I. In Focus This Week
Still plenty of election reform news and information
electionlineWeekly is taking a small break this week, but there is still A LOT happening in the world of election administration so while there isn’t a main feature story there is still plenty of election news and information in this week’s newsletter.
II. Federal-State Update
Legal News: The Brennan Center for Justice and Protect Democracy have filed a lawsuit in the federal court of New York seeking to compel the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of Management and Budget to disclose public information about the president’s election integrity commission. The groups said they filed the suit at FOIAs went unanswered.
Alaska: Alaska has joined a number of states that have said they will provide they voter data requested by the commission as long as the commission pays the required fee like all others seeking the data must do. The traditional fee is $20 for the data plus $1 to get the data on a CD.
Illinois: The State Board of Elections has delayed a decision about whether or not it will send the requested data to the presidential election integrity commission. The board has sent a letter to the White House panel seeking more information about the purpose of the commission and to find out whether or not any information provided will be kept confidential.
Minnesota: This week, Minnesota formally rejected the request for data from the president’s election integrity commission. It’s a position the state has held since the first request was received.
New Jersey: This week the state announced that it will send some of the requested information to the president’s election integrity commission. The decision to send the information became an issue in the gubernatorial campaign as candidate Phil Murphy (D) attacked Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno (R), for remaining silent on the issue. Guadagno is the state’s chief election official and in January recused herself from all election-related matters while she is a candidate for governor.
III. Election News This Week
A file containing the names, addresses, dates of birth and other information of about 1.8 million Chicago voters was publicly accessible for an unknown period of time on Amazon Web Services, a cloud system. The data was uploaded by ES&S which maintains Chicago’s poll books. "We were deeply troubled to learn of this incident, and very relieved to have it contained quickly," Chicago Election Board Chairwoman Marisel A. Hernandez said in a statement to the Chicago Tribune. "We have been in steady contact with ES&S to order and review the steps that must be taken, including the investigation of ES&S' AWS server. We will continue reviewing our contract, policies and practices with ES&S. We are taking steps to make certain this can never happen again." The data was discovered by an employee UpGuard, a cybersecurity firm that was doing routine research on the Amazon cloud. It is unclear if anyone else discovered the data.
This week, the Gwinnett County board of elections sent 12,000 letters in English and in Spanish to inform voters in two towns about changes to their polling location. This was the first time that the county has sent out bilingual materials since the U.S. Department of Justice determined that the county had “a significant number of voting-age citizens with limited English proficiency. Gwinnett is the first county in the state required to comply with the Voting Rights Act language requirements.
According to new research from the Pew Research Center, more voters than ever will have access to bilingual materials in the 2018 election cycle. New data from the Census Bureau show that 263 counties, cities and other jurisdictions in 29 states will now be subject to this requirement in future elections, a slight increase from five years ago. The jurisdictions that now must provide non-English ballots and other elections material – which include some communities on tribal lands – encompass 68.8 million voting-age U.S. citizens. That is 31.3 percent of the total U.S. voting-eligible population of 220 million, which consists of citizens ages 18 and older.
The City of Hartford, Connecticut and the State Elections Enforcement Commission have reached a settlement in a case over the problem-plagued 2014 election. Hartford will have to pay nearly $10,000 in fines after voters list were not delivered to polling places on time causing at least 14 sites in the city to open late. According to WVIT, the investigation was not able to determine exactly how many voters were turned away or how many voters might have decided to stay home when word of the problems spread.
The Southern Poverty Law Center has written a letter to Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill asking the state to restore hundreds of thousands of voters to the rolls who were put on the inactive list. There were widespread reports of confusion during the recent special election primary with voters showing up at the polls only to find out they were on the inactive list. Merrill insists that his office followed the law. In other inactive voter news, Georgia is changing its policy on how it treats voters who move within the same county. In the past, those voters had 30-days to respond to a post card or they would be placed on the inactive list.
Hamilton County, Indiana commissioners voted unanimously to eliminate the county’s bipartisan board of voter registration and instead transfer those duties to the county clerk’s office. The decision was met with surprise by both Democrats and Republicans, particularly because the vote was not listed on the commission’s agenda.
