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January 14, 2021

January 14, 2021

In Focus This Week

High Turnout Wide Margins
Local election officials launch election admin podcast

By M. Mindy Moretti
Electionline.org

Sometimes, good things really can come from Twitter.

As a relatively new clerk, Boone County, Missouri Clerk Brianna Lennon wanted to know if anyone knew of resources to help share election administration information that went beyond policy and reform and focused on bureaucratic questions like, how many employees work in your office and how do you cross-train or how do you decide what ballot styles you’ll use for each election.

“I put the question out to Twitter on a whim and got such an overwhelmingly supportive response that a podcast would be useful that it didn’t take long to pull it together, especially with Eric’s help,” Lennon said. “The goal is to provide other election authorities with new ideas and answer questions for people new to the space who might not necessarily know where to start.”

The Eric that Lennon is talking about is St. Louis County, Missouri director of elections Eric Fey and the two have teamed up to create an elections administration-focused podcast called High Turnout, Wide Margins.

Since debuting in the waning days of 2020, Lennon and Fey have dropped four more podcasts with the latest arriving today and featuring U.S. Election Assistance Commission Chairman Ben Hovland discussing the EAC and VVSG.

Previous episodes have included: Election Security with Noah Praetz, Election Mail with Tammy Patrick and Clerking in Smaller Counties with Scotland County, Missouri Clerk Batina Dodge.

Brianna Lennon

Both Fey and Lennon had appeared in podcasts before, but neither one had ever hosted or produced their own. Lennon said it’s as pared-down as possible. She bought a USB microphone, split a Zoom subscription with Fey, created an Anchor account, and edits on a free download of Audacity.

“It is really just the two of us, but mostly Brianna,” explained Fey about the production of the podcast. “We collaborate on topics and timing, but Brianna does all of the editing.”

So far they’ve had 400 total plays which averages out to 60-150 plays per episode so far and Lennon said the reaction from people has been really positive.

“Five stars. I’m their #1 fan. It’s the podcast we need, when we need it,” said Alysoun McLaughlin, deputy election director in Montgomery County, Maryland. “And they’re really good at it. At a time when most election officials are still nursing our wounds from 2020, it’s invigorating to see Brianna and Eric put so much creativity and enthusiasm into this podcast.”

Lennon and Fey said whole experience has been really surprising and surprisingly fun.

Eric Fey

“I really only wanted to do this because I thought it would be fun and I would get to commiserate with folks in the election community,” Fey said. “That is what I like best about attending conferences anyway and we haven’t been able to attend any in a while. I was joking about having 4-5 listeners, but not by much. The elections community is small and I really didn’t think anyone would care to listen to a couple of Missourians. The feedback, though, seems to be positive so far and a bunch of people have asked to be on an episode.”

Lennon said the target is to keep the episodes at 60 minutes or less.

“30-40 minutes ends up being a target, both because I think it’s a more digestible format (you can listen to it on a commute or lunch break) and because, any longer than that, I think the conversation can get derailed,” Lennon said.

Future topics include poll worker training, election Twitter, state/county relationships, and reporting on elections. Although they say they don’t have any hard and fast rules about topics to cover, they are really trying for now to focus on the  nuts and bolts of running elections.

“Most of the things I know about elections I’ve learned from listening to other election administrators of all stripes and backgrounds,” Fey said. “That is what I hope to continue to do by having this podcast. It would also be great if a few of my colleagues around the country could pick up a couple of nuggets from it as well. It we can accomplish that then I consider the endeavor a success.”

 

EAC Clearie Awards

EAC Clearinghouse 2020 Awards Information

The U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) invites submissions for its fifth annual national Clearinghouse Awards. The Clearinghouse Awards, also referred to as the “Clearies,” honor the enterprising spirit and hard work of election officials across the country. In the challenging circumstances created by the COVID-19 crisis, the Clearies offer the opportunity to recognize the resourcefulness of officials who adjusted their efforts to account for the ever-evolving pandemic. This year, the EAC is also pleased to offer a new category distinguishing cybersecurity and technology initiatives that improve election security of voting systems and strengthen U.S. elections.

The EAC will present awards in the categories of:

  • Improving Accessibility for Voters with Disabilities,
  • Outstanding Innovations in Elections,
  • Best Practices in Recruiting, Retaining, and Training Poll Workers,
  • Creative and Original “I Voted” Stickers, and
  • Outstanding Innovation in Election Cybersecurity and Technology.

Jurisdictions of all sizes are encouraged to submit their work. Entries must be received by Friday, January 22, 2021. Submissions will be judged on innovation, sustainability, outreach, cost-effectiveness, replicability, and the generation of positive results.

“The 2020 Clearie Awards will help recognize the innovation and hard work of election officials across the nation during an extremely well-run general election with record turnout,” said EAC Chairman Ben Hovland. “Election officials did an amazing job this fall as they navigated unprecedented health concerns due to COVID-19, a substantial increase in early and mail or absentee voting, and poll worker shortages. The best practices developed from 2020 will be highly valuable for future elections. The EAC Commissioners look forward to honoring these hard-working public servants who do so much to serve voters and further our democracy.”

