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March 4, 2021

March 4, 2021

In Focus This Week

Preparing for the 2022 Midterm

By Jim Allen

In 2020, we re-designed poll worker recruitment and training.  We provided socially-distanced in-person voting in fairgrounds and sporting arenas.  We processed record-shattering numbers of mail-in ballots. We managed super-sized turnouts.  We did it all that during a pandemic.

Problem was, so much of it had to be done on the fly.  Looking ahead to 2022, we have more time to look around the corner and make plans. Here are three areas to consider:

1. Restore faith: Be ready to tell your story.

Our elections ran securely. The paper ballot moved from the ideal to the norm in swing states with high-profile jurisdictions replacing Direct Recording Electronic devices that lacked paper trails.  Recounts and audits were transparent.  Results were checked and verified.

Even so, more people than ever “argued the calls.” Some produced misleading or easily misunderstood videos that went viral.

Here are some steps we can take at the local, state and federal levels – ahead of 2022:

  • Produce videos that outline how we perform PRELAT, maintain a secure chain of custody, process the ballots, and verify the results through post-election canvasses;
  • Be aware of the optics of our vote-counting processes. Use large labels on all materials, containers, and activity stations. Create signs that state the rules clearly; and,
  • Make sure all staff understand the importance of defending the integrity of the count.

2. Voter emails and cell numbers help us function. Let’s build those lists.

Successful Vote By Mail programs included timely emails and text messages to voters. We used these platforms to send applications, confirm ballot returns, and alert voters to problems.

Even so, there is a digital divide with “legacy” voters who registered a decade or more ago. That was before they had their current email addresses, or before they switched from land lines to smart phones.

First, consider adding to your canvass mailing – or in-person ballot applications – a way for voters to submit email addresses and cell numbers.  Make clear that the information is optional – but will help voters if the election agency needs to reach voters in the future. If applicable in your state, make clear that you will safeguard this information.

Second, we need to expand the menus on our states’ online registration platforms.  Currently, these systems let voters: (1) register to vote, and (2) update names and addresses. We should add the options to: (3) add or update an email address, and (4) add or update a cell number.  This will happen only if we all start asking.

3. Brace for late Census data.

The Census Bureau will release 2020 data far later than ever before. This will delay re-districting and may contribute to mistakes and problems with our election calendars. The National Conference of State Legislatures’ Ben Williams recently wrote some tips for lawmakers to consider.

What can we do at the local level?

  • Cross-train staff on your mapping systems so that late arrivals of Congressional, state, and local district files do not fall on just one person or a few members of your team.
  • Meet online with election administrators on the regional and state levels about the challenges that late maps may present for petition circulation, candidate filings, and ballot prep. Build a unified message.
  • Communicate with legislators at the state, county, and municipal levels about scheduling issues.  Help legislators consider (now) how election codes and calendars may need to change.

Additionally, consider how the Census Bureau will tell more jurisdictions of the need to add one or more languages to ballots and other voting materials.  Census Bureau notices could come in late 2021 – even early or mid-2022.  Is your jurisdiction English-only, but more diverse than it was in 2010? If so, check in with your voting-equipment vendor.  Talk with colleagues in multi-lingual jurisdictions. They can tell you about Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act and how to strengthen community partnerships.  These partners are vital to being able to offer new web content, change printed materials, expand outreach, and recruit bilingual poll workers.

We all face various concerns. One will be budgeting for almost-certain changes in state laws – and programs that we may need to provide in 2022 without the CARES Act funding we received in 2020. Even so, unlike 2020, we have more time to contemplate the issues and do what we do best: plan ahead.

Jim Allen has directed communications, strategic planning and continuity of operations plans for the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners since 2006. Valued input was contributed by Center for Civic Design Director Whitney Quesenbery, The Elections Group co-founder Noah Praetz, and Center for Tech & Civic Life co-founder Whitney May.

In Their Own Words

Whose responsibility is it anyway?
How can we create a more truth-based culture?

By Kammi Foote, clerk, recorder & registrar of voters
Inyo County, California

The country has been gripped with the aftermath of the Presidential election, marred with accusations of massive voter fraud altering the outcome of the election. As contributing factors emerge to paint a clearer of picture of what led up to the historic second impeachment of the 45th President, we should recognize that all of us as citizens have a responsibility to contribute to a truth-based culture in the United States.

As a public official responsible for conducting elections in Inyo County, California, I experienced firsthand how manipulated facts fueled a national crisis that culminated at the Capital on January 6th. For many citizens, this was the first time experiencing the damage that false accusations can cause.

Having been directly exposed to a conspiracy prior to this election, I view mis-and disinformation as much more menacing to our culture than this single tragic incident.  A few years ago, I found myself at the heart of a small conspiracy when I agreed to help a local family in crisis after their child went missing. Many people who volunteered to help were doxed, maliciously reported to law enforcement, private conversations where shared publicly without permission, false reports were made to their jobs, all which pales in comparison to the stalking and harassment the family continues to endure.  It was very emotional and confusing since I had never experienced anything like it before.

I am not a mental health professional, but I have spent a lot of time reflecting on my own experiences. In my opinion, we need to invest much more research into how the internet is contributing to a less stable society. In the meantime, as individuals, we should develop strategies to deal with harassing behaviors online, and to protect ourselves from unintentionally participating in it. I would encourage readers to do their own research and seek professional support if they find themselves involved in conspiratorial thinking.

According to medical hypotheses, delusions are mistaken and unfounded personal beliefs, when there is superior evidence to the contrary. Once in a delusion, depending on how convinced the person is of the fictitious reality, they will cling to their false beliefs even when presented with conflicting evidence. We see this in politics where officials blame each other for problems, ignoring their own actions leading to current events.

In the situations that I experienced, only parts of relevant information were widely shared. Other evidence was misrepresented, with attempts to set the record straight either ignored or further twisted to feed false narratives.

People often see patterns and connections that are simply not there. We have all likely experienced a form of this at some point in our life – whether it be an insecurity, a paranoia or leaps in logic that do not add up but play into our biases. In the digital world, these tendencies can increase if they are reinforced by others that have similar beliefs. If gone unchallenged, these delusions can feed into a  mass hysteria. This is a circumstance where many people in a group believe in a delusion, reinforcing each other in their false convictions.

When I found myself mistreated because of rumors and lies, it sometimes felt like nothing that I could do or say could dispel the fabrications. In large part, this was true. Once someone has made up their mind, it can be difficult to convince them otherwise. In the case of elections, I can show public evidence, but people may still choose not to believe it. In the sensitive case of a missing person, there are many things unknown, so the truth is much harder to discern.

In both cases, I chose to approach the skeptics with compassion and empathy. It is easy to take false accusations personally. After all, most of us are not used to being lied about by strangers. In any case, the perceptions of the accusers are real, even if the facts do not support their conclusions. Learning to recognize that many abusive behaviors online are complex and could be the result of underlying mental health disorders, might help you refrain from the impulse to participate in the collective trauma. I asked gentle, logical, and clarifying questions when I felt that someone was acting in good faith and tried to be non-confrontational with those who did not seem to be acting rationally. It is important to be able to recognize real threats and separate that from critical or hurtful comments.

Having people publicly accuse me of motives that I did not possess or thoughts I never considered is likely a result of the perplexing phenomenon known as psychological projection.

According to everydayhealth.com: “Psychological projection is a defense mechanism people subconsciously employ in order to cope with difficult feelings or emotions. Psychological projection involves projecting undesirable feelings or emotions onto someone else, rather than admitting to or dealing with the unwanted feelings. Have you ever disliked someone only to become convinced that the person had a vendetta against you? This is a common example of psychological projection.”

No one can know what another person is thinking unless they explicitly tell you. Even then, it may only be what the person believes at that moment in time, if they are even being truthful in the first place. Just because someone said something in the past, we should not assume that they are incapable of changing their minds, especially if more information materializes. An example is the current health crisis, where it would be illogical to rely on reports from 10 months ago, prior to the emergence of more recent scientific studies.

All of us should make conscious efforts not to assign motives to others or share deceptive information. If you have, it is okay to seek forgiveness if the situation warrants it. We all make mistakes. However, if we fail to recognize our own responsibility to be honest, instead placing the blame at the feet of others, we lose our opportunity to promote a more genuine humanity. It may seem like such a monumental problem that one person’s actions could never make a difference. But, like a pebble dropped into a pond, although the catalyst of the dropping the pebble may seem like one small act, collectively the ripple effect can create powerful waves with significant impacts. If we all commit to this simple philosophy – to hold ourselves responsible for telling the truth – my hope is that we can collectively manifest a more positive and truthful world.

