I. In Focus This Week
The great Pumpkin…
…and other tales from the crypt
By M. Mindy Moretti
The midnight hour is close at hand
Creatures crawl in search of blood
To terrorize y’all’s neighborhood [polling place]…”
With Halloween just around the corner and Election Day not far behind, we thought we’d take a look at a couple of Halloween-themed stories this week.
The Great Pumpkin
In the Halloween Peanuts classic, “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,” it’s explained that each year the Great Pumpkin rises out of the pumpkin patch that he thinks is the most sincere.
In Athens County, Ohio, Pumpkin the cat has decided that the Board of Elections office is pretty darn sincere and has lived at the office since 2012.
“He was a rescue kitty from the back parking lot,” explained Director Debra Quivey. “A student who lived next door in an apartment was throwing him out on the street.”
The office is Pumpkin’s permanent home. He is checked on the weekend by a staff member and staff take turns looking in on him on holidays.
“We got him the first week of October, so because of his orange color that's how he got his name,” Quivey explained. “We thought of election related names, but they didn't fit him. He is our Pumpkin.”
Pumpkin has gotten quite famous in the five years he’s been with the board of elections. He has his own Twitter account, although that’s not maintained by the BOE. He has been featured in numerous newspaper articles including the Columbus Dispatch.
He’s even gotten a bit famous in the world of elections. He was featured in a newsletter for Ohio boards of elections. Quivey said he really seems to enjoy his role at the BOE.
“Pumpkin runs the office,” Quivey said with a laugh. “We have staff meetings, he is right there in a chair. Anything we do that requires several people, he is right there. He loves election time and all the excitement. He has ALOT of visitors, which he likes.”
Pumpkin and he even has a guest book. And fortunately, the staff all love Pumpkin and none of them are allergic.
“We’d hate to see a staff member leave,” Quivey said with a laugh.
And because elections work is bipawtisan, Quivey said the board has allowed dogs into the building and that Pumpkin is quite curious about them.
Tales from the crypt
Behind a black wrought iron gate lies a stately neo-classical rotunda that is one of the few remaining places for burials within San Francisco.
The San Francisco Columbarium, the potential resting place for as many as 8,500 souls was built in 1895 and has served as a polling place since 2003.
According to Andy Pastalaniec, manager, polling place section for the San Francisco Department of Elections voters really appreciate the experience of casting their ballot in an architecturally beautiful, interesting and historic fixture of their neighborhood.
“Because there are nearly 600 polling places in a 49-square mile area, voters who vote at the Columbarium tend to be quite familiar with the facility, as it features prominently in their neighborhood.”
Pastalaniec said that they have never received a negative comment from poll workers or voters about using the Columbarium as a polling place.
"The Inspector at this polling places has served there since 2012, and requests to be assigned there because it's ‘nice and quiet,’ explained Yelena Cappello, manager, poll worker section. “Apparently the other clerks also appreciate the serenity. He said voters seem to really enjoy the space!"
Although everyone talks about how peaceful the Columbarium is, we had to ask if voters or poll workers have ever noticed anything strange happening on Election Day. Pastalaniec said no, but rumor has it a former San Francisco poll locator is buried at the Columbarium.
And even though California is slowing moving to a vote-by-mail/vote center state, Pastalaniec said the elections department has no immediate plans to phase out polling places in favor of vote centers and they hope to use the Columbarium for as long as they can — an eternity perhaps.
And finally, you can’t really write about elections and Halloween without mentioning zombie voters.
In Georgia, Rep. Buzz Brockway (R-Lawrenceville), who is a candidate for secretary of state in 2018 has created a campaign commercial where he vows to be vigilant against zombie voters.
The most recent case of zombie voting — when a dead person casts a ballot — in Georgia was in 1996.
II. Federal-State Updates
The Associated Press has an up-to-date list of how all 50 states and the District of Columbia have responded to the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity’s request for data. According to the list more than a dozen states still refuse to release any information.
NPR’s Pam Fessler has a look at two efforts to improve confidence in U.S. elections. One is the aforementioned presidential advisory commission and the other is the recent partnership between state election officials and federal officials in an attempt to share information.
Rhode Island Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea and Virginia Elections Commissioner Edgardo Cortes testified before a Democratic task force on election security this week. Gorbea and Cortes both testified that states need more resources to bolster election cybersecurity.
“States need additional funding and resources dedicated to the security of election systems,” Nellie Gorbea (D) told lawmakers according to The Hill. “These funds are critically needed for the assessments, testing procedures and the strengthening of IT capacity. In many states, they also need funding for the hardware of voting systems themselves.”
III. Election News This Week
Sonoma County, California will conduct its upcoming election entirely by mail. Gov. Jerry Brown (D) announced the decision after wildfires devastated the area. Elections officials had expressed concerns about being able to secure polling places and enough poll workers. “It just makes it a lot easier for everyone,” Bill Rousseau, the Sonoma County elections chief told The Press Democrat. Electionline reached out to officials in Napa and Sonoma counties to check on them following the fires and while a few staff members lost homes, everyone is safe the elections facilities in both counties made it through.