The 2020 Clearies will build on the successes of past years, encouraging innovations in election administration and publicizing achievements across the elections community. Under the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA), the EAC is charged with serving as a clearinghouse for election administration information. The Clearies and the efforts they celebrate play an important role in helping the EAC fulfill this mission.

The 2019 winners of the Clearie Awards can be found here.

More information on submission guidelines can be found here. All submissions should be sent to the EAC at clearinghouse@eac.gov.

Election News This Week

Show Me The Money: After long delays, the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee has finally agreed to reimburse Dane and Milwaukee counties for the partial recounts they conducted of the 2020 presidential election. Under state law, Trump’s campaign had to pay $3 million before the recount could begin. But after the recount, Republican members fo the finance committee  prevented the state election commission from reimbursing the counties because they wanted to review receipts. “Although the receipts from Dane and Milwaukee counties have raised concerns, we now have the information we need to approve their request,” said a statement from Rep. Mark Born of Beaver Dam, a co-chairman of the committee. The other co-chairman of the committee, Sen. Howard Marklein of Spring Green, said lawmakers would consider changing how much election officials can bill campaigns for future recounts. “We continue to have concerns about the high hourly rate paid to workers, expensive rental costs when we have county-owned buildings sitting empty and inflated operational expenses. We plan to consider options for the future. This committee will protect the state’s checkbook,” Marklein said in a statement. According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, That drew a rebuke from Dane County Clerk Scott McDonell, a Democrat, who noted the state wasn’t paying for anything.  “What ‘state checkbook’ are they talking about?  The recount was funded by the Trump campaign,” McDonell wrote in an email to the paper. Recount workers in Dane County were paid $30 an hour, which McDonell said was necessary because of the risks of the coronavirus pandemic. Milwaukee County Clerk George Christenson said he was glad the funding was being released but that there was “no legitimate basis for objecting to reimbursing us for the cost of the recount in the first place, as all of our expenses were reasonable and necessary.”

Confidence Booster: Bartow County, Georgia is conducting a hand audit of its Senate election results, a measure the county says is not tied to any concern about fraud, but will “promote public confidence in the accuracy of this and future elections.” Bartow County Election Supervisor Joseph Kirk told 11Alive “we are doing it completely voluntarily without any direction from the Secretary of State’s Office.” “I have no reason to think the results of the runoff are not accurate, but one of the main reasons we have paper ballots is to conduct these audits,” Kirk said. “My hope is that conducting pre-certification audits of this and future elections will help restore public confidence in our election process.” This marks the third time the Bartow County Elections Office has conducted a risk-limiting audit since receiving the paper-backed Dominion Voting Systems hardware.  “We’re using exactly the same procedures,” Kirk said. “We’re looking at every single ballot, and we’re doing that because of the statewide margin of victory rather than the Bartow County margin of victory — I’m hoping that, in the future, other counties join me in doing this, that we see statewide audits after every election.”

Personnel News: Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett was elected to another four-year term by the state Legislature. Fresno County, California Clerk and Registrar of Voters Brandi Orth is retiring at the end of February.  Jared Goldsmith is the new McLennan County, Texas elections administrator. Terri Lea Hugie has been named the interim city clerk for Johns Creek, Georgia. Debbie Rauers has resigned from the Chatham County, Georgia, board of elections. Philadelphia City Commissioner Al Schmidt has announced that his current term will be his last. Shirley Black-Oliver has retired as the Clarendon County, South Carolina voter registrar. Alma Brown has retired after 5 terms on the Coahoma County, Mississippi election commission. Dino Ninotti, assistant election director in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania is resigning effective Jan. 21. Michael Cogan is stepping down from the Maryland State Board of Elections. John Spires is the new Harrison County, West Virginia clerk. Scott Allen has been named administrator of elections for Hamilton County, Tennessee.

In Memoriam: William H. “Bill” Clinton, the first registrar of voters for San Bernardino County, California, died at his home in San Bernardino on Jan. 1, 2021. He was 96. Clinton began his county career in 1949 in the county clerk’s office in the election section. When the Registrars Department was formed he was selected as the head of the department. After 37 years of service he retired. According to Redlands Community News, when World War II broke out, he joined the Army Air Corp as a B-17 Aircraft crew member and was stationed in England. He flew 27 successful missions over Germany with only one forced landing in unoccupied France. He said the crew was treated extremely well by the French while their B-17 airplane was being repaired.

The Oakland County, Michigan Board of Commissioners have introduced a bipartisan resolution seeking to rename the county’s elections training room in honor of Bill Bullard Jr., a long-time Oakland County politician who served as a state legislator, county clerk and county commissioner, died of cancer and COVID-19 complications on Dec. 18. He was 77. According to The Oakland Press, At the time of his passing, Bullard was set to become the deputy clerk of White Lake Township under incoming clerk Anthony Noble. The room will be renamed the “Willis C. “Bill” Bullard Conference Room,” according to the board resolution, which will need full board approval as it allocates up to $15,000 for the  renaming.  Bullard, a Republican, served in the State Legislature, both the House and Senate, from 1982 to 2002. He then was elected to the Oakland County Board of Commissioners where he served four terms, including six years as chairman. In 2010, Bullard succeeded Ruth Johnson as Oakland County Clerk/Register of Deeds when she was elected Secretary of State. He was defeated for re-election to a full term as county clerk in 2012 by Oakland County Clerk Lisa Brown, who also defeated Bullard in the 2016 general election. Bullard started his political career in 1978 when he was elected Highland Township Trustee and served in that position for two years before being elected Highland Township Supervisor.