About the Author: Kammi Foote is currently serving her third term as the elected Clerk-Recorder & Registrar of Voters, responsible for overseeing elections in Inyo County, California. She is a frequent invited speaker regarding election integrity and has testified on measures to improve the administration of elections before the California Senate and the Little Hoover Commission. In addition, she is a board member of several non-profits who focus on civil rights, sustainable water & environmental policies, and leadership development.

EAC 2020 Clearie Award Winners

EAC announces winners of the 2020 Clearinghouse Awards
Annual “Clearie” Awards promote the development and use of best practices in election administration

The U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) today announced the recipients of the 2020 Clearinghouse Awards, also known as the “Clearie” Awards, for best practices in election administration. Established by the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA), the EAC is charged with serving as a clearinghouse for election administration information. To further this mission, the EAC launched the Clearies in 2016 to promote best practices in elections and celebrate the accomplishments of election officials.

The award categories include innovation in election administration; improving accessibility for voters with disabilities; best practices in recruiting, training, and retaining poll workers; and creative and original “I Voted” sticker design. The EAC also announced a new category this year for innovation in election cybersecurity and technology. Winners were selected by two independent panels of election officials from the EAC’s advisory boards with the EAC Commissioners serving as judges for the sticker category. The EAC is grateful for the contributions of this year’s judges.

“This year we are pleased to receive a record-breaking number of 137 Clearie submissions, more than tripling the 2019 submissions,” said EAC Chairman Donald Palmer. “The number of Clearie submissions highlights that even though this was a challenging election year, officials continue to modernize and develop programming that will serve as helpful best practices for the coming years. The job of an election official is never done, and we hope to see even more submissions and exceptional examples in 2021. The Clearie winners, those who submitted entries, and all election officials should be incredibly proud of the work they did to ensure a successful 2020 election. These best practices are valuable resources as officials continue to administer elections during the pandemic and for years to come.”

EAC Commissioner and 2020 Chairman, Ben Hovland said, “During an incredibly challenging year, election officials rose to the occasion by developing new, innovative solutions to serve voters. As a result of their creativity and perseverance, millions of voters had their voices heard in extremely well-run elections with record turnout.”

Now in its fifth year, the Clearie awards recognize the innovative efforts of election officials across America. Entries were judged based on each initiative’s depiction of positive results, innovation, sustainability, outreach efforts, cost-effectiveness, and replicability. More information about each awardee is available on the EAC’s website.

The 2020 Clearie winners are:

Improving Accessibility for Voters with Disabilities

  • Iowa Secretary of State – Quick Check Accessibility Booklet
  • Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk (CA) – Flex Vote Center Program
  • West Virginia Secretary of State – Accessible Electronic Ballot
  • Wisconsin Elections Commission – Accessibility Advisory Committee

Outstanding Innovations in Elections for Small Jurisdictions

  • Boulder County Elections (CO) – High School Voter Registration Program
  • Canton Township, Clerk’s Office (MI) – Four Tools to Enhance Election Services
  • Durham County Board of Elections (NC) – Early Voting Wait Time Tracker

Outstanding Innovations in Elections for Medium Jurisdictions

  • Arapahoe County Clerk and Recorder’s Office (CO) – Curbside Ballot Pickup Program
  • Jefferson County Clerk and Recorder (CO) – Online Chat
  • Utah County Elections Division & GIS Department (UT) – GIS Solutions

Outstanding Innovations in Elections for Large Jurisdictions

  • King County Elections (WA) – Voter Education Fund
  • Los Angeles Registrar – Recorder/County Clerk (CA) – Wait Time Enhancement for Vote Center Locator
  • Maricopa County Elections Department (AZ) – Polling Location Webpage with Wait Times
  • Montgomery County Board of Elections (MD) – SMS Short Codes to Inform Voters

Best Practices in Recruiting, Retaining, and Training Poll Workers

  • Alaska Division of Elections – Election Official Television Training
  • Harris County Election Administrator (TX) – Electronic Support Specialist High School Student Program
  • North Carolina State Board of Elections – “Democracy Heroes” Recruitment Campaign
  • Ohio Secretary of State – Precinct Election Official Recruitment and Voter Outreach Programs
  • Wake County Board of Elections (NC) – “Coffee with Nick” Virtual Talk Show for Election Officials

Creative and Original “I Voted” Sticker Design

  • City of Ann Arbor (MI)
  • Connecticut Secretary of State
  • Escambia County Supervisor of Elections (FL)
  • San Mateo County Registration & Elections Division (CA)

Outstanding Innovations in Election Cybersecurity and Technology

  • Anne Arundel County Board of Elections (MD) – Online Election Cybersecurity Training Modules
  • Illinois State Board of Elections – Cyber Navigator Program
  • Ottawa County Clerk/Register of Deeds Office, Elections Division (MI) – #OttawaVotes Voter Information Campaign

In addition to the Clearie winners, 15 offices were recognized for Clearie Honorable Mention awards. More information on these winners and their efforts is available here.

Election News This Week

Threats to Democracy: On Tuesday, a polling place in Ankeny, Iowa had to be evacuated after a passerby noticed a suspicious device in the grass near the building that housed the polling place. Polk County Auditor Jamie Fitzgerald says it was found around 9:30 a.m. outside the Lakeside Center at 400 NW Lakeshore Drive and described the device as a metal piece with two end caps, “similar to a pipe bomb.” Fitzgerald said the polling place was closed and as a precaution the other polling places in Ankeny were made aware of the situation and checked out. Police said no other pipe bombs or devices have been found or reported in Ankeny. The device was rendered safe by a technician from the State Fire Marshal’s office. Investigators said it’s unclear whether there was a target with the pipe bomb. A key reason for the mystery at this point is that it’s unknown when someone left the device. Investigators are also trying to determine whether surveillance video from the park or home security systems may help them find the person who left the device. ProPublica has a story this week about the violent threats Georgia elections officials and workers received and that there have been relatively few arrests. ProPublica could identify only one case of a Georgia elections-related threat since November that led to an arrest: No arrests were made in any of a dozen or more high-profile cases of politically fueled threats against Georgia’s governor and secretary of state, all of its state legislators, Fulton County’s district attorney, and election officials and workers in several counties. Gwinnett County Solicitor-General Brian Whiteside told ProPublica there needs to be a special division of state government tasked with investigating election-related crimes. “I have a deep fear that somebody is going to get hurt out here,” he said. “Because they’re not making enough preventive arrests when these incidents happen.”

Equipment Controversies: This week, Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin (R) decided to shelve his search for new voting equipment for the state after complaints about the bidding process from vendors, the head of a state Senate oversight committee and other Republicans. According to KATC, Ardoin sent a letter to Paula Tregre, Louisiana’s chief procurement officer, announcing his decision, asking her to remove the bid solicitation from a state website and requesting that she dismiss protests filed by two companies that wanted to seek the work. “I am withdrawing the (request for proposals) to spend the next few months seeking to undo the damage to voter confidence done by those who willfully spread misinformation and disinformation,” Ardoin said in a statement. “We cannot let election administration become just another political football for politicians or voting machine vendors to kick around, without any understanding or concern for the consequences,” Ardoin wrote in the letter. Ardoin said he’ll redo the search in the future, though he gave no date for that plan. Also this week, NPR has a story about the struggle Stark County, Ohio is having with purchasing new voting equipment due to false claims made by the former president and others about the accuracy of the 2020 election. In December the county BOE voted unanimously to purchase new Dominion voting equipment and since then officials said they have been getting pushback from constituents. “The board of commissioners has received hundreds of communications from concerned citizens,” County Commissioner Bill Smith said during a public meeting last month. “This response from the public has far exceeded the response any of us have received on any topic to come before our board.” At the meeting, chair of the Starke County BOE Jeff Matthews pushed back. “Refusing to recognize that this election was safe, secure and accurate can be viewed as nothing less than attacking the peaceful transfer of power,” Matthews said. “Some of the claims made about Dominion Voting Systems are beyond absurd and require one to suspend all critical thought.” In the weeks since that meeting, the county’s commissioners have yet to approve the $6.5 million contract.

This week, King County [Washington] Elections and the Seattle Foundation announced the availability of $950,000 in grants to help break down barriers to voting among historically excluded communities. The grants will go to more than 30 organizations. Focus communities for this grantee cycle include, but are not limited to Black, Indigenous, people of color, people experiencing homelessness, people convicted of a felony, limited-English speaking communities, people with disabilities and youth of color. “As elections administrators it is our democratic duty to ensure every eligible voter has access to the ballot. Confronting the shameful history of voter suppression—that has disproportionately impacted BIPOC communities—is vital to the work we do,” said Julie Wise, King County elections director. “The Voter Education Fund helps us get out the vote by supporting grassroots organizations, who are already putting in the work and have established relationships within their communities, with the resources needed to give everyone a voice. That is democracy in action.” Selected organizations will work to educate, register, familiarize voters with the electoral process through nonpartisan information, and provide culturally appropriate technical assistance during the 2021-2022 election cycles. After an initial pilot program in 2016, the VEF was launched in 2017 with a $435,000 commitment. During the 2019-2020 cycle $950,000 was invested across 39 grantee organizations. Since 2018 VEF community partners have reached 887,608 voters, registered 17,550 people, and held 5,423 community events.

