I. In Focus This Week
Necessity is the mother of invention
Elections bring out creative ideas to get voters registered and to the polls
By M. Mindy Moretti
With Election Day less than two months away and for many states, voter registration deadlines even closer, elections officials and advocacy groups are working hard to get voters registered and then to the polls.
This hard word often comes in the form of some creative ideas. This week, we’ll take a look at just a few of the many creative ways advocacy groups and elections offices are working this year to get out the vote.
A polling place on every corner
In Ada County, Idaho, the county elections office will be rolling out a “food truck” polling place for the first time this cycle to allow early voters to cast their ballots from a number of remote locations throughout the county.
According to Phil McGrane, chief deputy clerk, the initial idea for the mobile polling place came from the need for a back- up solution in the event of an emergency on Election Day.
“We had a lock down at a school for an hour a couple of years ago. It also happened to be a polling location. That forced us to think of back-up plans,” McGrane explained. “Once we got going, we began thinking about the other ways we could use our trailer. Now we are more focused on using it for early voting, with it as a back-up for Election Day.”
The county will be using the Hart InterCivic Verity precinct count system in the mobile polling place which is set to roll out in the coming weeks. Instead of a traditional food truck-style truck, the county’s mobile polling site will be a trailer towed by a truck.
“Initially that made the most sense. Having now seen it set up a traditional food truck might work just as well or better,” McGrane said. “The key is the combination of the trailer and the pop up tent that makes it all work.”
The county has largely relied upon end of the year savings over the past two years to make the project possible. The total cost for the full trailer to be fully equipped will be close to $60,000—a one-time expense. Operational costs will vary by election.
McGrane, said while it took some creative thinking to get the concept rolling, the elections office has ensured that they are in compliance with all of local statutes. They have also met with the secretary of state and local legislative leadership to ensure that everyone is aware of what they are doing.
Each early voting day, the mobile polling place, staffed with poll workers and a retired county director who has taken on responsibility for the mobile site will hit the streets and set up shop at some of the county’s largest employers. The county has also worked with the City of Boise to find an ideal location for the site.
“The great thing is that everyone has been really supportive of the idea,” McGrane said.
At the end of each early voting day, the trailer will return to the secure elections headquarters to ensure no has access to the ballot stock, voted ballots, or ballot scanners.
“In light of some of the issues covered nationally, we are also scheduling a penetration test with an IT security firm to test the security of the access to our voter rolls and voters registration system,” McGrane said. “One of the areas they will specifically be testing is access to anything in the trailer. It's something we've spent time addressing.”
McGrane is optimistic about the launch of the mobile voting site.
“So far the reaction has been very positive. …[W]e’ve received a few inquiries from areas even outside of Idaho,” McGrane said. “I'm hoping it will prove successful and be a model for more convenient voting in the future.
Sadly though, the Ada County mobile polling site will not be serving tacos.
“No tacos, just votes,” McGrane said. “Although, ‘Guac the Vote!’ was one of the recommended slogans to go on the trailer when we were testing design ideas.”
I want to ride my bicycle; I want to ride my bike
Denver offers drive-through ballot drop off and every election they get voters arriving by just about every mode of transportation—bikes, scooters, semis, motorcycles, fire engines, and even food trucks.
Denver B-cycle is the city’s bike sharing program that boasts thousands of members, 88 stations and 700 bikes throughout the city’s 10 central neighborhoods.
“Denver B-Cycle will provide free bike rides for voters on Election Day. Most of our Voter Service and Polling Centers offer drive-through ballot drop-off so we will have lots of voters driving, biking, trucking and scootering their ballots back to us,” said Alton Dillard, spokesman for Denver Elections. “The drive-throughs are very popular with Denver voters and we look forward to partnering with Denver B-Cycle on this effort.”
On the road again
What do Adele, Beyonce, and Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson all have in common?
All three are on tour this fall reaching out to thousands of young people.
Well, to be precise, it’s not actually Secretary Johnson, but it is staff from her office who are partaking in a 3,000-mile voter registration tour of college campuses throughout the state.
