I. In Focus This Week
An update on ranked choice voting
New resources, new legislation, new participants
By M. Mindy Moretti
Following every major election in the United States, there is always a flurry activity surrounding changing the voting system itself and 2017 has been no different so far.
In particular, ranked choice voting has been receiving an increased amount of attention.
Not only was ranked choice voting approved by the voters in 2016 for statewide usage in Maine and countywide usage in Benton County, Oregon, but legislation has been introduced in at least 19 states to utilize the alternative voting system.
Here is a quick look at ranked choice voting so far in 2017.
Ranked Choice Voting Resource Center
Lead by Gary Bartlett, former executive director of the North Carolina State Board of Elections and George Gilbert, former director of elections Guilford County, North Carolina the Ranked Choice Voting Resource Center provides a compilation of best practices and first-hand experiences from jurisdictions that have used ranked choice voting.
The project team sought to develop a content-rich site to create a single resource to share ideas, develop best practices, overcome hurdles, and deliver exceptional election administration.
In addition to the website, they have also produced a 26-page Compilation of Ranked Choice Voting Resources and Model Practices which is designed as a living document that will be updated on a regular basis.
Future topics include:
- optimal RCV ballot design for compatible voting equipment;
- best practices to address low literacy and low civic engagement;
- preventing voter fatigue;
- optical and character recognition testing;
- RCV case studies, past and present; and
- model RCV legislation.
In November 2016, Maine became the first state in the country to approve ranked choice voting statewide. Question 5, which voters approved 52.12 percent to 47.88 percent, will require all state-related elections — governor, state senator and representative, and U.S. senators and representatives—be decided by ranked choice vote. It will not affect presidential elections or local elections.
In February the state Senate voted 24 to 10 to ask the Maine Supreme Judicial Court to review the legality of Question 5. Senators questioned whether a move to ranked choice voting was constitutional in Maine.
On April 13, the state’s high court heard arguments on the new law and although they have yet to rule according to news reports, the justices did appear skeptical of the constitutionality of ranked choice voting in Maine.
Benton County, Oregon
While Maine certainly garnered most of the ranked choice attention on November 8, residents of Benton County, Oregon also voted to approve conducting local elections by ranked choice. Residents approved the measure 54.18 percent to 45.82 percent with almost 7,000 undervotes.
Under the approved measure, Benton County residents will rank candidates for local races, which include county commissioner and sheriff. Per the language in the measure, the implementation date of the ranking system is a bit fluid, although anticipated to be in 2018.
In order for the clerk’s office to move forward, the county must approve an ordinance allowing for the implementation of ranked choice voting and the clerk’s office must receive $200,000 in funding for the implementation.
James Morales, Benton County clerk is currently working on the details of implementation as best he can without the allotment of funds.
“The $200,000 request for funding from the State of Oregon was sent to our State Legislator and one of the chief proponents of the Measure 2-100 State Representative, Dan Rayfield,” Morales said. “To date Representative Rayfield has informed Benton County that the end of the 2017 Oregon Legislative session is when he will seek the funds for RCV implementation in Benton County.”
Morales said his office has made the secretary of state’s office aware that there may be a need for certification testing of the county’s vote tabulation system to accommodate ranked choice voting returns.
On the voter education front, Morales said his office plans to produce public service announcements, offer public demonstrations with the voting equipment and printed materials available to voters for each election.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, which dedicated its March edition of The Canvas to the topic of ranked choice voting, at least 19 states introduced some form of ranked-choice voting legislation in 2017. Those states include: Arizona, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming.
On Thursday May 10, NCSL will be hosting a webinar, Primaries and Beyond, which will focus on primary runoff elections, why states use them and what’s changed over the years. Participants will also hear about the ins and outs of ranked choice voting and explore the legislative angle.
