I. In Focus This Week
ERIC states preparing voter rolls ahead of Election Day
With possible record turnout pre-election work should smooth process
By Alexis Schuler and Samuel Derheimer
The Pew Charitable Trusts
The Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), a sophisticated data matching center for state election officials, began with seven states in 2012. Today, ERIC has grown to 20 states plus the District of Columbia, covering over 75 million eligible American voters.
With the election less than two weeks away, and with ERIC member states encompassing about a third of the nation’s eligible voting population, we’ll soon be able to assess the growing impact of the states’ efforts to improve voter registration.
States participating in ERIC are updating their rolls of outdated records and providing information to eligible voters about how to register or update their registration earlier in the election cycle. Since the last presidential election, ERIC states have identified a number of voter records that are likely to require an update or cancellation, including more than 4.5 million voters who have moved but haven’t updated their records; more than 75,000 duplicate records; and more than 160,000 deceased individuals still on the rolls.
Additionally, by cross-referencing state voter rolls against other official government data sources, such as motor vehicle records, ERIC members have identified over 25 million individuals who have proved their identity but haven’t yet registered to vote. Through ERIC, the states are able to contact these eligible but unregistered citizens and educate them on the most efficient and secure method to register. With the recent addition to ERIC of populous states such as Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, more than 10 million eligible citizens were contacted in 2016 alone.
“For us, ERIC is the outreach piece that we didn’t have before,” said Angie Rogers, Louisiana’s commissioner of elections.
Prior to ERIC, election officials were largely limited to reacting to registration activity driven by campaigns and advocacy groups. Now, with more data and the tools to detect and contact new voters and those whose records may be outdated, election officials in ERIC states can be proactive in their approach to voter roll maintenance.
“ERIC has allowed us to contact voters who are now living in another state and get their permission to remove them from the Delaware rolls,” noted Elaine Manlove, Delaware’s election commissioner. “It has also made a dramatic difference in the quality of our in-state addresses.”
Independent researchers found that ERIC states outperformed non-ERIC states on several key metrics of election administration, including voter registration rates; turnout rates; and the number of provisional ballots issued and rejected.
Gary Poser, Minnesota’s director of elections, cited ERIC’s potential to reduce the number of Election Day registrations in his state as a primary benefit. By reaching out to eligible citizens earlier in the year, Minnesota has been able to target voters—whether new or in need of an update to their existing records—and start their registration process sooner, which should result in fewer delays and shorter lines at the polls on Election Day.
The Pew Charitable Trusts partnered with state and local election officials, academics, and technology experts to help design and build ERIC and facilitate its launch. Since its initial incorporation in 2012, the center has been owned, managed, and funded by its state members.
Over the past two years, Pew has offered grants to all new ERIC member states to help defray the cost of initial outreach to their eligible but unregistered populations. Pew has been thrilled to see the center’s rapid expansion—in both members and services provided—and looks forward to evaluating ERIC’s impact on state preparedness for the 2016 presidential election.
Alexis Schuler is senior director and Samuel Derheimer is senior manager of election initiatives for The Pew Charitable Trusts.
II. Electionline Underwriting
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III. Early Voting Updates
With Election 2016 just about 10 days away, millions of Americans have already cast their vote either through early voting, absentee voting or vote-by-mail. What this says about Election Day turnout is anyone’s guess, but early voting is giving us a bit of foreshadowing to some of the issues that voters and elections officials could face on November 8.
This is just a snapshot of some of the issues that have cropped up since early voting began. We also hope you enjoy the snapshots of some of our favorite future voters rocking their “I Voted” stickers.
Early voting began in the Sunshine State on Monday, although a record-breaking number of voters were already casting their ballots at home. There were reports of long lines in some areas, but relatively few reports of problems.
Polk County did report a larger-than-normal call volume to the supervisor of elections office on Monday which actually caused delays for some callers to get through.
An early voting site in Volusia County had to be moved when elevators in the historic courthouse stopped working and therefore the site became inaccessible.
Early voting kicked this week and while it was relatively smooth, like many other places there were large crowds at some voting centers.
In Jefferson Parish, voting turned into a two- to three-hour ordeal for some voters in Kenner when an Internet outage slowed the voting process.