The secretary of state’s Mobile Office kicked off an 18-college campus tour on September 7 in an effort to get as many young people registered to vote by the October 11 deadline.
According to Christopher Thomas, director of elections for the secretary of state’s office Michigan is one of eight states that requires first time voters who register by mail to actually vote in person. The Mobile Branch Office — which is also used for other secretary of state services — solves that problem for college students.
“If students register by mail at their college using their home address, they may have a problem getting home on election day vote,” Thomas said. “No absentee is available to them. The Mobile Branch Office is considered an in person registration which allows the first time voter to vote absentee.”
The Mobile Branch Office, which needs a power source nearby to function, typically sets up near a high traffic area like a student union. The tour will visit 15 state colleges and universities and three private institutions.
Thomas said there is a registration goal in mind for the tour, which first kicked off in 2012, just to reach as many students as possible.
“We just want all students to know it is available and if necessary to take advantage of the registration service rather than registering by mail or with a third party registration drive, which is treated like mail,” Thomas said.
A lift to the polls
In Philadelphia and in Washington, D.C. ride sharing company Uber will be offering first-time riders a free lift to the polls — sorta.
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Uber gives first-time riders a free ride up to $10. An app, VoterDrive.US built by Audience Partners will help campaigns, issue groups and other get-out-the-vote groups target voters to get them to the polls.
"It is always exciting to see organizations utilize Uber's platform and products to help move people to the places they need to be," Uber spokesman Matthew Wing told The Inquirer.
This is not the first time that Uber has offered free rides to voters. In 2012 it offered free rides — up to $20 — to first-time users and in 2015 free rides (up to $15) were offered in certain Texas cities holding elections.
No word yet on whether or not Uber may expand the program for first-time voters nationwide this year like it did in 2012.
Grab a cuppa
This election season, Democracy Works is partnering with the ultimate on-the-go company Starbucks to encourage voters to get registered and to vote.
Part of The TurboVote Challenge — an effort to get 80 percent turnout — Starbucks has redesigned their coffee sleeves to encourage coffee and tea drinkers to get involved in the democratic process.
“Now more than ever we need to elevate citizenship above partisanship in America, and working to increase voter registration and participation will help more people recognize how much their voices matter,” said Starbucks chairman and chief executive officer Howard Schultz. “In partnership with like-minded organizations, and with the modern convenience of the TurboVote tool, helping to increase voter turnout at the local and national level is yet another meaningful way to use our scale for good.”
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
- Parking spaces can be down-right sacred ground in some parts of our country so it was no surprise when a suggestion was made that Summit County, Ohio elections staff give up their parking spaces for in-person early voting that a fight ensued. Under a proposal from Chair Bill Rich (D) all members of the board and staff would have to park off-site unless they have a disability. Off-site parking has been arranged, but it would require staff to walk several blocks including right past a strip club for some. A special meeting over the situation is set for next week.
- Officials in Lake County, Illinois are searching for a new polling place for residents in East Chicago after their polling site at the West Calumet Housing Complex was found to be contaminated with lead. The county is struggling to reach many of the voters who used the polling place because they lived in the housing complex and have since moved for safety reasons. The county is keeping those voters on the rolls because they consider this an emergency situation.
- California Secretary of State Alex Padilla has told local elections officials that they do not need to change their auditing procedures to include mail-in ballots or provisional ballots. The “Secretary of State’s position is that neither provisional ballots nor all vote-by-mail ballots are required to be included in the one percent manual tally,” Chief Counsel Steven Reyes wrote in a September 15 letter to elections officials.
- Dane County, Wisconsin is teaming up with the University of Wisconsin-Madison this election to study the impacts the state’s voter ID law has on voters. According to the Wisconsin State Journal, the County Board approved a contract to provide the university with most of the funds needed for the $44,000 study, which will focus in particular on how minority and student voters could be affected. Emails, phone calls and mailed surveys will be targeted at voters in Dane and Milwaukee counties who didn’t vote in the Nov. 8 election. “This study will move us past speculation and into hard facts,” Sup. Jeff Pertl, the lead sponsor of the study, said. “We need to know if and how voter ID is having an impact, so we can ensure every eligible voter has a chance to cast a ballot.”
