I. In Focus This Week
Into the wild
Inyo County, Calif. registrar's wilderness civics effort
By Kammi Foote
Inyo County, California Registrar of Voters
Every year hundreds of thousands of people embark on extended hiking expeditions; consequently they are often in the wilderness during election season. Long distance hikers, called “thru-hikers”, travel on the popular Appalachian Trail (AT), Continental Divide Trail (CDT) and among Inyo County California treasures’ - the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) and John Muir Trail (JMT).
Crossing paths with long-distance hikers is common in Inyo County, home to Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in the Continental US at 14,505’ and Kearsarge Pass, a popular route for hiker re-supply on the PCT and JMT.
Most long distance hikers began their expeditions early in 2016 – before the primaries and conventions, spending months in the back-country. Consequently, thru-hikers are less likely to be up to date on state elections, voter registration requirements and vote by mail deadlines.
During a recent Inyo County voter registration drive at the Bishop Twin Theatre, thru-hikers and rock-climbers stopped by and asked basic questions about voting while away from home.
Realizing that there is sparse election information directed to thru-hikers, Chuck Levin, friend and longtime voting advocate and I decided to hike into the John Muir Wilderness to spread the word about voting in this important national election.
We wanted to raise awareness but, as avid hikers, did not want to disrupt anyone’s wilderness journey. The first step was designing boldt-shirts inviting hikers to approach us. Our t-shirts read: “Thru-hiking? Ask me about voting” and “A great place to register to vote!”.
Next we stocked up on organic fruit generously donated by the Owens Valley Growers Cooperative, a local market and supporter of the Sierra hiking community, so we could also serve as trail angels.
Chuck and I met in Independence, at the Inyo County Courthouse on Saturday August 20th at 8:00 a.m., joined by my husband Greg – photographer and veteran hiker.
We set out on our “wilderness civics effort” and in two days we hiked above 11,000’ on the Kearsarge Pass Trail, encountered 124 hikers, had conversations with 51 people, shuttled two backpackers from Whitney Portal to Lone Pine and helped citizens register to vote; including a first time voter from Orange County, California and a climber from Memphis, Tennessee.
It’s our view that everyone be encouraged to take advantage of their rights as voters, and embrace their civic responsibility…even when they are on amazing adventures in the remote wilderness.
Election Info – Registration and voting
Voter registration deadlines vary by state. Thru-hikers should determine the deadlines for the state where they intend to vote.
Currently California, along with 30 other states, plus the District of Columbia, offers online voter registration. In addition, Federal Voter Registration forms can be downloaded at public libraries on the U.S. Election Assistance Commission website: www.eac.gov
Also, thru-hikers away from home on Election Day, November 8th, may request an absentee ballot from their local elections office to vote by mail.
Hikers and adventurers should know that if they are moving or between permanent residences they may legally register to vote in any state. However, some states have residency requirements, such as living in the state for 30 days. Many states, including California, have no residency minimum.
Google’s new voter tools
This year it is simpler than ever to find specific information about voting using Google’s new search tools “Register to Vote” and “How to Vote”. Google these terms, locate your local elections office and learn the voting process in your state.
Our political system relies on your participation. So when you are off trail re-supplying, ending your hike or planning for a future adventure, please take advantage of your right and privileges as a citizen. Just like your wilderness expedition, a little planning, will allow you to register and to vote so you don’t miss the election.
At the end of our own two-day adventure, Chuck remarked that “We were able to talk with residents of Inyo County, people from California and around the USA and it was very rewarding to discover that every hiker appreciated our effort.”
Editor's Note: A very special thanks to Kammi Foote for sending us this story. If you're doing something cool in your state/county/town to get voters engaged, let us know, we'd love to share it with our readers.
II. Electionline Underwriting
For almost 15 years, electionline.org has brought you all the election administration reform news and information of the day through electionlineToday and of the week through our weekly newsletter electionlineWeekly.
Because of the generosity of such organizations as The Pew Charitable Trusts, Democracy Fund and the Hewlett Foundation we were able to bring you that news and information for free and free of advertising.
In order to continue providing you with the important news of the day and week, beginning September 1 we will be offering monthly underwriting for our daily and weekly postings (think more NPR, less local radio and television).
Underwriting will be available for electionlineToday, the weekly email that reaches about 4,800 inboxes each week and the weekly newsletter. Underwriting is available on a per-month basis and costs $2,500 per section per month. The underwriting is available on a first come, first-served basis. Each section will be exclusive to one underwriter per month.
