I. In Focus This Week
Back to School
University of Minnesota adds Undergraduate Certificate in Election Administration
University of Minnesota
For two years now, the Election Academy at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs has been offering graduate-level online courses as part of its Certificate in Election Administration (CEA) program.
I’ve been honored to develop and teach several courses alongside my Humphrey colleague Larry Jacobs as well as leading members of the election community like Dana Chisnell, Whitney Quesenbery and Tammy Patrick.
And yet, even as the program grew I heard from many members of the election community that they were unable to participate because the program required a bachelor’s degree. That’s why I’m delighted to announce that, starting this fall, the CEA program has received University approval to launch an undergraduate certificate for anyone seeking to deepen and broaden their understanding of election administration.
The undergraduate certificate will closely match the existing graduate program, with slightly different requirements – but the same focus on essential and cutting-edge knowledge in the field of elections. The program is open to anyone with one year or more of experience in election administration or a related field.
Here are the courses we currently offer –
Core Courses (required) (3000-level are undergrad, 5000-level grad)
PA 3969/5971 – Survey of Election Administration (3.0 cr) (Chapin): Comprehensive course on the general building blocks of election administration from voter registration to recounts. Focus on the “three tensions” (central vs. local control, access vs. integrity, fairness vs. finality) and how they play out in practice.
PA 3972/5972 – Elections and the Law (3.0 cr) (Chapin): An introduction to legal concepts that play out in election administration at the federal, state, and local level and how they guide the conduct of elections by officials and voters alike. Focus on authority, pre-emption and basic legal reasoning.
PA 3973/5973 – Strategic Management of Election Administration (2.0 cr) (Jacobs): Strategic management for election administrators in the political environment. The course will cover the distinct phases and hurdles of the policy process and skills for election officials to enact new policy.
Capston Project (required)
PA 3974/5974 – Election Administration Capstone Project (2.0 cr) (Chapin): Students are invited to identify an election administration issue or problem in a jurisdiction of their choice and proceed to research best practices and possible solutions and write a final paper or prepare a presentation on their findings.
Elective Courses (2 or more credits required)
PA 3975/5975 – Election Design (2.0 cr) (Dana Chisnell/Whitney Quesenbery): An innovative course on design principles and how they are used in election administration. Through small, weekly assignments you will learn and practice new skills in plain language, design, and usability with real election materials.
PA 3976/5976 – Voter Outreach and Participation (1.0 cr) (Chapin): (NEW! Fall 2017) Why do some voters turnout while others don’t? This course investigates the patterns and history of voter participation and practical steps to increase voter turnout, particularly in traditionally under-represented populations.
PA 3982/5982 – Data Analysis for Election Administration (2.0 cr) (Tammy Patrick): This course will highlight the importance of evidence-based election administration, which focuses on collection and analysis of quantitative data to solve problems and identify opportunities for improvement. There will be an emphasis on pre-election forecasting for planning purposes as well as post-election auditing of election results.
We’re excited to see the Certificate in Election Administration program grow; the field of elections is changing and becoming more complex every day – and we want to be sure that everyone in the community has an opportunity to explore new ideas and deepen their knowledge and understanding of key issues and ideas in election administration.
Thanks to everyone at the Humphrey School (especially new Dean and longtime friend of the program Laura Bloomberg) and the University of Minnesota who made this possible. We’re still accepting students for this fall’s courses – if either of our programs interests you, please reach out- we’d love to have you join us!
II. Federal-State Updates
The Department of Homeland Security plans to provide state elections officials with security clearances so they can see more detail about cyberattacks. According to The Wall Street Journal, the clearances are for the purpose of sharing classified cyberthreat information related to election systems with each state’s top election official. The clearances would be at the “secret” level, which is midlevel and doesn’t include the nation’s most sensitive secrets. DHS already offers a similar arrangement to certain private-sector industries deemed “critical infrastructure,” the official said.
