motor Vehicle Administration after some voters reported that their registrations were changed without their consent. The county board of elections estimates that several hundred of the approximately 635,000 registered voters could have experienced an unauthorized change. The board plans to move forward with the audit following the completion of the 2014 midterm canvass.
- Following re-election to his second term, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach announced that his top legislative priority will be his proposal that allows the secretary of state and attorney general to pursue cases that involve double voting. That responsibility currently falls to local prosecutors.
- Some local elections officials in Nebraska are mulling a change to all vote-by-mail elections for the Cornhusker State. Douglas County Election Commissioner Dave Phipps told The Associated Press that the switch would save not only save the counties and state money, but would help streamline a process that many people are already using with absentee ballots.
- While officials in Nebraska—and no doubt other places — are considering a move to all-mail elections, the Contra Costa Times has an interesting article about how long vote-by-mail tallies have changed the art and science of conceding. The article notes that campaign consultants are striving to fine-tune the science of projecting how the not-yet-counted ballots will break. "You don't want to either concede or claim victory before it's certain, but particularly it's worse to concede too early," Tom Hollihan, a University of Southern California political communications expert told the paper.
- Personnel News: Carlos Cascos, a Cameron County, Texas judge has been tapped by Governor-elect Greg Abbott to serve as the Lone Star State’s new secretary of state after Abbott is sworn in. Joseph Le, head of IT for the Santa Clara County, California registrar of voter’s office abruptly quit on the day before the midterm election. Suzanne Young, Brown County, Texas elections administrator, was arrested for DWI on the day after the midterm election. Charlottesville, Virginia Registrar Sheri Iachetta will resign effective December 31. Carson City, Nevada Clerk/Recorder Alan Glover is retiring after more than 20 years on the job. Gloria Noto, long-time Cumberland County, New Jersey clerk lost her re-election bid last week and will complete her 20 years in office at the end of the year. Celeste Riley is replacing Noto. Russell Stewartis out as the Oneida County, New York Democratic election commissioner. Jordan Karp will replace Stewart. Former Arizona Secretary of State Betsey Bayless will lead the transition team for incoming secretary of state Michele Reagan. In Indiana, former Secretary of State Joe Hogsett is running for mayor of Indianapolis. Mary Lillie was honored on Election Day for serving as a Fulton County, Illinois election judge for 60 years. El Paso County, Texas Elections Administrator Javier Chacon unexpectedly resigned on Wednesday. Chacon has headed the elections department for seven years and worked for the county for 30. His last day will be December 31.
IV. Legal Update
Alabama: The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments this week in a challenge to Alabama’s legislative redistricting plan. In arguments, the state argued that it tried to balance the need to reduce population deviation among districts and help black voters maintain their voice. However, according to Courthouse News Service, the justices seemed skeptical.
Arizona & Kansas: Late last week, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that officials in Arizona and Kansas may not require people to provide their proof-of-citizenship before officially registering to vote. The court said the states cannot demand that the U.S. Election Assistance Commission add a proof-of-citizenship requirement to the federal voter registration form. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has already indicated that he will appeal the ruling.
Indiana: A three-judge panel of the Indiana Court of Appeal will hear oral arguments in former Secretary of State Charlie White’s attempt to overturn his conviction for voter fraud. The arguments are set for December 9.
Iowa: With the help of the American Civil Liberties Union, Kelli Jo Griffin who was convicted of a non-violent drug-related felony in 2008, has sued the state seeking to have her — and others — right to vote automatically restored. In 2011 the law changed and convicted felons must now petition the governor on an individual basis to have their rights restored.
Louisiana: The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed complaints that the state wasn’t providing required voter registration forms at state agencies, online, thorugh the mail or by phone. According to The Shreveport Times, the court also rejected an argument that the state violated a law requiring that registration forms be provided to people who don’t explicitly reject — in writing — the opportunity. The court did however rule that the secretary of state’s office has the power to make the state agencies comply with the federal law.
Nebraska: This week, a federal judge in Omaha signed an order doing away with the requirement that ballot measure petitions be signed by at least 5 percent of the registered voters in 38 of the state’s 93 counties. In essence, the judge ruled that the existing law placed more weight on signatures from voters in some counties than those from voters in others.
