I. In Focus This Week
West Virginia program works to protect elections infrastructure
Air National Guard member embedded for ‘foreseeable future’
By M. Mindy Moretti
The new guy working with the IT department in the West Virginia Secretary of State’s office doesn’t look any different than any other employee. He clocks in and out just like everyone else. He follows the office dress code.
But what makes him different than all the other employees in the office is that he is a member of the West Virginia Air National Guard and he is embedded in the secretary of state’s office to help protect the state’s election system from a cyberattack.
“We're thankful to be partnering with the West Virginia National Guard on protecting our elections infrastructure," Secretary of State Mac Warner said in a statement when the program was announced.
"This partnership should ease the minds of West Virginians that share in the concerns of foreign or domestic cyber interference of our elections process. We will use every resource available to protect our democratic process, ensure voting accuracy, protect voter’s private information, and give the confidence that our state agencies are working together to combat every threat.”
The West Virginia National Guard became involved with monitoring West Virginia elections during the 2016 general election. The continued discussion moving forward included the idea of hiring a cybersecurity specialist to become a member of the office’s IT team.
“When we began crafting the position description, it became apparent that the best fit would be someone with security clearance, and access to tools and intelligence,” explained Steven Allen Adams, assistant communications director. “Since we were going to continue seeking the help of the Guard’s expertise in monitoring and securing the elections space, it was decided that hiring a member of the Guard through Military Authority was the logical step.”
Adding the embed did not require any additional approvals, such as from the governor, just the continued support of the Military Authority which had been on board since the beginning.
For Warner, who serves on the National Association of Secretaries of State’s Election Cybersecurity Task Force and has a long military history including graduating from West Point and serving as the Chief of International Law for the United States Army Europe, was an instructor at the Army Judge Advocate General's School, and served on the Staff at the U.S. Army War College, working with an embedded Guardsman seemed like a natural fit.
The secretary of state’s office was able to prioritize funding to allow the agreement for the embed to happen and actually having a permanent member of the Guard in the office turns out to be cheaper in the long run.
“The last-minute use of the national guard in 2016 was costly in comparison, as that involved many guard employees working for a short amount of time to examine the traffic on our systems,” Adams said. “The long-term approach will allow us to be proactive and will have upfront costs, but will over time remove the necessity for quick reactions close to the election that would require unanticipated costs.”
Following his initial training, the embedded Guardsman will transition to the state’s Fusion Center which is a collaborative effort of several West Virginia agencies that provide and share resources, expertise and information to detect, prevent, investigate and respond to criminal and terrorist activity.
“The primary responsibility of our cybersecurity specialist is to monitor and secure the internal and external elections-related systems, but it is likely that he will work closely with our network and systems administrator on other shared spaces,” Adams explained.
Although he’ll be stationed at the Fusion Center most days, the guardsman will be brought back into the office for one or two days a month for team-building purposes and to keep him involved with office activities.
Adams said the embedded Guardsman was recommended by the Guard as one of several candidates that had the expertise and was not currently employed full-time elsewhere. He then was interviewed and selected. The position is expected to be a part of the secretary of state’s IT staff for the foreseeable future.
Because he is a member of the Reserve Guard it is possible for him to be called up to other duties should the situation arise.
Adams said that so far the experience has been working out extremely well and the secretary’s office would recommend that other states explore the idea.
“With the existence of cybersecurity as a high priority for the foreseeable future and with critical infrastructure designation from the DHS forthcoming, we do recommend others to evaluate if this structure works for you,” Adams said. “States with small budgets may see this structure more desirable as you can leverage resources for monitoring purposes.”
II. Federal-State Updates
Protect Democracy Project and United to Protect Democracy, two groups that include former Obama Administration lawyers filed a motion in the U.S. District Court of Washington, D.C. seeking an injunction against the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. The motion cited reports of people withdrawing their voter registration in response to the commission’s request for information — proof, the motion argues, that the court should stop the Trump group from collecting the data now before it does more harm.
Mathew Dunlap, Maine secretary of state and Democratic member of the advisory commission told the Huffington Post that he still has no idea what the commission is working on and when it may meet again.