And like in other states, some voters complained of issues with voting machines, but registrars in several parishes reported that there were no issues with the equipment.
Early voting kicked off for the very first time in Massachusetts, and so far, voters have embraced the opportunity. There have been no reports of problems, although our former colleague Dan Seligson was a bit concerned to discover the City of Arlington is using a recycling bin to store the cast paper ballots.
One early voting site in Springfield did run out of ballots on Tuesday and although additional ballots were delivered, voters were delayed about 15 to 20 minutes.
Like most other states offering early voting, North Carolina has seen great enthusiasm for the process which has translated into long lines.
Also like some other jurisdictions, there have been some claims of voting machines flipping choices. Elections officials have warned that some of the machines are very sensitive and large and/or sticky fingers could be at fault.
A formal complaint was filed in New Hanover County over a voting machine that voters Barbara Highsmith claims twice flipped her choice.
Mecklenburg County was forced to pull malfunctioning machines out of at least one polling place.
In Granville County, an early voting site at Tar River Elementary was left unlocked over the weekend. Elections director Tonya Burnette said election officials and representatives from both political parties met at the site Sunday to double-check completed ballots and make sure no one had tampered with equipment or ballots. They found no evidence of any problems.
And we’ve had our first reported polling place altercation of the general election, this one between two public figures in Surry County.
Tennessee counties are seeing early voting in record numbers and while there have been crowds, there have been relatively few issues with the process.
The Shelby County election commission voted unanimously to open the county’s 21 early voting sites an hour earlier each day beginning on Thursday in order to accommodate everyone.
The biggest issue that seems to have cropped up is the dreaded ballot selfie.
Stars are people too and they vote! Early voters in Shelby County were excited to encounter Justin Timberlake when casting their ballots this week. Timberlake took to Twitter and posted “I just flew from LA to Memphis to #rockthevote” along with a ballot selfie, which, by the way are technically illegal in Tennessee. Initially the Shelby County DA’s office indicated that it would investigate, but then retracted that statement. The selfie has since been removed from social media.
Early voting kicked off with huge numbers and long lines in the Lone Star State this week. Several counties, including Travis, Williamson and Harris reported record-breaking numbers on day one. Turnout has been so big in Fort Bend County that early voting hours will be extended on Thursday and Friday.
Electronic voting machines in Denton and Nueces counties each experienced some first-day slowdowns, which in turn slowed the overall process, but those problems were resolved. Hays County also had some voting machine issues which turned out to be a faulty cable.
And in what is sure to be foreshadowing to Election Day, some voters took to social media claiming that voting machines had flipped their choices. The claim had elections officials in may counties including Tarrant, Lubbock, Jefferson, Brazos, and Potter counties issuing statements about the integrity of the voting machines.
On the voter ID front, there have been some reports of confusion at the polls. For instance, in Bexar County, old posters were in more than a dozen polling places providing the wrong information about what ID is acceptable. There have also been reports of poll workers not providing the correct information.
IV. Election News This Week
Although the U.S. Department of Justice will be sending out fewer elections observers this presidential election, that doesn’t mean they will be absent from the process and this week the Department detailed its plans for November 8. The civil rights division will have a toll-free number for people to report voting problems, as well as an email address and a link on the Department’s website. There will be some monitors at polling places and a group of attorneys will be at the read in the Department’s Washington headquarters. The department will also work with the FBI on election day to field complaints of voter fraud and 94 U.S. Attorney's Offices will be available to enforce election fraud laws.
A coalition of 17 groups in Iowa, including the NAACP, the League of Women Voters and the ACLU announced a set of recommendations that would change state’s laws and the constitution to allow ex-felons to have their voting rights automatically restored upon completion of the terms of their sentence. “(The governor’s) interpretation is inconsistent with all sorts of legal precedent,” said Rita Bettis, legal director for the ACLU of Iowa. “It also, obviously, imposes what is in effect a poll tax. For most people who are coming out (of prison) with criminal convictions looking to rebuild their lives, their struggles are immense already in order to find jobs and housing and be able to participate as citizens in their community. We need to make that process easier, not harder.