Speaking of kings, LeBron James’ More Than a Vote voting rights organization is partnering with the NBA’s National Basketball Social Justice Coalition, the NBA Players Association and the Georgia chapter of the NAACP to combat recent Republican-backed measures to roll back voting access. According to Forbes, With the NBA’s All-Star Game set to be played Sunday in Atlanta, More Than a Vote says they plan to use the attention the league generates this weekend to highlight pending legislation nationwide that creates barriers to voting, which disproportionately impacts Black Americans and urban communities. “Given that we’ll have a national audience tuning in to watch the All Star Game this weekend in Atlanta, we have a unique opportunity to work together with our partners to shine a spotlight on these voter suppression efforts that target the league’s most loyal fan base and provide fans with the tools they need to fight back,” said Addisu Demissie, the executive director of More Than A Vote. The group’s plans include a social media campaign and interviews with league stars promoting expanded voting rights. “We all need to continue to use our platform,” James wrote to his 49 million Twitter followers this week.

Personnel News: Matthew Dutton has been named the new Bell County, Texas elections administrator. Carolyn Guidry is retiring as the Jefferson County, Texas clerk. Jeffery Rezabek has been appointed director of the Montgomery County, Ohio board of elections and Sarah W. Greathouse has been appointed deputy director. Charlie Frye is no longer the director of the Ashtabula County, Ohio board of elections, John Mead has been named acting director. Brian Scarpone has been appointed the new chairman of the Jefferson County, Ohio board of elections. James Hall has been appointed to the Chatham County, Georgia board of elections. Fulton County, Georgia Elections Chairwoman Mary Carole Cooney has resigned. Carol Bronczyk is the new Dickinson County, Michigan clerk. Christa Miller is the new Lancaster County, Pennsylvania director of elections. Jim Fruth has been reappointed as the Seneca County, Ohio board of elections chairman. The Fulton County, Georgia board of commissioners voted to keep Richard Barron as the director of the county’s elections.

In Memoriam: John W. Small Jr., formerly the Berkeley County, West Virginia clerk died on February 24. He was 87. Small was first employed in the county clerk’s office in 1956 and only recently retired after decades of service. He was appointed chief deputy clerk on Jan. 2, 1957, and served in that position until the death of then-Clerk Eugene Dunham. He was appointed to the vacated position on Sept. 17, 1971. Small was first officially elected to office in 1974 and was reelected to his position every six years after. “I appreciate the many courtesies and kindness you and your staff have extended to me, you have helped to make my time of service meaningful and enjoyable,” Small wrote in his retirement letter. “The opportunity to serve my neighbors and fellow citizens has been my motivation for more years than I could ever have imagined. I wish each of you well as I move into my retirement and a new part of my life…. I hope to take it easy now, buoyed by my memories, my many friendships and my loving wife Julie.” Small was the longest-serving election official in Berkeley County history. “Over those 64 years of service to the people of this great county, I have witnessed the spectacular growth of Berkeley County and have presided over the growth of this office and its many changes through the years. It has been my great pleasure and good fortune to have served the public…”

Legislative Updates

Federal Legislation: On Wednesday night, by a vote of 220 to 210, the U.S. House of Representatives approved HR1—the For the People Act. The legislation would create national voting standards, overhaul campaign finance laws and outlaw partisan redistricting. The bill’s voting provisions would guarantee no-excuse mail voting and at least 15 days of early voting for federal elections; require states to use their existing government records to automatically register citizens to vote; restore voting rights to felons who have completed their prison sentences; and mandate the use of paper ballots. Other provisions would create new disclosure requirements for “dark money” donations to political groups; require states to appoint independent commissions to draw congressional districts; and create new federal standards for election equipment vendors. The bill also would require tech platforms to disclose political advertising information; establish a code of ethics for Supreme Court justices for the first time; restructure the Federal Election Commission to an odd number of members to break partisan deadlocks; and require presidential candidates to disclose their tax returns. According to The Washington Post, while virtually all Democrats, including the president, have signaled support for the bill, the solid GOP opposition means the legislation is in deep peril in the Senate, whose rules allow a 41-vote minority to block most legislation from coming to a final vote. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) has made clear that Republicans plan to fight tooth and nail against it. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) said this week that she expects to usher companion legislation through the Senate Rules Committee later this spring and ultimately to bring it to the floor. Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) said, “If you’re ranking the most important legislation of the year, that is way up there.”

U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-Arkansas) has introduced the Verification and Oversight for Transparent Elections, Registration, and Identification, or VOTER ID, Act, Westerman’s legislation mandates audits of the results of “each regularly scheduled general election for Federal office held in the State.” Westerman introduced his legislation after failing, on Monday, to persuade the House Rules Committee to include his provisions in HR1. In addition to checking “the accuracy of the voting systems used to carry out the election,” the Hot Springs lawmaker’s bill would require states to assess whether their elections complied with “applicable laws, rules and procedures.” States would have to “attest” that they have “voter identification procedures and practices” in place as well as a system for keeping voter registration lists up to date. The results would be posted online.

Sens. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) and Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) have introduced the Save Democracy Act. The bill would institute several new registration requirements for ballot access, including citizenship verification and Social Security numbers, while outlawing automatic voter registration. It would also roll back expansions of mail-in voting former President Donald Trump railed against, setting restrictions on who can submit mail-in ballots, and where and when they can be submitted. The bill requires states to stop automatically sending mail-in ballots to every voter, a system adopted by 9 states, including 5 – Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah and Washington – that conduct elections primarily by mail. Finally, the bill would set new regulations for the way in which votes are counted, requiring uninterrupted vote counting, expanded poll-watching access for campaign representatives and audits of vote tabulating systems – all key tenets of Trump’s argument that the 2020 election was “rigged” against him.

Alabama: A House committee Wednesday approved legislation that would explicitly ban curbside voting in Alabama. HB 285, sponsored by Rep. Wes Allen, R-Troy, would forbid election workers from setting up curbside drop off areas or setting up voting machines outside a polling place. “This goes to managing, protecting the integrity of the election and the chain of custody from the balance sheet,” Allen said in committee. The measure, if passed, would codify an interpretation of state law by Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill, who says curbside voting is prohibited in Alabama and has blocked counties from engaging in it. Civil rights groups, representing plaintiffs with disabilities or who were vulnerable to COVID-19 infection, sued last year to lift the prohibition. The U.S. Supreme Court rejected the lawsuits.

House Bill 396, which would have allowed people to vote absentee without an excuse has been carried over, all but killing the legislation for this year. Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill originally supported this bill but has since dropped that support. “We are not proponents of no excuse absentee voting, but wanted to use this vehicle to feature that as an option to pass some other things that were important to us in streamlining the absentee process,” Merrill said. According to WAFF, Merrill is working with other lawmakers on a new proposal to change the deadline for absentee ballot applications to be returned from five days before the election, to ten days.

Arizona: The Senate has approved a bill that will purge people from the permanent early voting list if they skip two consecutive election cycles. The popular “permanent early voting list” allows voters to sign up once and automatically receive a ballot for every election. The bill by Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita, R-Scottsdale, would purge people from the list of they skip the primary and general election for two cycles in a row. They would get a letter asking them whether they want to remain on the permanent early voting list and would be removed if they don’t respond. State election officials have said about 200,000 voters currently meet the criteria. The proposal has had an up-and-down route through the Legislature. An identical bill died in the Senate last month when Republican Sen. Paul Boyer joined all 14 Democrats in opposition. Boyer later said he would support it after getting questions answered by lawyers, and it cleared the Senate in a 16-14 vote.

The House has advanced a number of election-related bills including making same-day voter registration a felony offense, requiring people to specifically ask to register to vote, mandating notices on mailed early ballots telling recipients to “return to sender” if the person no longer lives there and boosting limits on the required disclosure of campaign contributions. Another measure makes it a felony for an election official to send mail ballots to people who hadn’t requested them — a move prompted by a failed proposal last year by Maricopa County’s former recorder to mail all voters ballots during the pandemic.