- Oy vey…This week, for the first time, the New York City Board of Elections make voter registration forms available in Yiddish however, according to some voters, the forms are fill with errors causing confusion for non-English speakers. According to the 2000 Census, there are 113,515 Yiddish speakers in New York state, comprising 63 percent of all Yiddish speakers in the country. The BOE has yet to respond to the complaints about bad translation.
- Personnel News: Toba Perez-Wright, who was Bandera County, Texas’ first and only election administrator has resigned. Dana Moeller, a records management clerk in the clerk’s office has been tapped to fill the position in the interim.
In Memoriam: Gene Raynor, former head of the Maryland Administrative Board of Elections Laws and Baltimore City election administrator died this week. He was 80.
Raynor began his elections career as a part-time elections clerk at the Baltimore City Board of Elections Supervisors when he was 18. In 1970 he was appointed deputy city elections administrator and in 1979 took the top spot in the office.
In 1987 he was appointed to the statewide position where he served until 1997 when he retired. He briefly got back into the elections business in 2006 when he was once again hired by the city of Baltimore to run its elections. He held that position for less than year before retiring again.
"It's hard to imagine an election in Baltimore without Gene Raynor," Maryland Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski told The Baltimore Sun. "From the time he was a young man working as a clerk to being chief of Maryland's election board, Gene was a fixture and a font of information on all things Maryland elections.
IV. Legislative Updates
Federal Legislation: Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Georgia) has introduced two bills that would help secure the nation’s voting system. The Election Infrastructure and Security Promotion Act of 2016 would require the Dept. of Homeland Security to designate voting systems as critical infrastructure. The Election Integrity Act would require all new voting systems to include a paper trail.
Florida: Supporters of an effort to restore the voting rights to ex-felons gathered almost 71,000 signatures from registered voters to force the issue onto the ballot. The amendment would allow most convicted felons to have their voting rights automatically restored after they have completed their prison sentences and probation. Felons convicted of murder or a sexual offense would not be eligible.
Michigan: Rep. Jon Hoadley (D-Kalamazoo) is urging the legislature to formally undo its ban of on straight-ticket-voting.
New Jersey: Democrats put off an attempt to override Gov. Chris Christie’s (R) veto of automatic voter registration legislation when it was discovered that there weren’t enough supportive legislators in the Assembly on the day of the planned vote. Assemblyman Craig Coughlin (D-Middlesex) said the effort will be revisited at a later date.
V. Legal Updates
Georgia: U.S. District Court Judge William S. Duffey, Jr. has ordered Secretary of State Brian Kemp to release more detailed public records about the state decides to reject applications trying to register to vote. Duffey said the “threatened injury” over block the release of the information outweighs the harm to the state.
Kansas: Shawnee County District Judge Larry Hendricks said this week that his previous ruling requiring counties to count the ballots from those who have not proven their citizenship stands for the November election as well.
Nevada: Federal Judge Miranda Du will hear arguments on October 4 in the lawsuit filed by two Paiute tribes in Nevada that are suing Washoe and Mineral counties alleging that the counties violated the Voting Rights Act by disenfranchising a protected group.
Texas: U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos has ordered that Texas state officials being allowing federal officials to review drafts of voter outreach and education materials on the state’s new voter ID law, before they are published.
Utah: U.S. District Judge Jill Parish said this week that she will likely rule soon on whether or not San Juan County must take additional steps to ensure that Navajo voters have the same access to polling places that other residents do. The Navajo Human Rights Commission and residents of the Navajo Nation in San Juan County sued in February, saying the county had violated the federal Voting Rights Act by closing polling places and moving toward a mail-only voting system, hindering Navajos' access to the ballot box.
Virginia: In a unanimous one-page order, the Supreme Court of Virginia said that it would not force Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) to return to court to prove that he was complying with a previous court order when restoring the voting rights to ex-felons.
Also in Virginia, a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments regarding the state’s voter ID law.