Tennessee: Opponents of an abortion measure on the recent midterm ballot filed suit in federal court claiming that the votes were incorrectly tabulated.The suit asks the court to either force officials to recount the ballot measure votes or to invalidate the vote entirely. The first court hearing is scheduled for January 12, 2015.
V. Legislative Update
California: The Los Angeles City Council gave final approve to a ballot measure for the March 3 election that will ask voters if city elections should coincide with federal and state elections beginning in 2020. The final vote was 13 to 1.
Also in Los Angeles, the city leaders have approved an ordinance that would allow for vote-by-mail balloting on Election Day. Under the proposal, as long as a ballot was post-marked on Election Day and arrives in the registrar’s office within three days of the election it would count. The ordinance would bring the city in line with a new state law signed by Gov. Jerry Brown (D) in September.
New Mexico: With a new 37-33 majority, House Republicans are already preparing to reintroduce a voter photo ID law. However, the Senate is still controlled by Democrats (25-17), but some political watchers think the legislation has a chance this time around because Senate Dems may be rethinking their positions.
New York: New York City Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan) is set to introduce legislation that will allow citizens to register to vote and request an absentee ballot simultaneously. “Voters don’t actually plan their lives around Election Day,” Kallos told the Daily News. “This is a transient city where people are moving to where affordable housing is. And this would help a huge group of voters to be able to register and get an absentee ballot.”
Texas: Sen. Sylvia Garcia (SD-6) prefiled several pieces of legislation for the upcoming 84th Legislative Session including three elections-related bills. SB 141 would create a high school voter education program; SB 142 would allow potential volunteer deputy registrars to receive their training online and SB 143 would require local elections officials to notify voters whose registration forms were rejected with the specific reasons why the forms were rejected.
VI. Tech Thursday
National Tech: Florida-based VR Systems, whose elections software and hardware is used in 62 of 67 of the Sunshine State’s counties announced this week that it had purchased the assets of North Carolina-based Decision Support, LLC. “As elections administrators around the U.S. transition to electronic pollbooks or continue to refine their use of the technology, we’re ensuring that VR Systems is in a position to meet their needs long-term,” said Jane Watson, president and CEO of VR Systems. “With this acquisition, elections administrators around the country can rely on us to offer a range of elections products and services, as well as the promise of longevity and continued innovation.”
National Opinions: Voting machines | DOJ monitors | Vote-by-mail | Compulsory voting | Voting restrictions | Voter turnout, II, III, IV, V | I Voted stickers, II | Election Day | Voter fraud | Millennials | Voting with kids | Voting rights | Voter suppression | Voting hurdles | Voter ID | Voting laws, II
Arizona: Ballot counts
Arkansas: Election rules
Guam: Voting system
Idaho: Vote count
Mississippi: Hinds County
New Jersey: Write-in process
New Mexico: Sandoval County
South Dakota: Election problems
Wisconsin: Poll workers
VIII. Upcoming Events
National Conference of State Legislatures Forum— Fifty states, one voice is the theme for this year’s forum. Attendees will have the opportunity to discuss policy with national experts working on pressing issues as part of NCSL’s standing committees, advocate for the states on Lobby Day and participate in special programming developed for legislative staff. There will be a block of sessions on elections and will cover: Motor Voter, campaign finance, redistricting, partnerships, primary systems and legal action. The elections sessions will be on December 11. Where: Washington, D.C. When: December 9-12. For more information and to register, click here.
IX. Job Postings
Business Development Lead, TurboVote —as the business development lead, you will be responsible for continuing to grow our program through renewing our existing partnerships and generating new leads to set the stage for exponential growth in 2016. In this role, you will need to build relationships with key stakeholders, and think creatively in order to generate revenue opportunities across TurboVote (and potentially other Democracy Works products). You’ll become an expert in the world of higher education and cultivate a passion for promoting civic engagement. Also, you will have the persistence to navigate red tape and work with bureaucratic organizations. For the complete job posting and to apply, click here.
