I. In Focus This Week
You’ve got mail!
Electionmail: Be part of the solution!
By Tammy Patrick
Bipartisan Policy Center
2016 saw more voters using the United States Postal Service to either receive their ballot, return their ballot, or both, than in any other election cycle.
The establishment of www.electionmail.org helped to identify some common issues that we will continue to work on in 2017 and beyond — and you can help!
USPS will be revisiting electionmail specifications and is seeking information on envelope designs and requirements to inform this decision-making process. Please consider these 5 easy actions:
1. AUTOMATION COMPATIBILITY: USPS needs samples to run through automation testing to see how they react with flexibility, sizes, etc. (A sort of L&A on their equipment if you will.)
Send 10 examples of ballot packets (outbound with the return materials included, just like you would if you were sending it to a voter) along with documentation that it was approved by a USPS Mailpiece Design Specialist (if applicable) to:
US Postal Service
Attn: Election Mail Program Manager
PO Box 23282
Washington, DC 20026-3282
4. ELECTIONMAIL.ORG: Did you use www.electionmail.org to report a problem? If so, please complete our survey located on the site so we can improve the service.
(Tammy Patrick is a fellow at the Bipartisan Policy Center. Her work focuses on the recommendations of the Presidential Commission on Election Administration, to which she was appointed by President Barack Obama in 2013 and served as a commissioner. Prior to that she worked for 11 years as a federal compliance officer in Maricopa County. Patrick serves on the steering committee for National Voter Registration Day and the board of advisors for the Center for Technology in Civic Life.)
II. Election News This Week
Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft is at odds with Gov. Eric Greitens over how much it should cost to implement the state’s new voter ID law. Greitens included $300,000 for implementation in the budget which would include $100,000 for advertising, paying for free IDs and covering the cost of getting personal records for those IDs. Ashcroft estimated that will cost between $1.1 million and $1.5 million to accomplish an effective roll out before the August elections. "We would suggest that we would need more to do the best job we can," Ashcroft told the St. Louis Dispatch.
Residents of Anchorage, Alaska are going to have a wait just a bit longer for their first all-mail election. Although the Anchorage Assembly approved legislation to move to vote-by-mail beginning in 2017, local elections officials said they still need new equipment in order to make that possible. “We recognized that this was a really challenging, big project and we anticipated that we might have setbacks along the way,” Deputy municipal clerk Amanda Moser told KTVA. “And so although we were really cautiously optimistic that we’d be able to go forward with an April 2017 vote by mail election, we are excited to move forward after that with vote by mail and we just really want to make sure that we have everything in place to have a successful election.”
Vermont has been forced to pause the roll out of automatic voter registration after problems with the implementation lead to some ineligible residents being added to the voter rolls. A release from Secretary of State Jim Condos’ office said the Department of Motor Vehicles shared more data than it was supposed to with elections officials during the first 18 days of the roll out. “We immediately pulled the plug and froze the system so that it would not accept any more, and then at the same time we canceled any pending registrations until we could clear this up,” Condos told Vermont Public Radio.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly indicated this week that the administration will leave the “critical” designation for the nation’s election infrastructure. “I believe we should help all of the states to make sure their systems are protected, so I would argue we should keep that in place,” Secretary John Kelly said during testimony before the House Homeland Security Committee in response to questioning from Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.).
Former Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander has been joined by four members of former President Barack Obama’s staff to create a new national organization called Let America Vote. According to the Kansas City Star, Kander’s new group filed with the Federal Election Commission on Monday. Kander told the paper that new laws meant to restrict voting have cropped up at state legislatures around the country since the election and that his organization “will be there to expose the motivations of those efforts.”
A new elections political action committee called Equality Rules also launched recently. The nonpartisan PAC is dedicated to protecting voting rights and will support candidates and legislation across the country that advance equal voting rights -- and oppose those who don’t.
Another county elections department has gotten the “Scandal” treatment. Back in 2012 Defiance County, Ohio was at the center of a voter fraud storyline on the popular ABC drama and this year it’s San Benito County, California, although this time there’s no voting scandal. In the episode, San Benito is the swing county in the now swing state of California. “In the first eight minutes of the first show of the season, we were mentioned 10 times,” said Assistant County Clerk-Recorder-Registrar of Voters Angela Curro told the Free Lance. The county elections department tweeted out a news release related to the show, reminding residents that it’s fictional. “This just goes to show you that even in a fictional TV show that anybody, any little county, could be the one to make the difference,” Curro told the paper. “Get out there and make a difference. Every vote counts.”