Following last week’s court ruling requiring Nevada to provide early voting and Election Day polling locations on two rural reservations, nine more tribes have made similar requests to Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske. According to the Reno Gazette Journal, the Reno Sparks Indian Colony in Washoe County, the Yerington Paiutes in Lyon County, three tribes in Elko County, one in Humboldt County, one in Churchill County, one in Nye County and one in Clark County sent a letter to Cegavske’s office through the Inter-Tribal Council of Nevada. Citing logistical issues and proximity to Election Day, Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske’s office denied the request.
The Rockingham County, North Carolina Board of Elections and the county’s animal shelter are teaming up to turnout out the vote and encourage pet adoption. Anyone looking to adopt an animal from the shelter who shows their “I Voted” sticker will get $10 off adoption fees. "I was trying to think of an idea, a campaign that we could do to promote voting and to promote the adoption of rescue animals," said Tina Cardwell, elections director. “I Voted” stickers and pet adoption?! Electionline and Maisey the elections dog approve of this program!
Back in school, we could never properly fold our notes to pass in class so it’s probably a good thing that we aren’t a San Francisco voter. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the San Francisco elections office has produced a video showing voters how to fold their vote-by-mail ballot in order to streamline the process once it arrives for counting. “The Department of Elections uses a mail sorter and a ballot opener to maximize efficiency of several ballot processing steps,” John Arntz, said in a statement. “If a voter folds all the ballot cards together before inserting them into the return envelope, the envelope becomes very thick and can jam the equipment, slowing the process.”
Let them cake! This story is a bit more political than we usually post, but it’s about CAKE. National Public Radio’s The Salt program has an interesting story about the history of election cake. Originally called Muster cake, election cake is a “dense, naturally leavened, boozy fruit and spice cake…” We think that’s a pretty good description of the 2016 election cycle in general.
Personnel News: Debbie Rauers of the Chatham County, Georgia Board of Elections has been censured by fellow members of the board for remarks she recently made about paying poll workers.
V. Legislative Updates
North Dakota: Secretary of State Al Jaeger has said that he will seek funding from the Legislature in 2017 to purchase new voting equipment for the state. "There will be a bill introduced as an agency bill," Jaeger told Prairie Public News. "Along with the counties, we will educate legislators as to its need, and how important it is."
Ohio: Rep. Niraj Antani (R-Miamisburg) and Rep. Mike Duffey (R-Westerville) have introduced House Bill 609 that would make ballot selfies legal in the Buckeye State. Secretary of State Jon Husted supports the idea. “This law was written before the age of selfies and social media, so it’s clear lawmakers did not intend to limit anyone’s free speech, but instead protect voters from intimidation,” Husted spokesman Josh Eck said in a statement. “The secretary does not believe posting a photo of your vote on social media is a problem and would not have an issue with the Legislature making that clarification in law. He does still recommend boards of elections consult their county prosecutor in the meantime as they would be responsible for enforcing the statute as it currently reads.”
South Carolina: Lawmakers in the Palmetto State have said that they will once again file early voting legislation when the new session begins in 2017. "I'm a strong supporter of early voting simply because it allows citizens to participate in the process as conveniently as possible. We ought not, in my opinion, be putting barriers to voting,” Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter (D-Orangeburg) told WLTX. “To be an industrialized country, we have some of the lowest voter participation rates in the world. We ought to all be working to try to improve that. Early voting, in my view, works toward that end."
VI. Legal Updates
Arizona: The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of appeals heard arguments this week over whether or not elections officials should count out-of-precinct provisional ballots. Plaintiffs argue that not counting the ballots affects minorities more often than white voters.
Colorado: State Sen. Owen Hill (R-Colorado Springs) and a University of Denver student have filed suit in federal court arguing that Colorado’s ban on ballot selfies violates their First Amendment rights. "And while exercising free speech, they now have to be worried about being prosecuted for participating in the political process or for encouraging discussion on the important civic choices facing our state," Hill told The Gazette. "We need to stand alongside all Colorado voters by fighting for this reform."
Florida: U.S. District Judge Mark Walker said that there is no evidence that state elections officials are intentionally moving slowing in verifying some of the 64,000 additional voter applications received during the extended deadline. He rejected the Florida Democratic Party’s request to allow people to cast a ballot during early voting even if their registration hasn’t been verified.
