I. In Focus This Week
Reading, writing, arithmetic and voter registration?
Seminole County program deputizes high school principals
As students head back to the classroom across the country, while their thoughts may be on reading, writing and arithmetic, elections officials are thinking about registration and how exactly to get many of those students to be voters too.
In Florida, where the state allows 16-and 17-year olds to pre-register to vote, high schools are a target-rich environment for voter registration drives. Each year the Seminole County Supervisor of Elections Office registers and pre-registers about 2,000 students.
However, state legislators haven’t made that as easy as it seems.
In 2011 the Florida Legislature passed a law declaring that anyone collecting completed voter registration applications must register with the state as a third-party voter registration organization.
“Many of our students would like to register to vote and turn in their completed applications at school,” explained Michael Ertel, supervisor of elections. “My fear was schools would have to sign up as a third party voter registration entity, which could become chilling on their willingness to receive completed applications from their students.”
So since then, each summer Ertel deputizes all nine of the county’s high school principals so they can collect the voter registration forms from students. Only the principals are deputized and their deputization is only for collecting completed applications forms from students enrolled at the high school the principal is assigned to.
Ertel attends one of the summer meetings of high school principals and deputizes them on the spot. The training itself is fairly quick, basically letting the principals know the process and the likely situations they may encounter.
The program actually saves the county quite a bit of money long-term Ertel said and as an added benefit, it can save quite a bit of good will too.
“When we conduct a voter registration drive at a school, we have found many students do not keep their driver's license on them, and many do not know their social security number. This would have caused us to send the incomplete applicant a letter informing they didn't fully complete the form, thus they would not be registered. The student's first interaction with our office would have been a negative one, regardless of the reason for the letter,” Ertel explained. “By allowing those students who don't have the full information the ability to simply drop the form back off at the front desk the next day, we are providing them the opportunity to register at their own pace, and without costly back-and-forth mailings.”
Seminole County is currently the only county to deputize principals although Ertel said several other supervisors of elections have reached out to him for a copy of the deputizing form and other information about the program.
Ertel said he lobbies the state Legislature each year to change the law to allow high school principals to collect the forms without needing to register as third-party organizations to no avail
“I think their thinking at our local level is, ‘well, Mike has already found a solution, so what's the problem?’” Ertel said.
(Editor's Note: Do you have a unique voter registration program? Let us know, we'd love to share it with our readers.)
II. Federal-State Update
Late last week, Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-New York) called for the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity to be disbanded. “The president’s recent failure to unequivocally condemn bigotry makes its rescission imperative,” Schumer wrote of the voting panel. “… If the president does not act, the Congress should prohibit its operation through one of the must-pass legislative vehicles in September.” Rep. Adam Schiff (D-California) introduced an amendment this week to support defunding the commission.
According to a notice in the Federal Register, the advisory commission will hold its next meeting in Manchester, New Hampshire at 10 a.m. on September 12.
New Hampshire Secretary of State William Gardner has invited Schumer to address the advisory commission at the September meeting. "The commission should hear what the senator has to say, and given his very strong views this is a good opportunity for him to come and observe what the commission's work has been all about," Gardner told the Union Leader.
In other New Hampshire news, this week Gardner and Attorney General Gordon MacDonald informed officials in approximately 42 cities and towns that elections officials incorrectly included “handwritten, confidential, non-public information on the official checklists” used on Election Day 2016 and those notes are slowing the transfer of the state’s voter data to the election commission.
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law has asked a federal judge for permission to depose Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach who serves as the vice chairman of the president’s panel. On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly ordered the Trump administration to show more evidence that the election commission was complying with public-disclosure laws. Kollar-Kotelly told attorneys for the government that she found it “hard to believe” that commission members would show up for a meeting not fully informed of what they would discuss. “You didn’t completely live up to your representations,” Kollar-Kotelly said. Attorneys for the government apologized.
In California, State Senator Henry Stern (D-Canoga Park) has introduced a Senate resolution asking other states to join California in not sharing election data with the election commission. “On its face, the President’s Election Integrity Commission is nothing but a tax-payer funded attempt to fuel misguided conspiracy theories,” Stern said when introducing the resolution. “This measure is a rallying cry for other states to join a growing coalition of election officials, Attorneys General and civil rights watchdog groups in protecting the sanctity of electoral data by not yielding to the demands of this fraudulent commission.”
III. Election News This Week
A new study from the University of California, Davis found that 61 percent of Californians are not too keen on the state’s plan to move to a vote-by-mail/vote center combo. The UC Davis study found that voters who currently vote using mail ballots instead of at neighborhood polling places preferred the vote centers in greater numbers, although a majority still rated the centers unfavorably. Fifty-three percent of voters who vote by mail said they do not like the idea of voting centers versus 71 percent of polling place voters. The study also found significant demographic differences. As a group, African Americans showed the most dislike for voting centers with 72 percent opposed followed by 65 percent of whites who don't like the idea. “Change can be difficult or it can be confusing, right, whether it’s big or small,” researcher Mindy Romero of UC Davis' California Civic Engagement Project, who conducted the study told SCPR. The study recommended extensive voter education efforts. While the public may still be unsure of the new system, some counties are rushing to have it in place for the 2018 election cycle. Those counties include Sacramento, Napa, San Mateo and Nevada.