II. Election News This Week
Since January 1, there have been 559,179 voter registration applications through the Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS). During that same period in 2015, there were 95,102. The difference? Under direction from the secretary of state’s office and the attorney general’s office, DDS switched from an “opt-in” to “opt-out” policy on how it processes voter registrations. Since the official switch, counties have become inundated with registration forms. Macon-Bibb is now seeing 200-300 new registrations per week. “We’re trying to get to them as quickly as we can, but because of this change it’s out of control,” Elections Supervisor Jeanetta Watson told The Telegraph. “It’s not just Bibb. It’s every county in Georgia.”
There’s an interesting battle brewing in Colorado between party officials, the secretary of state’s office and local elections officials. In November 2016, residents voted to support two propositions, one that would move Colorado to a primary system and another that would open those primaries up to unaffiliated voters. According to The Denver Post, the controversy has arisen as officials try to hammer out the specifics of putting those two proposals into place. One of those specifics would allow political parties to obtain voter-specific data on who’s voting in each primary. Supporters, including Secretary of State Wayne Williams say it’s necessary to ensure the integrity of the elections process. However, local officials dispute that. “They’re trying to confuse this issue, frankly,” Amber McReynolds, the director of elections in Denver, said of the Republican and Democratic parties. “What they want to know, ultimately, is specific people in the primary they participated in, and that isn’t for canvas and auditing, it’s for campaign purposes.”
An audit by legislative auditors has found several deficiencies with the Maryland State Board of Elections including exposing voters to potential identity theft, ballot security issues, disaster preparedness, contracting and accounting issues. Linda Lamone, administrator of the SBOE said she agree with the report, with a caveat. "We were working on a lot of these things even before the auditors came in," she told The Baltimore Sun and added them most of the issues cited in the audit had been rectified before it was released.
Sometimes you just can’t win for trying and that was certainly the case this week when a voting website set up by the New York Campaign Finance Board for residents to vote on new “I Voted” stickers failed. A spokesperson for the CFB told the New York Daily News that the glitch was a “temporary” issue and it was fixed by Monday afternoon.
Congratulations to the Indian River County, Florida supervisor of elections office for receiving the Judges’ Award presented by the Florida Public Relations Association’s Treasure Coast Chapter. The 2017 Judges’ Award was presented to Supervisor of Elections Leslie Swan and Technical Programs Coordinator Stephanie Nelson for the promotion of their public relations and voter outreach program, “Pop In To Register.” ”Pop In To Register” is a yearlong campaign that aims to increase Indian River County’s monthly voter registration rate by 3.1 percent.
And congratulations also go out to Pierce County, Washington which received recognition from the National Association of Counties for implementing biometric time clocks to streamline the time entry for hundreds of temporary election workers needed during the 2016 general election.
Personnel News: Ernie McCarthy has been nominated to fill a vacant Republican seat on the Lucas County, Ohio board of elections. Susan Campbell has joined the Forsyth County, North Carolina board of elections.
III. Legislative Updates
Alabama: Senate Bill 108, which passed that chamber, and House Bill 372, require the Alabama Secretary of State’s Office to create rules and procedures to keep someone from voting in a runoff if they didn’t vote in the preceding primary. Last week, both bills were sent to the House Constitution, Campaigns and Elections Committee subcommittee for further review.
Alaska: By a 22-17 vote, the House has approved House Bill 1 which would allow Alaskans to register and vote on Election Day.
Florida: A bill that will allow elections supervisors to notify voters if their signature on file doesn’t match that on their vote-by-mail ballot is headed to Gov. Rick Scott’s desk. The bill would give voters more time to fix their signatures.
Hawaii: An all-vote-by-mail bill that many thought was sure to be approved has died because it failed to make it out of conference committee. House Bill 1401 would have moved all counties to vote-by-mail by 2020. It’s the third year in a row that a vote-by-mail measure has failed to make it out of conference committee.
Michigan: The House has approved two bills that would prohibit names and logos of political parties from appearing on election ballots.
Also in Michigan, a voters bill of rights has been introduced in the form of a constitutional amendment.
Nebraska: Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) has vetoed legislation that would have eliminated a two-year waiting period for ex-felons to regain their voting rights following the completion of their sentence. “While the rehabilitation of criminals is an important goal of the criminal justice system, the immediate restoration of voting rights is not the answer,” Ricketts said in his veto message. Sen. Justin Wayne has filed a motion to override the veto. It will take 30 votes to override the veto.