Also in Florida, NORML of Florida has sued the Broward County supervisor of elections office because some mail-in ballots did not include a question about a state constitutional amendment on allowing medical marijuana.
Michigan: Michiganders, get those duck faces ready! U.S. District Judge Janet Neff has ruled that the state’s prohibition of ballot selfies violates the First Amendment. “The Court agrees with the Plaintiff that the interests in the integrity of the electoral process can be secured in a more reasonable manner than the blanket prohibition on citizens' photography,” Neff ruled. Well, maybe not so fast. The state is appealing the ruling.
Missouri: St. Louis County prosecutors are investigating allegations of voter fraud in Berkeley. The allegations claim that the mayor and his supporters may have illegally interfered with the absentee ballot process.
New Mexico. The New Mexico Supreme Court heard arguments this week in a suit that says the state law prohibiting unaffiliated voters from voting in primaries violates the state constitution. “Nowhere in the Constitution is membership in a political party a requirement for voters in the state of New Mexico,” lawyer, J. Edward Hollington, told the court. According to the lawsuit, nearly 60 percent of legislative, county-level and judicial races were decided in that primary because there were no general election contests for those offices.
Ohio: The Ohio Democratic Party and homeless advocates have filed an emergency motion with the U.S. Supreme Court seeking to change state election laws that affect homeless voters. According to the Columbus Dispatch, Justice Elena Kagan to stop Secretary of State Jon Husted from carrying out a pair of 2014 statutes requiring Ohioans to accurately complete five fields of information — name, address, date of birth, signature and partial Social Security number — on requests for absentee or provisional ballots. If a mistake is made, the ballot is thrown out even if elections officials can identify the voter as eligible. The groups won in federal district court and largely lost in the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Sept. 13.
Virginia: On Thursday, U.S. District Court Judge Claude M. Hamilton ordered that the Virginia voter registration rolls be reopened with a new deadline of 11:59pm on Friday. The ruling was the result of a suit brought after the state’s online voter registration crashed on the original voter registration deadline.
West Virginia: The American Civil Liberties Union and the National Voting Rights Project have filed a class-action lawsuit against Cabell County Clerk Karen Cole for refusing to recognize and permit online voter registration in the county. “Since Karen Cole has refused to process all of these registrations automatically like all of the other county clerks are doing, we don’t know how many people this could affect,” said Jamie Lyn Crofts, ACLU-WV legal director. “Thousands of people have been using this online system and we are very worried that people don’t know that they are going to have to complete this extra step ... Many people could be disenfranchised on Election Day because of it.” Chief U.S. District Judge Robert Chambers agreed with the ACLU this week and ordered Cole to accept and process the online voter registrations.
VII. Tech Thursday
National Tech: BallotReady.org is a nonpartisan online voter guide to every candidate and referendum on the ballot. We have background information on candidates including stances on issues, previous experience, endorsements and bar association evaluations. We have voter guides up for 10 states: Illinois, California, Virginia, Colorado, Arizona, Hawaii, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, and Massachusetts.
California: The Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk’s office will be using geospatial technologies and Snapchat to improve elections operations and promote turnout. According to SCVNews, the office is implementing a mobile app called Workforce for ArcGIS, from geospatial enterprise software corporation ESRI to make the process of troubleshooting work more efficiently. “This mobile app will allow our department to track the real-time location of troubleshooters using an interactive web-based map,” said Jeramy Gray, Assistant Registrar-Recorder County Clerk, for Information Technology. “Each polling place and troubleshooter will be geotagged giving the dispatcher the ability to quickly dispatch the nearest troubleshooter to the polling place.”
Rhode Island: More than 12,500 Rhode Island residents who used the upgraded DMV computer system to update their voter information or register for the first time were inadvertently categorized as “unaffiliated.” According to the Providence Journal, The state Department of Revenue director, Robert S. Hull, who oversees the DMV, said Friday that the DMV "was made aware" of the problem midweek, and is "working diligently with the secretary of state’s office and our vendor — SAFRAN MorphoTrust USA — to make sure that all voter registration information received through the DMV is accurate and up to date.”