Arkansas: Online voter registration could come to Arkansas, in part, through the efforts of a Girl Scout, the sponsor of a bill to authorize the change said Friday. “This started when Anna Claire Tilley made a presentation, and it was a good one,” said Rep. Justin Boyd, R-Fort Smith, sponsor of House Bill 1517. The House State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee recommended the bill Wednesday. Tilley spoke to a meeting of the state agencies committee in March of last year, part of her efforts to encourage online voting. Tilley is a student time at Southside High School in Fort Smith. Getting her state to approve online voting began as a Girl Scout project, according to news accounts. Her proposal was studied in the interim between legislative sessions, Boyd said, and the bill introduced after the Legislature’s regular session began in January. Gaining committee approval in the sponsor’s chamber of the Legislature is only the first step in passing a bill after filing it. The next step will be harder, Boyd said. The change in the bill would affect laws implementing Amendment 51 to the state’s constitution, which concerns voter registration. Voters passed Amendment 51 in 1964, setting up the voter registration system used since. Bills affecting voter-approved constitutional amendments require a two-thirds super-majority to pass, Boyd said. Amendment 51 passed in the civil rights era, repealing requirements such as such as poll taxes, used to suppress votes from Black Arkansans.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson said this week that he will sign HB1112 into law. The legislation requires a photo ID or a provisional ballot and also eliminates signature verification of provisional ballots. The new law will need to be monitored, he said, to ensure that voters are receiving proper assistance in obtaining an ID. If they are not, Hutchinson said Arkansas’ General Assembly will need to change the law. Lawmakers opposed to the legislation argued that 2020 election about 2,700 provisional ballots with sworn signatures were tabulated, and there was not a single instance of voter fraud with those ballots. But Lowery said it took weeks in some cases to count provisional ballots and election workers don’t have the training to verify signatures.

Georgia: A bill to restrict ballot drop boxes, require more ID for absentee voting and limit weekend early voting days passed the Georgia House this week amid protests that the proposals would make it harder for voters to participate in democracy. The House voted along party lines, 97-72. Democrats opposing the legislation said it creates obstacles for voting that will do more to reduce turnout than increase election security. The measure that passed the Georgia House, House Bill 531, would limit ballot drop boxes to locations inside early voting locations, reduce “Souls to the Polls” voting events to one Sunday during early voting, and require voters to provide a driver’s license number, state ID number or copy of photo ID to request absentee ballots. In addition, the measure would set a deadline for requesting absentee ballots 11 days before election day, ban organizations from distributing grants to help fund elections and prohibit distributing food and drink to voters waiting in line. The bill now heads to the state Senate. In response to concerns about House Bill 531, House Speaker David Ralston announced a plan to offer free Georgia ID cards that could be used for voting, opening bank accounts and traveling on airlines.

Idaho: The Senate approved legislation to make it more difficult to get initiatives or referendums on ballots in a measure with urban vs. rural overtones. Senators voted 26-9 to send to the House the measure that backers say is needed to give rural voters more say in the process, noting the state is growing rapidly especially in urban areas. Opponents argued the measure violates the Idaho Constitution because it makes getting initiatives on ballots nearly impossible, giving a single district veto power. Current rules require signatures from 6% of registered voters in each of 18 districts in 18 months, plus a number of signatures that equals 6% or all registered voters in the state. The proposed law would change that to requiring 6% of registered voters in all 35 Idaho legislative districts in 18 months. Backers of the bill said that under current rules, signature gatherers could get all the signatures they need in the 18 districts in just a handful of counties that contain urban areas.

A revamped version of a proposed law making it a felony in Idaho for third parties to collect and return multiple ballots to election officials passed the full House , 56-12. The bill that has several significant changes from the bill that was pulled from the House floor earlier this month after debate tilted toward almost certain defeat. The new bill changes from two to six the number of ballots a single family member can deliver. It also redefines family to include adopted children. The proposed law limits who can handle multiple ballots to election officials, U.S. postal service workers and parcel delivery services.

Illinois: State Sen. Darren Bailey (R-Louisville) has filed Senate Bill 2038, which would mandate the use of hand-marked paper ballots by election authorities. Ballots under this bill could be counted by hand or with optical scanners. Illinois election leaders would have to set up strict chain-of-command procedures for ballots, voter registration polls and tabulation results. In addition, the Illinois State Board of Elections would have to use software that monitors and detects potential vulnerabilities in voter registration roll security.

 

Kentucky: A House committee has approved House Bill 574 to allow no-excuse, in-person early voting in Kentucky, though the measure was amended to reduce the number of early voting days from four to three. House Bill 574 keeps several of the emergency measures enacted in last year’s elections due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which factored into a record number of Kentuckians turning out to vote. The original version of HB 574 included four days of early voting, but the committee substitute passed Thursday lowered this to three days, with its lead sponsor saying this was one of several compromises to give the bill a chance of passing both chambers. Secretary of State Michael Adams testified to the committee and called the bill a major step forward for improving voting access while maintaining the integrity of elections, noting many other states are taking the opposite approach. House Bill 574 would also: Allow counties to continue operating voting centers where anyone in the county could vote in-person early and on Election Day, as well as maintain drop boxes where voters can submit absentee ballots; Keep the process adopted last year in which voters can cure absentee ballots of deficiencies, such as one missing a signature; Include new vote integrity measures to prohibit ballot harvesting, in which people collect others’ completed absentee ballots and turn them in; Require counties to purchase voting machines allowing for paper ballots or a verified paper trail when replacing old equipment; and Improve the ability of state elections officials to purge individuals from the voting rolls when informed they are voting in another state.

Massachusetts: House lawmakers approved a bill extending the COVID-19 mail-in voting law through June, giving Beacon Hill more time to review more permanent election reforms. The House voted on Monday to approve the bill, H. 73, extending the mail-in voting law through June 30. The proposal heads to the Senate for review. The temporary mail-in voting law, which took effect in July, was supposed to expire at the end of 2020 but was extended until March 31, 2021 to account for upcoming special elections.

 

Missouri: Some lawmakers are talking about changing the way Missourians vote and even getting rid of the presidential primary election to save money. Members of the House Elections and Elected Officials Committee discussed only allowing Missouri voters to use paper ballots. Rep. Peggy McGaugh (R-Carrollton) is the sponsor of House Bill 1065, a large election bill, which includes doing away with Missourians voting in the presidential preference primary election. “It totally eliminates that particular primary that is held every four years,” McGaugh said. She said that election costs the state $9 million. Election clerks from around the state testified in favor of the bill. HB 1065 would also allow an absentee ballot to count if the voter dies after the ballot is cast. McGaugh testified saying some counties count the vote while others don’t. Under McGaugh’s bill, local election authorities wouldn’t have to wait until election day to count absentee ballots. It would allow for absentee ballots to be considered “cast” the day they are received, meaning it can be counted. Another piece of the legislation would allow those using an absentee ballot without an excuse would have three weeks to fill out their ballot, instead of six, but then voters would be able to return it to a drop box.

Montana: A law to sharply restrict the practice of collecting ballots won approval in the Montana House on a party-line vote last week, while several other voting bills failed to advance as the transmittal deadline looms. House Bill 406, sponsored by Rep. Mark Noland, R-Bigfork, proposes several tweaks to the Ballot Interference Protection Act. The law was passed overwhelmingly by voters in a 2018 ballot referendum, but was ruled unconstitutional by a pair of state district judges last year. Noland’s bill would remove a six-ballot limit on the practice, while tightening other restrictions and creating a statewide registry of anyone allowed to turn in another person’s ballot, including members of the same family or household.

The House meanwhile sank a pair of Democrat-sponsored election bills, including House Bill 441, which would have allowed students under the age of 18 to serve as election judges. The sponsor, Rep. Kelly Kortum, D-Bozeman, framed the legislation as a means to relieve election offices that have struggled to attract enough volunteers to adequately staff polling places. It failed to pass 39-61.

Introduced in committee last week, a Native American Voting Rights Act bill will generally revise election procedures on reservations to reduce barriers to voting in Indigenous communities.  Sponsored by Rep. Sharon Stewart-Peregoy, D-Crow Agency, House Bill 613 would require at least two permanent satellite election offices for each federally recognized tribe and require precinct polling place notices to include locations on reservations. It would also authorize the use of nontraditional addresses for voters. “This (bill) is very important in the respect that it’s really looking at ensuring our rights as citizens are not undercut,” said Stewart-Peregoy. Keaton Sunchild, political director for Western Native Voice who worked closely with Stewart-Peregoy on the bill, said the HB 613 symbolizes progress. “This bill will do nothing but push us forward and make Montana one of the leaders in the United States in terms of Native voting rights. … For far too long, people in power have tried to silence the Native vote, and we think this is our best chance to make our voices heard,” he said.