We will accept underwriting from a variety of entities in the elections world, but will not accept political advertising.
Job posting and marketplace listings from elections offices seeking to sell/trade voting equipment will remain free of charge.
III. Election News This Week
- Elections officials in parts of Florida are keeping their eyes on the skies in advance of next week’s primary election. Although it’s still five days away a tropical wave has formed off the coast of Puerto Rico and could become Tropical Storm Hermine. With that in mind, officials are urging voters to cast early ballots and get their mail-in ballots returned to avoid any potential weather conflicts.
- The Blackfeet Tribe has asked Secretary of State Linda McCulloch to order Pondera County to provide a satellite voting office on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation during hours that the tribe wants, not what the county has recommended. According to the Great Falls Tribune, the county, citing poor turnout in Heart Butte, has proposed a plan that would offer a satellite office for 12 hours over two days during the general election while the tribe has proposed a plan for 125 hours over 14 days.
- Following a state court ruling that voided Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s (D) executive order restoring the voting rights to 200,000+ ex-felons, this week McAuliffe restored the rights to 13,000 felons on a case-by-case basis to comply with the court order.
- Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin’s office is offering grant money to cities and towns throughout the commonwealth to help them prepare for early voting — the first time it’s ever been offered statewide. "With this first experience with early voting in Massachusetts, it is important that voters have the option of casting their ballot on the weekend," Galvin said in a statement. According to The Republican, towns with fewer than 5,000 voters can get $250 to be open for at least three weekend hours. Municipalities with 5,000 to 10,000 voters can get $500 to be open at least four weekend hours, with a $50 bonus for each additional two-hour increment they stay open during the weekend. Municipalities with between 10,000 and 20,000 voters can get $1,000 to be open for at least four weekend hours, with a $100 bonus for each additional two-hour increment. Cities and towns with more than 20,000 voters could get $1,500 to be open for at least four weekend hours, with a $250 bonus for each additional two-hour increment. The bonuses would be capped at eight hours per municipality.
- For the first time, King County, Washington will be providing elections materials, including ballots, in Spanish and Korean. The county partnered with the Seattle Foundation to grant $242,000 to 22 community organizations for voter education efforts. King began offering Chinese-language voting materials in 2002 and Vietnamese in 2010. The county also already offers elections materials — but not ballots — in Amharic, Punjabi and Russian.
- Cuyahoga County, Ohio received the Freedom Award from the National Association of Election Officials for realizing that bar codes applied by the postal service can also serve as a postmark for absentee ballots.
- Speaking of absentee ballots, more than 1,600 ballots arrived too late to be counted in Hawaii’s recent primary election. According to state law, all ballots must be in the clerk’s office by 6 p.m. on election day. With absentee ballots becoming more popular in Hawaii, elections officials are urging residents to return them early in order to be included in the count. "We want people to use absentee ballots, but we really encourage people to get it in sooner," Hawaii County Clerk Stewart Maeda told The Daily Progress.
- Personnel News: Sam Boelke, deputy clerk of Armada Twp., Michigan has resigned.
In Memoriam: Jim Bennett, Alabama’s longest serving secretary of state, has died. He was 76. Bennett began his career as a journalist. In 1978 he was elected to the Alabama House of Representatives and in 1983 ran for the Senate where he served for 10 years. He was appointed secretary of state in 1993 and won the seat in 1994 and served until 2003. Bennett was once again appointed secretary of state in 2013 when former Secretary of State Beth Chapman stepped down before the end of her term. “He always had a smile on his face,” Brandon Walters, a former elections analyst who worked as Bennett’s legislative liaison told the Montgomery Advertiser. “He was one who wanted you to get your job done and was not going to look over your shoulder while you were doing it.” Bennett is survived by his wife, Andrea; two children, three grandchildren and a great-granddaughter.
IV. Research and Report Summaries
The Secret Ballot at Risk: Recommendations for Protecting Democracy - Caitriona Fitzgerald, Electronic Privacy Information Center, Pamela Smith, Verified Voting Foundation, and Susannah Goodman, Common Cause Education Fund, August 18, 2016: Thirty-two states and the District of Columbia allow some form of Internet voting, generally by overseas and military voters. Most states that allow this have these voters sign a waiver of their right to a secret ballot. The authors of the report believe this erodes the right to a secret ballot while noting the Internet can be used for other voting-related activities such as online voter registration, transmitting blank ballots to voters, and allowing voters to track their own ballots.