Nevada: Assembly Bill 412 would alter the rules to how recounts are conducted. Under current law, if a recount is requested, an initial sample recount is done from 5 percent of the total number of precincts that voted in the election in question. Under the bill, the initial 5 percent recount would be eliminated and instead all ballots would be recounted.
Rhode Island: The General Assembly is currently considering a bill that would mandate post-election audits. If approved, the Board of Elections would be responsible for determining which races are audited. Races must be audited within seven days and the results of the audit must be made available to the public.
Vermont: Under House Bill 512, sets more clear guidelines for conducting recounts. The bill has been approved by both the House and Senate, but is now before a conference committee to iron out differences what the House and Senate approved.
West Virginia: Gov. Jim Justice has signed legislation into law that will narrow the restriction of political signs to 100 feet from a voting site. The new law reduces the restriction by 200 feet from the old law. It affects both early voting and election day polling sites.
IV. Legal Updates
Illinois: The Chicago Election Board has entered into a settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice to bring the city’s polling places into compliance with the American with Disabilities Act.
Indiana: Common Cause and the NAACP have filed a federal lawsuit against Marion County arguing that the county’s single location for early voting provides unequal access to the ballot. According to The Indiana Business Journal, the suit takes aim at the system in which one of the three unelected members of the Marion County Election Board, most recently Republican Party member Maura Hoff, has vetoed multiple early-voting locations in the state’s most populous county. The result has been sometimes-long lines at the only location for early voting, the Marion County Clerk’s office in the Indianapolis City-County Building.
New Jersey: Superior Court Judge Ernest M. Caposela has ruled that state law prohibits slates that are running under different slogans to occupy the same line on a ballot and therefore a new primary ballot in Wayne must be created.
North Carolina: A three-judge panel has again put a temporary stop to a law that changes control of the state’s elections board. Judges Jesse B. Caldwell III of Gaston County and Todd Burke of Forsyth County, the Democrats on the panel, approved the block on the law until May 10. Judge Jeff Foster, a Republican from Greenville, voted to deny the temporary restraining order.
Texas: According to the Associated Press, minority rights groups have told federal judges that Texas needs new election maps for 2018. A three-judge panel in San Antonio did not immediately decide a next step. Since March, the same court has found intentional discrimination in both congressional and Statehouse maps originally drawn by Republicans in 2011, a year after U.S. Census Bureau figures showed that minorities were driving Texas' explosive growth. The court has set a July 10 trial date.
Wisconsin: Attorney General Brad Schimel said this week that an investigation into voter fraud remains open although he had previously said that the investigation was closed.
V. Tech Thursday
Michigan: Ingham County suffered a malware attack on its IT network which forced the county clerk’s office to shut down for two days as a preemptive measure to safeguard personal data. The county held a special election on Tuesday, but County Clerk Bar Byrum was confident in the security of the election.
Ohio: During this week’s election, the Mahoning County board of elections rolled out a new system allowing residents to track election results online, by countywide and precinct by precinct. According to Vindy.com, Mahoning is the first county in the state to use the TotalVote election night reporting system. It cost the county about $10,000 to purchase and implement the system. There were some bumps in the roll out, but the county is working to resolve them.
Virginia: The state has launched a new website, Restoration of Rights that provides resources for returning felons including how to get their voting rights restored.
VI. Opinions This Week
Illinois: Election judges
Indiana: Early voting lawsuit
Iowa: Ex-felon voting rights
Minnesota: Provisional ballots
Mississippi: Voter ID
Montana: Extra ballots
New York: Election reform
Virginia: Voter purges
Washington: Drop boxes
Wisconsin: Voter ID
VII. Available RFPs/RFIs
Los Angeles County
The Los Angeles County RR/CC is issuing this Request for Information (RFI) #17-001 to hear directly from vendors about their interest in potentially partnering with the County to bring the VSAP vision to fruition. Additionally, this RFI seeks input from the vendors on partnership models that would enable successful development and implementation of VSAP.