This is an idea that we can get behind! The Indian River County, Florida supervisor of elections office is conducting a contest to design the county’s new “I Voted” stickers. The contest is open to high school and college students. "The ‘I Voted”’ sticker contest is to inspire young adults to role in the democratic process and raise awareness about upcoming elections,” Leslie Swan, Indian River County’s supervisor of elections told the TC Palm. The winner will also receive a $50 gift card to Michaels from the Supervisor of Elections Office, family membership to the Vero Beach Museum of Art, and an artist membership to the Cultural Council of Indian River County. We cannot wait to see the winners in late September.
And speaking of “I Voted” stickers, a special shout out to Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Schedler for preaching about the power of the sticker, in particular Louisiana’s Blue Dog sticker. "It's the best investment we've ever made," Schedler told the Louisiana House Appropriations Committee hearing. "The buzz from voters and the publicity generated for Louisiana has been amazing.
Personnel News: Deputy Clerk Teresa Powell has been appointed Cabell County, West Virginia clerk. Stan Grot (R), Shelby Township clerk has announced his candidacy for the Michigan secretary of state’s office. State Sen. Mike Kowall is also seeking the Michigan secretary of state job. Connecticut Secretary of State Denise Merrill has announced that she will seek a third term as the state’s chief elections official. Steve King has resigned from the Wisconsin Elections Commission. Joey Keefe is the new director of communications for the New Mexico secretary of state’s office. Robert Rapoza has been named the new executive director of the Rhode Island board of elections.
IV. Legislative Updates
Illinois: According to a report from the Chicago Sun Times, Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) will sign automatic voter registration into law on Monday, Aug. 28.
Massachusetts: Following a legal decision that outlaws Massachusetts’ voter registration deadline, city councilmembers in Boston want to explore instituting same-day voter registration. The court decision is being appealed, but members of the city council want to consider moving ahead with same-day registration while the legal battle continues.
South Dakota: Backers of a ballot measure to allow South Dakota counties to go to all vote-by-mail need to collect nearly 14,000 valid signatures to the secretary of state’s office by November in order to get the measure on the 2018 ballot.
V. Legal Updates
Indiana: The Indiana NAACP and the League of Women Voters has filed a lawsuit in federal court which alleges that the state’s new way to cross-check names on voter rolls violates federal law and is discriminatory. Under a bill signed into law in July, the new “Interstate Registration Crosscheck” allows election officials to immediately remove voters identified as being registered in another state. The process finds matches based on first and last name and date of birth.
Iowa: Terry Lynn Rote, 56, who pleaded guilty to attempted voter fraud has been sentenced to two years of probation and a $750 fine. The judge ruled that her record will be expunged if she completes all terms of her sentence.
Kansas: A trail started this week involving the Kansas secretary of state’s office and a former employee who claims she was unfairly fired for not attending church enough.
Rhode Island: The Attorney General’s office and the Cranston police have both agreed that there was no voter fraud in the November 2016 election. Police Chief Michael J. Winquist told the Providence Journal that the results of the department’s investigation were submitted to the attorney general’s office for advice, and that office opined that because of evidence concerns and the level of proof required in such cases, charges shouldn’t be filed.
New Hampshire: The New Hampshire Democratic Party filed a lawsuit in Hillsborough County Superior Court this week contesting that Senate Bill 3 — signed into law in July — is a former of voter suppression that will disproportionately affect young, low-income and minority groups.
North Carolina: Richard Robert Rowling, 59 of Cary has been indicted on charges of obstruction of justice and failure to discharge a duty of his office. During a routine audit of the April 2016 primary results, Durham County elections board officials mishandling of provisional ballots. An investigation by the State Board of Elections & Ethics Enforcement discovered that Rawling ran or ordered subordinates to run provisional ballots through tabulators more than once and made manual changes to the ballot count so the results of the provisional canvass would match the number of approved provisional ballots.
Texas: U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos has thrown out Texas’ voter ID law. Gonzales Ramos ruled that Senate Bill 5, signed into law in June, does not absolve lawmakers from the responsibility for discriminating against black and Latino voters. The judge ruled that the state failed to prove that the new law would accommodate those voters moving forward.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that a provision in the Texas Election Code which requires interpreters helping someone cast a ballot to also be registered to vote in the same county in which they are provide help violates the federal Voting Rights Act.
