I. In Focus This Week
Democracy Works launches the TurboVote Challenge
Challenge aims for 80 percent voter turnout by 2020
By M. Mindy Moretti
The year was 1888. Incumbent President Grover Cleveland (D) faced off against Benjamin Harrison (R), a former senator from Indiana.
On November 6, 79.3 percent of the U.S. voting age population went to the polls to make their choice for president. That was one the last times vote turnout in this country came even remotely close to reaching 80 percent.
In the last five presidential elections turnout has not topped 59 percent. It is even lower during Congressional elections with the 2014 election turnout hitting just 36.4 percent--the lowest turnout in 70 years.
The challenge asks partners to commit to helping increase civic-social outreach, encouraging employees and customers to register to vote, ensure their registration information is updated, and to participate in local and national elections.
Some of the founding partners include: Starbucks, Target, Univision, Arizona State University and Westfield Corporation.
“When Democracy Works first started to notice the energy our corporate partners had to engage voters and we were talking about ways we could harness it, a 75 percent mark was bandied about,” explained Brandon Naylor, director of communications for Democracy Works. “Seth Flaxman even mentioned that to Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, as a potential goal, to which Mr. Schultz replied ‘Why not make it 80 percent?’”
The organization wanted a goal that was ambitious and historic enough to challenge the status quo. Naylor said with the extraordinary enthusiasm they’ve seen from the TurboVote Challenge partners they think the 80 percent goal can serve to motivate everyone even more.
“Target has a long history of being an active citizen and a valued neighbor in the communities where we live and work. We believe engaged citizens generate a healthy democracy – one where we can create a brighter and healthier future for our guests, team members and communities.” Laysha Ward, executive vice president & chief corporate social responsibility officer for Target said in a release. “We know we can’t do it alone, and are pleased to join hands with other organizations and Democracy Works to help build greater voter engagement and a world where we all feel we have a voice.”
The program launched with 13 Challenge partners, but Naylor said they don’t have a goal for how many additional partner they will add.
“We are certainly open to having discussions with potential partners of all kinds,” Naylor said. “To accomplish the ambitious goal we've set for ourselves, we are going to need to reach as many voters as possible, which is precisely why we were so glad to partner with strong, innovative organizations and brands people interact with every day, like Starbucks and Univision.
While the Challenge partners are using their regular communications: social media, marketing lists, websites and more to share information about elections and voting with staff and customers, Democracy Works is providing those partner organizations with any resources they may need.
“Our staff are experienced in voter engagement and outreach, so we are more than happy to pass those skills along to our partners as they develop their own voter engagement plans,” Naylor said. “Along the way, we will also provide communications support and TurboVote implementation assistance, should they decide to use it.”
Of course, everyone would love to see 80 percent turnout, but are elections officials ready? Naylor said that’s why the two sides to Democracy Works’ work is so important.
“Democracy Works has always recognized that leveraging technology and innovation on both sides of that equation is going to be necessary to modernize elections,” Naylor said. “That's one of the reasons we've structured our work in the way we have. Bridging that gap has already paid dividends, and we'll continue working with election officials to help them meet the challenges of a growing and changing electorate.”
Oh, and for those wondering at home, in 1888 Cleveland won the popular vote with 48.6 percent of the vote, just more than 90,000 votes than Harrison. But Harrison won the Electoral College vote and became our 23rd president.
II. Election News This Week
- While the jury may still be out on the impact of North Carolina’s new voter ID law, one thing is clear about the new law. Some people are fairly forgetful. Not because they forgot their IDs at home, but because they forgot them at the polling place. Buncombe County Elections Director Trena Parker said her office gathered 13 left-behind IDs. "We've tried to contact them, but don't have appropriate phone numbers for them. So we would love to communicate to the public if you've lost your license recently and you voted in the primary, we very well may have it," Parker told WLOS.
- Glacier County has opened a full-time, temporary satellite elections office in Browning--on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation--now through the November general election. “This is huge news,” Bret Healy, a consultant with South Dakota-based Four Directions, a nonprofit Indian voting rights organization, who is working on behalf of the Blackfeet Tribal Business Council on this issue told the Great Falls Tribune. The office is open for voter registration, late registration, early voting and ballot drop-off 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday through Nov. 8.
