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November 17, 2011

November 17, 2011

In Focus This Week

I. In Focus This Week

Editor’s Note #1: Due to the Thanksgiving holiday, electionlineWeekly will not publish next week, Nov. 24. The newsletter will return on Thursday December 1.

Editor’s Note #2:Electionline.org now has a calendar of events on the website. Please take a moment to look through the new calendar and let us know what we’re missing or what may have changed and please keep us in the loop for future events. There are two calendars:one that lists election dates by state and another with lists events (elections, conferences, seminars, etc.) by date.

Pilot program to expand in 2012 include military, overseas voters

By M. Mindy Moretti

“I Voted” took on a whole new meaning during the recent special election in Oregon when nearly 100 voters cast their ballots with the help of iPads.

The tablet device, which many people associate with surfing the Web, was used to allow disabled voters better access to their ballots.

According to Steve Trout, elections director for Oregon, the elections division hatched the idea of using the iPad for accessible voting as a way to save money and provide greater access.

“We have been spending large sums of money on our accessible voting system but having very few people use it. We wanted to see if there were alternatives that were less expensive, provided greater utility and were easier to use for both voters and election officials,” Trout explained. “We played around with the idea here long enough to think it was worthy of a pilot.”

Using software created by Everyone Counts, staff from the elections division spread out on Election Day to test the new program with seniors and voters with disabilities.

The software allows voters to download their ballot, mark their choice, print out their ballot and return it just like they would their regular mail-in ballot.

Like other accessible voting devices the iPad allows voters to enlarge their ballot for better visibility and is compatible with several accessibility devices such as Sip-and-Puff technology.

The pilot test in Oregon used Everyone Counts eLect Platform that automatically operates on any web-enabled device. The platform was customized for Oregon to include ballot data, voter registration data and the state’s seal colors and design formats.

“We were really astounded by the success of the iPad pilot,” said Secretary of State Kate Brown. “We had 89 Oregonians use the iPad to mark their ballots in November, that is a huge increase from the last General Election in 2010 when only six people statewide used the accessible computer stations. We look forward to the second phase of the pilot in January making the ballot more accessible to Oregonians with disabilities.”

Among the 89 voters who participated in the iPad program not one reported a problem, although Trout pointed out that there were a few “lessons learned” that according to Trout will make the experience better next time around.

For instance, because many of the participants were seniors, when they came to the step where they had to enter their birthdate, they had to scroll through quite a way to get to their correct birth year. Trout said they will look into changing the starting date range to somewhere around 1930.

Although everyone seemed happy with the device, Pamela Smith with Verified Voting does have some security concerns.

“Given there have been concerns in the past about being able to discern voters’ choices on other electronic voting devices through various means, even when that device is not (deliberately) networked, this would appear to amplify some of those concerns, especially for a device that is meant to preserve privacy,” Smith said.

Smith noted that the program is just “a whisker away” from Internet voting.

Trout said that there were no security concerns since voters are not actually voting on the iPad, that it is only a ballot marking tool.

“The ballot is printed out and verified and then mailed in like all the other ballots in the state and the printout serves as the paper trail.” Trout said. “The iPad is really just a just a big electronic pen that has lots of features to help a voter with accessibility needs to mark their ballot.”

Apple donating five iPads for the pilot, the program cost the state $75,000 for the development and administration of the software. This cost covers both the November 8 election and the upcoming January 31, 2012 special elections.

Once the program goes statewide, Oregon will need 72 iPads to make sure that each county has two.

Even with newer, cheaper tablets coming out seemingly almost every week Trout said the state plans on sticking with the iPads for now and doesn’t have any plans at the moment to move to other types of smart technology like smartphones.

“We tested five different pieces of hardware initially, but after initial tests with voters with accessibility needs it was clear that the built in accessibility features of the iPad were much better and simpler to use than other apps on different pieces of hardware,” Trout explained. “We expect that accessible features will become more prevalent in the coming months that we will look at again in the future.”