Director of Communications, TurboVote, — in our quest to make voting easier, we’re looking for an experienced communications expert to help us share our mission and work with a larger audience. Whether it’s helping a TurboVote partner school tell the story of how they implemented our tools so other campuses can repeat their successes, or pitching a local newspaper on the innovations their local election office is making, we want to reach more voters through effective storytelling and outreach. For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Government Outreach Lead, Turbovote — As the Government Outreach Lead, you will be responsible for growing our new government program. In 2015, you’ll be focused on establishing formal partnerships with local election offices across the country. In this role you will need to immerse yourself in the world of election administration, build relationships with key stakeholders, and think creatively in order to generate revenue opportunities for Ballot Scout and other Democracy Works products. For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Marketing Manager, VR Systems, Inc., Tallahassee, Florida — responsible for leading, managing and directing all of the marketing-related activities within VR Systems. Reporting to the Executive Vice President, the Marketing Manager is responsible for defining and implementing strategic and tactical communication plans designed to capitalize on market opportunities and generate demand. The Marketing Manager will build brand awareness, provide a steady flow of sales leads and measure the return on marketing program investments. Marketing Manager works in conjunction with Sales Manager. The ideal candidate will be self-motivated, resourceful and have excellent communication and leadership skills. For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Association, Democracy Fund, Washington, D.C. — Democracy Fund seeks to hire an Associate to help assess our impact and to foster learning within our organization and among our grantees, peer funders, and the fields within which we work. We are looking for a dynamic and motivated candidate who is passionate about making our political system work better and who has significant experience working in monitoring, evaluation, research, and knowledge management. Strong candidates will have applied research skills, work well with others, and have a proven track record of being able to get things done in a complex professional environment. As a bipartisan organization, we welcome applications from Republicans, Democrats, and Independents – a willingness to work across the aisle is essential. The Associate will report to the Democracy Fund’s Manager of Learning and Impact and will be responsible for working with her to create and sustain the organization’s monitoring, evaluation, and learning systems. The position will require engagement with our grantees and with all members of the Democracy Fund team. Beyond directly working on Learning and Impact activities, the Associate’s work also may inform the organization’s grant making, strategic planning, research, and convening activities. For the complete listing and to apply, click here.
Partner Support Lead, TurboVote — As the partner support lead for TurboVote, you will strengthen relationships with each of our partners and work closely with them to ensure they are using our technology strategically. You’ll become an expert in the world of higher education and cultivate a passion for promoting civic engagement. Also, as the primary contact with most of our partners, you will be responsible for communicating their needs to our product design and software development teams, and help test and train partners on new features as we improve the platform. For more the complete job posting and to apply, click here.
Program Analyst, Federal Voting Assistance Program, Alexandria, Va. responsible for the following duties: Interpret Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA), DoD Directives, instructions and policies relating to Federal Voting Assistance Program; analyze new or proposed legislation or regulations; provide program advice and assistance to oral and written inquiries concerning complex voting policies and procedures from State and local election officials, Service and State Department election officials, voting advocacy organizations worldwide, and private citizens; translate Federal, State, and local election laws, regulations and policies into plain language that is easily understandable to voters; work effectively with other agencies, State and local elections officials to promote and educate citizens covered under UOCAVA. Salary: $75,621 to $98,305. Deadline: November 17. For the complete job listing and how to apply, click here.
Software Customer Support and Training, VR Systems, Tallahassee, Florida — position will include testing new company software, troubleshooting software problems; providing phone support for the customers’ software questions, and training customers on the use of the company’s software and hardware. The ideal candidate for this position is a self-motivated, goal-oriented individual with uncompromising work ethic, strong communication skills and a keen desire to interact effectively as a member of our team. Ideal candidate should be able to learn to use our software package quickly and must enjoy working in a professional team environment. For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Software Developers, TurboVote — In the next year we’re looking to rebuild the frontend for turbovote.org, split the Rails backend into independent Clojure services, improve our Ballot Scout webapp and services, and automate the quality-assurance process for Voting Information Project data. If any or all of these projects sound interesting to you, then you’re interesting to us. For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Software Support Analyst, Government Applications, NTS Data Services, Buffalo, New York — NTS Data Services is looking for a highly skilled customer support analyst to provide help and guidance to users of our voter registration and election management software. We are looking for someone with excellent knowledge of customer support principles and practices. Must have good communication, troubleshooting and people skills. Requires experience with MS Office products, especially spreadsheets, and a good understanding of computer technology. You must be self-motivated, and able to work as part of a team. Experience or knowledge of Boards of Elections’ workflow and NTS software a plus, but not required. Position is based at our Niagara Falls, NY office. For more information and to apply, click here.