Election Security Updates

Action in Congress: According to The Hill, efforts to boost election security are likely to gain traction in the new Congress, as Democrats who have pushed for election reform take control of both chambers and the White House. “I think there is room for legislation, I think there is room for that to get a vote, but it’s important for people to work together, it’s important for people to recognize that we can improve our democracy,” Benjamin Hovland, the chairman of the Election Assistance Commission (EAC), told The Hill. Democrats and Republicans have largely butted heads on steps necessary, beyond funding, to ensure elections were safe from foreign interference, with Republicans often raising concerns that legislation proposed by Democrats may serve to federalize elections. With the House and Senate controlled by opposing parties, Congress was largely unable to address election security concerns beyond funding. But as power shifts to Democrats on Capitol Hill and in the White House, key senators are already planning to make a new push for election reform and security legislation. “Free and fair elections are central to our Democracy and our identity as Americans, which is why I’m going to continue working to ensure that our elections remain safe, transparent, and free from foreign influence,” Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), the incoming Senate Intelligence Committee chairman, told The Hill.

Legislative Updates

Alabama: Rep. John Rodgers of Birmingham pre-filed HB102 to propose the establishment of an advance voting period during which qualified electors, without excuse, may vote at a designated advance voting center before Election Day. The bill will provide for the hours of operation for each advance voting center; require judges of probate to manage advance voting; and require appointing boards to appoint poll workers to work at advance voting centers. The bill will be referred to the House committee on Construction, Campaigns and Elections upon the convening of the Alabama House of Representatives on Feb. 2.

 

Connecticut: The Government Administration and Elections Committee approved a plan to keep using COVID-era, no-excuse absentee voting for upcoming special and municipal elections despite objections from GOP members of the committee. Sen. Mae Flexer, D-Willimantic, said the proposal to continue the mail-in balloting was being accelerated because of the pending special session in February for a Stamford Senate seat, as well as upcoming May elections in some towns and cities, to allow residents to avoid polling places in the pandemic. There are pending proposals to change the state Constitution to allow a range of election reforms to make it easier for voters, but they will require statewide votes in 2022 or 2024, and will come before the committee later in the session, which ends June 9. An executive order from Gov. Ned Lamont allowed no-excuse mail-in balloting in the party primaries last summer.

Georgia: The state’s legislative session kicked off this week and in an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution at the start of the session, Gov. Brian Kemp (R) strongly endorsed adding photo ID requirements for absentee ballots said he is “reserving judgment” on a series of proposals that seek to end at-will absentee voting, ban ballot drop boxes and restrict state officials or outside groups from sending out absentee ballot applications. But Kemp said he unequivocally supported measures to tighten voter ID laws for mail-in ballots. “It’s a simple way to make sure that type of voting is further secured, and it’s a good first place to start,” Kemp said, adding: “It’s completely reasonable in this day and time, and in light of what’s going on, it would give all voters peace of mind and wouldn’t be restrictive.”

Illinois: The House Executive Committee advanced an election bill that would make permanent some of the expansions to mail-in voting that were passed for the 2020 general election. The bill would require election authorities to accept mail-in ballots that were submitted without sufficient postage and allow election authorities to set up collection sites or drop-boxes that accept ballots without postage. Lawmakers approved those measures last spring for the 2020 election in order to accommodate concerns about voting in-person during the COVID-19 pandemic. But those earlier expansions of mail-in voting expired on Jan. 1. The bill’s sponsor, Edwardsville Democratic Rep. Katie Stuart, said those vote-by-mail provisions were successful in the 2020 general election and should continue in the upcoming consolidated elections. The consolidated primary election is scheduled for Feb. 23. “This will be permanent because our election authorities who chose to use it found it was successful,” Stuart said.

Indiana: Rep. Tonya Pfaff (D-Terre Haute)  announced her plans for the 2021 legislative session, planning to focus on a fair Indiana voting process. As the Ranking Minority Member of the House Elections and Apportionment Committee, Pfaff will support the House Democratic Caucus’ initiative to allow no-excuse absentee voting in future elections and enact a fair redistricting process. She also plans to reintroduce her bill that will allow same-day registration at the polls and extend voting hours to 8 p.m. “Voters should choose their representative, not the other way around,” said Pfaff. “It’s my mission to ensure that the voting process is not only easier and safer, but also better represents the people of Indiana by creating an independent, nonpartisan redistricting commission that is fair, impartial, and transparent. We must remove the hurdles that stand in the way of Hoosiers participating in democracy.”

Maryland: A bipartisan group of Maryland’s elected officials has pre-filed legislation in the House and Senate with the goal of giving students and active-duty military members easier access to voting resources. Sponsored by Dels. Eric Luedtke (D-Montgomery) and Mike Griffith (R-Harford) and Sen. Sarah Elfreth (D-Anne Arundel), the legislation would allow active-duty military members to electronically register to vote and request an absentee ballot as well as make public colleges and universities formulate plans to encourage students to vote.