Nebraska: Legislators heard testimony this week on a bill that proponents say would guarantee all eligible voters in the state would get a chance to cast their ballot. LB577 calls for vote-by-mail ballots to include a postage-paid return envelope, update voter registration through the DMV. and establish Election Day as a state holiday. “For many people, it is difficult to find the time to vote on a workday while the polls are open. According to a Census Bureau survey the primary reason that 14% of people did not vote in the 2016 general election was due to their busy schedule,” State Sen. Eliot Bostar said.

 

Nevada: Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson, D-Las Vegas, is expected to introduce a bill similar to a one-time measure passed last year amid the pandemic to send mail-in ballots to all active registered voters. The major difference is the bill would apply to all future elections. “It wouldn’t be consistent with Nevada’s independent spirit to take that option away from voters,” Frierson said. The legislation may address the speed at which votes are counted and reported, but specifics are still being ironed out, Frierson said. Educating the public about the safety of mail-in ballots is a priority, he said. “I think that we absolutely have to take into account that there are some people who are, I believe, misled with false information about fraudulent activity,” Frierson said.

New Jersey: Registered voters would be able to cast their ballots early, in person at designated polling places before future general and primary elections under legislation approved Monday by the full Assembly, 58-11-1. Under the bill (A-4830) sponsored by Assembly Democrats Andrew Zwicker (D- Middlesex, Somerset, Mercer, Hunterdon) Joseph Danielsen (D-Middlesex, Somerset) and Verlina Reynolds-Jackson (D-), designated polling sites would be available for in-person voting ten days before a general election up until the Sunday before the election. Polls would be open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The early voting period for a non-presidential primary election would be available on the Friday before the primary election until the Sunday before the election. For a presidential primary election, early voting would be available from the Wednesday before the election to the Sunday before. Early voting for May municipal elections would be held on the Friday before the election until the Sunday before. Each county board of elections would designate five to ten early polling locations, depending on the number of registered voters in the county. The voting process during the early voting period would be conducted using optical-scan voting machines that read hand-marked paper ballots or other voting machines that produce a voter-verifiable paper ballot. Additionally, county boards would create and execute written plans for security of voting machines, ballots and records during the early voting period. Once enacted, the bill would be effective immediately

New Mexico: Sen. Harold Pope Jr., D-Albuquerque, introduced a measure, Senate Bill 235, last month to create a “permanent absentee voter list” in each county statewide. It would be available to almost all eligible New Mexico voters, disallowing only absentee voters who reside overseas, who are military stationed outside the United States or who have a mailing address outside the state. Pope told the Sun-News his bill was inspired by the vote-by-mail system he encountered while he served in the military, but he said he also heard from his constituents.  The New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office helped Pope draft it since the office was already interested in pushing for legislation to create a permanent list, according to spokesperson Alex Curtas

Sponsored by Rep. Georgene Louis (D-Albuquerque), Rep. Wonda Johnson (D-Rehoboth), Rep. Derrick Lente (D-Sandia Pueblo), Rep. Anthony Allison (D-Fruitland), and Sen. Benny Shendo (D-Jemez Pueblo), House Bill 231 specifies that polling places can be located on native lands during a time of emergency, such as a pandemic. It also allows tribes and pueblos to request additional polling locations up to 100 days before an election, requires at least one polling location within every Indian nation, tribe, and pueblo, and prohibits the state from closing or consolidating polling places on native lands without the express permission of the tribal government.

New York: Nearly three years after Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order that would grant people on parole the right to vote, the state Legislature has taken the first step to codifying those rights into law after the state Senate passed a bill this week to do just that. Now, the bill awaits passage in the Assembly, but the timeline in that chamber remains unclear. “It’s a bit alarming that a simple bill seeking to chop away at Jim Crow-era voter bans has not yet passed in the New York State Assembly,” Nick Encalada-Malinowski, civil rights campaign director at VOCAL-NY, said in a statement. The legislation, sponsored for the past decade by Assembly Member Danny O’Donnell, is still in committee. It has come close to getting approved in the chamber in past years, but it’s never actually come up for a vote. O’Donnell spokesperson Gabriel Lewenstein said they have “productive conversations” and that they’re “optimistic” it will soon get passed in the chamber.

Oklahoma: The Oklahoma House of Representatives approved a bill to help blind and visually impaired Oklahomans with absentee ballots. HB1711 would allow electronic absentee ballots to be sent to those with vision problems. The ballot would be filled out electronically, before being printed off and mailed in with the required documentation. The bill would also allow for those needing the special ballot to request assistance from another person if needed. The bill will now head to the Senate.

 

South Dakota: A bill seeking to ban the secretary of state from automatically mailing absentee ballot applications failed Monday in the Senate State Affairs Committee. HB1126, sponsored by Rep. Drew Dennert, R-Aberdeen, and Sen. Brock Greenfield, R-Clark, would have outlawed the secretary of state’s office from mailing applications for an absentee ballot unless the voter requested it. Dennert said the bill was meant to add another layer of security for absentee voting and ensure more confidence in the process.The secretary of state and several county auditors opposed Dennert’s bill. Barnett said he mailed out the absentee ballot applications because of the pandemic. The situation called for extraordinary steps to make sure registered voters were not suppressed from casting ballots, he said.

Petition signers will see larger print if SB77 becomes law. The bill was approved last week morning by the House Local Government Committee. SB77 requires 14-point font to be used on petitions that seek to get constitutional amendments or initiated measures on the ballot. Rep. Carl Perry, R-Aberdeen, showed the committee a copy of an Initiated Measure 26 petition, a lengthy measure with smaller type on the petition. “It’s not in the voters’ best interest,” Perry said of the type on the IM26 petition. “The font makes it more readable.” Kea Warne, an election official with the Secretary of State, said that office supports the larger font size on petitions. “We just wanted to have a font size that all petitions must meet,” Warne said. Koni Sims, representing the South Dakota Association for the Blind, endorsed the larger font size. “It’s not huge, but it’s readable.”

Texas: State Sen. Jose Menendez filed Senate Bill 408 to bridge what he calls a voting equality gap and the need to make voting more accessible to a younger population of Texans. The bill would mandate that a number of polling sites be located on public college campuses each election cycle. “I would like to designate two locations on a campus if a school has at least 10,000 students, and we’re requiring an additional poll for every additional 10,000,” Menendez said.

Texas Rep. Jared Patterson (R-Frisco) filed a bill Thursday that would restrict polling hours during early voting to between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. The bill is a direct response to Harris County’s voting expansion for the 2020 election. Harris County opened seven voting locations for over 24 hours as part of the effort to expand voting access during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Utah: Attempts to prohibit some nicknames from going on election ballots had some in the Utah Senate questioning whether the motive was personal or if it violated free speech. “I think the ballot should not be a tool for campaigning. I think that there is integrity to the ballot,” said the floor sponsor of HB152, Sen. Mike McKell, R-Spanish Fork. HB152 would limit candidates to their given name or a nickname that they’ve “generally been known” by for at least five years and they have “documentary evidence” as proof. It had initially failed to pass in the House on Feb. 4, but it was reconsidered a day later and passed 46-24. “(This bill) puts the lieutenant governor’s office in a position where there’s a First Amendment problem,” argued Sen. Daniel McCay, R-Riverton. He also questioned whether the bill was more centered on a “personal pet peeve” than any real policy concern. The Senate voted down the bill 2-22.

Washington: The House has approved HB 1078, sponsored by Rep. Tarra Simmons, that would make it so that a former felon would be eligible to vote the moment they are no longer incarcerated, and would retain that right regardless of whether or not they can pay off post-incarceration expenses. Rep. Simmons — who made history in 2020 after becoming the first former inmate elected to the Washington Legislature — believes that this proposal is integral in helping people reintegrate into society after prison. “My being here today as a state legislator is directly tied to the ability several years ago to successfully reenter the community after incarceration and become a voter again,” she said. “When someone is trying to rebuild their life and feel like they are a real part of their community, it’s just common sense that we should give them the kinds of support that we can.” Co-sponsor Rep. Roger Goodman also pointed to data that indicates restored voting rights for felons can actually reduce the rate of recidivism, and by extension, crime rates as well.

A bill that would exempt certain election security information from public records disclosures passed the state House of Representatives last week. The bill passed 61-37, with many Republicans saying they oppose exempting more from the Public Records Act, which requires all state and local governmental entities to make public records available to the public. The bill exempts the following: continuity of operations plans for elections; security audits; security risk assessments; security test results that relate to physical security or cybersecurity of election operations or infrastructure. The legislation would still allow the public to access information on security breaches or audits about those breaches.