Also in Texas, the state’s attorney general has launched an investigation into the December 20, 2016 runoff election in Robstown. The investigation comes after Nueces County Clerk Kara Sands filed a complaint about possible electioneering and illegal voter assistance.
Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) has asked the Supreme Court of the United States to halt the partial redrawing of congressional maps ordered by a lower court before 2018.
VI. Tech Thursday
National Tech: A study by NBC News found that many county elections officials, especially those in swing states, have not received formal training on how to detect and fight cyberattacks. NBC reached out to election officials in every county in Arizona, Pennsylvania and Michigan and got responses from 60 percent of the counties. Officials from all 15 Arizona counties responded, but only five said their officials had received cybersecurity training. In Pennsylvania, where 42 of 67 counties responded, eight counties said their workers had training. In Michigan, 40 of the state's 83 counties responded, and only 12 indicated receiving formal training.
VII. Opinions This Week
Nevada: Voting rights
New Hampshire: Voter data suit
New Mexico: Voter fraud
New York: Voting rights
Utah: Voting machines
VIII. Available Awards
The U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) is seeking entry submissions for its second-annual national competition for best practices in election administration. This year the commission will present three awards in the categories of best practices related to voting accessibility, outstanding innovations in elections, and recruiting, training and retaining election workers. All entries must be received by October 6, 2017.
“These awards celebrate the very best in election practices across the nation,” said EAC Chairman Matthew Masterson. “As we travel throughout the country, our commission sees first-hand the innovation and commitment to excellence that election officials and their partners bring to their work. These awards acknowledge that work and highlight best practices that other election administrations can emulate.”
This year’s awards come in conjunction with the 15th anniversary of the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA), legislation that established the EAC. This year’s categories, especially the award for best practices in accessibility, celebrate the advancements made since the passage of HAVA. For example, the new accessibility category reflects landmark HAVA provisions guaranteeing private and independent voting for people with disabilities.
This year’s entries will be judged using the following criteria:
- Outreach efforts
IX. Upcoming Events
Public Service Law Conference —The University of California is hosting the first combined conference of UC’s four law school’s focused on public interest, to be held in September at UCLA. The conference, developed in partnership with Continuing Education of the Bar (CEB), California's premier legal resource provider, will bring together over 500 diverse UC law students and young professionals and is designed to expose them to the wide array of issues around the inaugural theme: Civil Rights in the 21st Century. Where: Los Angeles. When: September 23-24.
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.
X. Job Postings This Week
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.
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 Researcher, Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning & Engagement (CIRCLE), Tisch College — CIRCLE is seeking a Senior Researcher with a background in quantitative research methodologies and varied experience in planning and executing research projects. Responsibilities include serving as the lead quantitative researcher on a range of research projects that may include secondary data-analysis, large dataset creation/analysis, literature reviews, field experiments, and original surveys. The Senior Researcher's tasks include producing analytic plans, methodology documentations, datasets, reports, fact sheets, formal and informal research briefs and press releases on timely and relevant topics, often in close collaboration with CIRCLE colleagues. The Senior Researcher will assist with research grant proposals writing especially with the methodology sections. They will occasionally represent CIRCLE research conferences, practitioner forums, and press events. The Senior Researcher will work alongside colleagues, including a current Senior Researcher, Director of Impact, and Researcher, and provide inputs and peer training to other CIRCLE staff who produce research (quantitative and qualitative). All CIRCLE staff report directly to Director of CIRCLE, who reports to Associate Dean of Research at Tisch College. 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.
State Certification Manager, Clear Ballot, Boston, Massachusetts— Certification Manager’s primary duty is to manage, coordinate, and represent Clear Ballot when finding compliance to all regulations and mandates of the federal and state election certification boards. The successful candidate has all or some combination of experience with voting systems certification campaigns, VVSG requirements, project management techniques and tools, and the ability to describe to technical staff how to comply with the statute, rule and other written and unwritten system requirements. This position reports to the Vice President, Product. 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.