Election News This Week

II. Election News This Week

  • While the citizens effort to repeal voting laws in Maine was successful, similar attempts in Ohio to repeal recently approved voting laws has hit a snag. A coalition of groups needed to collect 213,150 valid signatures to put House Bill 194 on the ballot in November 2012, however the coalition is about 10,000 signatures short of the required number. Although short of the number, the group has until Thanksgiving — November 24 — to collect the additional 10K signatures. A spokesman for the state Democrat Party told the Plain Dealer that they have already submitted an additional 150,000 signatures.
  • The battle to view ballots in Aspen, Colo. isn’t over yet. Late last week, the city of Aspen filed an appeal with the Colorado Supreme Court seeking to keep election ballots from public review. According to a city press release:“The case is not about election transparency. The 2009 municipal election was one of the most transparent elections in City and state history.  The case involves the sanctity of the secret ballot. The Aspen Daily News reports that the three-member panel of the Court of Appeals ruled in late September that ballots could be lawfully released, so long as there was nothing on them that could be used to identify an individual voter. The ruling reversed the decision by Chief Judge James Boyd of Pitkin County District Court, where the lawsuit by Aspen resident Marilyn Marks was filed in 2009.

  • With concerns about the spread of the H1N1 virus, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) created a “flu season contingency plan” clearinghouse in 2009. With many of the 2012 primaries coming during prime flu season, the EAC is seeking to expand its flu clearinghouse. The EAC is looking for plans regarding backup staffing strategies, technology solutions and other approaches from election officials at the state and local level. Plans may be submitted via email to:clearinghouse@eac.gov.

  • And finally, of course electionlineWeekly just had to include this item:Voters in Stamford, Conn. were upset last week when after casting their ballots, they did not receive “I Voted” stickers. “People kept saying to us, `Where’s my sticker?’ Just about everybody made a comment,” poll worker Susan Darer, who has worked at polling places in Stamford for 10 years and cannot remember an Election Day without stickers told the Stamford Advocate. “No one seemed to know why we had none. Our guess was either budget cuts or somebody forgot.” The city did not receive the election-day rewards because the state did not have the money to produce them this year.
  • Personnel News:Barry Garner is the new top elections official in Santa Clara County, Calif. Most recently Garner served as the director of registration and elections operations for Fulton County, Ga. Although she’s been on the job for almost five years, Charlotte Sosebee is now officially the Hall County, Ga. elections director. “It is a relief,” Sosebee told the Gainesville Times. “It’s like birthing a baby. It’s exciting. And just to know that it’s official, it just kind of gives me assurance that I’m here.” The Republican Party of Rockdale County, Ga. has appointed Jonny Brown to sit on the county elections board. On the Democrat side, Caycie Dix was appointed to serve. Dix and Brown replace the previous board members (including Brown’s wife Lynn) who were removed from the board by a judge late last week.


IV. Opinions 

Voting rights; Election reform, II, III; Student voters

Arizona:Vote centers

California:Instant-runoff voting, II, III, IV; Riverside County

Colorado:Mail ballots; Clerks; Aspen lawsuit

Florida:Election reform, II, III; Vote-by-mail; Collier County

Indiana:Vote centers; Monroe County

Maine:Voter ID; Ranked-choice voting; Voter suppression

Maryland:Baltimore general election; Vote-by-mail

Minnesota:Voter ID; Ranked-choice voting

Missouri:Election judges

New Jersey:Voter turnout

New York:Lever-voting machines

Ohio:Highland County; Faulty instructions; Voting system; Voter access

Pennsylvania:Voter ID

South Carolina:Voter ID

Tennessee:Ranked-choice voting

Texas:Vote centers; Voter ID

Virginia:Election night; Polling place changes; Election Day thank you

Wisconsin:Voter ID

*some sites require registration

Job Openings

V. Job Openings

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.

Assistant City Clerk, Minneapolis — direct, manage, organize, coordinate, plan and conduct accurate, timely and efficient local state and federal elections within the corporate boundaries of the City of Minneapolis. Supervise all elections staff, seasonal/temporary personnel, election judges, interns and others, and all related activities, and participate in voter outreach and engagement strategies to inform citizens of the election process and encourage registration and participation in elections; negotiate, draft, and finalize comprehensive election contracts; serve as authorized media representative and spokesperson on election related matters; supervise and participate in voter outreach and engagement strategies to inform citizens of the election process and to encourage registration and participation in elections; create, improve, and maintain standard operating procedures and training; ensuring adherence to relevant election laws, regulations, and policies; ensure timely hiring and training of all election judges, poll workers, and temporary staff; serve as a Municipal candidate filing officer; foster cooperation and coordination, as appropriate, with the Office of Secretary of State, Hennepin County, and other local, county, and state agencies and officials to achieve common goals and to support shared interests, particularly with respect to assigned responsibilities; serve as School District Clerk for Special School District No. I Qualifications:A Bachelor’s Degree in Public Administration, Political Science (or equivalent field of study) and four years of experience in a public setting performing related duties, including elections management with a minimum of two years of management experience that demonstrates administrative capabilities. Salary:$73,783-81,550. Application:Click here. Deadline:Dec. 2.