III. Election News This Week
Officials in Fulton County, Georgia have reversed course and no longer plan on closing a number of polling places in majority black neighborhoods. “We heard from members of the public that they would be very inconvenienced and disrupted by certain changes,” Mary Carole Cooney, the chairwoman of the elections board told the Atlanta Journal-Consitution. “We decided that we would not change anything prior to the November election. We can always revisit that” after the election is complete, she said. The county had been sued by the ACLU of Georgia over the changes.
A group of former aides to President Donald J. Trump have created a new organization called Look Ahead America. According to the New York Times, the prospectus for the organization says that it will focus on engaging “disaffected” Americans and encourage them to vote and/or register to voter. The document also says that the group will seek to discourage or invalidate fraudulent votes by deploying poll watchers with cameras and conduct what it calls a forensic voter fraud investigation.
Several Utah counties conducted vote-by-mail elections this week and in a world of instant gratification that we now live in, Utah County, Utah’s clerk/auditor Bryan Thompson is warning candidates and residents that life may be forever changed now that the county has moved to vote-by-mail. “In a way, convenience and voting by mail may be mutually exclusive of more final results on election day,” Thompson told the Daily Herald. Also in in Utah County, some voters confusingly showed up at the polls on Tuesday due to a mail error that sent unaffiliated voters a GOP ballot.
In other vote-by-mail news, more than 100 mail ballots for the June primary in Mercer County, New Jersey were found in the Post Office in early July and therefore unable to be counted in the primary. Most of the found ballots were postmarked May 31 or June 1. Mercer County board of elections chairwoman Joanne Palmucci said the board was willing to hold a special meeting to count the ballots but that the state’s attorney general advised against it. Palmucci points the finger directly at the Postal Service. “There was no rhyme or reason for this, because every municipality had some in there and both parties were affected,” she said.
Good news for voters in Manatee County, Florida and Supervisor of Elections Michael Bennett. The American Legion Kirby Stewart Post 24 that had previously said it could no longer serve as a polling place because elections would interfere with BINGO night has had a change of heart. “I am grateful for the post’s flexibility that will allow our continued partnership serving the voters of Precinct 315. It is always in the best interest of Manatee County voters to preserve relationships that result in positive experiences at the polls,” Bennett wrote in a letter to the editor.
Personnel News: Stephen N. Reed has been named communications director for the National Association of Secretaries of State. Reed previously served as deputy secretary of state in West Virginia under Ken Hechler. Amanda Hutchinson is the new Uinita County, Wyoming clerk. Sandy Delhaye is the new Danville, Illinois election commission director. Cameron Quinn, former general registrar of Fairfax County, Virginia has been appointed the officer for civil rights and civil liberties at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Navarro County Elections Administrator Danda Parker has been appointed president of the Texas Association of Election Administrators.
In Memoriam: Longtime Cabell County, West Virginia Clerk Karen Cole has died. She was 57. Cole was appointed clerk in 2001 after serving as deputy clerk for 12 years. She was elected to the position four times, most recently in 2016. “She cared about her employees in a way few could,” Joe Fincham, assistant Cabell County prosecutor told the Herald-Disptach. “She loved her job. She loved the people that worked for her, and I really don’t think that the average citizen knows just how much of herself that she put into her job. She is survived by a fiancé, two adult children and several grandchildren.
Donna Defazio, executive assistant to the Butler County, Ohio board of elections director has died. She was 63. Defazio had worked for the board of elections for about 10 years. “She’ll be hard to replace,” Diane Noone, BOE director told the Journal-News. “She was my employee and my friend.” Defazio is survived by her husband, David, and two daughters, Holly Defazio and Heather Drinan. The board of elections office will close on Friday for her funeral.
IV. Legislative Updates
Texas: The Senate approved Senate Bill 5 — which the House had amended — and Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has signed it. The new law will broadens the definition of mail-in voter fraud and increases the penalties for those who commit it. The amended bill also repeals another recently approved law that would have made it easier for those in nursing homes to vote.