I don’t know that we’re ever going to meet again, to tell you the truth. We certainly haven’t talked about it,” Dunlap told the HuffPost. “I think it is a possibility. We haven’t heard about any future meetings. We talked about a meeting in November ― that was back in July. We haven’t had anything further about it. ... It wouldn’t surprise me if we didn’t meet again.”
However, New Hampshire Secretary of State William Gardner (D) told the Concord Monitor that he doesn’t see a reason for alarm with the commission.
“I haven’t had any communications, but I don’t have any expectations,” he told the paper. “You can’t always judge a book by its cover, and you can’t always judge the end result by the beginning. So this is a work in progress in my opinion.”
Arizona: Secretary of State Michele Reagan’s office said this week that although the Department of Homeland Security informed the state the voter registration system had been targeted a second time, it was not true. “We were glad to find out that the instances that DHS was reporting was essentially low-level scans of computer systems at local government levels,” Matt Roberts, spokesman for the secretary’s office said. “They were not of the Arizona state registration database.”
III. Election News This Week
Pedro Cortes, one of the longest-serving secretaries of state in Pennsylvania’s history unexpectedly stepped down this week. According to The Philadelphia Inquirer no explanation for the resignation was given and the announcement was included in a personnel update from the governor’s office that included information about other personnel moves in the state. The governor’s office provided no explanation for the resignation, although Cortes’ office had recently come under fire about reports of noncitizens being able to register to vote through the state’s DMV voter registration process. “I’m not sure why [Cortes resigned] or what’s going on, but we’re hopeful to get answers to very important questions,” said Rep. Daryl Metcalf (R-Butler County) who had recently scheduled a hearing of the House State Government Committee about the noncitizen accusations. “We were hoping to hold [the hearing] to get answers to questions that are important to Pennsylvania voters about how these foreign nationals have gotten onto the voter rolls.”
U.S. Virgin Islands Supervisor of Elections Caroline Fawkes announced recently that the Sunny Isle Annex office of the Elections System for USVI was destroyed by Hurricane Maria. “The St. Croix office located in the Sunny Isle Annex has been destroyed. The voting equipment however and other election equipment in the main storage room was not damaged. We are cleaning up, planning to place our equipment in storage while we look for office space in coordination with the Department of Property and Procurement,” Fawkes told the Virgin Island Consortium. The St. Thomas-St. John District office survived both hurricanes but is functioning at limited capacity for the time being.
We have a winner! The votes are in and the residents of New York have chosen an “I Voted” sticker that depicts Rosalie Gardiener Jones, who led a two week, 150-mile march from New York City to Albany where more than 200 suffragettes hand over a petition for women’s voting rights in 1912. More than 18,000 votes were cast with the winning design receiving 9,322. “The "I Voted" sticker is our way of paying tribute to their struggle while challenging the women of today to not only exercise our right to vote, but to think about how we can continue to work together to achieve true equality for everyone," Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul said according to the Democrat & Chronicle.
But wait! There’s more! We have another winner! William Johnson, a student at Saint Edward’s School in Indian River County, Florida is the inaugural winner of an “I Voted” sticker contest conducted by the county supervisor of elections office. Students from six different schools submitted 37 designs. Johnson’s sticker features an Indian River skyline and a view under the sea. We like it!
Follow Up: Last week we wrote about a policy in Alabama that prohibits ex-felons who have completed their debt to society other than their monetary debt from voting. The practice left thousands of poor Alabamians without the right to vote. Secretary of State John Merrill has since clarified that the voters featured in AL.com’s story are in fact eligible to regain their voting rights. "The voter would be eligible to register to vote and would be allowed to do so regardless of whether they have come to the end of their assigned incarceration period," Merrill wrote in a Thursday email. "The voter would not be required to pay fines, fees, or restitution to register to vote."
Personnel News: Nellie Anderson, Stewart County, Tennessee election administrator since 1983 is retiring effective November 30.
IV. Legislative Updates
Florida: Sen. Aaron Bean (R-Fernandina Beach) has filed a proposed constitutional amendment that would ultimately make the secretary of state a separate elected position. Similar legislation was approved by the Senate in 2017 but the House did not.
New Hampshire: Members of the House election law committee are considering expanding the definition of voter fraud as defined under Senate Bill 3. The expanded definitions would include people who give false information on their age and citizenship when registering to vote.