 

Massachusetts: Sen. Rebecca Rausch (D) has filed a bill to change state election law to expand no-excuse mail voting to voters in any state, municipal or special election. Rausch’s bill not only expands mail-in voting to everyone, it also mandates infrastructure upgrades. Cities and towns would have to provide ballot drop boxes, and Galvin would have to create a dedicated portal where voters could register for mail-in status. The bill would also grant permanent mail voting status to anyone who wants it. During the 2020 elections, voters had to request mail-in ballots before each election. Rausch’s bill would also allow clerks to place mail-in ballots into voting tabulator machines before Election Day — a key provision to prevent counting delays. In the September Democratic primary, the results of the 4th Congressional District were delayed by several days after about 3,000 mail-in votes in Franklin were misplaced.

Minnesota: Sen. Scott Newman (R-Hutchinson) has once again introduced a bill that would require Minnesotans to present a valid photo ID for in-person and absentee voting. The bill establishes a new voter identification card free-of-charge to individuals who lack proper identification and cannot afford it. The legislation would require voters to produce valid, government-issued photo identification when voting in person or by absentee ballot. Individuals unable to provide valid proof of identity or residence would be able to cast a provisional ballot, affording the voter a period of time in which they could obtain valid identification. Same-day voter registration would also remain intact.

Missouri: State Sen. Bob Onder, R-Lake St. Louis, has filed legislation to require paper ballots to be used in Missouri elections. The legislation is in response to election irregularities. Onder says occurred in many states during the 2020 presidential election. Onder’s bill would prohibit the exclusive use of electronic vote tabulation in Missouri, and require that every citizen’s vote is recorded on a paper ballot, which can be verified in the event of discrepancies.

 

Nebraska: Sen. Julie Slama of Peru has introduced a constitutional amendment to require voters to show photo ID to vote. Slama said her constitutional amendment (LR3CA) requiring voters to bring their photo to the polls — a proposal that has been introduced nine out of the past 10 years — would “combat voter fraud” and “preserve public confidence in the legitimacy of the elected government.”

Senator Carol Blood introduced LB 11 to the legislature. The bill would allow there to be an electronic process for a registered voter to request an early voting ballot using the Secretary of State’s Website. Also, lawmakers will question when Nebraskan registers can complete their ballot if they want to vote early.

New Jersey: An Assembly panel tabled a measure that would create a two-week early voting period ahead of general elections and some May municipal races. The measure, sponsored by Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker (D-South Brunswick), would provide a 14-day early voting period beginning 15 days before the day of a general or May municipal election — but only in towns that pass an ordinance approving early voting — ending on the Sunday before election day. It would also appropriate funds for election officials to purchase electronic poll books and voting machines that can interface with them.

 

New York: The New York Senate moved quickly this week to bring a package of election-related bills to the floor and pass them. There were nine measures passed Monday. They include: legalizing drop boxes for absentee ballots, decreasing the rate absentee ballots are denied, providing a system for absentee ballot tracking, speeding up ballot counting, and sending a constitutional amendment to voters to allow universal no-excuse voting absentee ballot.

As part of his 2021 State of the State agenda, Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to extend the early voting period, make voting by mail more accessible and speed up the ballot counting process. These reforms would build on election changes the state has made in recent years. “Our election system, on which our democracy is built, has, and continues to be, under attack by those seeking to undermine the founding principles of our nation and we must not only protect it, but ensure it can be accessed by all,” Cuomo said in his announcement. The governor is now calling on state legislators to put a no-excuse absentee voting amendment on the ballot for voters to decide next fall. Cuomo’s other proposals only require approval by the Legislature. In addition to expanding who can vote by mail, Cuomo also wants to give New Yorkers more time to request an absentee ballot. Currently, voters cannot request a mail ballot more than a month prior to Election Day, putting pressure on election administrators to fulfill requests in a short amount of time. Cuomo plans to advance legislation allowing voters to request mail ballots 45 days ahead of an election.

North Dakota: Just a few months after the election, state lawmakers have been voicing their concerns with election security. One in a series of bills adds and extends voter eligibility requirements. HB 1289 establishes a requirement that a voter must have resided in North Dakota for at least one year before election day. It would also extend the requirement that someone live in their precinct from 30 days to 90 days.

 

 

South Dakota: Of the 50 states, South Dakota is one of nine without online voter registration. The state Board of Elections tried last year to get authority from the Legislature, but the quest died after a Senate hearing. Now the board is trying again, this time offering a more specific proposal to South Dakota lawmakers. The Senate State Affairs Committee has agreed to sponsor Senate Bill 24. That’s the same committee where Republican senators stopped HB 1050 in March on a party-line vote. The bill had made it through the House 41-26, with only Republicans opposing it. Secretary of State Steve Barnett, a Republican whose office helps coordinate South Dakota elections, is the board’s chair.