Personnel News: David Beirne is officially the new director of FVAP. He previously served as the acting director and the director of voting assistance. Highland County, Ohio poll worker and part-time election board clerk Nancy Shaffer was recently honored by Secretary of State Jon Husted. William VanNess has been appointed the Warren County, New York Republican election commissioner. DuPage County, Illinois election commission Executive Director Robert Saar is set to retire on March 14. Wes Wagner, Jefferson County, Missouri clerk since 2007 is resigning effective Feb. 28. Russel Jack has been sworn in as the St. John Parish, Louisiana registrar. He is the first registrar sworn in since voters amended the state constitution to set stricter standards for the job. Rick Knobe and Carri Crum have been appointed to the South Dakota board of elections. Ohio State Rep. Dorothy Pelanda is expected to announce her candidacy for secretary of state. Shawn Young has been sworn in as Coffee County, Alabama voter registrar.
III. Research and Report Summaries
Election Integrity: A Pro-Voter Agenda – Myrna Pérez, The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law, Feb. 1, 2017: This report focuses on ways to improve the integrity of elections. Several of the recommendations include:
- Modernizing voter registration by states allowing online voter registration and shifting to automatic voter registration.
- Ensuring the security of voting machines by requiring post-election audits an providing funding to replace aging technology.
- Increasing the security of mail-in ballots by using best practices for signature verification.
IV. Legislative Updates
Federal Legislation: The House Administration Committee voted 6-3 in support of a bill from Rep. Gregg Harper (R-Miss.) that would eliminate the United States Election Assistance Commission.
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has forwarded bipartisan legislation that would save the U.S. Postal Service from financial ruin. While much of the bill centers around internal cost savings and procedures, the bill would not eliminate Saturday delivery, would raise the of a stamp one-cent and would allow for cluster box delivery for homes where 40 percent of the residents agree.
Alaska: House Bill 7, sponsored by State Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins (D-Sitka) would make posting ballot selfies legal in Alaska.
Arkansas: Republicans have filed Senate Joint Resolution 6 which would refer a constitutional amendment to the voters that if approved would require voters to show a photo ID in order to vote.
Florida: Under HB 409, election supervisors would be required to send text messages to voters on the first day of early voting as well as on Election Day. The messages will alert voters to polling hours and locations.
Mississippi: The full House approved House Bill 373, which would authorize online voter registration for those with a valid driver’s license. The House also approved House Bill 1054 to create a group to study a system to restore voting rights for people convicted of nonviolent felonies.
Montana: According to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, top Republican leaders asked state Rep. Geraldine Custer not to introduce a bill to make the coming special election by mail ballot only.
Nevada: Three senators have joined forces to introduce Senate Bill 100 which would require county clerks to establish a system whereby voters could choose to make showing their photo ID a requirement before voting. Voters could opt in or out of the system.
Also in Nevada, Assembly Bill 45 would add requirements to groups involved in voter registration and petition drives such allowing the secretary of state’s office to adopt regulations that determine qualifications for these groups such as training.
New York: Attorney General Eric Schniderman has introduced the New York Votes Act which includes provisions for automatic voter registration, same day registration and early voting in the Empire State. “Any law that makes it easier to vote is a good law; any law that makes it harder to vote is a bad law,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “New York has long been a bastion of democracy, but our state’s current system of registration and voting is an affront to that legacy.”
North Dakota: By a 74-16 vote, the House approved legislation that would require voters to show a photo ID in order to cast a ballot. The new legislation would do away with the affidavit option that had been available during previous elections.
Oregon: Secretary of State Dennis Richardson (R) is proposing that the secretary of state’s office become a nonpartisan position. Although legislation has yet to be introduced, Richardson met with legislators this week and said making the secretary of state’s office nonpartisan would boost confidence in the office.
Utah: A House committee has approved HB230 which would require counties to pay return postage on absentee ballots when conducting a vote-by-mail election.