Also in Texas, the Hidalgo County commission voted to foot the $120,888 bill to extend early voting hours in the upcoming November election.
V. Legal Updates
California: The 3rd District Court of Appeals has temporarily blocked a new law that aims to delay a recall election targeting a Democratic senator. The election will remain on hold while the judges determine whether the law is legal or not.
Florida: Gladys Coego, 74 of Miami-Dade County was ordered to serve two years of house arrest plus three years of probation for filling in other people’s absentee ballots.
Hawaii: The Hawaii Supreme Court has agreed to hear a 2012 defamation lawsuit by Elections Administrator Pat Nakamoto against former County Clerk Jamae Kawauchi and former Council Chairman Dominic Yagong.
Kentucky: Keith Justice of Pikeville was pleaded guilty to four counts of attempting to intimidate an election officer and one count of attempting to interfere with an election and was sentenced to 30 days home incarceration and must pay a $500 fine.
Michigan: Macomb County Clerk Karen Spranger has invoked her 5th Amendment rights and will not speak with investigators from the sheriff’s office who are investigating that Spranger filed false documents about her residency when she filed to run for office. Also, Macomb County Circuit Judge Kathryn Viviano recused herself from Spranger’s case saying that while she believed she could be impartial, she felt it was appropriate to recuse herself since she previously oversaw a case between Spranger and the county executive.
Also in Michigan, Chief circuit Judge Robert Colombo Jr. denied an election challenger’s request to have all Detroit absentee ballots from the August primary thrown out saying that there was no evidence to justify the move and that it would disenfranchise voters.
Minnesota: The Minnesota Voters Alliance, a self-proclaimed election watchdog group, has filed suit against Secretary of State Steve Simon to gain access to the state’s voter data. Simon turned over information he deemed public—names, year of birth, voting history—but did not turn over other information that the group claims is public such as voter status and details about voting challenges.
Texas: In a 107-page ruling, a three-judge panel of federal judges in San Antonio unanimously ruled that two Texas congressional districts violate the U.S. Constitution and the federal Voting Rights Act and that they must be fixed either by the Legislature or a federal court.
VI. Tech Thursday
Georgia: Atlanta-area elections officials are concerned that with thousands of their voting machines currently impounded because of a lawsuit stemming from the 6th District special congressional race that they may not have enough spare voting machines to run municipal elections in November. The impending litigation affects nearly 1,000 machines in Dekalb, 1,324 in Fulton and 307 machines in Cobb counties. Fulton Director of Elections and Registration Richard Barron told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “We are lacking enough equipment to conduct our November election,” adding that the county was seeking to get the hold lifted.
VII. Opinions This Week
Colorado: Weld County
Idaho: Vote by mail
Maryland: Voter purges
Massachusetts: Automatic voter registration
New Hampshire: Voter data
New Jersey: Voting rights
Ohio: Voter purge
Oregon: Election transparency
South Carolina: Voter purge
South Dakota: Native voting rights
Utah: Election commission
West Virginia: Secretary of state
VIII. Upcoming Events
National Association of Election Officials 33rd Annual Conference —This year’s Conference attendees will be inspired and energized as we share trending elections and voter registration issues including The 2016 Elections in Review, Technology Advances in Voter Registration and Elections and Polling Place Line Management, to name a few, Also, crucial information from federal agencies to local election officials sharing practical information for day to day election administration operations. This is the also the time to honor and celebrate the winners of the Election Center’s acclaimed Professional Practices Papers’ Program. You will hear the winning presentations and you will take home all of the innovative programs and ideas that were submitted by your colleagues in other jurisdictions around the country. When: August 19-23. Where: Orange County, California.
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.