Associate, Election Initiatives, Pew Center on the States, Washington, D.C. — reporting to a project manager in Election Initiatives and in support of the project team and other colleagues across PCS, the associate will:aid project staff in workings towards VIP’s goal of expanding information available from states in preparation for the 2012 Election Cycle; contribute to dissemination efforts, including involvement in development of new software applications, and recruitment of media and other information outlets; assist in VIP partnership outreach and coordination, including contract implementation and management, and managing the project’s presence online; assist project staff by developing and processing contracts, vendor agreements and subgrants to effectively achieve the Election Initiatives’ project goals; draft reports, briefs, memos, and communication materials that are relevant to project goals and easily understood by the target audiences including the public, media, and policy makers as well as internal audiences. Edit and proof draft documents for accuracy. Qualifications:Bachelor’s degree required; advanced degree preferred; one to three years of relevant professional experience, including demonstrated research, administrative and writing skills. Experience in public policy in general and election administration, technology policy, and open government in particular preferred. Application:Click here.

Director, Registration and Elections, Fulton County, Ga. — incumbent in this class performs duties related to directing the overall activities of the Department of Registration and Elections.  Responsibilities include overseeing elections administration, voter registration, absentee balloting, voter education and outreach, and support services and establishing the department’s mission, vision, goals, and objectives.  Qualifications:Bachelor’s degree in business or public administration, political science, organizational development, project management, social science or related field, 7 years of progressively responsible management experience in government administration, business administration, or a legal field involving interpretation of governmental laws, rules and statutes, including 3 years of elections experience and 5 years of supervisory experience. Valid Georgia driver’s license and proof of residency may be requested. Salary:$93,489-$151,455. Application:Online application is available at the county’s website. Completed forms will be accepted at the County Personnel Dept., 141 Pryor Street, Ste., 3030, Atlanta, Ga. 30303. Deadline:Nov. 21.

Program Analyst, Dept. of Defense, Arlington, Va. —researches subject matter and develops plans of action and milestones with metrics to measure success for assigned Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) programs or projects; monitors overall state legislative actions and analyzes the impact on Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) citizens and the FVAP; provides problem resolution of more complex problems to citizens worldwide to ensure enfranchisement; provides assistance and support to customers to ensure understanding of the electoral process and enfranchisement and expand voter outreach; assist with the implementation of an informational and education program. Qualifications:Click here. Deadline:Nov. 22.

Executive Director & General Counsel – Connecticut State Elections Enforcement Commission.  Need considerable knowledge of and ability to apply management principles and techniques; knowledge of and ability to apply state campaign financing and election laws; knowledge of criminal, constitutional, and administrative law and rules of evidence; knowledge of legislative process; considerable interpersonal skills; considerable oral and written communication skills; considerable ability in advocacy and negotiation techniques; considerable ability to interpret complex legislation. Preferred Knowledge, Skills and Ability:Excellent management skills and ability to function effectively in nonpartisan capacity. Strong ability to lead management team. Excellent decision making skills, management of elections and/or campaign finance agency desirable. Some IT knowledge desirable. Considerable public speaking and media skills. Knowledge of election law and public financing program preferred. General Experience:Five (5) years experience in the practice of law including some experience with the legislative process, administrative law and state election laws. Special Experience:Two (2) years of the General Experience must have been in a managerial capacity. Must be admitted to practice law in the State of Connecticut or be lawfully engaged in the practice of law as a principal means of livelihood for five out of the last seven years in a reciprocal jurisdiction in accordance with Section 2‐13 of the Connecticut Practice Book and obtain membership in the Connecticut Bar within one year of appointment. Salary:$103,539.00 to $132,804.00. Deadline:Dec. 15.

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