I. In Focus This Week
Center for Election Innovation & Research (CEIR) launches
David Becker and Amy Cohen hope to improve efficiency and integrity of elections
Despite advances in voting technology that have made it easier than ever for Americans to register and cast a ballot, turnout in the United States — for most elections, not just presidential — remains on the decline and lags behind that of other democracies.
This week, the Center for Election Innovation & Research (CEIR) launched with the purpose finding a way to get more Americans involved in the process.
The nonprofit will use new research, data and experimentation to find the best ways to improve the efficiency and integrity of our election system — and do it in a way that encourages more people to participate.
CEIR is the brain child of David Becker and Amy Cohen, two longtime experts in the field of election administration and we sat down with them to find out a bit about CEIR.
Why did you choose to launch CEIR now?
DJB: This election season is drawing particular interest, and putting election officials from both parties under exceptional scrutiny. The work to help election officials maintain and build more secure and efficient election systems is as important as ever, and Amy and I feel strongly that there’s value in a data-driven approach to these issues.
It was important to both of us that we continue to build on our work with our non-partisan approach, and we’ve been overwhelmed by the response from so many election officials and other experts since we’ve announced this new effort.
Is CEIR just the two of you or will you be partnering with other organizations/experts?
AC: We’ll be staffing up over the next several months, and we’ll absolutely be engaging in external partnerships with our colleagues in academia and the tech sector.
In some cases, we’ve already re-established partnerships with long-time friends in the field. And we can’t forget state and local election officials! We want to be responsive to the needs of the field, which makes election professionals our most important partners.
What’s your ultimate goal with launching CEIR?
DJB: We’ve made great strides in election administration in the past five or so years – 32 states and D.C. now offer online voter registration (with more coming), 20+ states have joined the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) to better keep voter rolls up to date, millions of voters have access to election information online where they’re looking for it – but there are still areas for improvement.
Amy and I want to make sure that we can build on these successes and explore other areas, too, long into the future. We will promote and support secure and efficient elections in which all eligible voters can participate, if they choose.
And that gets to, perhaps, our most important goal of all – researching the reasons for the historic decline in turnout and determining whether, using rigorous and nonpartisan methodologies, we can help those seeking to increase baseline turnout in our elections.
In 5-10 years from now, we’ll judge ourselves by whether we contributed to more secure, efficient, and robust elections in this country.
What — election administration-wise — is [are] your top priority[ies] as you launch this new endeavor?
We have four main pillars of our work.
- Voter Registration – We’re going to keep working to bring voter registration further into the 21st century, with the goal of ensuring that all eligible voters who wish to be registered are on the rolls with accurate, up-to-date information. This also means encouraging states to share data via ERIC and better share data within their own borders across different government agencies.
- Educating Voters – We will work to ensure all voters can find basic information about the voting process, including polling place and early vote locations and hours, and comprehensive ballot information.
- New Research –Whether it’s studying the impact of e-pollbooks, convenience voting options, other new technologies and policies, or providing momentum behind efforts to create a common data format for all elections data, there is important research to be done to better inform election administrators at all levels.
- Voter Turnout – We’ve all seen the downward trend in voter turnout. We want to work directly with state and local election administrators of both parties to conduct experiments to identify messages and modes of contact that can help increase the frequency of voting for sporadic voters and turn non-voters into active participants. We’re not going to wake up on November 9 and read that turnout was 90 percent, but this is a long-term goal to start moving the needle on turnout in all elections.
Where do you see CEIR in a year, five, 10?
AC: This time next year, I’d like to see us staffed up to about 6-8 full time employees. We’ll be supporting election officials in any way we can, and doing our own original research, including getting started with some initial research on turnout and low propensity voters in the lead up to the 2017 off-year elections.
DJB: In the short term, we’ll keep encouraging states to join ERIC – there are 20 states and D.C. now, several of which joined in the last few months – but there is still room for growth, and many states have come to us for help with joining. In five years, I hope we’ll have a solid technical foundation in states, with more states than ever having efficient and effective voter registration and voting systems, and that we’ll have begun pointing the field in the right direction to engage voters more effectively. In 10 years, it’ll be the 250th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. What better time to ensure we have a toolkit that everyone can use – in churches and colleges, cities and farms to engage potential voters more efficiently, with a proven impact on overall turnout, in all elections, and all the way down-ballot.