Vermont: By a 142-2 vote, the House has approved H. 48 that will allow local communities to either conduct their Town Meetings entirely by mail or move them to a later day. The measure is intended to protect voters amid the Covid-19 pandemic. With Town Meeting Day scheduled for March 2, less than two months away, House and Senate lawmakers have said they wanted to give towns, school districts, water districts and other local governments additional options for conducting elections this year. The Senate is expected to take the bill up this week.

 

Virginia: Republican Senator Mark Peake wants general registrars in the state to verify the name, date of birth, and Social Security number of every person who applies to be a registered voter in Virginia. This legislation also would require Virginia registrars to verify that same information for all registered voters each year by August 1st.

Legal Updates

U.S. Supreme Court: The Supreme Court refused to fast-track a batch of challenges to the presidential election filed by President Trump and his allies. The rejections came without comment or noted dissent and were formal notifications of what already had become clear. Some of the petitions asking for the court to move quickly were filed in early December, and the court had not even called for responses from officials in the states where the results were challenged. Among the cases the court declined to expedite were Trump v. Biden and Trump v. Boockvar, which challenged the results in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, respectively. Other cases filed by Trump allies objected to the outcomes in Michigan and Georgia.

Federal Litigation: Dominion Voting Systems filed a defamation lawsuit against attorney Sidney Powell for what they say is her role in orchestrating a “demonstrably false” conspiracy theory about the Colorado-based voting machine company rigging the 2020 presidential election. “She has directly accused Dominion of fraud, election rigging, bribery, and conspiracy, which are serious crimes,” the company wrote in its complaint filed in D.C. federal court. “Powell’s statements have exposed Dominion to the most extreme hatred and contempt.” The suit, which is seeking nearly $1.3 billion in damages, accuses Powell of leading a pervasive campaign to spread false election theories that gained currency with President Donald Trump. A former federal prosecutor, Powell rose to become a close adviser to Trump in the closing days of his presidency, meeting with him repeatedly as he mounted increasingly desperate attempts to overturn the outcome of an election he lost by more than 7 million votes.

Alaska: State Republican Rep. Lance Pruitt lost his legal challenge attempting to overturn the results of his East Anchorage district election. He lost to Democrat challenger Liz Snyder by just 11 votes.  Alaska’s Supreme Court agreed with a lower Superior Court ruling on Friday shortly after justices heard arguments in the case. Pruitt’s lawyer, told the court that the Division of Elections mishandled how it moved the polling location in that East Anchorage district. She argued that the state didn’t give voters enough time or notice to find their new polling location. A Superior Court found in late December that the state could have done more but had acted in “good faith.” And the state’s lawyer, Assistant Attorney General Laura Fox told the court that the state had acted reasonably, especially given the extraordinary events of the pandemic.

Arizona: The city of Tucson asked the Arizona Supreme Court to rebuff yet another effort by state lawmakers to tell charter cities when they must hold their elections. The Arizona Constitution’s purpose in allowing cities to adopt charters was to give them control of matters of purely local concern, said Jean-Jacques Cabou, an attorney for the city. And in this case, he said, Tucson voters have said they like having their elections in odd-numbered years so that local issues do not get swept up in, and buried under, debates about who should be president or governor or about statewide ballot issues. “Let’s be clear: The electors of the city of Tucson have consistently and very recently have said, ‘We want odd-year elections, leave us alone,’” he told the justices, noting that Tucson voters decided as recently as November 2018 to keep their odd-year elections. According to Capitol Media Services, what the justices decide will have implications beyond Tucson. There are 19 communities in the state that have taken advantage of a provision in the Arizona Constitution allowing them to adopt charters to govern local matters which, until now, have included things like terms of office and when to hold elections.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Timothy Thomason said January 13 that it appears the original subpoenas issued by Senate President Karen Fann and then-Sen. Eddie Farnsworth, R-Gilbert, are probably moot. That’s because they were issued in December as part of the 54th legislative session which technically ceased to exist on January 11. In fact, Farnsworth is no longer a state senator. But Thomason noted that Fann and Sen. Warren Petersen, who succeeded Farnsworth as chair of the Judiciary Committee in the new 55th legislative session, issued a new subpoena on January 12 demanding not just the same documents but even more, including access to “all original paper ballots.” And the subpoena wants access to the county’s voting equipment and software. Jack Sellers, the new chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, did show up at 9 a.m. January 13, at the Senate, as the new subpoena ordered. So did newly elected County Recorder Stephen Richer and new County Treasurer John Allen. But they brought none of the materials with them. Thomason said that new subpoena likely requires the county to file new legal briefs. And he set a hearing for January 20 to consider the matter, saying he hopes the two sides can work things out.

Florida: Two unsuccessful Republican candidates for County Commission and the Republican Party of St. Lucie County are suing Supervisor of Elections Gertrude Walker over what they claim was a fraudulent Nov. 3 election.   Republicans Ryan Collins and Chris Thompson lost narrow races against Democratic incumbents Chris Dzadovsky and Linda Bartz, for Districts 1 and 3, respectively.  They claim dead people voted and mail ballots were illegally signed. They argue that only legal ballots should be counted, implying illegal ones were counted, and that there should be a recount with the ability to match vote-by-mail envelopes with their ballots.  The lawsuit states it is “imperative that the mail-in ballots be scrutinized to determine that the voter is actually alive, not incapacitated, and executed the mail-in ballot correctly.” Walker has asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit, claiming it was filed past the state deadline to contest an election; it did not establish grounds to contest the election; and it did not sue the proper party, the Canvassing Board.

