I. In Focus This Week
New Mexico Native American Voting Task Force gets to work
Task force aims to boost participation in state, federal elections
By M. Mindy Moretti
Tiffany Blackbull lives and works on the Navajo Nation in New Mexico. She also votes on the Navajo Nation at the local school, which is about 20 miles from the ranch where she lives with her husband, teenage daughters and a passel of animals.
“My assigned polling place is about 20 miles from the ranch, which is ‘just over the hill’ out here,” Blackbull said. “When voting occurs, it’s not really very busy. It’s an interesting dynamic out here. For the state and federal elections, there’s usually a lackluster turnout on the reservation, however for the local elections — Navajo chapter positions, Navajo presidential election — the turnout is significantly higher.”
In the 2016 General Election, the overall voter turnout in New Mexico was 62 percent. In predominantly Native American precincts, the turnout was 56 percent.
The Navajo Nation encompasses about 27,000 square miles in Arizona, Utah and New Mexico. In New Mexico, nearly 66,000 residents live on Navajo lands. In all, about 10.6 percent of New Mexico’s population is Native American and represents 23 different tribes.
Hoping to boost Native American participation in state and federal elections, New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver has convened the Native American Voting Task Force.
The task force is made up of representatives from pueblos and tribal communities across New Mexico, including one representative living in an urban area. The task force will be charged with identifying ways to boost voter registration, education and election participation in tribal communities, and will make recommendations to Toulouse Oliver and other elected officials.
The task force recently held its first meeting, one that Toulouse Oliver dubbed a “great start.”
“Task Force members got off to a great start this morning and began laying the foundation for what they want to accomplish moving forward,” Toulouse Oliver said in a statement. “With the next general election only a year away, it’s important that we work together to develop policies and procedures that will increase voter participation and education in our tribal communities. I am confident that this talented group of individuals will find new and creative ways to engage a greater number of Native Americans in the electoral process.”
Joey Keefe, communications director for the secretary of state’s office, said Toulouse Oliver decided to begin with this task force because of the historical barriers to voting for Native Americans. Native Americans did not get the right to vote until 1948 and New Mexico is still lacking in the areas of voter registration, voter education, and election participation in tribal communities – perhaps more so than in any other demographic group.
“It's tricky to explain, but the way of life on the reservation creates a disconnect with state and federal elections,” Blackbull explained. “Navajo people — on the reservation — are more concerned with their own tribal government, what happens in DC is really "just the second coming of the same old Calvary”. As a native person, the feeling is their rights and needs and their vote doesn't count for much.”
According to Keefe, Toulouse Oliver would like to see the work of the task force result in an improved voting culture in our tribes and pueblos so the state can close the gap in civic engagement between these communities and the rest of the public.
The frequency of the task force meetings will be up to its members but its second meeting will be November 29 which coincides with the final meeting of the Interim Indian Affairs Committee before the 2018 legislative session begins in January.
While the secretary of state’s office isn’t under any legal obligation to carry out the recommendations of the task force, Keefe said Toulouse Oliver fully intends to continue soliciting recommendations and suggestions from task force members and incorporate as many as is possible into the state’s voting plan.
Blackbull is optimistic about the work of the task force, but is also realistic about the task it faces.
“As for what would make voting easier, it’s pretty easy already,” Blackbull said. “What needs to happen is a paradigm shift. People on the Rez need to feel empowered about the importance of their vote in state and federal elections.”
[Editor’s Note: Due to the Thanksgiving holiday, electionlineWeekly will not publish next week. We hope you have a safe and happy holiday filled with family, friends, good food, and not too much talk of politics!]
II. Federal-State Updates
Maine Secretary of State Mathew Dunlap, a member of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity has filed a lawsuit against the commission claiming that he and other members of the voter fraud panel are being shut out of the process.
According to Maine Public Radio, Dunlap says he has heard nothing about the activities of the commission for nearly two months. After his repeated attempts to contact the commission’s leadership, Dunlap says he decided to file a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
“I guess the real question for me is: Why I didn’t do it sooner,” he told MPR.
Election commission member J. Christian Adams has sent an email to the Department of Justice suggesting that the DOJ is not pursuing voter fraud cases as vigorously as it should be.
“As far as I can tell, there has not been a single prosecution whatsoever for any double voting or any non-citizen voting. I know with certainty that multiple instances of double voting and alien voting have been brought to the attention of the appropriate federal officials, and no action has been taken. Of course when you don’t prosecute crimes, you tend to have more crimes,” Adams wrote according to the Huffington Post.
Idaho: Following a report in the Idaho Statesman that questions the security of the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program, Secretary of State Lawerence Denney, who called the system “sloppy” said the state is re-evaluating its participation in the program.