Tennessee: After receiving a report from Shelby County Elections Administrator Linda Phillips about how ranked choice voting would work in Memphis council races and how much it would cost, members of the city council are now considering undoing the 2008 city charter amendment approved by the voters that makes ranked choice possible. Ford said he will introduce a referendum ordinance at the Oct. 17 council session that would effectively repeal the move to RCV, if voters approve. The ordinance would take three readings, with the referendum placed on one of the regularly scheduled 2018 election ballots for city voters.
V. Legal Updates
California: The Mendocino Board of Supervisors said that it fully agrees with a 2016 grand jury report that delayed election results left residents frustrated and that more resources should be dedicated to speeding up the process. According to the Ukiah Daily Journal, the board will discuss purchasing newer equipment for elections in the next six months.
New Hampshire: A judge has consolidated lawsuits filed by the New Hampshire Democratic Party and the League of Women Voters in cases over the state’s new law that requires voters who move to the state within 30 days of an election to provide proof they intend to stay.
Texas: In a 10-4 ruling, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals declined to have all 14 judges participate in an appeal of the state’s voter ID law. Civil rights groups, Democrats and minority voters who challenged the voter ID law as discriminatory had asked for the entire court to hear the appeal as a way to speed the case toward resolution.
VI. Tech Thursday
National Tech: This week, representatives from DefCon, the hacking conference and the Atlantic Council think tank shared findings from DefCon’s Voting Village where hackers were able to physically interact with U.S. voting machines. According to Wired, work over three days at the Village underscored the fundamental vulnerability of the devices, and raised questions about important issues, like the trustworthiness of hardware parts manufactured in other countries, including China. But most importantly, the report highlights the dire urgency of securing US voting systems before the 2018 midterm elections.
VII. Opinions This Week
Delaware: Voter fraud
Guam: Ballot security
Minnesota: Ranked choice voting
Mississippi: Ex-felon voting rights
North Dakota: Election reform
Pennsylvania: Voter fraud
Wisconsin: Voter ID
VIII. Available RFPs
Election Modernization Project
The Office of the Secretary of State is looking for a vendor to develop a new voter registration and election management system. The secretary of state’s office and the 39 counties have collaborated to define requirements for a statewide EMS that meets or exceeds the requirements of Washington State stakeholders.
Although currently stable and secure, Washington’s system is over ten years old and needs to be modernized in order to meet the challenges that we face today. Our current system challenges include:
- Limited ability to exchange data between elections and voter registration applications;
- Limited ability to address redundancy of data;
- Limited ability to synchronize our data between all systems and our 39 counties;
- Limited ability to adapt to changes in law or needs;
- Limited capabilities of both the hardware and software;
- Limited ability to offer access to services and information online and on mobile devices
- Multiple election management solutions/systems at the local / county level; and
- Ability to set up and proof an election in multiple systems without having to enter data multiple times (WEI, EMS, online, ballot-on-demand)
Deadline: Wednesday, November 1 at 5pm Pacific.
Ballot Delivery Services for UOCAVA Voters
The Colorado Department of State (CDOS) is soliciting proposals to select a Contractor to provide a web-based ballot delivery system for Colorado military and overseas voters secure and reliable online access to their full precinct-specific ballot which they can use to vote. Deadline to submit is 11 a.m. Mountain Time on October 27.
IX. Upcoming Events
Inclusion & Integrity in Election Administration — join Auburn University and the Election Center for their 2nd Biennial Symposium. The Symposium will feature the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, the EAVS and data-driven conversations and invited panelists including election officials, vendors, researchers, academics and advocates. Discussion will include use of the EAVS data, voter participation, language access and support, accessibility, performance measurement and technology acquisition and security. Where: Auburn, Alabama. When: October 15-17.
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.
Joint Election Officials Liaison Committee — Mark your calendars now and stay tuned for more information and registration details on the Joint Election Officials Liaison Committee meeting. When: Jan. 11-12, 2018. Where: Ritz Carlton Hotel, Arlington, Virginia.