Georgia: So much has changed in Georgia over the past two years, including new voting laws and the election of Democratic U.S. senators, that a federal judge should reject a lawsuit alleging rampant voter suppression, attorneys for the state said Tuesday. The lawyers asked U.S. District Judge Steve Jones to rule in their favor in the case that has been pending since Democrat Stacey Abrams lost the 2018 election for governor to Republican Brian Kemp. But attorneys for Fair Fight Action, the voting rights group founded by Abrams that filed the suit, told Jones that Georgia’s elections continue to disenfranchise voters through voter registration cancellations, absentee ballot rejections, long lines and poll closures. Jones didn’t immediately decide Tuesday on the state’s motion for summary judgment, a key step before a potential trial. He questioned whether he has the authority to consider anything beyond the secretary of state’s voter registration cancellation practices because county governments handle most election functions.

President Donald Trump has ended his court challenges to try to reverse his loss to Joe Biden in Georgia. An attorney for Trump filed notice in court Thursday that he is voluntarily dismissing four lawsuits making unsubstantiated allegations about ineligible voters, election equipment problems and fraud. No judges in Georgia have ruled in Trump’s favor. “Rather than presenting their evidence and witnesses to a court and to cross-examination under oath, the Trump campaign wisely decided the smartest course was to dismiss their frivolous cases,” Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said. The court dismissals came after Congress accepted electoral votes Wednesday showing that Trump had lost the election. Raffensperger had sent a letter to Georgia’s members of Congress with a point-by-point rebuttal of Trump’s allegations about voting machines, ballot counting, signature verification and illegal voters.

Michigan: 13th Circuit Court Judge Kevin Elsenheimer has ruled that the can release the names of people who conducted a review of election machines in Antrim County. Matthew DePerno, an attorney representing an Antrim County man who filed the lawsuit, previously asked  Elsenheimer to allow a team to review election machines in Antrim County. The judge agreed, and a team reviewed the machinery. Subsequently, DePerno posted a 23-page preliminary report that alleges Dominion Voting System machines are designed to “create systemic fraud and influence election results. Dominion and Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson have denied these allegations, noting a slew of problems with the analysis in the report. Although the report included the name of the firm and analyst who oversaw the review and subsequent report, DePerno also asked the judge to prohibit the release of the names or other identifying information of anyone who participated in creating the report.  “The parties who have been identified as expert witnesses are a matter of record. They will remain a matter of record,” Elsenheimer said.

New Mexico: President Donald Trump’s election campaign abruptly asked a court this week to drop a lawsuit that challenged New Mexico’s use of drop boxes for absentee ballots in the 2020 general election as well as vote-counting equipment sold by Dominion Voting Systems. The request filed Monday with a federal court in Albuquerque would dismiss the lawsuit from Trump but allow the concerns to be revisited. Trump campaign attorney Mark Caruso of Albuquerque could not be reached immediately for comment. “Simply withdrawing this lawsuit does not undo the weeks of lies and disinformation parroted by President Trump and leaders of the New Mexico Republican Party,” Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver said in a statement Monday. She had requested that Trump’s campaign be sanctioned for pursuing meritless litigation.

Pennsylvania: Judge Nicholas Ranjan ruled that certain mail-in ballots were lawfully counted in Allegheny County, rejecting the claims of a Republican challenger to Pennsylvania Senator Jim Brewster of McKeesport. Last week, the Republican-controlled state Senate refused to seat Brewster, a Democrat. Ranjan, a Trump appointee, rejected the claims of Republican Nicole Ziccarelli that undated mail-in ballots should not be counted, noting, “The court finds that the Supreme Court expressly held that the undated ballots at issue remain valid ballots that are properly counted under state law.”

Judge John P. Capuzzi Sr. dismissed an election challenge brought by two Republican poll watchers and a failed congressional candidate, saying their petition lacked a “scintilla of legal merit.” The challenge, filed Dec. 22, sought sanctions against the county’s Board of Elections, saying poll observers were kept too far away from the areas where absentee and mail-in ballots were being counted in the November election. The challengers said the practice violated the terms of a judge’s Nov. 4 order clarifying the rules for poll observers. Capuzzi, who issued that order, dismissed those claims Wednesday and chastised the group’s lawyer for filing the challenge so long after the matter had been ruled on by the state Supreme Court, calling the petition “frivolous” and “contemptible.” “Strikingly, at the time of the filing of this frivolous action, the issue now brought forth by the petitioners has been adjudicated by the highest court in the Commonwealth, i.e. the Delaware County Board of Elections had full authority to establish observation areas as it deemed fit,” Capuzzi wrote. “Consequently, there is a total absence of legal merit in the petitions.”