- A recent poll by UtahPolicy.com found that more than 3/4 of Utahns (79 percent) say they either "strongly" or "somewhat support" using vote-by-mail in this year's elections.
- Although a 2015 law allows 17-year-olds who will be 18 by the time of the general election to vote in New Mexico’s June primary, the secretary of state’s office has yet to commit to whether or not they will actually be allowed to vote saying in an email to NM Politics that the office is “exploring the legal options to assure the law is implemented appropriately.” Despite a lack of direction from the secretary of state’s office, elections officials in Bernalillo and Dona Ana counties said they expect to allow eligible 17-year-olds to vote.
- The Voting Rights Institute, created by Georgetown University, the Campaign Legal Center and the American Constitution Society recently received a $1 million donation from the MacArthur Foundation. The Institute trains law students, attorneys and advocates on voting rights issues and gives students and recent graduates the opportunity to work on voting rights policy and litigation.
- The Merrimack, New Hampshire town council has reached consensus that moving forward there will be more than one polling place available at all elections, although the exact number has not yet been determined. The town made news during New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary when traffic jams outside the one polling place delayed voters and ultimately voting, for hours.
- Like the coelacanth, what once was lost, now is found. In Guilford County, North Carolina an elections office employee found a bag of uncounted ballots from the March 15 primary in an office storage room. The ballots were found on March 22 and included in the final elections tally. The 24 votes did not change the outcome. However, the incident has election officials trying to understand exactly how the mix-up happened so they can implement new election procedures that will prevent this from occurring again. And in Contra Costa County, California, a man walking his dog found a bag of completed voter registration forms in a local park. When he posted a photo of it on Facebook, Assistant Contra Costa County Registrar Scott Konopasek went to the park to retrieve the bag. Turns the bag was stolen from a campaign signature collector.
- Personnel News: Longtime Grant Township, Michigan Clerk Deb Berends has resigned. Jared Andrews has been appointed the new Livingston Parish, Louisiana registrar of voters. He replaces Delmas Taylor who is stepping down after 19 years. Black Hawk County, Iowa Auditor Grant Veeder has announced that he will seek an eighth term in office. Michael Steele, former chairman of the Republican National Committee has joined the board of the U.S. Vote Foundation. Kathy Meyer has been sworn in as the Allen County, Ohio board of elections. She replaces Ken Terry. Marian K. Schneider, deputy secretary for elections and administration for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, is the 2016 recipient of the Public Guardian award from the Election Verification Network (EVN). Rob Hammons, director of the Arkansas elections division has resigned. Karen Hall has been let go from the McLennan County elections office.
In Memoriam: The Virginia Department of Elections suffered a huge loss this week. Martha Brissette, a long time Department employee, and her husband, Henry, died at the hands of a family member. This sudden and tragic end to Martha and Henry’s lives have left us all with many questions and few answers. Martha was a dedicated public servant who worked for the Department of Elections since 2007 as a policy analyst. Prior to joining the Department, Martha had a long and distinguished career holding positions at the Division of Legislative Services, the Office of the Attorney General, and the Virginia Supreme Court. Martha was a true election geek – she loved being able to work on policy issues that had a positive impact on voters. While most voters in Virginia wouldn’t recognize her, they all owe her thanks for her tireless work on their behalf. Martha was instrumental in ensuring Virginia went above and beyond to serve our military and overseas voters; constantly worked to make sure we incorporated accessibility for voters with disabilities in everything we provide to voters; and strived to make voting easy for the voters of the Commonwealth. Martha was loved and appreciated by everyone in the local registrar offices – no small feat for a state elections office employee. I met Martha when I worked as a local registrar and she was always available to help me out and answer my questions. We stayed in touch over the years and I was excited to be working with her again when I came to the Department. Martha served as a mentor to new employees and interns working at the Department and was a constant advocate for voters. Henry was a gifted organist and an artist, whose work has graced our office walls for years. We will miss Martha and Henry greatly and ask you to send thoughts and prayers to their daughter Madeline as she goes through this difficult time. Edgardo Cortés, Commissioner, Virginia Department of Elections.
III. Legislative Updates
Florida: Gov. Rick Scott (R) has signed legislation boosting the salary of all 66 of the state’s supervisors of elections. "I think they've done a good job," Scott told reporters.
