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March 8, 2012

March 8, 2012

In Focus This Week

I. In Focus This Week

Super Tuesday more slow than super
Low turnout, few problems mark contests in 10 states

By M. Mindy Moretti

Unlike four years ago when states jockeyed to be among the first to cast ballots in the hotly contested 2008 presidential primary season and 24 states and America Soma held their contests on February 5, this year only 10 states held contests on “Super Tuesday.”

And with no contest on the Democrat side and less interest on the Republican side than there seemed to be four years, that made for a slow Super Tuesday for many elections officials with light turnout reported from Alaska to Vermont.

That being said, just because the day was relatively quiet, some would say slow, doesn’t mean it was uneventful. The following is a brief recap of some of the events of Super Tuesday.

Glitches and snafus
In Franklin County, Ohio, some voters left their polling places without voting after confusion about ballots lead to delays.

The confusion arose in polling places that handle multiple precincts. Due to the confusion about which ballots voters were supposed to receive, some voters could not wait because they had to get to work.

Poll workers took down the contact information of the voters who had to leave and reached out to them after the ballot confusion was cleared up to encourage them to return to vote.

Franklin County wasn’t alone with ballot problems. In Lucas County, Ohio about 50 voters used incorrect ballots after a poll worker was confused about which voters got which ballots in a multi-precinct polling place.

In Clermont County, Ohio and Muscogee County, Ga., it wasn’t a glitch with voting that caused problems, it was computer problems that caused issues with the counting process and held up the results in both counties.

Elections offices in Dougherty County, Ga. also reported technical problems during the counting process.

For Trumbull County, Ohio officials, election night lasted a little longer than expected because workers forgot to bring back voting machines from one polling places and because officials had to count the paper ballots cast by 17-year-olds voting for the first time.

Although polling places in Monroe County, Tenn. weren’t directly affected by last week’s devastating tornadoes, turnout on Tuesday was definitely affected with only about 350 voters casting ballots in a precinct that usually sees 1,000 voters.

“Throughout the county with the vote being down anyway, people have to take care of their homes,” Precinct official Tara Harrill told a local television affiliate.

Voter ID
By and large the first wide-scale implementation of voter photo ID in Oklahoma and Tennessee when fairly well on Tuesday.

In Tennessee, just over 200,000 people cast ballots via early voting or on Super Tuesday and many counties claimed the state’s new voter ID law was a “non-factor.” According the news reports, only 47 provisional ballots were needed for those who did not have a voter ID.

“Between our office and the state election office doing press releases and everything that’s been done, it’s really gotten the word out,” Rutherford County Administrator of Elections Nicole Lester told the Daily News Journal.

Of course that doesn’t mean everything went swimmingly.

When former Marine Tim Thompson went to vote on Tuesday, although he has an ID, he refused to show it in a form of protest.

“I’ve used this for 37 years,” he said showing his voter registration card to a local television affiliate, “This was good enough for my father, it was good enough for my grandfather and I refuse to show you a picture ID.”

There were minor problems in Oklahoma as well with some voters not realizing that they needed to have ID and one being turned away because of an expired license.

Polling Places
From icy parking lots to bomb threats to problems with accessibility, there are always issues at polling places on any election day and Tuesday was no exception.

Two polling places in Ohio were temporarily shut-down due to bomb threats. In Loraine County all voters and elections workers had to evacuate the building shortly after 1pm. The voting machines were left unattended during the evacuation. The election judges kept in touch with the county board of elections throughout the ordeal.

Presiding Judge Tammara Taylor told The Morning Journal that she was impressed with one voter who was evacuated but waited out the evacuation to ensure that his vote was counted.

“We had one voter who returned after everything to make sure that his vote counts,” Taylor told the paper. “I was impressed he came back. He should of got two I voted stickers.”

The building was re-opened by 2 p.m.

The other Ohio bomb threat was called into Lima Senior High School.

In Arlington, Va. it wasn’t a bomb threat but a suspicious package that temporarily closed down a polling place. The suspicious envelope was reported around 9 a.m. and the site was given the all-clear by 10:30 a.m. Voting was not affected.

And in Polk County, Ga. one voter complained that he was unable to cast his ballot because the wheelchair ramp to access the polling place was too steep for him to negotiate.

Elections administrator Steve Gattis told the local television affiliate that he thought the ramp was accessible and other voters had been able to access the site using the ramp.

An early morning fire in an apartment complex that houses a polling place in Marlboro, Mass. forced the town to move it’s polling location to the nearby Masonic Hall.

Young people
For the first time, 17-year-olds who will be 18 by the general election in November were able to vote in Vermont’s primary. Although no one knows for sure how many 17-year olds cast their ballot on Tuesday, various organizations worked hard to get the word out in advance including this PSA created by members of the Class of 2012 who planned to vote on Tuesday.

Miss Vermont Katie Levasseur worked with state house interns to push legislators to approve the constitutional amendment allowing the practice.

“I’m so excited,” Levasseur said told the Burlington Free Press the day before the election. “I think it’s so important to start these habits at a young age.”

After voting on Tuesday, Levasseur planned to spend the day trying to meet some of the newly voting 17-year olds.