Tech Thursday

Minnesota: A report released by the Office of the Legislative Auditor found that the secretary of state’s office was ill-prepared for an error that briefly directed voters to a partisan group’s online poll finder on Super Tuesday last year. For a 17-minute period on the morning of the March 3, 2020, presidential primary voters seeking information via the state’s online polling-place finder were instead referred to a site operated by a partisan progressive group after the state’s online tool crashed. Secretary of State Steve Simon quickly took responsibility for the lapse, which he said happened when a civil servant staffer in his IT department acted too quickly to find a link to redirect voters. Simon also denied any political motivation on behalf of the staffer. According to The Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the report found Simon’s statements were accurate but it said multiple staffers were to blame in addition to the single IT staffer Simon initially described. The report also concluded that Simon’s office was not prepared to adequately redirect visitors from its web poll finder and that the office did not have a detailed definition of what would have been an appropriate alternative online source to share. In an interview after the report’s release, Simon said it “corroborated and reaffirmed” his statements that quickly followed the glitch. The Legislative Auditor meanwhile concluded that Simon’s office took “appropriate and necessary steps” to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future — including updating its elections emergency plan to include preapproved web addresses for an alternative poll finder.

Social Media: YouTube says it’s going to suspend any channels posting new videos of false widespread voter fraud claims, rather than giving them a warning as was its previous policy. “Due to the disturbing events that transpired yesterday, and given that the election results have now been certified, starting today any channels posting new videos with false claims in violation of our policies will now receive a strike,” the company said in a statement last week. YouTube said that over the last month, it has removed thousands of videos that spread misinformation claiming widespread voter fraud changed the result of the 2020 presidential election, including “several” videos President Donald Trump posted to his channel.

Opinions This Week

National Opinions: Voting rights | Signature verification | Disinformation | Election reform

Arizona: Election system

Colorado: Election fraud

Delaware: Ranked choice voting | Election reform

Florida: Disinformation

Georgia: Secretary of state | Election legislation

Kentucky: Pandemic voting plan

Louisiana: Primaries

Massachusetts: Vote by mail

Minnesota: Election process

Mississippi: Election reform

Nebraska: Election security

New Jersey: Early voting, II | Atlantic County

New York: Voting equipment

Oklahoma: Voting system | Confidence in elections

Vermont: Local elections

Virginia: Election integrity

Washington: Trust in elections

Upcoming Events

NASED Winter Conference: We’re disappointed not to meet in person, but we look forward to seeing you virtually at the NASED Virtual Conference. Sessions topics include: Effective Incident Response; What Happened in 2020 and Cyber Priorities for 2021; Managing Misinformation on Social Media Platforms and Media Relations: Working Collaboratively to Build Trust. When: February 1-5. Where: Online.

NASS 2021 Winter Virtual Conference: NASS will hold its 2021 Winter Conference virtually this year. Elections-related events include workshops and sessions on election cybersecurity. The Elections Committee will consider two resolutions. When February 2-5. Where. Online.

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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.

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.

City and County Clerk, City and County of Broomfield, Colorado — Do you want to lead a highly functioning and motivated Clerk and Recorder team? The City and County of Broomfield is accepting applications for the position of City and County Clerk. This is a one-of-a-kind opportunity as the City and County of Broomfield is the only county in Colorado that appoints their Clerk. This position leads a team of committed individuals passionate about the services they provide the residents of Broomfield in the areas of Elections, Recording, Motor Vehicle, and City Clerk. As the City and County Clerk you will be required to perform the following job duties: Plan, direct, organize, implement, and coordinate all programs and activities associated with City Clerk, Recording, Elections, and Motor Vehicle divisions. Create strategic plans, assemble staff resources, and delegate tasks to assigned staff members. Communicate official plans, policies, and procedures to staff, civic organizations, and the general public through various means of communication. Effectively communicate and work with City Council members. Review proposed ordinances and regulations, plans, and technical reports related to departmental activities for content, accuracy, and feasibility; present ordinance changes, reports, and studies. Salary: $93,288.00 – $126,152.00. Deadline: Jan. 25. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Early Voting Specialist, Wake County, North Carolina— Are you looking to be more involved in your community? Do you have a passion for learning? Are you ready to be a part of democracy in the making? If so, get ready to roll up your sleeves and become a part of history! The Wake County Board of Elections is currently seeking an Early Voting Specialist to join our dynamic and talented Early Voting Team. The ideal candidate will be a strong communicator who thrives in a fast paced, ever changing work environment. They will have a clear understanding of the commonly accepted instructional design models, know what is takes to be a behind the scenes designer, and have a strong visual sense and excellent project management skills.  The Early Voting Specialist will also assist with planning and management of early voting. This includes logistics, such as identifying and inspecting potential voting sites, communicating with facility staff, scheduling election service vendors, and managing voting site support operations. In addition, they will assist in the physically demanding work of setting up early voting sites.  What will you do as an Early Voting Specialist? Develop and design training material for election workers, including classroom presentations, manuals, quick reference guides, workbooks, training videos, and e-learning modules. Teach training classes via Zoom or in person at the Board of Elections Operations Center. Monitor and assess election law changes and incorporate the changes into early voting site procedures. Identify training needs and solutions, collaborate with team members on best practices, develop training assessments, and implement changes in response to the assessments. Manage the logistics of early voting training, including recruiting and training classroom instructors, scheduling classroom facilities, recruiting and supervising training assistants, and preparing training budget needs. Manage the Learning Management System through user interface design, user record management, course creation, and uploading of SCORM packages. Develop high level design documents, storyboards, audio narration scripts, status reporting, QA and testing plans. Schedule and design layouts for training facilities. Develop and design election forms, precinct official website, newsletters, assessments, and other communications. Answer calls on the early voting support help line, including training help line staff, managing telephone, website, and live chat support tools, and managing help line staff schedules. Listen and respond to voter complaints. Identify innovative training tools and methods to enhance the early voting training program. Assist with early voting site management, including scheduling, communication, support, logistics, database management, and site setups. Assist with election support operations, including answering phone calls at the precinct official support help line and performing post-election reconciliation procedures.  The Early Voting Specialist must become proficient in the use of the Adobe Creative Suite, in particular Adobe InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop. They must also become skilled in developing online training content using Articulate 360. Salary Hiring Range: $17.49 – $23.60. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Elections Manager, City of Alexandria, Virginia— The City of Alexandria is looking for an Elections Manager to direct and coordinate the elections operation within the City. The Elections Manager’s primary responsibility is to direct the security, maintenance, repair and transportation of voting machines to and from voting precincts, and to ensure accurate recording and accounting of votes. Responsibilities also include management of the absentee voting process, the hiring, placement and training of election officers, and overseeing the printing of ballots.  The work is performed under the general direction and guidance of the General Registrar. Salary: $62,657.92 – $102,994.90. Deadline: Jan. 17. 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.