Wisconsin: Republican lawmakers on Friday continued their rollout of legislation that would overhaul Wisconsin’s election process, announcing bills that, among other things, would move the date of Wisconsin’s presidential primary to Super Tuesday in March instead of during April’s spring election. Another bill GOP lawmakers introduced would allow municipalities to begin counting absentee ballots the day before an election if they meet certain requirements, a fix that elections officials have previously called for as they dealt with a surge in absentee voting due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet another piece of legislation Republicans proposed Friday would give district attorneys broader jurisdiction over alleged election violations in order to resolve election law disputes more quickly. The proposed legislation, which is very early in the legislative process, follows an extremely fraught presidential election in which former President Donald Trump made repeated unfounded claims questioning the integrity of the election, which has led to public distrust about the election result. Republican lawmakers cited such distrust as a reason for some of the legislation proposed Friday.

Wyoming: A bill that would require Wyoming voters to present identification before casting a ballot easily passed the state House of Representatives on Wednesday and will now advance to the state Senate. The vote in favor of House Bill 75 was 51-9 in favor. Opponents of the bill have generally characterized the bill as a solution in search of a problem since even most supporters of the measure don’t claim that voter fraud is a big problem in the state. Under the bill, accepted identification would include a driver’s license from any U.S. state or territory, a Medicare insurance card, a tribal I.D., a U.S. passport or military card, or a school ID from the University of Wyoming, any Wyoming community college or public school. A voter ID bill was defeated in 2019 in the Wyoming House by a 30-29 margin. But since this year’s measure is co-sponsored by roughly 2/3 of the legislature, it would seem pretty likely to win legislative approval this time around.

Legal Updates

U.S. Supreme Court: On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee, an Arizona voting rights case. According to published reports, the Court seemed ready to uphold the election restrictions in Arizona and to make it harder to challenge a variety of limitations on voting. The immediate question for the justices was whether two Arizona measures ran afoul of the Voting Rights Act. One of the measures requires election officials to discard ballots cast at the wrong precinct. The other makes it a crime for campaign workers, community activists and most other people to collect ballots for delivery to polling places, a practice critics call “ballot harvesting.” Much of the argument centered on that larger issue in the case of what standard courts should apply to challenges under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. The court’s answer to that question could determine the fate of scores if not hundreds of laws addressing election rules in the coming years.

Arizona: Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Timothy Thomason said that the subpoenas issued by the Arizona Senate are valid and Maricopa County must turn over ballots from the November general election to the Arizona Senate and provide the Senate access to its voting machines so it can conduct an audit. Thomason said he disagreed with the county’s arguments that they were unlawful and that the county legally could not hand over the ballots. In response, Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jack Sellers said in a statement Friday afternoon that the county “will immediately start working to provide the Arizona Senate with the ballots and other materials.” “We hope senators will show the same respect and care we have for the 2.1 million private ballots and use them in service of their legislative duties,” Sellers said. The Senate wants another audit of ballots and a careful check of voter information, while the county believes its multiple audits have been sufficient and says the ballots must remain sealed under state law. Thomason emphasized in his ruling that he did not want to wade into the politics of the issue. He said the Senate has broad authority to issue subpoenas, and the Senate’s reasoning to issue them — to see if there are changes that could be made to state law to further protect the integrity of elections — was valid.

Georgia: According the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Fulton County prosecutors are expected to appear before a grand jury this week seeking subpoenas for documents and witnesses related to their investigation of former President Donald Trump and some of his top associates for possible election fraud. District Attorney Fani Willis hasn’t said exactly what her prosecutors seek, but she sent recent letters to Gov. Brian Kemp, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and other state officials last month directing them to preserve documents. She indicated she’s investigating several state crimes, including solicitation of election fraud, making false statements to state and local governmental bodies, conspiracy, racketeering, violation of oath of office and involvement in violence or threats related to the election’s administration. Georgia State University law professor Clark Cunningham believes Willis has the makings of a “pretty compelling narrative of a conspiracy” that sought to prevent state electors from casting their votes for Biden.

Mississippi: In a 64-page order, Judge Jeff Weill has ordered a new runoff election for the Ward 1 alderman seat in Aberdeen. In the ruling, Weill not only calls for a new election but also finds evidence of fraud and criminal activity, in how absentee ballots were handled, how votes were counted, and the actions by some at the polling place. In his ruling, the judge said that sixty-six of eighty-four absentee ballots cast in the June runoff were not valid and should never have been counted. Nicholas Holliday was declared the winner by a 37 vote margin. Robert Devaull challenged the results in court. Weill found many irregularities with absentee ballots. He issued a bench warrant for notary Dallas Jones, who notarized absentee ballots. During a hearing, Jones admitted violating notary duties. The judge also found that 83 regular ballots were counted without being initialed by election workers. Weill also said there was clear evidence of voter intimidation and harassment at the polling place on election day. State law says candidates and supporters must stay at least 150 feet away from the polling place. In his ruling, the judge said Holliday, along with Police Chief Henry Randle, and former Mayor Maurice Howard acted as if they were above the law, repeatedly violating criminal statutes.

Ohio: Ohio’s Attorney General is suing the federal government, claiming its delay of U.S. Census data wasn’t legal. The bureau announced earlier this month that “COVID-19-related shifts in data collection” and processing would push the delivery of population data states need for redistricting from March 31 to Sept. 30.  That’s a problem for Ohio where voters recently installed a new process for drawing districts. State House and Senate maps are constitutionally required by Sept. 1 with the federal Congressional maps due Sept. 30. State lawmakers have already said they won’t be able to meet those deadlines. And voting rights groups worry some of the gerrymandering protections they gained through these reforms will get pushed to the side for the sake of time. The suit argues that Congress could vote to delay the data, but the bureau couldn’t because the deadline was written in law.  “Laws cannot be arbitrarily changed by administrative fiat,” Yost said in a statement. “Even if it’s inconvenient, the Census Bureau must do its job.” Federal law imposes a March 31 deadline, “not an aspirational target date,” attorneys for the state wrote in the complaint.

Tennessee: Rep. Tim Rudd, R-Murfreesboro, has filed a resolution calling for the legislature to form a committee and remove Davidson County Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle from the bench. Rudd, who chairs the House subcommittee on elections and campaign finance, said he filed the bill in response to Lyle’s ruling last year that expanded absentee voting — an action he deemed as judicial overreach. “What Chancellor Lyle did was illegally interfering our election process by trying to suspend state law and implement her own policies, which is blatantly against the law,” he told The Tennessean. The judge handled a lawsuit filed last year in Davidson County Chancery Court asking the court to confirm COVID-19 concerns were a valid excuse for not voting in person under existing Tennessee law.  Rudd argues Lyle overstepped her authority in ordering the state to interpret the law that way. Rudd said Lyle could either declare the existing state elections law unconstitutional or rule to uphold the law. But he said she did neither. “She can only throw out a law and declare it unconstitutional. She cannot replace it,” he said. “She just superseded state law.” Rudd said he has gathered 64 co-sponsors and expects to bring it to a House vote within the next two weeks. If both legislative chambers vote in favor, an ad hoc joint committee will be formed to discuss Lyle’s removal, he said. The state constitution allows the removal of judges or state’s attorneys “for cause” with a two-thirds majority vote in both houses.

Wisconsin: The U.S. Supreme Court denied requests to review far-right attorney Sidney Powell’s post-election case in Wisconsin this week, the last of her cases to be rejected by the high court as the lawyer has continued to push conspiracy theories about election fraud. The case had already been rejected by lower courts. A judge in Wisconsin said Powell’s requests for relief were beyond the court’s powers to address “absent the mythical time machine.” “The Supreme Court’s failure to date to address the massive election fraud and multiple constitutional violations that  wrought a coup of the presidency of the greatest country in world history completes the implosion of each of our three branches of government into the rubble of a sinkhole of corruption,” Powell said in an email to Forbes this week. “It is an absolute tragedy for the Rule of Law, the future of what was a Republic, and all freedom-loving people around the world.”