VI. Tech Thursday
Arkansas: The Arkansas Secretary of State’s office, in partnership with the Information Network of Arkansas (INA), today released a new way for Arkansans to keep up with key dates and information for the November general election. By downloading Gov2Go, citizens can receive voting information personalized to their district through the digital personal assistant platform.
Iowa: The Iowa secretary of state’s office has teamed up with TurboVote to create the MyIowaVote website in an effort to reach out to the unregistered voters on the state’s 38 college campuses. “One of the most powerful features of the MyIowavote is the ability of a person to opt in to a series of reminders to vote,” Pate said. “So once you’re in, it will remind you that you have a school board election, you have a county election, and it will tell you where to go vote and give you the polling sites and the polling hours.”
Also in Iowa, Clinton County launched a new voter app to help residents find their polling places on Election Day as well as other information pertinent to the election. The county partnered with Evil Twin Software to create WhereUVoteIA. “My office staff and I have recognized a growing number of calls from voters during the last couple of years asking where they vote,” Clinton County Auditor Eric Van Lancker told the Clinton Herald. “We’ve been trying to come up with a solution to reach today’s voters and this opportunity from Evil Twin Software recently presented itself.”
Pennsylvania: Since its launch a year ago, the state’s register.votesPA.com has had 500,000 people either register to vote for the first time or update their existing voter registration information. According to the state, 58 percent of those users were new voters registering for the first time and the remaining 42 percent were existing voters updating their information.
VII. Opinions This Week
Alabama: Poll watchers
Arizona: County election officials
Michigan: Straight-ticket voting
Minnesota: Absentee voting
Mississippi: Y’all Vote
New Jersey: Vote-by-mail
New York: Polling places
North Dakota: Voter ID
Rhode Island: Election dysfunction
Tennessee: Election disputes
Virginia: Ex-felon voting rights
EAC Election Worker Best Practices Competition
This week the U.S. Election Assistance Commission announced the winners of its Election Worker Best Practices Competition. The national contest sought to identify and honor the best poll worker management practices from around the country. Election officials submitted their best practices in the form of videos, websites, training guides, and narratives to the EAC. The EAC then facilitated a review process in which a group of seven state and local election officials judged the entries based on five criteria: (1) innovativeness, (2) effectiveness, (3) sustainability, (4) cost effectiveness, and (5) potential for replication.
The winners of the EAC Election Worker Best Practices Competition are:
Champions of Democracy (Franklin County, Ohio): an innovative campaign that recruits and trains poll workers at local businesses.
Election Official Resource Portal (New Hanover County, North Carolina): an online portal that provides an up-to-date centralized clearinghouse of poll worker duties and responsibilities.
Practice Makes Perfect Lab (Brevard County, Florida): a cutting edge and replicable hands-on and self-paced training program that has trained over 1,700 poll workers.
The Precinct Performance Report (Montgomery County Maryland): a pragmatic assessment and adjustment program where the performance of individual precincts is used to shape the following year’s trainings and resource allocation.
Youth at the Booth (YATB) and Partners in Democracy (Hamilton County, Ohio): YATB is an initiative that pairs young and old poll workers together to create a comprehensive staff of poll workers. Partners in Democracy is an initiative that encourages businesses and agencies to give their employees a “day off for democracy” where they may work as poll workers.
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.
IX. 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.
X. 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.
Director of Operations, West, Western United States — Dominion Voting Systems is looking for a talented and passionate Director of Operations, West to join our team! This position can be based in either Northern California or Nevada and will work remotely. This position will direct the day-to-day operations in the Western United States for Dominion Voting in order to meet and exceed business objectives for growth and profitability. This position will formulate and enact policies and strategies; work with leadership to set and achieve goals; forecast, set and manage budgets; hire, mentor and manage staff; and establish and maintain professional and positive business relationships with our customers. 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.
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.
Product Specialist, Toronto, Ontario — Dominion Voting Systems is seeking a tech-savvy and passionate, Product Specialist, to be based in our downtown Toronto, Ontario 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.
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.