Obviously it takes a lot of administration work to get a new organization off the ground and you’ll be busy with that in the coming weeks, but where should we look for you on the elections front for the remainder of this election year?
DJB: Even though we’re a relative start-up, Amy and I are going to be very busy over the next few months. I’ll be testifying next week in front of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, and I’ll continue to be active in the media, in pieces like the one I did for NPR last month. And we’re already working as a resource where we can to assist our colleagues who actually do the hard work to run good elections.
We’ll all be hearing a lot more from CEIR in the coming weeks and years to come, but is there anything else you want to add now that those in the elections administration should know about your new organization.
AC: I’ve spent a lot of the last year on the road talking to state and local election officials across the country (and New Jersey and Texas twice!) and from coast to coast, election officials at all levels know how important their jobs are, and they want to do them well every year, not just this year because it’s huge. Helping election administrators communicate with their voters or helping make their jobs easier is incredibly rewarding, and I’m proud to call myself a part of this community. I’m excited to get back out there and be a resource for the field and shape CEIR into an integral part of the elections world.
DJB: In my two decades of elections experience, my most meaningful work has been with election officials and experts across the political spectrum working to make real change to help voters in tangible ways - efficiencies, cost savings, etc. It makes a difference. I just can't imagine leaving this work, and the response from everyone has been overwhelming. We’re looking forward to building even stronger partnerships with you all as we continue this adventure!
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
- According to the News & Observer, voters in 23 North Carolina counties will have fewer chances to vote early under schedules approve by Republican-led election boards. The paper asserts that the decision to reduce hours came after the North Carolina Republican Party encouraged its appointees to “make party line changes to early voting”. That being said, the paper also noted that 70 county elections boards are offering more early voting hours than they did in 2012. The paper has also obtained a “critical and confidential” email from a member of the state’s GOP to local boards of elections that stressed that while they should operate within the law, they should also operate in the best interest of the party and that include limiting the number of early voting sites and hours.
- The dean of students at Kennesaw State in Georgia sent a memo to students this week warning that “unauthorized individuals are walking around with some clipboards claiming they are registering students to vote.” The memo also said that the individuals are targeting certain student populations. “We have had students in the past not be able to vote on election day because they completed a form with an unauthorized person and were never properly registered,” Michale Sanseviro, dean of students, wrote. “We are committed to ensuring all eligible KSU students have the proper access and opportunity to participate in the democratic process.”
- And a bit of a shout-out to our Director Emeritus Doug Chapin. This week the Minneapolis Star-Tribune wrote a piece about the University of Minnesota’s first-of-its-kind certificate in election administration. The program kicked off its second year this week. It’s really trial by fire,”said Ginny Gelms, Hennepin County, Minnesota election manager told the paper. “Nothing can prepare you for your first election cycle. It would have been nice to have back when I started my career,” she said.
I Voted — this week electionlineWeekly is launching a new feature to highlight all the unique and interesting “I Voted” stickers out there. Some states and counties are really creative in what they give voters and we hope this will inspire others to think outside the box—or square or oval.
Appropriately, first up is Brevard County, Florida’s new First Time Voter sticker. Supervisor of Elections Lori Scott recently designed an “I Voted” sticker just for first-time voters. Each week she signs between 75 and 100 congratulatory letters to 16- and 17-year olds that are pre-registered. At a recent Outreach event she was approached by a parent who told her how excited they were to accompany their teen to the polls for their first vote and thus the idea was born.
“We have ordered and received an adequate supply for early voting and the upcoming General Election,” Scott explained. “Our poll workers have expressed excitement about having a special sticker to present to our first time voters. A win for the giver (poll worker) and a win for the receiver (1st time voter), both filled with pride and joy of this special time in the life of a young person.”
If you’ve got a unique “I Voted” sticker let us know and we’re happy to feature it.
Personnel News: By just 185 votes, longtime Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell won the Republican nomination to keep her job. Her challenger, Aaron Flannery, said that he will not seek a recount. Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) has replaced two members of the St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners. New board members are Erwin Switzer (D) and Al Johnson (R). They replace Joan Burger (D) and Andrew Schwartz (R). Ed Leonard has been appointed to head the Franklin County, Ohio board of elections.