Hawaii: A bill pending in the Legislature would require the state to issue ballots in English and in the Hawaiian language. Currently some counties are required to also offer ballots in Japanese, Cantonese and Ilocano, but under the proposed legislation, all ballots would have to be offered in English and Hawaiian. "I thought it was a little silly that we don't already have the Hawaiian language on the ballot - it's an official language," Rep. Kaniela Ing, who introduced the bill told The Maui News.
Louisiana: The Senate voted 24-11 against Bill 164 to loosen up the rules around absentee voting. Currently only those who will be away from their home parish on Election Day for specific reasons like military service or college. The bill sought to ease those restrictions.
Maine: A bill that would move Maine from a caucus state to a primary state has the support of city and town officials as well as the state’s secretary of state. Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap said he would support a primary being held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in March.
New Hampshire: The Senate has defeated a bill that would have allowed for online voter registration.
Rhode Island: This week both chambers of the General Assembly gave final approval to allow Rhode Island to offer online voter registration. The legislation, which is now on its way to the governor’s desk, also allows the state to join ERIC.
Tennessee: The House Government Operations Committee has approved legislation that would allow residents to register online to vote. Those using the online system would still be required to provide personally identifying information, such as a driver’s license number, for verification purposes. The bill now moves to the House finance committee.
IV. Legal Updates
Department of Justice: NPR has a Q&A with Justin Levitt of the Voting Rights unit of the DOJ and how it has adjusted since the Shelby v. Holder decision. “It's meant a lot more affirmative enforcement efforts. We have to go out and sue rather than blocking bad laws before they go into effect. And that's been a big change for us,” Levitt told All Things Considered.
Iowa: This week, the Iowa Supreme Court heard arguments about whether or not ex-felons who have completed the terms of their service should have their right to vote restored. The case hinges largely on what the framers of Iowa’s Constitution meant by “infamous crime.”
Pennsylvania: Legal challenges are preventing some Pennsylvania voters from receiving their absentee ballots with just about a month to go till the Commonwealth’s primary. Because of pending legal cases against two statewide candidates — one for U.S. Senate, the other for president — and a ballot question, the official ballots haven’t been finalized."They're upset, they're going away, they don't have their absentees," Berks County elections director Debbie Olivieri told LNP.
Texas: A group of Hispanic voters and Rep. Marc Veasy of Fort Worth have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block the state from enforcing the new voter ID law during the general election in November. A federal judge struck the law down, but a federal appeals court blocked that order two years ago, ruling that the state should be allowed to enforce the law in order to avoid confusion, because the 2014 election was so near.
V. Tech Thursday
Florida: In the wake of another confusing mailer from the Voter Participation Center to voters in Seminole County, Supervisor of Elections Michael Ertel has set up a special website to help voters delineate legitimate mailings from others. The site, www.OfficialElectionMail.org leads voters to the county’s existing website where they can find a list of all mailings the county has sent out. Ertel says he hopes the site will help alleviate any confusion over erroneous mailers, which are likely to grow in the coming months since Florida is a swing state.
Nebraska: NEReg2Vote, the state’s online voter registration system has been nominated “Innovation of the Year,” one of six categories included in the 2016 StateScoop 50 Awards. NEReg2Vote launched in 2015.
Pennsylvania: In a story that no one will find surprising, Pennsylvania’s new online voter registration system is a big hit with young people. Since January 1, 2016, 258,159 users have visited register.votespa.com to change a party affiliation, address or to register to vote. The Department of State doesn't break out demographics other than age, but the largest share of users (88,513) were under 24. The next largest group was 25- to 34-year-olds (73,115). "Facebook ran a promotion last week on voter registration and we had a huge spike. We had 37,000 registrants in a 24-hour period," Deputy Secretary of Elections and Administration Marian Schneider told WHYY. "And then the next day, we had 15,000."
Rhode Island: The Rhode Island secretary of state’s office launched a new feature on its website that makes it easier for voters who are registered in another state, but currently living in Rhode Island, to cast their votes. The page links voters directly to information about how to file an absentee mail ballot in their home states.