RR/CC would like to receive responses from any vendor who is interested in providing one or more components of VSAP, and encourages vendor feedback on the VSAP project being undertaken by RR/CC.
The components of VSAP are:
- Ballot Marking Device (BMD)
- Interactive Sample Ballot (ISB)
- New Tally System
- Tally System Scanners
- Special Thermal Printers for the BMD and ballot activation mechanism
- Vote by Mail (VBM)
- Systems Integrator Services
- VSAP On-going Maintenance and Support
Disclaimer: This RFI is for planning purposes only and is not an RFP, Invitation for Bid (IFB) or an obligation on the part of the County to acquire any services. Responses to this RFI are not offers and will not be accepted by the County to form a binding contract. The County reserves the right to determine how it should proceed as a result of this notice. Furthermore, those who respond to this RFI should not anticipate feedback with regard to its submission. The information provided in this RFI is subject to change and is not binding on the County.
VIII. Upcoming Events
NCSL Webinar: Primaries and Beyond — Learn the history of primary runoff elections, why states use them and what’s changed over the years. Then hear about the ins and outs of ranked choice voting—a method some suggest can replace runoffs (hence the other name, “instant runoff voting”). And explore the legislative angle – what options are available to lawmakers? When: May 10, 2017 2 p.m. ET/ 1 p.m. CT/ 12 p.m. MT/ 11 a.m. PT
Global Election Technology Summit— The GET Summit is a multi-day conference and networking event convening leaders in the rapidly evolving space of election technology. This nonpartisan event provides a forum to build the technology infrastructure that enables innovation in election technology. Attendees include government officials, private industry, academia, media, and civil society organizations. A 30 percent registration discount is available to readers of electionline. When: May 17-21. Where: San Francisco.
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.
Summer Conference on Election Science, Reform and Administration — Hosted by Reed College and Portland State University the goals of the conference are, first, to provide a forum for scholars in political science, public administration, law, computer science, statistics, and other fields who are working to develop rigorous empirical approaches to the study of how laws and administrative procedures affect the quality of elections in the United States; and, second, to build scientific capacity by identifying major questions in the field, fostering collaboration, and connecting senior and junior scholars. When: July 26-27. Where: Portland, Oregon.
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.
Data Reporting Supervisor, Orange County, Florida — The Office of the Supervisor of Elections is seeking an experienced GIS Data Reporting Supervisor to join our dynamic team. With minimal supervision, this position maintains accurate street index, precinct map, municipal and district boundaries for the elections office. The position coordinates all activities related to management of census data and redistricting. The ideal candidate would have experience managing GIS data for a government agency, developing and maintaining data reporting for internal and external parties and experience working with Oracle database, forms and reports including development of SQL queries and stored procedures. Preference will be given to candidates with strong supervisory skills, project management experience and prior experience utilizing MapInfo. Employment with the Orange County Supervisor of Elections Office is contingent upon successfully passing a criminal background check, health screening and verification of work history, academic credentials, licenses and certifications, as applicable. Salary: Grade 14-Minimum $56,998, Maximum $85,486. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Director of Strategic Partnerships, Nonprofit Vote — Nonprofit VOTE partners with America’s nonprofits to help the people they serve – communities typically left out of the political process – participate and vote. We are the largest source of nonpartisan resources to help nonprofits integrate voter engagement into their ongoing activities and services. Nonprofit VOTE also assists nonprofits with other forms of civic engagement, and increasingly Census participation. Nonprofit VOTE manages the multi-organizational work of National Voter Registration Day (NVRD). NVRD is a single day of coordinated ﬁeld, technology, and media efforts, held on the fourth Tuesday in September, to raise awareness of voter registration opportunities and ultimately help hundreds of thousands of Americans get registered to vote. Director of Strategic Partnerships will be focused on cultivating partnerships and related activities for both Nonprofit VOTE and NVRD. The Dir. of Strategic Partnerships will be based in a shared space or home office easily accessible to Washington, DC, with frequent travel across the country and to Nonprofit VOTE’s main office in Boston. Deadline: May 14. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Election Warehouse Technician, Yavapai County, Arizona — Under minimal supervision, coordinates all the logistical activities for obtaining and equipping the county's polling locations. This includes assuring that these sites are in compliance with the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) and Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA). PLEASE NOTE: This is not a typical warehouse job; no hard hats or heavy equipment operator licenses are necessary. Ideal candidate would have experience in election equipment testing and maintenance, leading a group of seasonal staff, project planning and preparing documents. Preference will be given to candidates with supervisory, project management and Microsoft Office experience. Employment with Yavapai County Government is contingent upon successfully passing a criminal background check and verification of work history, academic credentials, licenses and certifications, as applicable. Salary: $35,731-$41,073. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Full Stack .Net Developer, Dominion Voting Systems, Toronto, Ontario — Dominion Voting Systems is seeking a highly technical and passionate Full Stack .Net Developer 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. 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.