Get Well: Electionline is sending good thoughts to Dawn Stumpf, longtime Chatham County, North Carolina board of elections executive director. Stumpf is currently recovering from an illness and stroke at UNC Hospitals. Stumpf was admitted to UNC Hospitals in mid-August after developing meningitis caused by streptococcus pneumonia and had a stroke. She was in a coma until Thursday, explained Deputy Director Pandora Paschal, who is acting as temporary executive director in Stumpf’s absence, when she woke up and was taken off a ventilator. Stumpf has moved from intensive care at UNC Hospitals to an intermediate unit, she said. “She’s breathing on her own, she’s mouthing words, she recognizes people,” Paschal said. “So that’s good news.”
IV. Legislative Updates
Delaware: An ordinance before the Wilmington City Council would require landlords to provide voter registration information to tenants aged 18 and older. Landlords would have the option of providing the information via paper or electronically.
Virginia: Senate Majority Leader Thomas K. Norment Jr. announced his plans to introduce a constitutional amendment to automatically restore voting rights for some nonviolent felons, create new barriers for others, and strip future governors of the power to restore political rights. Under the amendment, violent felons would be permanently barred from voting.
V. Legal Updates
California: San Diego Superior Court Judge Julia C. Kelety has restored the voting rights of David Rector. Rector, a former NPR producer, became the center of local and national coverage when he could not get his rights restored following a traumatic brain injury and his case became a focal point for petition to the U.S. Dept. of Justice.
Michigan: The full U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals will not hear Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette’s appeal of an injunction against a state law banning straight-ticket voting. The appellate court sent the case back to the three-judge panel that earlier refused to block a preliminary injunction against the law.
Missouri: St. Louis Judge Rex Burlison has ordered a do-over in a state House race that was plagued by allegations of problems with absentee ballots. The new Democratic primary will be held on Sept. 16. In his ruling, Burlinson noted that although he could find no evidence of fraud, he did find that the St. Louis board of election commissioners violated state law by allowing more than 140 people to cast absentee ballots in-person at the board’s headquarters. Secretary of State Jason Kander is pushing the St. Louis prosecutor to review the absentee ballots to determine if any laws were broken.
Montana: The Montana Republican Party has asked the state Supreme Court to remove Roger Roots, the Libertarian candidate for secretary of state, from the ballot. The suit argues that Roots did not file the proper paperwork—personal financial disclosure and campaign finance reports—that other candidates did. Since county officials are set to print ballots any day now, the suit seeks a temporary restraining order from printing until the case is resolved.
Nevada: The Pyramid Lake Paiutes and the Walker River Paiutes have joined together to sue the state of Nevada arguing that tribal members are being disenfranchised because there are no voter registration sites or polling places on tribal lands in Washoe and Mineral counties. The tribes argue that the lack of access on the reservation has hampered Native American turnout.
New Mexico: This week, the secretary of state’s office said that it does not have enough money to pay $124,636 in legal fees it owes in a public records lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union. The fees date back to a 2013 case in which former Secretary of State Dianna Duran claimed that undocumented immigrants had voted in New Mexico elections. “We understand what our obligation is,” current Secretary of State Brad Winter told the Albuquerque Journal, “and what we are looking at is to try to find some alternative funding to pay that.”
Ohio: A three-judge panel of the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals has sided with the state saying that U.S. District Judge Susan Dlott overstepped her bounds and should not have kept the polls open an extra hour in four counties during the March primary. Although the panel appeared sympathetic with Dlott’s decision they noted that it should have never been made based on an anonymous phone call.
Texas: The U.S. Department of Justice is alleging that Texas officials improperly training poll workers and producing incorrect voter education materials about changes to the state’s voter ID law. According to Courthouse News Service, Texas Secretary of State Carlos Cascos' office kicked off the campaign with a news release on VoteTexas.org, explaining voters' options under the court order. But the department says Cascos used language that is "misleading" and "inconsistent" with the court order. "At this critical stage, such materials should maximize accuracy and minimize confusion," DOJ says. "Texas's materials do neither."