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
Elections Services Manager, Virginia State Board of Elections — manage the Election Services Division of the agency including supervision of election administration staff, policy analysts, campaign finance specialists, and voting system certification specialists. This position supervises the work of the team responsible for election administration guidance, training of local election officials, certification of election technology, campaign finance, and election policy and legislation review. In consultation with senior agency management, sets direction for policy analysts in the review of introduced legislation, interpretation of statutes and regulations, and effectively communicate policy interpretation to agency leadership. Manage agency requirements associated with the legislative session, including ensuring the accuracy of and timely submission of analysis/documents, and tracking and coordinating the implementation of enacted legislation. Manages and set direction of campaign finance staff in the processing of campaign finance reports, addressing campaign finance violations and managing records in accordance with statute and regulations. Plans, designs and manages the voting system and electronic poll book certification programs to ensure the security, integrity, and accuracy of elections in Virginia. Leads development of policies, standards, and procedures relating to voting systems performance, security, and auditing. Analyzes and documents election administration processes and data, identifying efficiencies and opportunities to improve performance. Possess the knowledge, skills and abilities to provide analytical reports of election administration processes throughout the Commonwealth. Works closely with vendors, developers and business analysts for successful election administration management. The position will assist agency senior management in determining best practices in voting equipment management, evaluation trends in election administration, and will act as a liaison with system vendors, federal certification entities, and election administrators in other states. Manages training staff to ensure compliance with relevant requirements and develop a culture of continuous learning among election officials across the state. Salary: up to $134,764. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Elections Supervisor, Washington County, Oregon — do you possess an elections background or transferrable skills from a clerical or production environment along with supervisory experience and the ability to lead large projects? Do you thrive on staying current with information, technology and trends? Then consider applying for the Elections Supervisor position with Washington County's Department of Assessment and Taxation! The Elections Supervisor communicates effectively, exercises sound decision-making and demonstrates collaboration and accountability to peers, the team and to the public. Salary: $5,594.73-$6,797.40 per month. Deadline: October 22. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Hardware Engineer III, Dominion Voting Systems — Dominion Voting Systems is seeking an accomplished and passionate Hardware Engineer III to be join our team in Toronto! This position will be responsible for provision of electronics, software and mechanical engineering support to new product development, manufacturing and field support teams. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Payroll & AP Administrator, Dominion Voting Systems — Dominion Voting Systems is seeking an experienced Payroll & AP Administrator to be join our team in Denver, CO! This position will be responsible for managing and organizing of all functions related to payroll administration and accounts payable, including, but not limited to: recording, processing and obtaining approvals; and Processing all matters in a timely and accurate fashion, including following up on items related to the various accounts payable, payroll and month-end deadlines. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Policy Associate/Policy Specialist, National Conference of State Legislatures — the Policy Associate/Policy Specialist will work on NCSL’s elections team. The position requires skills in research, analysis, and program planning gained through progressively more complex and more in-depth work over several years. The work is performed independently within established program guidelines or project specifications; major work products are reviewed by more senior professionals or program managers/directors for quality, policy considerations, form, and substance. The Policy Associate/Policy Specialist will develop expertise on elections policy, and to a lesser extent campaign finance and/or redistricting. The work includes research, writing, speaking, maintaining internal and external documents and resources, developing connections with state legislators and legislative staff as well as meeting planning. This position is grant-funded and is subject to reduction in percentage of time covered or elimination if grant funding becomes unavailable. Salary: $4,028-$4,428 monthly. Deadline: October 18. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Product Specialist, Dominion Voting Systems — Dominion Voting Systems is seeking two experienced and passionate Product Specialist. One of the positions will be in our Denver, CO office and the other will be in our San Leandro, CA office! These positions are will be accountable for the readiness of Dominion’s voting systems to perform properly in assigned jurisdictions; which includes defining the functionality of the D-Suite system, monitoring the development of the system in accordance with the required functionality, and managing its testing and preparation for delivery to the market; this position also provides significant input to the system release visions, diagnoses and resolves obstacles and challenges as they arise. 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.
Voter Registration Coordinator, Mohave County, Arizona — performs journey-level work assisting County Recorder with plans, organization, coordination and activities of all election and voter registration duties to ensure compliance with applicable Federal and State laws, rules and regulations. Work is performed under the general direction of the County Recorder. The employee is expected to exercise initiative, independent judgement and discretion in efficiently performing a full range of administrative and office management tasks. Work is reviewed as a quality control measure. Outcome of election and audit trail will show compliance. Salary: $36,774 - $57,012. Deadline: October 18. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.