Illinois: During a hearing this week of a joint state House and Senate committee, Democratic lawmakers urged that the state withdraw from the Crosscheck program. “For months now it has been very obvious that millions of Illinoisans’ personal data is at risk because of our participation in this program,” state Rep. Will Guzzardi, D-Chicago, said at the hearing. “As soon as possible, the (State Board of Elections) should say the logical thing, which is, ‘We cannot participate in this program because it is putting Illinois at risk.”
III. Election Day 2017
Kansas: As happens in every major election, one contest in Kansas came down to coin toss. In the Mission Woods council race two candidates tied with 35 votes apiece. Even after provisional ballots were added, the contest remained deadlocked leading to the coin flip. Tails was the winning side.
Also in Kansas, polling places experienced problems scanning driver’s licenses on the state’s e-poll book system. Apparently the scanners cannot read the barcodes in the state’s new Real ID licenses.
Maine: More than a week after the election, a set of dentures left in a Portland voting booth still have not been claimed. City Clerk Katherine Jones is beginning to wonder if they really are someone’s dentures or if it was just a practical joke.
Michigan: Anita Belle, a candidate in last week’s Detroit election, has filed suit in the Third Judicial Circuit of Michigan claiming that absentee ballots were not processed correctly and they are therefore susceptible to election rigging.
Ohio: Secretary of State Jon Husted is ordering the Mahoning County board of elections to conduct a formal review of what went wrong when a mistake led to more than 6,000 early vote ballots being double counted. In a letter to the board members, Husted wrote the report “must document how the tabulation error occurred and what steps the board plans to implement to ensure that a similar error is not repeated and that the media and the public are notified of any amended unofficial election results.”
Oregon: In Lane County, election staff had to be sent out to two drop boxes to retrieve ballots that people had tried to stuff into the drop boxes after they were locked at 8 pm on election night. “We certainly have the boxes locked,” County Clerk Cheryl Betschart, told Oregon Public Broadcasting. “I’m not sure why they tried to stuff them in there.”
Pennsylvania: It took 22 county workers five hours, but York County has completed its review of 59,000 ballots. The review was prompted by a voting machine error that would have allowed voters to cast their ballot for more than one candidate in a race. In addition, an outside auditor is doing an independent verification of the recount. The county hopes to announce the final results next week.
Utah: In Utah County, Clerk/Auditor Bryan Thompson had to have staff fill in ovals on ballots after a write-in candidate provided pre-printed stickers with his name and an oval filled in for voters to attach to their mail ballots. On election night, the machines could not read the ballots with the stickers so Thompson had staff fill them in.
Virginia: While Election Day in Virginia went off with relatively few issues controversy is swirling after the fact in Stafford County after the county board of elections refused to count 55 late-arriving absentee ballots in a House race that is separated by 82 votes. The Democratic caucus of the House of Delegates has filed suit.
IV. Election News This Week
An attorney for the Rhode Island Board of Elections is drafting potential replacements of a regulation that excludes people registering in person from a federal requirement that voters registering for the first time provide their driver’s license number or the last four digits of their social security number. The regulation has been in place since 2008 and was recently part of a complaint filed with the USDOJ. According to The Providence Journal, Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea’s office has, in the meantime, added a feature on the state’s Voter Information Center website to notify registered voters if their record is missing required information. If the information is missing, spokeswoman Nicoel Lagace said, “the registered voter can then choose to use the online voter registration portal to add it.”
We recently reported that members of the Memphis City Council had reservations about the city’s new ranked choice voting system and were considering repealing it. It seems like those concerns may now be moot. Tennessee Elections Coordinator Mark Goins has informed the Shelby County elections administrator that it is illegal to use ranked-choice voting anywhere in the state because there are no state guidelines and procedures for counting the second and third preferences of voters. “Although it is commendable that you have found a process which supports a ranked-choice voting system,” Goins wrote to Shelby County Elections Administrator Linda Phillips in a letter dated September 26, “I must advise that … the current laws of Tennessee do not support and allow this system of ranked-choice voting.”
Suffolk County, New York Comptroller John Kennedy is conducting a “time and attendance” audit of senior managers at the county’s board of elections. The audit comes after disclosures that one election commissioner is attending law school part-time, including during office hours.
Personnel News: Kyle Mallory has been appointed to the Stewart County, Tennessee elections commission. Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin has announced that he will seek a 7th term. Erin Grunze is the new executive director of the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin. Daniel Perigo is the new elections administrator in Stewart County, Tennessee.
V. Legislative Updates
Federal Legislation: Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) has introduced the Register America to Vote Act that would ensure every state develops and implements a secure process to automatically register eligible citizens to vote.
New York: The New York City Council is considering a bill that will make it easier for first-time voters to register online to vote. The bill would require the New York City Campaign Finance Board (CFB) to create a secure website and mobile app for residents who want to register online.