Opinions This Week

National Opinions: U.S. Supreme Court, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII | Democracy | Election legislation, II | Disinformation | Voter suppression, II, III, IVElection funding | Voting rights, II, III, IV | Ex-felon voting rights | Disenfranchisement | Improving elections | HR1, II, III, IV, V

Alabama: Secretary of state

Arizona: Senate audit

California: Fresno County

Colorado: Election laws

Florida: Election legislation, II, IIIVoter suppression, II

Georgia: Election legislation | Voting restrictions | Election reform | Voting access

Hawaii: Automatic voter registration | Election reform

Iowa: Election legislation, II, III, IV, V

Kansas: Voting expansion

Louisiana: Voting equipment | Disinformation

Maine: Voting rules

Missouri: Safe and secure elections | Voting expansion

Mississippi: Ex-felon voting rights

Montana: Election legislation

New York: Black voters | Ranked choice voting

North Carolina: Disinformation

Ohio: Secretary of state

Pennsylvania: Luzerne County

Tennessee: Voter suppression

Utah: Voter fraud

Virginia: Voting rights

Washington: Ex-felon voting rights, II

Upcoming Events

America Goes To The Polls: More eligible American voters participated in the 2020 election than any other election in history, and it was the highest turnout in over 100 years. While election offices across the country were already planning for a high profile election, Covid-19 and related public health measures caused major disruption. The new America Goes to the Polls report, a collaboration between Nonprofit VOTE and the U.S. Elections Project, digs deep into the data to not only rank all 50 states by their official voter turnout numbers, but also to examine how policies like Same Day Registration and Vote at Home (which many states expanded in light of the pandemic) made a real impact on the U.S. electorate. Join Dr. Michael McDonald of U.S. Elections Project and Nonprofit VOTE’s own Caroline Mak as they explore the data and policies that drive turnout. When: March 11, 2pm Eastern. Where: Online.

Restoring Confidence in the U.S. Election System: The 2020 presidential election shook public confidence in the U.S. election system, leading to dozens of lawsuits and an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Join a virtual panel of experts as they offer recommendations about how to go about the vital task of rebuilding public trust in the administration of elections. When: March 16 at 4pm CST. Where: Online.

Job Postings This Week

electionlineWeekly publishes election administration job postings each week as a free service to our readers. To have your job listed in the newsletter, please send a copy of the job description, including a web link to mmoretti@electionline.org.  Job postings must be received by 5pm on Wednesday in order to appear in the Thursday newsletter. Listings will run for three weeks or till the deadline listed in the posting.

Bilingual Coordinator/Clerk, York County, Pennsylvania— Assist in the voter registration and election process. Coordinates all bilingual activities of the Election/Voter Registration Office. Assemble and pack supplies for local election boards. Answer telephone. Assist in the voter registration and election process including scanning signatures. Assist at the front counter. File as required. Assist Spanish-speaking voters, candidates and other members of the public through interpretation and service. Coordinate all bilingual activities of the Election/Voter Registration Office. Speak before various community groups concerning the election/voter registration process. Other reasonable duties as assigned by Supervisor. Salary: $11.50/hr. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