Also in committee, lawmakers have decided to delay making any decisions on a proposed automatic voter registration bill.
The House Government Operations Committee also approved a bill that would create a statewide presidential primary.
Virginia: The General Assembly is considering three bills directly related to the special election in Lynchburg earlier this year. SB 1552 and HB 2415 would only order registrars to use historical data, including voter turnout, to make that decision, information many registrars have said they generally consider. In addition, SB 1571, sponsored by Peake, would order electoral boards to meet regardless of any federal holiday. The bill also would require local electoral boards to certify special elections before counting provisional ballots unless the total of outstanding provisional ballots would not change who wins.
The Senate has narrowly approved a constitutional amendment that would change how and whether ex-felons get their voting rights restored. The amendment would retain Virginia’s rule that those convicted of felonies lose their voting rights, but would require governors to set up a process to automatically restore the rights of nonviolent felons when they have completed their sentences, including payment of all fines, fees or restitution and serving of any time on probation or parole.
Washington: House Bill 1342 would allow all Washington voters, not just military and overseas voters, to return their cast ballots via email to county auditors’ offices. Secretary of State Kim Wyman as well as the state’s Association of Auditors testified against the legislation.
V. Legal Updates
Maine: Maine’s Supreme Judicial Court has agreed to review a set of questions regarding the legality of ranked-choice voting which was approved by the voters in November 2016. According to the Portland Press Herald, the court indicated it would take the matter up and invited the Legislature, the state’s Attorney General, the Governor’s office and the Secretary of State to all submit written arguments on the new law.
New Mexico: The New Mexico Supreme Court upheld the state’s system of closed primary elections, ruling the practice is constitutional and not overly burdensome. The decision means primary elections can continue to be closed to voters who aren’t registered as members of the political parties with candidates on the ballot and unaffiliated voters will only be able to vote in general elections.
New York: Essex County will appeal a ruling by State Supreme Court Justice Martin Auffredou that ordered the county to release electronic ballot scans and cast vote records.
North Carolina: Four Guilford County residents filed a defamation lawsuit Wednesday in the U.S. Middle District Court after being accused of illegally casting ballots during the 2016 General Election. The lawsuit asks for at least $25,000.
Oregon: A Multnomah County sheriff's deputy who, on Election Day, drove past a line of people waiting to vote in Southeast Portland and chanted "Trump, Trump" over the loudspeaker of a county vehicle violated election law, according to an investigation by the Oregon Secretary of State, Election Division. Deputy Jason Vetter faces a fine of $75 for violating OR S 260.432 "by engaging in political advocacy while on the job during work hours as a public employee."
Texas: The Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously upheld a lower court’s ruling that the city of Pasadena’s May election will proceed as planned using a 2011 system.
VI. Tech Thursday
Florida: The Lee County Supervisor of Elections website was recently hacked to show an anti-ISIS message. According to Supervisor of Elections Tommy Doyle, a recent upgrade to the website made it easier to a hack. No voter records were affected.
South Carolina: While many states and counties are buying, or contemplating buying, new voting equipment, the South Carolina Election Commission is considering spending up to $8.8 million to refurbish the state’s more than 12,000 existing voting machines. Refreshing the machines would include installing new touch screens, purchasing new batteries, adding new wheels and replacing communication packs. Optical scans that read ballots would also be replaced under the plan.
Texas: Following up on a post from last week, Hidalgo County commissioners finally formally approved of spending $5.4 million on 800 new voting machines. The voting machines were already in the county courtesy of Hart InterCivic, but the commission had failed to approve of the payment.
VII. Opinions This Week
Idaho: Election integrity
Illinois: Combined precincts
Mississippi: Election reform
North Carolina: Voter ID
North Dakota: Voter fraud
Rhode Island: Voter rolls
South Carolina: Early voting
Utah: Runoff elections
Washington: Election modernization
VIII. Upcoming Events
NASS 2017 Winter Conference — Join NASS President Denise W. Merrill of Connecticut and other members to discuss the latest topics in federal and state policymaking circles! This event will bring together government and industry leaders to showcase Secretary of State initiatives and connect state capitals. When: February 15-18, 2017. Where: Washington, D.C.