VI. Tech Thursday
National Tech: Everyone Counts’ eLect Quad Audit voting system has successfully completed testing by a federally accredited voting system test lab (VSTL). According to Everyone Counts, eLect is the first and only software and tablet-based voting system to have gone through testing to federal standards, and also the first and only voting system to undergo testing to VVSG1.1.
VII. Opinions This Week
National Opinion: Voter fraud, II | Compulsory voting | Voting rights, II | Voting restrictions | Ranked choice voting | Department of Homeland Security | Election legitimacy | Food trucks | Ballot security | Early voting | Electronic voting | Paper trail | Vote-by-mail
Arizona: Maricopa County
Colorado: Voting machines
Georgia: Voting system
Louisiana: Voting assistance
Missouri: Voter ID
Nevada: Early voting
New Hampshire: Voting accessibility
Oklahoma: Runoff elections
Oregon: Ranked choice voting
Pennsylvania: Election system
South Carolina: Hacked election
Washington: Primary date
Wisconsin: Poll watchers
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. Available Funding/Awards
AAPD Paul G. Hearne Leadership Awards
Through the AAPD Paul G. Hearne Leadership Awards, the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) recognizes outstanding emerging leaders with disabilities who exemplify leadership, advocacy, and dedication to the broader cross-disability community. Two individuals will each receive $2,500 in recognition of their outstanding contributions and $7,500 to further a new or existing initiative that increases the political and economic power of people with disabilities. The recipients of the AAPD Paul G. Hearne Leadership Awards are honored among national disability leaders each year at the AAPD Leadership Awards Gala in Washington, DC. Application.
X. Job Postings This Week
Clerk-Recorder Services Manager, Contra Costa County, California — management position reports to the Assistant Clerk-Recorder in the Clerk-Recorder Division of the Clerk-Recorder-Elections Office and acts in the place of the Assistant Clerk-Recorder during his/her absence. This position is responsible for assisting the Assistant Clerk-Recorder in planning, organizing, directing, and managing the day-to-day activities of the Clerk-Recorder Division; the development, establishment, implementation, and evaluation of County Clerk and County Recorder policies and procedures according to California Codes, applicable laws, rules, procedures, court cases, regulations, and ordinances that affect the County Clerk and County Recorder functions in Contra Costa County. The ideal candidate will possess knowledge and understanding of the entire County Clerk and County Recorder processes, appropriate laws, codes and regulations, as well as working knowledge and understanding of the interrelationships of each of the sections of the Clerk-Recorder Division. These sections include County Clerk services, recording services, imaging/indexing, and archive/warehouse services. This position will supervise the Clerk-Recorder Division administrative and supervisory staff. Strong management and administrative skills are required, as the incumbent will have primary responsibility for the day-to-day direction and management of all Clerk-Recorder Division activities. Excellent interpersonal skills are required, as the incumbent will interface with staff on all levels, as well as county officials, news media, and the public. Salary: $80,618-$97,992. Deadline: Sept. 9. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
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.
Director of Communications, U.S. Election Assistance Commission, Silver Spring, Maryland — oversees the day-to-day operation and management of the Office of Communications, which is responsible for managing external affairs including media relations and outreach and communication with the election community (state and local election administrators), voting equipment manufacturers and the voting population to promote broad understanding and acceptance of EAC?s mission and programs. Reporting to the Executive Director, the Director of Communications will craft and implement a comprehensive strategy for engaging with a wide and varied audience to ensure that EAC is viewed as the primary source, disseminator, and conduit of information within the elections community and its constituent base. The incumbent will develop a strategic communications plan to align with EAC’s near-term strategy and fulfill the agency’s long-term goals. The successful candidate will have the ability to take knowledge and transform it into exciting and useful messages, and disseminate these messages to the right audiences through the best distribution channels. Success will be measured by the increased visibility of EAC across key stakeholder groups. This includes placement of key staff as speakers at high profile election events, mentions in key publications, outreach for assistance from election officials and congressional staff, and increased audience engagement measured by increased downloads of publications, and participation in EAC events. Salary: $108.887-$141,555. Deadline: Sept. 16. 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.