CEO, Verified Voting — Verified Voting is seeking its next CEO for its 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) entities. In the course of completing its strategic plan, Validating 2020, Verified Voting has significantly expanded its team and programmatic capacity to address the urgent need for greater accuracy, security, and verifiability in elections. The organization is now looking for a dynamic and experienced executive to lead the Board and staff through its next strategic planning, implementation and evaluation process as it continues to fulfill its mission. Reporting to the Board of Directors, the CEO will manage a team of seventeen. Key responsibilities include, but are not limited to: Organizational Strategy and Vision; Fundraising and Resource Development; Financial Management and Operations; Outreach and Communication; Human Resources / Staff Management; and Board Relations. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Certification Project Manager, Hart InterCIvic— The Certification Project Manager manages state and federal certification projects of our Hardware and Software products, under the direction of the Sr. Director of Product Management.  The Certification Project Manager must be able to exercise sound judgment and interact with regulatory authorities in a professional manner, particularly in high-pressure situations. Essential Duties and Responsibilities (Other duties may be assigned): Submit state/federal certification application materials; Plan for and coordinate logistics for onsite state/federal certification activities; Lead onsite state/federal certification activities; Provide follow up to state/federal certification activities. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Chief Information Officer, Maine Secretary of State’s Office — The Secretary of State is seeking candidates for Deputy Secretary of State Chief Information Officer.  The Deputy provides central leadership and vision in the use of modern information technology, streamlining operations by developing technological systems that will advance the overall mission of the Department of the Secretary of State including the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, the Bureau of Corporations, Elections & Commissions and the Maine State Archives.  The key focus of this position will include civic tech efforts to leverage technology to improve accessibility and usability of the Department’s services to the public. This includes modernization of Bureau of Motor Vehicles systems, automatic voter registration, online voter registration and working with the Maine State Archives to procure a new records management and digital archiving solutions. This position acts as the principal information technology liaison and technical advisor to the Secretary of State.  The Chief Information Officer oversees a professional team of twenty IT professionals in the Office of Information Services. Deadline: March 23. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Deputy City Clerk, Eastpointe, Michigan — Under the administrative direction of the City Manager, has primary responsibility for election processes, record retention for the City and administrative support for City Council. Performs responsible clerical and secretarial duties in support of the activities and services of the City Clerk’s Office. Responsible for taking the Minutes for the City Council Meetings and maintaining the care and custody of official City records. Provides public records information and ensures insurance requirements are met by all contractors. Salary: $55,511 – $75,773. Deadline: March 5. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Deputy Elections Administrator, Dallas County, Texas— Assists with the direction and oversight of absentee mail voting, early voting, and election day voting for 1.1 million registered voters; ensures the voter registration rolls are accurate and complete; and assists in the oversight of the campaign finance files for candidates and office holders. Coordinates with the County IT Department in managing the department’s purchased software solutions and developing internal software solutions; coordinates employee usage of software. Negotiates, drafts, finalizes and manages comprehensive election contracts with the Elections Administrator; ensures compliance of contracts for thirty (30) contracted elections per year; and presents briefings and orders for Commissioners Court, the Election Board and the Citizen Election Advisory Committee. Assists the Elections Administrator in managing the budget, monitoring purchases and developing strategic, operational, and budgetary plans. Manages daily activities of staff; reviews and approves delegated personnel functions with the Elections Administrator regarding hiring, evaluating, disciplining, training and terminating of early voting election judges and staff, the utilization of equipment, and the reporting of counted ballots and election results; provides direction and guidance to supervisory staff on personnel issues. Monitors, reviews and analyzes statutes, regulations, and election legislation to determine impact on election operations and to ensure compliance. Performs all functions of the Elections Administrator in his or her absence. Interacts with judiciary, department heads, elected officials, other County staff and the general public to resolve problems, provide information and communicate ideas. Performs other duties as assigned. Salary Range: $8,077-$10,081/month. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Director/Deputy Director, Greene County, Ohio– The Director/Deputy Director of the Board of Elections is a highly responsible administrative management position involving the performance in both administering and managing daily operations and elections in the County. The Director/Deputy Director performs work of considerable difficulty planning, directing, coordinating and controlling overall operations of the Board of Elections to ensure all law requirements, goals and objectives are accomplished. Hours of operation will vary during election cycles including evenings, weekends and holidays. Must be adaptable and must be able to perform in stressful environment, emergency situations and extensive work hours. Computer skills are required. Serves at the pleasure of the Members of the Board and the Ohio Secretary of State. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Director of Elections, Denver, Colorado — Do you have a passion for democracy and working in elections administration? If so, we want to hear from you! The City and County of Denver has an exciting opportunity for an appointed Director of Elections to serve in the Office of the Clerk & Recorder Paul D. López. Join our team of dedicated public servants in supporting residents while upholding public trust and integrity in our elections process. The Denver Office of the Clerk and Recorder serves Denver residents through two primary divisions: Elections and Recording/Public Trustee. By making more than 11 million records available online and providing electronic recording, the Office of the Clerk and Recorder allows people to do business more efficiently 24 hours a day. It is responsible for managing technology to collect, preserve and disseminate records that reflect and verify ownership, transfer, encumbrance, and foreclosure rights of all real property in the City and County of Denver. It issues and records marriage and domestic partnership licenses; administers records for elections and lobbyist information, has executive authorization to formally execute all contractual agreements with the City, and has executive and legislative authorization to formally implement and publish all policies, ordinances and appointments in the City and County of Denver. The Elections Division within the Office of the Clerk and Recorder provides comprehensive elections services for the City and County of Denver, including voter records, voter services, ballot operations, technical and logistical support, and election administration. The Denver Elections Division is a national leader and vanguard of elections administration, with a reputation for innovative and voter-centric service. Salary Range: $99,649 – $159,438. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Elections and Voter Registration Manager, Snohomish County, Washington— The Snohomish County Auditor’s Office is seeking an experienced, collaborative professional to lead a dedicated team as the Elections and Voter Registration Manager.    The mission of the Elections and Voter Registration Divisions is to conduct fair, accountable elections and encourage people to understand and participate in the voting process. The successful candidate will manage a staff of ten, oversee a budget ranging from $4 to $7 million (depending on the election cycle), and will be a member of the Auditor’s Office leadership team. The successful candidate must have a deep commitment to ensure accessible, nonpartisan, secure, transparent elections. Salary: $86,276-$121,913. Deadline: March 31. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Elections Director, Oregon Secretary  of State’s Office— Are you ready to put your experience in election administration, management, and practical skills to work leading an election division in a state that prides itself on its innovative election policy? Would you like to be part of a new, principled, equity-driven administration that is committed to empowering the public through election education, access, policy, and outreach? The State of Oregon is looking for you. This is an extremely visible, high profile position that serves at the pleasure of the elected Secretary of State. This position reports to the Deputy Secretary of State and serves as a member of the Agency’s executive management team. As the Elections Director for the State of Oregon you will: Ensure all election-related processes run smoothly and fairly, including initiative petitions, campaign finance, complaint response; Support election officials, legislators, members of the public, the media, and others with your election expertise; Ensure agency compliance with all relevant state and federal mandates; Support and encourage counties, candidates, campaigns, and voters to comply with election laws and procedures; Protect all election systems from outside interference; oversee development of programs to proactively combat misinformation campaigns and mitigate with accurate resources via multiple channels; Procure new Oregon Central Voter Registration System; Write policies, recommendations, strategic plans, and draft legislation; Manage a yearly budget of approximately $10 million and lead a team of approximately 40 people; Connect with employees to establish relationships to promote a strong division culture; Identify, needed skill sets to ensure employees are engaged and receive the necessary support, coaching, development, and training for continuous success; and Maintain and improve the culture of voting in Oregon. Salary: $8,842 – $15,240 Per month – Full Time.  Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Election Services Manager, Douglas County, Colorado— The Election Services Manager is responsible for the management and coordination of elections administrative operations, voter registration, mapping for voting districts and precincts, addressing library, and support for mail ballot processing as directed by the leadership team. The objective of this position is to perform a variety of functions and diverse leadership roles on a routine basis, including performance management for a team of Election Specialists. This is a highly visible position requiring exceptional leadership, organizational, and communication skills. The Election Services Manager is responsible for oversight of responsibilities within the elections office and Voter Service and Polling Centers, coaching and supervision of staff; creation and enforcement of policies, procedures, and state and federal statutes and regulations; creation and execution of strategic and tactical plans for operating successful elections; coordination of election functions with entities participating in a County election or conducting their own election; managing key vendor relationships and election assets. Coordinates with and assists other Clerk & Recorder Divisions as needed. Salary: $57,430 – 86,145. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Information Technology Director, Leon County, Florida: This is an executive level position on the management team at the Leon County Supervisor of Elections Office (SOE). Our IT Director is a highly innovative position that requires managing and protecting technology for the SOE, supervising technical staff, creating and maintaining documentation, budgeting for technology needs, and a devotion to protecting voting integrity. The IT Director supports the SOE’s mission and maintains operational continuity. They work closely with Leon County’s Office of Information and Technology (OIT) Department and are expected to be available to respond to all technical issues and external threats. This role will often require technical support hours outside the traditional business schedule in order to monitor and assure the functionality and security of computer and network systems. Salary: $80,443-$132,731. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Program Manager, Maryland State Board of Elections — The Director of the Election Reform and Management Division manages and supports the State’s implementation of the Help America Vote Act, Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act, and other federal election laws, develops and implements efforts to improve election administration, and oversees the duties assigned to the Division. The position also manages the State’s mail-in and provisional voting programs conducted by the local boards of elections and the agency’s voter education and outreach efforts. The Division oversees an audit program of the local boards of elections and statewide training and education programs for election officials. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Regional Service Technician, Hart InterCivic— A Regional Service Technician responds to all customer requests ranging from training requests, to phone support requests, to onsite repair of voting equipment requests. This individual is one of the local customer’s support routes. The position requires residency in Harris County, Texas. The Regional Service Technician handles all Return Material Authorization (RMA) requests for external customers for all Hart InterCivic Verity products within his/her region and provides on-site customer support and troubleshooting on an as-needed basis. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Registrar of Voters, San Diego County, California— The Registrar of Voters is an executive management position that leads the Department and provides eligible citizens of San Diego County with widespread and ongoing opportunities to register and vote in fair and accurate elections for all federal, state and local offices and measures; and provides access to the information needed to utilize the initiative, referendum, and recall petition processes. Qualified candidates will possess a bachelor’s degree and five years of management level experience that demonstrates the ability to perform the essential functions of the classification. The ideal candidate for this position will have executive level decision-making skills in the area of election administration, as well as organizational and political acumen in order to advise and provide direction for ROV programs and services. Candidates familiar with election administration principles, campaign finance, election technologies, voting procedures, and federal and state election laws, are preferred. This recruitment will remain open until the position is filled. Interested applicants are encouraged to apply as soon as possible for consideration. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Testing and Certification Program Director, U.S. Election Assistance Commission — The Testing and Certification Program Director develops EAC policy, quality management system, and standard operating procedures for the Voting System Testing and Certification (VST&C) Program and Division. Works with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) National Voluntary Laboratory Accreditation Program (NVLAP), regarding laboratory accreditation for laboratories seeking accreditation to test voting systems under the EAC program. Under HAVA, NVLAP does the initial laboratory assessment and makes recommendation to the EAC, through the Director of NIST on the accreditation of candidate laboratories. Manages Division personnel (i.e., current FTE, technical reviewers and new hires). Establishes, implements, and evaluates budget, working jointly with the EAC’s leadership and Executive Director to establish priorities for the VST&C Division. Manages voting system testing and certification efforts, including supervising contract staff, technical reviewers, and consultants. Oversees testing of voting systems developed by registered manufacturers to determine whether the systems provide required basic functionality, accessibility, and security capabilities. Serves as EAC lead/co-lead on critical infrastructure issues. Develops blogs, white papers and other informational material for stakeholders on election technology and cybersecurity. Serves as EAC lead for development efforts on Voluntary Voting System Guidelines and development of requirements for testing at the laboratories. Serves as the lead auditor on voting system test laboratory audits. Leads the Election Official IT Training Program. Represents the EAC and VST&C Program at stakeholder meetings and conferences. Performs other duties as assigned. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Voter Information Coordinator (Elections Specialist), Pierce County, Washington— This individual will play an integral part in carrying out and conducting elections in Pierce County and in the day to day operations. This position supports the foundational aspect of our democratic process while providing services and outreach to our customers. Core Daily Responsibilities: Design and produce all publications, reports, manuals, flyers, legal advertisements, related election materials including Voter Pamphlets, and all jobs using a variety of desktop publishing software. Perform quality control work including proofreading, grammar, and spelling. Create and manage the voter pamphlet including submission of statements from candidates and committees. Active role in candidate filing and resolution submission. This work includes communicating with candidates and jurisdictions. Create ballot inserts for each election. Coordinate the language translation program of the voter pamphlet, ballot materials, and voter outreach materials. Work in conjunction with office media specialist to update and maintain social media accounts. Update website with relevant election information. Produce an accurate Voters’ Pamphlet for each election. Voter outreach to live and virtual audiences, upon request attend community events to educate prospective voters, supports school districts, colleges and universities with election related events and programs. Salary Hiring Range: $31.42 – $39.73 Hourly. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Voting Rights Legal Counsel, Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission— In 2018, Michigan voters amended the state constitution to put the power to draw state and congressional district lines in the hands of citizens, not legislators or special interests. The inaugural and historic Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission is seeking expert legal and advisory services specific to the analysis and application of the Voting Rights Act and other state and federal laws applicable to redistricting. Deadline: March 10. Application: For the complete RFP and to apply, click here.

Voter Services Manager, Denver Clerk/Recorder— This position will lead the Voter Services team within Elections Division. The Voter Services Manager also: Manages 4 FTEs that provide customer service and data entry; Serves as the County Administrator for SCORE (Statewide Colorado Registration and Election database); Oversees the election judge trainers, edits and approves training for: Supervisor Judges, Registration Judges and Support Judges and succession planning; Provides recommendations for staffing needed to perform voter registration functions and answer the phones and emails during various phases of the election cycle; Acts as a subject matter expert in elections by continuously reviewing Colorado election laws to accurately inform and instruct the general public and internal staff; Prepares, processes and/or provides written reports and other documents as necessary or requested, in accordance with legal precedents or other specialized/technical procedures; Implements policies, programs, operating procedures for the voter services department; Contributes to the development of performance goals, documents performance, provides performance feedback, and provides information to inform the formal performance evaluation; Fosters an atmosphere of innovation in order to challenge the organization to think creatively, especially as it relates to positive citizen and customer experience opportunities; Coaches, mentors, and challenges staff; Champions continuous improvement, including devising new strategies and new opportunities; Leads staff development initiatives that include training, development; Performs other duties as assigned or requested. Salary: $81,572 – $130,515. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

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