Election Center Special Workshop — the Election Center will host a special winter workshop featuring courses in facilitating voter participation (Course 7), implementation of new programs (Course 8) and resources management (Renewal Course 26). When: February 15-19. Where: Savanah, Georgia.
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.
The Future of Elections: Technology Policy and Funding — Join legislators, legislative staff, elections officials and election administration experts for a discussion on the future of elections technology and how to pay for it. Share ideas on updating voting infrastructure in an era of limited resources and heightened security concerns. In addition to a robust discussion on elections policy, attendees will enjoy all Colonial Williamsburg has to offer. Bring the whole family with you!When: June 14-16. Where: Williamsburg, Virginia.
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.
IX. Job Postings This Week
Account Manager, Clear Ballot, Boston — we are looking for a talented Account Manager to play an active role in developing and maintaining long-term working relationships with Clear Ballot’s customers. This person should be able to work independently and in partnership with other team members to achieve high customer satisfaction. The account manager will have a regional assignment, with certain customers assigned to him/her. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Associate Director for Modern Election, Democracy Fund— the Democracy Fund seeks an Associate Director for Modern Elections to lead its strategy for creating a modern election system. The Associate Director will be responsible for implementing the Election Program’s efforts to modernize voter registration systems, improve and expand access to voting, and reduce the risk of systematic election failures. The Associate Director, a newly created position reporting to the Elections Program Director, will also support the team’s work to encourage the adoption of evidence-based best practices and technology in the elections field, which will include direct advocacy and coalition building through Democracy Fund Voice, a 501c4 sister-organization. The Associate Director also will support research, network development, field evaluation and analysis, and the development of a portfolio of regional and national grantees working to generate change for a modern election system. The successful candidate will be an excellent manager with demonstrated policy reform and management experience. Strong candidates will possess deep expertise in the field of election administration or a related area of public policy and will be comfortable collaborating in a highly bipartisan, fast-paced work environment. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Customer Service Consultant, Hart InterCivic — Hart InterCivic is seeking a Customer Service Consultant who has a strong desire to provide an outstanding customer experience for a growing company. Our Customer Service Consultant supports our customers on a daily basis by providing the following: Foster and develop positive customer relations by providing courteous, prompt and proactive customer service. Communicate with customers by phone, email or other correspondence. Respond to customer requests in a timely manner. Ensure timely Order Fulfillment through interactions with customers, other internal departments, and vendors: Create price quotations, orders, and similar requests for customers. Process purchase orders and enter purchase information into Order Management System. Verify all purchase orders and order information for accuracy. Contact customers to verify the information on purchase orders as it may be appropriate. Provide customers with assistance and information on part numbers, order status, troubleshooting their purchase orders, or other requests. Act as a liaison and coordinate with other departments through order completion and to expedite or resolve any issues or concerns. Provide follow up and respond to customer issues, inquiries, emails, correspondence, or other requests. Assist in maintaining up to date customer files. Partner with other departments to prepare documentation to process returns and credit memos. Partner with other departments to process requests for internal orders, including capital expenditure requests. Maintain a current working knowledge of product lines, prices, lead-time, and other relevant information. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Customer Service Representative, Collier County, Florida— purpose of this classification is to provide clerical support and customer service. Work involves preparing a variety of documents; entering data and retrieving information from department databases; maintaining automated and manual files; and assisting callers, customers and/or visitors. Salary: $34,000-$38,000. 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.