After adding 11 new drop boxes, 94 percent of King County, Washington residents live within three miles of a drop box. Despite the increase in drop boxes, during the August 1 primary about 52 percent of ballots were sent through mail compared with 48 percent dropped at a box. According to the Kent Reporter, elections officials don’t know why fewer voters used the drop boxes in the August primary, but some speculate that with school out many families may have been on vacation and therefore used the mailbox instead of drop box. Still, drop box use is growing and the majority of ballots returned in the 2016 general election were done so via drop box.
The Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy has an interesting article about how foundations are helping to ensure access to the voting booth.
Personnel News: Gordon Ward has been appointed deputy Democratic elections commissioner in St. Lawrence County, New York. Congratulations to Danda Parker, Navarro County, Texas elections administrator for receiving the CERA designation. Mary Morgan has retired from the Sequoyah County, Oklahoma election board after 17 years on the job. Jeanne Survell is the new Pepperell, Massachusetts clerk. Kansas House Speaker Pro Tem Scott Schwab has filed exploratory paperwork for a run for secretary of state. Congratulations to Ann Kurasaki of Show Low, Arizona for being named the Clerk of the Year by the Arizona Municipal Clerks’ Association. Joseph Guzman (R), an assistant professor at Michigan State University has joined the race for Michigan secretary of state.
IV. Legislative Updates
Federal Legislation: Rep. Adam Schiff (D-California) has introduced an amendment to the Department of the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriation Act that would prohibit fund from used by the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.
Alabama: Rep. Steve Clouse (R-Ozark) has pre-filed a bill for the 2018 legislative session that change how vacant senate seats are filled. Under the proposal, the governor would appoint an interim replacement and the special election would coincide with the next general election.
Idaho: The Bannock County commission unanimously voted to postpone a proposal to consolidate the county’s voting precincts until after the November election. The proposal would eliminate 24 of the county’s 58 voting precincts.
Illinois: Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) has signed automatic voter registration legislation into law making Illinois the ninth state and the District of Columbia to offer AVR. The law takes effect immediately, but will be implemented in phases with most of the changes happening before the November 2018 election.
Indiana: A legislative committee held a hearing this week to debate the merits of automatic voter registration.
North Dakota: This week, the Government Administration Committee began examining the possibility of moving city and local elections from June to November.
V. Legal Updates
California: The American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California has filed suit against the state of California alleging that the state did not provide proper notice or an opportunity to fix mismatched signatures, which lead to 45,000 tossed vote-by-mail mail ballots in November 2016.
Kansas: An eight-member jury recently found in favor of the Secretary of State’s office in a lawsuit in which a former employee alleged she was discriminated against based on religion.
Missouri: Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft (R) filed a motion this week seeking to dismiss a lawsuit against the state’s new voter ID law. According to St. Louis Public Radio, in a statement, Ashcroft said the results of the August 8 special election prove that the law works. “When you look at the lawsuit that was brought against us, they never even claimed that it stopped anyone from being able to vote," Ashcroft said. "We’ve had all these elections and we’ve proven that the claims they made were without merit."
New Hampshire: The League of Women Voters have filed additional paperwork in their suit against Senate Bill 3. The legal filing asks the court for a preliminary injunction to stop the new law from taking effect on September 8.
New Mexico: FairVote New Mexico is asking the state Supreme Court to compel the city of Santa Fe to finally implement ranked choice voting, nine years after city residents approved of the move. In July the city council voted 6-3 to put off using ranked choice. “This is an insult to Santa Fe voters,” Maria Perez, director of FairVote New Mexico, told the Santa Fe New Mexican. She filed the lawsuit on behalf of the group, along with local voters Craig O’Hare, Ellen Ackerman and Anne Noss.
New York: A lawsuit has been filed against the New York City Board of Elections claiming that moving the LeFrak City polling place will disenfranchise mostly elderly, disabled and minority voters who live inside the housing complex where the polling site is located. The housing complex has had a polling site on its grounds for 50 years.
Also in New York, Judge P. Kevin Castel hear arguments in a case challenging the state’s ballot selfie ban.
Texas: The U.S. Supreme Court has temporarily put a hold on a lower court ruling that invalidated two of Texas’ 36 congressional districts. In an order signed by Justice Samuel Alito, the high court indicated it wanted to hear from the minority groups suing the state before the state's appeal of that ruling moves forward. The high court ordered the state's legal foes to file a response by Sept. 5 to the state's efforts to keep congressional district boundaries intact for the 2018 elections.
VI. Tech Thursday
Tennessee: The Hamblen County commission voted 12 to 1 to pay approximately $56,000 to purchase 35 e-poll books, two for each county precinct, plus a spare.
Also in Tennessee, the secretary of state’s office has unofficially launched the new online voter registration system with the official announcement coming next week. The online voter option, now available at https://ovr.govote.tn.gov, is the product of a law passed in 2016 that called for the state to have an online registration system running by July 1, 2017. During the 2017 legislative session, the deadline was extended to Sept. 1, 2017 but the site has been up for a couple of weeks.
VII. Opinions This Week
National Opinions: Voter ID laws | Voting rights, II | Presidential election commission, II, III | Voter disenfranchisement | Voter suppression | Election security | Post-election audits | Automatic voter registration | Voting reform
Colorado: Weld County
Massachusetts: Automatic voter registration
New York: Election fraud
North Carolina: Election board
Oklahoma: Election workers
West Virginia: Election security
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.
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