V. Legislative Updates
California: Legislation that would move California to all vote-by-mail and election day vote centers was approved by the General Assembly this week—on a party line vote—and moves now to the Senate for consideration. The legislation, supported by Secretary of State Alex Padilla faces an August 31 deadline to make it the desk of Gov. Jerry Brown.
Colorado: Two initiatives that would move Colorado to a presidential primary process and create open primaries have cleared the necessary hurdles and will appear on the November ballot.
New Jersey: Gov. Chris Christie (R) has vetoed two elections-related pieces of legislation. Christie vetoed a bill that would have allowed voters to be automatically registered through the state’s DMV. The other piece of legislation would have allowed 17-year-olds to vote in primaries as long as they are 18 by the time of the general election. He called the 17-year-old legislation “legally questionable” and referred to the automatic voter registration legislation as the “Voter Fraud Enhancement and Permission Act.”
Ohio: Ohio Sen. Frank LaRose (R-Hudson) has introduced legislation that would allow the state to cancel unnecessary elections. “Our county boards of elections work hard to stretch every taxpayer dollar as far as it will go to ensure efficient, fair elections,” LaRose, told the Dayton Daily News. “Forcing them to hold uncontested primary elections is a clear waste of time and taxpayer resources.”
VI. Legal Updates
Federal Legislation: A federal court in Illinois has dismissed a voting rights lawsuit filed by six U.S. citizens living in Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin. The suit argued that U.S. citizens with voting rights should retain those voting rights if they move to one the U.S. territories, the same way they retain those rights when moving to a foreign country.
California: A lawsuit against San Diego County Registrar Michael Vu will head to trial in October. The suit alleges that Vu’s office illegally excluded some provisional and mail-in ballots in its audit of the June 7 primary. The trial is set for Oct. 3.
Kansas: This week the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments in the case of Kansas’ proof-of-citizenship law. There was no indication when the three-judge panel would rule.
Missouri: St. Louis Circuit Judge Julian L. Bush has ruled that there is nothing in state law that addresses keeping absentee ballot applications confidential and therefore the St. Louis Board of Elections is no longer allowed to refuse to provide copies of absentee ballot applications and ballot envelopes.
Ohio: With a 2-1 decision, the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals has eliminated “Golden Week” in Ohio. Golden Week allowed Ohioans to register to vote and cast a ballot at the same time. The court ruled that the legislatures elimination of Golden Week did not discriminate against any particular bloc of voters.
South Carolina: A court has ordered that the Richland County Board of Elections and Voter Registration and its current and former members must pay more than $38,000 to a nonprofit watchdog that was owed the money from a February court ruling.
West Virginia: Kanawha County Circuit Judge Charles King has ruled that Eric Wells—husband of Secretary of State Natalie Tennant — is ineligible to run as an independent for the Kanawha County clerk’s position. “This is not a case of ballot access, but a case of too little, too late,” King’s order said.“When the respondent decided he wanted to run for office, after the primary election, it was too late to get on the ballot as a Democrat, so he was forced to try to go through the back door when, legally, he could not go through the front door.” The West Virginia Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case.
Wisconsin: The U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has declined a request to reinstate certain voting restrictions including limitations on early voting. Attorney General Brad Schimel has said that will no longer pursue the case to higher levels.
VII. Opinions This Week
Arkansas: Voting made easy
Connecticut: Secure election
Indiana: Straight ticket voting
Kentucky: Election fraud
Massachusetts: Online voter registration
Michigan: Rigged elections
New Jersey: Automatic voter registration
New Mexico: Voting rights
Oregon: Secretary of state
Rhode Island: Elections board
South Carolina: Voter ID
Wisconsin: Scott Walker
Wyoming: Vote tripping
VIII. Upcoming Events
National Voter Registration Day — In 2008, 6 million Americans didn’t vote because they missed a registration deadline or didn’t know how to register. In 2016, we want to make sure no one is left out. On September 27, 2016, volunteers, celebrities, and organizations from all over the country will “hit the streets” for National Voter Registration Day. This single day of coordinated ﬁeld, technology and media efforts will create pervasive awareness of voter registration opportunities–allowing us to reach tens of thousands of voters who we could not reach otherwise. When: September 27th. Where: Nationwide. For more information, click here.