NCSL Capitol Forum 2017— the NCSL Capitol Forum is the meeting where NCSL Standing Committees meet to discuss policy and set the agenda for the states. The NCSL Standing Committees are composed of legislators and legislative staff who are appointed by the leadership of the legislatures. The committees are the main organizational mechanism for serving NCSL members. There are nine committees that deal with both state and state-federal issues. The jurisdictions of the standing committees are similar to those of committees in the state legislatures. When: December 10-13. Where: San Diego.
iGO Mid-Winter Conference 2018 — Mark your calendars now and stay tuned for more information and registration details on iGO’s mid-winter conference. When: Jan. 5-10, 2018. Where: San Diego.
NASED 2018 Winter Meeting — Mark your calendars now and stay tuned for more information and registration details on NASED’s 2018 winter meeting. When: February 16-19. Where: Washington, D.C.
NASS 2018 Winter Conference — Mark your calendars now and stay tuned for more information and registration details on NASS’s 2018 winter meeting When: February 16-19. Where: Washington, D.C.
IX. Job Postings This Week
Associate Components Engineer, Clear Ballot, Boston — our growing team has an immediate need in our Boston office for an entry-level/early career Associate Components Engineer in our Product Management organization. As an Associate Components Engineer, you will be at the center of maintaining Clear Ballot as the leader of commercial-off-the-shelf based voting systems. The list of materials in our voting systems is broad and dynamic; and you will be accountable for staying ahead of vendor product roadmaps, leading the identification and evaluation of new technologies and products from those vendors, identifying new sources of components, then managing new models and products through introduction, test, internal training and deployment. You may also perform manufacturing engineering duties and vendor surveys. The successful candidate will be managing finished goods and subassemblies such as computers, printers, and scanners- not board level components. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Director of Policy Development and Programming, The American Constitution Society for Law & Policy, Washington, D.C. — the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy (ACS), one of the nation's leading progressive legal organizations, seeks an experienced, creative, and detail-oriented Director of Policy Development and Programming based in Washington, D.C. to lead ACS’s “Democracy and Voting” and “Equality and Liberty” efforts. The first portfolio focuses on developing a comprehensive vision of the right to vote and to participate in our political process. The second addresses means of combating inequality resulting from race, color, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability, age and other factors. The Director plays a central role in coordinating and facilitating ACS's substantive legal and public policy work in the areas described above and will: Work closely with constitutional scholars, practitioners, advocates, public officials and law students to formulate and advance a progressive vision of the law that is intellectually sound, practically relevant, and faithful to our constitutional values and heritage; Develop and oversee execution of conferences, symposia and other live programming; and Work with authors to publish ACS Issue Briefs and other publications. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Election Specialist, Whitman County, Washington Auditor’s Office— the Election Specialists within the Whitman County Auditor Office assist in the preparation and operation of County elections by processing voter registration applications and election ballots. This position is also tasked with maintaining voter registration files, selection and training of election extra help staff and education programs and have a significant amount of public contact requiring effective communication and service to customers. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
President, Verified Voting — Verified Voting Foundation (a 501(c)(3) organization) and VerifiedVoting.org (a 501(c)(4) organization) are nonprofit, nonpartisan organizations founded over a decade ago by election security experts. We strive to guarantee the accuracy, transparency, and verifiability of elections, so that citizens rightly can trust election outcomes. We are the only national organization with the exclusive mission of protecting the security of elections in the digital age. This is is an exciting time to be Verified Voting President. Citizens and policy makers are finally becoming aware of major security vulnerabilities of our election systems. The President of Verified Voting, who is the Chief Executive Officer of both organizations, will have a platform that can have significant national impact. We are in the initial stages of launching an ambitious nationwide campaign to promote the adoption of paper ballots and routine manual audits throughout the U.S. 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 be based in our Toronto office! This position will be responsible will be responsible for the effective project management of assigned projects throughout the Operations, North territory which includes but is not limited to, scheduling, budgeting, quality, staffing, communication, risk, supply chain, 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 (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.
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.