Oklahoma: Sen. Rob Standridge says he plans to re-file legislation in the 2018 session that would require legislators to pay for special elections to replace them. “I think we need to be cognizant as legislators what we cost the public when we do that,” he told the Norman Transcript. “Somebody has to foot that bill. We just had another one of the House resign last week. That’s going to cost the taxpayers another $30,000 or so. If you’re in the House and you’ll just stay until Jan. 1, a special election doesn’t have to be called.”
VI. Legal Updates
Arizona: Attorney General Mark Brnovich has ruled that county election officials may maintain separate voter registration databases, but that they are still legally required to send voter information to the secretary of state’s office.
Also in Arizona, in a 15-page complaint, a coalition of voting rights groups charge that state agencies are violating the National Voter Registration Act and say that if the problems are not rectified within 90 days, they will take the matter to court. The complaint alleges that there are flaws in both state statutes and the process used by state agencies to register people to vote.
Minnesota: The U.S. Supreme Court will hear a Minnesota case about what not to wear to the polls on election day. The Minnesota Voters Alliance is challenging the state law that forbids political badges, buttons or other insignia inside polling places.
Ohio: The U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals based in Cincinnati has overturned a lower court ruling that had ruled against blind voters in Ohio who claimed the state’s paper absentee ballots illegally forced them to rely on others to vote. found the lower court should not have simply accepted the secretary of state’s arguments on the matter. It sent the case back for further proceedings. “Without proof that the proposed [Americans with Disabilities Act] accommodation is unreasonable or incompatible with Ohio’s election system, defendant’s defense based on an allegation alone is insufficient,” Judge Richard Allen Griffin wrote.
Pennsylvania: In a 4-3 vote, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ruled that a case challenging how congressional districts were drawn six years ago may proceed on a compressed schedule. The commonwealth has until December 31 to issue findings of fact and legal conclusions.
VII. Tech Thursday
Wyoming: State and county officials have formed a task force, Plan for Aging Voting Equipment (PAVE) to determine what is the best voting equipment to replace the state’s aging equipment and to figure out how to pay for it. The task force is made of up county clerks, state legislators and representatives from the secretary of state’s office. “The election process, and the delivery of elections, is a matter of state sovereignty. The Task Force understands the gravity of this undertaking,” Secretary of State Ed Murray told KTWO.
VIII. Opinions This Week
Arizona: Voting rights
Colorado: Logan County
Connecticut: VoTeR Center
Iowa: Secretary of state race
Minnesota: Ranked choice voting
Pennsylvania: Voting rights
Utah: Voter disenfranchisement
IX. 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. Where: 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
Clerk-Recorder Services Specialist, Contra Costa County, California — the Contra Costa County Clerk-Recorder is currently recruiting for the position of Clerk-Recorder Services Specialist, located in the Recorder's Division of the Clerk-Recorder-Elections Department, in downtown Martinez, CA. The Clerk-Recorder Services Specialist is a lead technical position assigned to one of the specialized units of the Recorder's Division: Recording, Clerk Services, Imaging/Indexing and Archive/Warehouse Services. This position performs the most complex and technical support activities associated with the day-to-day operations of the Clerk-Recorder Division; provides lead direction to Clerk-Recorder Division personnel, including Clerk-Recorder Services Technicians, clerical and temporary staff. Salary: $50,264-$61,096. Deadline: December 1. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Elections Administrator, Tarrant County, Texas — the county elections administrator, in accordance with Section 31.043, 31.044, 31.045 of the Texas Election Code, shall perform the duties and functions of the Voter Registrar; performs election-related duties that the law requires to be handled by the County Clerk in Counties where there is no Elections Administrator. Essential duties and responsibilities: With assistance from the Secretary of State, interprets and applies the Texas Election Code provisions to election process procedures to protect the voting rights of all County citizens. Serves as the custodian of election records and filing agent for Candidate and Officeholder Title 15 reports. Acts as service provider for election services contracts for political subdivisions within the County. Performs all other related duties involved in the operation of the business as required by law. Salary: Negotiable. Deadline: November 22. Application: For the complete job list and to apply, click here.
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 Technician, Marion County, Oregon — provides assistance to the Elections and Recording Manager. Assumes primary responsibility for specific technical and operational functions of the elections process for Marion County. Manages multiple tasks in compliance with state and federal laws, rules, and regulations. Does related work as required. Works under the supervision of the Elections and Recording Manager, who assigns work, sets goals and reviews work for accuracy and conformance to department standards and laws governing the elections process. Supervision of employees is not a responsibility of positions in this class; however, exercises lead direction, and trains regular and temporary employees, and election board workers. Salary: $16.86-$22.58 per hour. Deadline: November 30. 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.