IX. Job Postings This Week
Customer Relations Manager, Dominion Voting Systems, Chicago, Illinois— Dominion Voting Systems is seeking a highly motivated and enthusiastic, Customer Relations Manager, based in the Chicago, Illinois area! This position will be responsible for providing world-class customer service in order to achieve our core purpose of delivering solutions for the advancement of fair, accessible, and secure elections! You will problem solve, collaborate, create and improve processes, and make our customers successful in the execution of seemingly impossible tasks. Excitement lives here!. Salary: Negotiable base + bonus target & benefits. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply click here.
Manufacturing Engineer III, Toronto, Ontario — Dominion Voting Systems is seeking an experienced and passionate, Manufacturing Engineer III, to join our team in downtown Toronto! This position will work with Contract Manufacturer's (CM's) Engineering Teams to develop, implement and maintain methods, operation sequence and processes for the manufacture of parts, components, sub-assemblies and final assemblies; Interface with design engineering, estimating, determining time standards and making recommendations on product lines; Provide technical support to CM's engineering teams; and Maintain records and reporting systems for coordination of manufacturing operations and accountable for on-site monitoring and audit of CM’s manufacturing processes to help identify and resolve issues causing defects and affecting product quality. Salary: Negotiable base + bonus target & benefits. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Product Manager (Owner), Toronto, Ontario — Dominion Voting Systems is seeking an motivated and experienced, Product Manager (Owner), to join our team in downtown Toronto! This position will be responsible for managing the planning, forecasting and marketing of one or more products at all stages of the product lifecycle; Investigating, selecting, and developing the products by considering such factors as intended market, products offered by the competition and how well the product fits with the company's business model. This position may be assigned a jurisdiction to coordinate a Requirements Elicitations and Gap Analysis (REGA). Salary: Negotiable base + bonus target & benefits. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Product Specialist, Denver, Colorado — Dominion Voting Systems is seeking a tech-savvy and passionate, Product Specialist, to be based in our downtown Denver, Colorado office. This role is responsible for responsible for the installation, operation, repair, and maintenance of all Dominion Voting Systems elections products; providing elections support services and customer training; and interfacing 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.
Project Manager, Hart InterCivic — project managers at Hart InterCivic are highly motivated “self-starters” who are enthusiastic about providing exceptional customer service. Working with other members of the Professional Services and Operations teams, the project manager directs activity, solves problems and develops lasting and strong relationships with our customers. Hart InterCivic’s unique and industry known culture of innovation, transparency and customer-centric focus creates an environment where team members will continually grow and be challenged to develop their careers. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Senior Data Architect, Virginia Department of Elections — the Department of Elections (ELECT) is seeking a qualified individual to plan, design and manage ELECT data extraction processes to ensure accuracy, completeness, integrity, security and efficiency of the ELECT processes. Implements policies, standards and procedures relating to data structures, performance, security and auditing. Possess the knowledge, skills and abilities to manage processes, databases and other applications written by a third-party. Also, works closely with our vendors, developers and business analysts for successful election management. Salary: $70,000-$110,000. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Senior Project Manager, Denver, Colorado — Dominion Voting Systems is seeking an experienced, well-organized and passionate Senior Project Manager to join our team in downtown Denver! This position will be responsible for overseeing the successful execution of assigned projects in the State of Colorado as well as managing a team of local and remote employees. This position is critical to the success of our customers throughout the State of Colorado. Salary: Negotiable base + bonus target & benefits. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Senior UI/UX Designer, Toronto, Ontario — Dominion Voting Systems is seeking a talented and passionate, Senior UI/UX Designer, to join our team in downtown Toronto! This position will be tasked with creating an easy-to-use voting experience for voters and election workers. The ideal candidate should have an eye for clean and artful design, possess superior UI skills and be able to translate high-level requirements into intuitive and functional user interfaces. Salary: Negotiable base + bonus target & benefits. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Senior Software Developer, Lead, Toronto, Ontario — Dominion Voting Systems is seeking highly technical and passionate, Senior Software Developer, Lead to join our team in downtown Toronto! 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 Lead 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.
Software Developer II, Toronto, Ontario — Dominion Voting Systems is seeking a talented and passionate, Software Developer II, to join our team in downtown Toronto! 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.