Elections Specialist, Stanly County, North Carolina— This position provides customer service to the Stanly County residence by telephone and in person; and issue forms, applications and inform customers of online resources.  Duties include responding to and resolving customer inquiries through research; processing voter registration applications, cancellations and absentee ballot requests; keying updates provided on federal and state forms; assisting staff in daily office procedures and providing accurate information to the public; processing, sorting and date stamping mail; and collaborating with team members to gain knowledge of work processes.  Work may include other duties and responsibilities assigned. Salary: $15.82/hr. Deadline: Jan. 22.  Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

General Registrar, Fairfax County, Virginia— The Fairfax County Electoral Board, serving Fairfax County (population 1.1 million), the largest locality in the Commonwealth of Virginia and a suburb of Washington, D.C., is recruiting qualified candidates with exceptional senior leadership and management experience for the position of General Registrar to serve a four-year term. This is an executive management position that reports to the 3-person Fairfax County Electoral Board. The Board is seeking an innovative leader with demonstrated management experience and political acumen. It is crucial that the General Registrar have excellent interpersonal skills and a high level of multi-cultural sensitivity to work effectively with a diverse community and employee population and a complex hierarchy. The General Registrar is an appointed state employee and sworn official with overall responsibility for administering the provisions of the Virginia election laws under guidelines established by the State Board of Elections and the Fairfax County Electoral Board including the duties and powers of the General Registrar as stated in Title 24.2 of the Code of Virginia and in compliance with other federal, state, and local laws, regulations, and policies. With close to 800,000 registered voters, and yearly or more frequent elections, the General Registrar is responsible for the oversight of a large and complex non-partisan voter registration and election administration agency with approximately 30 full-time equivalent employees, 200 temporary/seasonal employees and, during election season, 3,700 Election Officer employees. The General Registrar consults with, advises, and reports to the Fairfax County Electoral Board on all issues relative to election administration and voter registration. General Registrars serve at the pleasure of the Fairfax County Electoral Board. Pursuant to the Code of Virginia sec. 24.2-109, local electoral boards are granted the authority to appoint and remove from office, on notice, the General Registrar  Salary: $95,447.87 – $159,078.61. Deadline: Jan. 29. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Redistricting Litigation Counsel— The Citizens Redistricting Commission is seeking Statements of Qualifications (“SOQ”) from attorneys, including law firms and other entities, to provide legal services to defend its four final certified voting district maps (Congressional, and State Senate, Assembly, and Board of Equalization) in the event of litigation. The California Supreme Court has original jurisdiction over any claims that are brought in state court; however, cases may also be brought in federal court.The SOQ will be used by the Commission to selectcounsel for this purpose. An applicant may apply to provide such services, by responding to this Request for Information (“RFI”) in the manner described in Section III.At the Commission’s discretion, it may decideto hire more than one attorney or law firm based on the Commission’s perceived needs, and the attorney or law firm must be willing to coordinate with other firms as needed. If the Commission chooses representation from more than one attorney or law firm, the order of subordination with regards to any coordinated effort shall be made solely by the Commission or its designee. Deadline: Jan. 29. 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 Act Counsel — The Citizens Redistricting Commission is seeking Statements of Qualifications (“SOQ”) from attorneys, including law firms and other entities to provide legal services to assist the Commission with its responsibilities pursuant to the Voters First Act. The SOQ will be used by the Commission to select counsel to advise specifically on Voting Rights Act (“VRA”) matters. An applicant may apply to provide such services either as an independent contractor or as an employee of the Commission, by responding to this Request for Information (“RFI”) in the manner described in Section III. Deadline: Jan. 29. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

 

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