Project Manager, Dominion Voting Systems — Dominion Voting Systems is seeking an experienced and passionate Project Manager to join our team in Michigan! This position will be responsible for the effective project management of assigned projects which includes, but not limited to, product implementations, scheduling, budgeting, quality control, staffing, communication, risk management, fulfillment, integration and customer communication. Salary: Negotiable base + bonus target & benefits. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Regional Sales Manager (Southeast), Dominion Voting Systems — Dominion Voting Systems is seeking is highly-motivated and accomplished Regional Sales Manager to work remotely and be based in the Southeastern United States; preferably in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, or Louisiana. The Regional Sales Manager is responsible for long term sales (3-5 years) of the company’s election products and services in a specified geographic region to governmental agencies. This position uses technical, organizational and customer knowledge to influence customers and assist them in applying the products and services to their needs, resulting in revenue generation. In addition, the position provides input and participates in the marketing, planning and development of products and services. Salary: Negotiable base + commission & benefits. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Regional Sales Manager (Northeast), Dominion Voting Systems — Dominion Voting Systems is seeking is highly-motivated and accomplished Regional Sales Manager to work remotely and be based in the Northeastern United States; preferably Illinois, Ohio or New York. The Regional Sales Manager is responsible for long term sales (3-5 years) of the company’s election products and services in a specified geographic region to governmental agencies. This position uses technical, organizational and customer knowledge to influence customers and assist them in applying the products and services to their needs, resulting in revenue generation. In addition, the position provides input and participates in the marketing, planning and development of products and services. Salary: Negotiable base + commission & benefits. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Regional Sales Manager (West), Dominion Voting Systems — Dominion Voting Systems is seeking is highly-motivated and accomplished Regional Sales Manager to work remotely and be based in the Western United States; preferably California. The Regional Sales Manager is responsible for long term sales (3-5 years) of the company’s election products and services in a specified geographic region to governmental agencies. This position uses technical, organizational and customer knowledge to influence customers and assist them in applying the products and services to their needs, resulting in revenue generation. In addition, the position provides input and participates in the marketing, planning and development of products and services. Salary: Negotiable base + commission & benefits. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Sales Engineer, Dominion Voting Systems — Dominion Voting Systems is seeking a passionate and technically skilled Sales Engineer to be based in either California or Colorado. This position will be responsible for serving Dominion Voting Systems customers by identifying their needs; working with Engineering & Certification on adaptations of existing DVS products, equipment, and services; and this using technical, organizational and customer knowledge to influence customers and assist them in applying our products and services to their needs, resulting in revenue generation. Salary: Negotiable base + bonus target & benefits. 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.
System Specialist, Dominion Voting Systems — Dominion Voting Systems is seeking tech-savvy, passionate System Specialist to be based in our Toronto office! This position will be responsible for a wide range of projects to include end-to-end election simulations, identifying new features for development, coming up with creative solutions to meet customer needs; and documenting procedures and solutions. Salary: Negotiable base + bonus target & benefits. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
XI. Electionline Underwriting
For 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.