VI. Opinions This Week
Indiana: ISU vote center
Kentucky: Voting laws
Ohio: Poll workers
Texas: Online voter registration
West Virginia: Automatic voter registration
VII. Available Funding/Awards
Charles T. Manatt Democracy Award
The International Foundation for Electoral Systems’ (IFES) Charles T. Manatt Democracy Award recognizes the exceptional work of individuals who demonstrate unwavering commitment to freedom and democracy. IFES presents the Democracy Award annually to three individuals: a Republican, a Democrat and a member of the international community.
The recipients of the Democracy Award embody the character and spirit of former U.S. Ambassador and IFES Board of Directors Chairman Charles T. Manatt. Manatt served as Chairman of IFES’ Board of Directors from 1993 to 1999 and was a distinct leader, dedicated to spreading democracy around the world and nurturing the next generation of political leaders.
The three Democracy Awards are presented in a single ceremony each year. To nominate someone, click here.
Innovation in American Government Awards
Applications are now being accepted for the $100,000 Innovations in American Government Awards. Offered by Harvard Kennedy School’s Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, the Innovations Award is the nation’s premier award for the public sector. It recognizes programs that demonstrate creative and effective government at its best.
All units of government — federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial — from all policy areas are eligible to apply for recognition.
This year, the Ash Center is also once again offering the Roy and Lila Ash Innovations Award for Public Engagement in Government, a special Innovations Award that will recognize government-led programs that demonstrate novel and effective approaches to increasing public engagement and participation in the governance of towns, cities, states, and the nation.
The winners of the Innovations in American Government Award and the Roy and Lila Ash Award will each receive a $100,000 grant to support replication and dissemination activities in 2017. Top finalists will also receive monetary grants.
Applications and additional information is available here. Applications are due April 15.
VIII. Upcoming Events
Election Center Special Workshop — “The Calm Before the Storm” is an Election Center special workshop that will cover issues such as media relations in a presidential year (including a discussion on press releases), tips and reasons for gathering data; voter registration and elections litigation update, updated information from the USPS, vote-by-mail and other issues and the impacts polls and media projections have on election administrators. There will also be two CERA/CERV/CEM core courses 3 and 4 and Renewal Course 24. When: April 27-May 1. Where: Kansas City, Kansas. For more information and to register, click here.
NACRC/IACREOT Annual Conference — the 2016 annual conference—the last to be held under the NACRC/IACREOT banner will feature plenary sessions, a trade show, committee and board meeting, awards breakfast, annual banquet and a ballgame. When: June 25-30. Where: Memphis, Tennessee. For more information and to register, click here.
National Association of Secretaries of State Summer Conference — NASS will hold its annual summer meeting in Nashville this year. Agenda programming will include: policy discussions on important issues facing secretaries of state, idea-sharing panels highlighting best practices in state programming, sessions designed for professional development and networking, induction of national officers for the 2016-2017 cycle and excursions to explore Tennessee and learn more about the culture and state government. When: July 14-17. Where: Nashville, Tennessee. For more information and to register, click here.
National Association of State Election Directors Summer Conference — the 2016 NASED summer conference will be held in Nashville, Tennessee. Details about the event are still being hammered out, so be sure to check the website often. When: July 14-17. Where: Nashville, Tennessee. For more information, click here.
National Association of Counties Annual Conference — NACo’s Annual Conference and Exposition provides an opportunity for all county leaders and staff to learn, network and guide the direction of the association. The 2016 Annual Conference is hosted by Los Angeles County. The conference will be held at the Long Beach Convention Center. Attending the Annual Conference provides member county officials with the opportunity to vote on NACo’s policies related to federal legislation and regulation; elect officers; network with colleagues; learn about innovative county programs; learn more about issues impacting counties across the country; and view products and services from participating companies and exhibitors. When: July 22-25. Where: Long Beach, California. For more information and to register, click here.
National Conference of State Legislators Summer Meeting — the 2016 Legislative Summit will be held in Chicago. The elections portion will include: Politics 2016: State Election Preview, Evaluating Elections, What to Do If You’ve Got a Disputed Election, Technology: Improving Elections One Bit or Byte at a Time? And Helping our Military Vote. When: Aug. 8-11. Where: Chicago. For more information and to register, click here.