IT Specialist, Collier County, Florida — the IT Support Specialist works closely with IT staff to provide technical support and assistance to all staff located within the Supervisor of Elections office. This person will work with a wide variety of elections industry specific technologies to include hardware, software, programming, printers, and applications. In addition, this person will be providing support and assistance for non-election industry networking technology to include workstations, servers, printers, etc. Salary: $44,000-$50,000. 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, passionate Product Specialist to join our team in downtown Denver! This position will be responsible for providing technical support on all Dominion Voting Systems products both on-site, via the telephone or via email; write detailed, technical documentation for distribution internally and externally; and interface directly with customers, co-workers, and election officials. Salary: Negotiable base + bonus target & benefits. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Research Fellow- Elections, The Democracy Fund — the Elections Program focuses on election administration and money in politics by supporting unbiased research, bipartisan dialogue, and unconventional solutions that will ensure the views and votes of the American public come first in our democracy. We are looking for candidates who are available part-time (20-30 hours/week) and can support the research needs of the Elections Program team, which may include both qualitative and quantitative analysis. A successful candidate has the ability to work with policy experts and academics on questions fundamental to our program and has a high interest in making meaningful contributions to elections and voting research. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Senior Technical Trainer, Clear Ballot, Boston, Massachusetts — our small and growing documentation and training team has an immediate need for a new member with intermediate-to-senior experience in: Instructional design, development of learning curricula, production of training materials, and hands-on, customer facing training. Generally, the training department, technical staff, and operations staff provide training at the customer’s site. We need an instructional designer and trainer who can analyze the learners and materials, and establish an appropriately targeted learning program. The opportunity exists to develop computer based training as an enhancement to our learning curriculum. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Systems Engineer, Clear Ballot, Boston, Massachusetts — we are looking for a talented Systems Engineer who has both a technical and services/support background which enables them to quickly assess customer needs and offer value to Clear Ballot’s customers. The Systems Engineer will gain a deep understanding of how Clear Ballot’s products operate and their optimal configuration to build a streamlined installation process of the Clear Vote election system. The ideal candidate for this position can prioritize mission critical tasks and coordinate the implementation and expansion of our systems. They will be able to work directly with customers, display innovation, think conceptually and act tactically to build consensus around system installation and enhancement and meet deadlines. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Vote-by-Mail Coordinator, Collier County, Florida —purpose of this classification is to issue vote-by-mail ballots, handle vote-by-mail voter service inquiries, maintain voter records, and support all other vote-by-mail ballot functions. Duties include: Interacts daily with registered voters and makes decisions regarding the vote-by-mail balloting process. As part of a team, works well with others and communicates ideas effectively. Exchanges information, coordinates assignments, and problem solves with others. Supervises temporary workers for ballot processing and voter inquiries during peak election cycles. Designs routing and sorting schemes and then loads, operates, adjusts, and repairs machinery used by vote-by-mail department. Maintains database information for vote-by-mail ballots by entering voter registrations and vote-by-mail ballot requests, retrieving voter information, and providing detailed reports. Creates new spreadsheets/files and purges old data. Researches information from databases as requested. Generates reports, logs, and listings from databases. May include scanning paper documents into digital database. Administers the security of vote-by-mail ballots by ensuring secure distribution, receipt, and storage. Controls voted vote- by-mail ballot acceptance, signature verification, sorting, and extraction. Prepares department records, reports, and forms. Prepares correspondence and letters; receives documents and retrieves information from drafts, summaries, databases, or other source documents; incorporates information into prepared materials; proofreads for accuracy and completeness; copies and distributes documents as appropriate. Requests information from other departments as necessary to complete department records/files. Answers telephones; assists callers with questions regarding election related issues, services, or procedures; refers callers to other staff members as appropriate. Responds to email, web, and fax inquiries. Operates a personal computer, telephones, copiers, mailing, and other general office equipment as necessary to complete essential functions, to include the use of word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, database, and other system software. Salary: $38,000-$42,000. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Voter Registration Specialist II, Yavapai County, Arizona — under minimal supervision, supervises temporary employees and performs all forms of customer service and office procedures. Also performs technical work of increasing difficulty in the operation of Voter Registration and specialized mailing and printing equipment. Major Duties and Responsibilities: Maintains complex voter registration database; manage all phases of printing and mailing of voter materials. Helps manage all phases of mailing and receiving ballots; purchases and maintains inventory of stock; accounts for beginning and ending inventory of ballots. Assists the Registrar of Voters in planning, organizing and preparing for upcoming Elections. Oversees day-to-day office duties; supervises and provides clerical operational support to assigned staff; maintains daily and monthly reports; monitors and performs the maintenance of voter registration records and lists. Prepares periodic and special reports including statistical reports to the Parties, statutory reports to Secretary of State’s office and audit reports to election for canvass. Provides information to the public by answering questions and resolving complaints regarding election/VR laws and procedures. Orders supplies for the Voter Registration department. Performs other job related duties as assigned. Salary: $17.18-$19.75/hour. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
XI. 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 we are now 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.