The West Virginia State Election Commission voted this week to spend $4,000 to help promote a new voter ID program the secretary of state’s office is running. The amount is about 80 percent of the commission’s budget. Under the voter ID program, any registered voter without an ID—about 5 percent of the state’s residents do not have driver’s licenses—would be able to go to their local county clerk’s office and get a free voter ID. The secretary of state’s office will be covering the cost of producing the ads, and so the money from the election commission will go to promotional materials about the new ID law and getting an ID. “We need to get word out to the public that you need an ID to vote, and if you don’t have one, you can go to your county clerk’s office and apply for one,” Elections Director Donald Kersey told the Charleston Gazette-Mail.
You’re talking my language! In New York City, the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs and Goodwill Foundation has launched a campaign to hire Russian-speaking translators to work at 20 polling sites in Brooklyn. “We cannot alienate 150,000 New Yorkers from taking advantage of their right to vote, and fulfilling their duty to do so,” Councilmember Mark Treyger told the Coney Island News. “If we are to ensure that the voting process is a fair and equitable one, providing language access for voters is a must.”
Sometimes you have to spend a little money to make money, or in this case, to attract voters. The Douglas County, Kansas clerk’s office spent about $27,000 to send mailers to county voters reminding them of the upcoming November 7 election. The mailers included an application for an advance ballot. The county received about 4,600 advance ballot applications. In the past they have received about 400. “We don’t generally do mailers for local elections, because we don’t know about the cost versus the turnout," Clerk Jamie Shew told the Lawrence Journal-World. "What this shows me is that it was money well spent. The results were far better than expected. Now, the next step is making sure people fill out those ballots and return them.”
Personnel News: Ben Decker has been appointed to the Sandusky County, Ohio board of elections. Clinton County, Pennsylvania has hired Maria Boileau as a part-time elections advisor. Bolieau recently stepped down as the county’s director of voter registrations-elections. Angela Jenkins has been hired as the new assistant executive director for the Galesburg, Tennessee election commission. Mark Meuser (R-Walnut Creek), an attorney, has announced his candidacy for California secretary of state. Congratulations to Fayette Co., West Virginia Clerk Kelvin Holliday for receiving the NASS-WV award for Exemplary Effort to Promote Civic Engagement Among High School Students. Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske (R) has announced that she will run for re-election in 2018. Platte County, Nebraska Election Commissioner Diane Olmer was recently recognized by Secretary of State John Gale with a NASS medallion. With no explanation, the Kentucky State Board of Elections dismissed Executive Director Maryellen Allen and Deputy Director Matthew Selph. Sedgwick County, Kansas Clerk Kelly Arnold (R) has announced that he will run for secretary of state. John Thurston(R), the commissioner of state lands, has announced that he will run Arkansas secretary of state.
IV. Research and Report Summaries
“The Year in Elections, 2017 Mid-Year Update,” Pippa Norris, Thomas Wynter, Max Grömping, and Sarah M. Cameron, October 2017: This report updates a survey of 2,961 experts related to perceptions of electoral integrity. It includes 161 countries holding 260 national elections from 1 July 2012 to 30 June 2017.
V. Legislative Updates
Guam: The amended version of Bill 45-34, a measure from Sen. Joe San Agustin seeking to eliminate primary elections on Guam, was moved to the voting file during session this week. During debate, San Agustin emphasized the cost-saving goal of the bill.
Indiana: A General Assembly committee is recommending that the full Assembly consider legislation that would allow for election day registration and expanded voting by mail. According to the Indianapolis Star, Sen. Greg Walker (R-Columbus) is already drafting the legislation that will allow for no-excuse absentee voting.
Maine: During a special session, the Legislature voted to suspend implementation of the voter-approved ranked choice voting until December 2021. If a constitutional amendment to address legal concerns over ranked choice raised by the Maine Supreme Judicial Court has not been passed by the 2021 date, the law would be repealed.
North Carolina: This week both chambers of the Legislature voted to override Gov. Roy Cooper (D)’s veto of Senate Bill 656 that alters numerous state elections laws and cancels judicial primary elections in 2018.
North Dakota: The Fargo city commission is delaying a decision about whether or not to place election reform on the 2018 ballot. Instead, according to the West Fargo Pioneer, the commissioners approved proposal instructing its elections task force to hold at least one "public engagement" meeting to inform the public about its recommendations. Commissioners also approved a motion requiring the commission decide before the end of the year on whether to place any election reform proposals on the ballot.
Pennsylvania: The State Government Committee held a hearing this week on how to stop voter-registration glitches that have allowed about 500 non-citizens to vote in the commonwealth since 2000. According to WHYY, after dissolving into partisan shouting matches several times, lawmakers left the session saying they don’t agree on how to handle the situation — or even how serious it is.