IX. Job Postings This Week
Customer Relations Association, Albuquerque, New Mexico--Dominion Voting is searching for a highly motivated, enthusiastic, and hands-on Customer Relations Associate for our Albuquerque, NM office. The key responsibilities for this role will be to manage one or more customer accounts to include product support, problem resolution, and placing product and service orders. In addition, this role will be responsible for managing customer projects such as election support, new product implementations, upgrades, and providing superior customer service. Salary: Negotiable base + bonus target & benefits. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Customer Relations Manager, Dominion Voting Systems, San Leandro, California — Dominion Voting Systems is seeking a highly motivated and enthusiastic, Customer Relations Manager, to be based in our San Leandro, California office! This position will be responsible for supporting customers by partnering with the sales and operations teams to exceed customer needs and requirements; addressing and resolving customer concerns; and, identifying ways to implement preventive measures for continuous process improvement. Salary: Negotiable base + bonus target & benefits. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply,click here.
Customer Relations Manager, New Jersey (Remote) — Dominion Voting Systems is seeking a highly motivated and enthusiastic Customer Relations Manager to work remotely and be based in New Jersey! This position will be responsible for supporting customers by partnering with the sales and operations teams to exceed customer needs and requirements; address and resolve customer concerns; and, identify ways to implement preventive measures for continuous process improvement. Salary: Negotiable base + bonus target & benefits. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
HR Intern, Denver, Colorado — Dominion Voting Systems is seeking a highly-driven and passionate HR Intern to join our team in our downtown Denver office! This position will be responsible for understanding and executing on the Company’s Compliance requirements – the foundation of HR. In addition to gaining full understanding of Compliance requirements, the HR Intern will work closely with the HR Manager and HR Generalist to gain exposure to the full breadth of the HR function within a fast-paced, global, high-tech environment! Salary: Negotiable hourly rate Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Hardware Engineer III, Toronto, Ontario — Dominion Voting Systems is seeking a highly-skilled and enthusiastic Hardware Engineer III to join us in our downtown Toronto office! This role will be responsible for contributing as a lead member of the mechanical engineering team to develop new products from concept to production, as well as supporting production runs and any field requirements for existing and legacy products. New products are designed and developed in an Agile environment using time to market concepts and robust design techniques! This position will also be responsible for successfully partnering with our contract manufactures. Salary: Negotiable hourly rate Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Junior Product Support Specialist,Toronto, Ontario — Dominion Voting Systems is seeking an out-going, technology savvy, Junior Product Support Specialist, to be based in our downtown Toronto office. This position is responsible for supporting installation, operation, repair, and maintenance of all Dominion Voting Systems products; as well as developing and executing training sessions; and assisting with warehousing and logistics. Salary: Negotiable base + bonus target & benefits. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply,click here
Product Specialist, Chicago, Illinois area (Remote) — Dominion Voting Systems is seeking a tech-savvy and out-going Product Specialist to work remotely and be based in the Chicago, IL area! This position will be responsible for the installation, operation, repair, and maintenance of all Dominion Voting Systems products; development and delivery of product training curriculum and materials to customers and internal employees; and interface directly with customers, co-workers, and election officials. Salary: Negotiable base + bonus target & benefits. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Product Support Specialist, Toronto, Ontario — Dominion Voting Systems is seeking an experienced and motivated, Product Support Specialist, to be based in our downtown Toronto office. This position is responsible for supporting installation, operation, repair, and maintenance of all Dominion Voting Systems products; as well as developing and executing training sessions; and working closely with the Operations and Development Teams on a number of critical projects. Salary: Negotiable base + bonus target & benefits. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply,click here.
Software Developer II, Denver, Colorado & Toronto, Ontario — Dominion Voting Systems is seeking a highly technical and passionate Software Developer II to be based in either our downtown Denver office or our downtown Toronto office! This position will be responsible for providing high-level technical expertise to design development, coding, testing and debugging of new voting system software and/or significant enhancements to existing software for our customers. This position will work on a team utilizing an Agile development environment. Salary: Negotiable base + bonus target & benefits. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
System Support Specialist, Denver, Colorado — Dominion Voting Systems is seeking a tech-savvy and detail oriented, Network & Systems Specialist, to be based in our downtown Denver, Colorado office. This role is responsible for assisting with the deployment and troubleshooting of advanced elections hardware and software system configurations; providing support to the logistics associated with procuring elections systems and equipment; performing tests and evaluations of various voting solutions; and providing election support to customers both remotely and/or on-site. Salary: Negotiable base + bonus target & benefits. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply,click here.