Texas: Hidalgo County has recently updated its website in order to comply with the Voting Rights Act. The county was one of 37 to receive a letter from MALDEF alleging that it needed to provide the site in Spanish as well as English. While the Spanish was there, it was difficult to find. “We had no idea,” said Hilda Salinas, election analyst with the county. “When we received the letter, we immediately added the necessary links to make the information more readily available and easier to find.”
VIII. Opinions This Week
National Opinion: Bush v. Gore; Voter ID |Voter fraud, II, III | Rigged election, II |Good news on voting | Voting system | Automatic voter registration | Ballot bullies | Vote-by-mail | Improving elections | Vote-by-mail
Alabama: Rigged election
Alaska: PFD registration
Illinois: Logan County
Indiana: Voter fraud
Kentucky: Election integrity
Louisiana: Voter fraud
Minnesota: Voting system
Mississippi: Ballot security
Montana: Secretary of state race
New Hampshire: Confidence in voting system
New Mexico: Secretary of state race
Rhode Island: Voter ID
U.S. Virgin Islands: Ballot do-over
Utah: No excuses
Washington: Secretary of state race
West Virginia: Secretary of state race
Wisconsin: Voter fraud
IX. Upcoming Events
NSCL StateVote Post-Election Briefing —Join the National Conference of State Legislature elections analysts and national political experts for a post-election discussion about what the outcome will mean for the states. The briefing will feature sessions on: State Election Analysis: Trends and Outcomes; 2016 Elections in Perspective; The State Agenda for 2017; Changes on the Hill: What it Means for States; and The U.S. Supreme Court: Outlook and Analysis. This event is being presented in cooperation with The Hill. When: November 14 1-5 p.m. Where: National Press Club, Washington, D.C. For more information and to register, click here.
IaoGO 2017 Mid-Winter Conference —join the International Association of Government Officials at their mid-winter conference with the theme of Success Through Education. A tentative agenda can be found here. When: January 8-11, 2017. Where: Tucson, Arizona. For more information and to register, click here.
NASS 2017 Winter Conference — Mark your calendars now and stay tuned for more information and registration details on the National Association of Secretaries of State 2017 Winter Conference. When: February 15-18, 2017. Where: Washington, D.C.
NASED 2017 Winter Meeting — Mark your calendars now and stay tuned for more information and registration details on the National Association of State Election Directors 2017 Winter Meeting. When: February 15-18, 2017. Where: Washington, D.C.
IaoGO 2017 Annual Conference — Mark your calendars now and stay tuned for more information and registration details on the International Association of Government Officials 2017 Annual Conference. When: July 6-13, 2017. Where: Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin.
NASS 2017 Summer Conference — Mark your calendars now and stay tuned for more information and registration details on the National Association of Secretaries of State 2017 Summer Conference. When: July 7-10, 2017. Where: Indianapolis, Indiana.
NASED 2017 Summer Meeting — Mark your calendars now and stay tuned for more information and registration details on the National Association of State Election Directors 2017 Summer Meeting. When: August 22-25, 2017. Where: Anaheim, California.
X. Job Postings This Week
Ballot Production Services Consultant, Hart InterCivic — BPS Consultants at Hart work with our customers to design ballots and to provide printed ballots and voting media for customers. This is a customer-service position, and applicants must have exceptional customer service skills. This is a part-time hourly positon with opportunities for overtime pay during peak periods. This is not a replacement position, but a net new position at Hart. This is an ideal position for someone who wants to work varying hours, depending on the calendar. Preference is for this position to be Austin-based, but that is open to negotiation. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, please 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 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.
Elections & Special Districts Director, Cochise County, Arizona — under general direction of the County Administrator, provides professional level project planning in all functions related to the conduct of voting and election activities for the County. Under limited supervision, perform work of considerable difficulty to plan, organize, coordinate, direct and control all activities of the Elections & Special Districts Department in compliance with statutory and regulatory federal and state requirements. Prepare and manage the annual fiscal budget for the department, develop long-range plans and anticipates/identifies long-term organizational needs. Sound judgment and considerable communication and interpersonal skills are required in this position. Salary: $60,000-$90,000. 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.
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.