VI. Legal Updates
Alabama: Secretary of State John Merrill said he will hand over the names of almost 700 crossover voters to prosecutors. According to the Associated Press, Merrill said he lpans to send the 674 names to the attorney general and district attorneys after local election officials check the list for errors. "It's the law. We're going to enforce the law. We're not bullying anybody. We're enforcing the law," Merrill told The Associated Press. Anyone found guilty of crossover voting could face up to five years in prison.
Arizona: A year-long inquiry has found that the failure of Secretary of State Michele Reagan to get ballot brochures out on time to about 200,000 households in 2016 broke the law. The report also said that Reagan knew about the delay more than two weeks before notified the public about it. The report found no evidence of criminal violations though.
California: Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Drew C. Takaichi has tentatively ruled that former councilman Manh Nguyen failed to prove that the county elections office botched the ballot count that lead to his defeat last year. “There is no reasonable conclusion that fraud occurred in the process,” Takaichi wrote his tentative ruling issued Oct. 4 after a week-long trial. He added that Nguyen failed to “prove fraud by clear and convincing evidence.”
Florida: Jennifer Scott, 52 of Flagler has been arrested and charged with two third-degree felony charges to making false allegations on a voter registration form and casting a ballot in 2016 before going through the state’s clemency process to have her voting rights restored.
Kansas: BuzzFeed has filed suit against Secretary of State Kris Koach alleging that he has violated the Kansas Open Records Act according the Lawrence Journal-World. BuzzFeed was seeking Kobach’s emails with regard to this role as informal advisor to the president and as vice chairman of the president’s election commission. The suit alleges that at first the secretary of state’s office demanded an unreasonable fee for the documents and then it denied access to the documents entirely.
New York: The New York City board of elections will acknowledge it broke the law when it purged more than 200,000 voters from the city’s rolls prior to the 2016 election cycle. In addition to admitting guilt, the BOE will agree to make changes to its practices. The actions come as part of settlement reached between the BOE and Common Cause New York after Common Cause filed suit.
North Carolina: The Scotland County Board of Elections requested that a sheriff’s deputy be stationed outside the BOE’s offices during early voting this week. "Unfortunately, I'm receiving a lot of phone calls that some voters are starting to feel a little bit intimidated. There's a lot of said that's been said and placed on Facebook that are making some people very uncomfortable. Due to that process and due to some issues that have happened on my property, we've asked a sheriff's deputy to just sit in today on our property. To make sure everything runs smooth. That nobody feels intimidated. And everybody feels safe,” Director Dell M Parker told WPDE.
Ohio: A grand jury voted not to charge 17 Cuyahoga County residents who were among dozens of non-U.S. citizens identified by Ohio Sec. of State Jon Husted's office as illegally voting or registering to vote in past elections. The grand jury voted not to hand up false voter registration charges against 16 people, and not to charge a 17th person with illegal voting. The dates of offenses listed in court records date back to September 1996.
Texas: JJ. Koch, a Republican candidate for Dallas County commission has asked a judge to remove Dallas County Elections Administrator Toni Pippins-Poole from office, alleging incompetence and official misconduct.
Utah: A lawsuit filed against San Juan County by the Navajo Nation alleging that the county’s move to vote-by-mail disenfranchises tribal voters will head to trial on March 16, 2018.
VII. Tech Thursday
California: San Mateo County Chief Elections Officer Mark Church this week announced the release of a new Accessible Vote by Mail system for disabled and visually impaired voters. The new Accessible Vote by Mail system allows disabled and visually impaired voters to access and mark their ballot in a screen-readable format using their personal computers.
New Jersey: The New Jersey Elections Division has added the Gujarati and Korean languages to the state’s elections website. About 110,000 people in New Jersey speak Gujarati. “Older generations have kids that go to schools here, they are paying taxes, they are naturalized citizens, but they are still not fully comfortable with the English language because they came here later in life,” Indian American state Assemblyman Raj Mukherji said.
Also in New Jersey, Monmouth County Clerk Christine Giordano Hanlon has announced an upgrade to the county’s mobile app Monmouth County Votes.
VIII. Opinions This Week
Alabama: Crossover voting
Arizona: Secretary of state
California: Open primaries
Georgia: Early voting
Indiana: Automatic voter registration
Maine: Voting system
Minnesota: Voting rights restoration
New Jersey: Ex-felon voting rights
New Mexico: Ranked choice voting
Ohio: Voter registration
Texas: Hidalgo County
IX. 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.
X. Upcoming Events
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.
XI. 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.
GIS Specialist, Polk County, Florida— This position consists primarily of technical work using geographic information system software to create and maintain maps and street index representing political subdivisions in Polk County, Florida. Illustrative duties include: Identify voter registration addresses; Assist with creation of precincts; Maintains districts and voter addresses on maps; Research residential land parcels; Maintain accurate street index; Provide members of the public with maps and data; Assists with ballot layout and proofreading; Maintain and update website maps; and Performs related duties as required. Deadline: Open until filled. 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
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.