Although they couldn’t vote, that didn’t stop 30 Advance Placement students in Glynn County, Ga. from spending their Super Tuesday at the polls.

For the third election, the students spent the day as poll workers completing the same tasks and working the same hours as their older counter parts.

Cindy Johnson, director of the county’s board of elections said that the students pick up the technology used in elections so quickly most don’t need much training at all.

Two students in Ohio were forced to change their clothes when attempting to vote in Tuesday’s primary election. Nothing on their clothing was offensive, unless you’re opposed to the Westerville City school system.

Karla Herron, director of the Delaware County Board of Elections said that the students should not have been asked to change or cover-up their school logos.

“It will be something in our next training that we will be sure to emphasize, because it was an issue, two voters or 500 voters,” Herron told the local NBC affiliate.

And sadly, 19-year-old Kyle Sprowls, a senior at Orville High School in East Union Township, Ohio was killed in an automobile accident before dawn on Tuesday morning while on his way to volunteer at his local polling site.

Election News This Week

II. Election News This Week

  • The League of Women Voters and a group of prisoners-rights organizations filed suit against California Secretary of State Debra Bowen seeking to restore voting rights of citizens convicted of but sent to county jails under California’s realignment program. Late last year the state began to reroute people convicted of most nonviolent felonies to county jails and probation departments due to overcrowding at state-run prisons. According to the Los Angeles Times, the lawsuit contends that the realignment should also enable tens of thousands of new convicts to vote. The state bars prison inmates and paroled felons from voting, but not convicted felons in county jails or on probation, the lawsuit contends. Bowen’s office issued an opinion in December saying that realignment does not affect a felons right to vote. The lawsuit was filed with state’s Court of Appeals.
  • Voter ID Update: A Dane County, Wis. judge granted a temporary injunction against Wisconsin’s new voter ID law. The ruling means the law would not apply for the April 3 presidential primary and local general election. In his ruling, Circuit Judge David Flanagan called the Wisconsin law “the single most restrictive voter eligibility law” in the country. In granting the injunction, Flanagan found that the plaintiffs likely would succeed at trial and would suffer irreparable harm without the court’s intervention. A spokesman for Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that the state likely would appeal, and other state election officials pointed out that other aspects of the law will remain in effect, such as having to sign a poll list. Legislation requiring a photo ID at the polls in Pennsylvania was approved by the Senate on Wednesday. The House approved an earlier version of the bill in June 2011. Gov. Tom Corbett has indicated he would sign the legislation is approved. Voters will be asked for ID during the Keystone State’s upcoming primary, but those without ID would still be allowed to vote. The law would take full effect in time for November’s general election. A committee of the Rhode Island General Assembly heard testimony this week on legislation that would repeal the states voter ID law that was approved last year. Although Texas is still waiting for the Dept. of Justice to rule on the legality of its photo ID law, concerns are already arising about it’s implementation. Following a review of voter rolls and other public records, the secretary of state’s office found that 2.4 million of the state’s 12.8 million registered voters do not have some type of government issued photo ID.
  • Move over Match.com. Look out eHarmony. Election day may be the next big thing in matchmaking. The Annandale Patch has a cute story about two Fairfax County poll workers who met while working the 2008 presidential election and plan on marrying later this year. Stephen White, a Republican, was serving as a chief poll official. Carole Hirsch, a Democrat, was assigned to work with White as an assistant chief. While they met the day before Election Day, their “first date” began at 5 a.m. on Election Day and lasted almost 2 a.m. because of a cracked touch-screen voting machine. “We laugh and say our first date was 21 hours long,” Hirsch told the Patch. They’d like to work at the polls again this year. Hirsch plans to work at a precinct on Tuesday, but White will be busy at work that day. The two said they might serve as election workers during the presidential election in November, but they’re not sure if election rules allow married couples to work together.
  • Personnel News: At a reorganization meeting last week, the Allen County Board of Elections named Ken Terry, a Democrat, as its director and Republican Keith Cheney as the chairman of the board. Joseph Masich is the new director of the Summit County, Ohio board of elections. Republican Roberta Halford is the new director of the Geauga County, Ohio board of elections. Also in Ohio, Warren County board of elections Director Keir Holeman has been replaced by Kimberlie J. Antrican. Long time Rockingham County, Va. electoral board member Lowell Hertzler was recently replaced by former Rockingham General Registrar Kay Shifflett. Montana Secretary of State Linda McCulloch made it official last week by filing the necessary paperwork to seek a second term as The Treasure State’s top elections official. And a hearty “get well” to Wallingford Conn. Republican Registrar of Voters Chet Miller who is recovering from injuries suffered in a fall in his home in January.
  • In Memoriam: George Firestone, who was Florida’s secretary of state from 1978-1987 died last week of complications from Alzheimer’s disease. He was 80. Before becoming secretary of state he served as a state representative from 1966-72 and a state senator from 1972-78. Following his resignation from public service, Firestone worked for Smith Barney and opened his own investment company. He is survived by his wife and step-daughter.


IV. Opinions 

National: Voting Rights Act, II; Voter registration; Voter ID

Alabama: Voter ID

California: Bilingual ballots: U.S. Postal Service, II; Vote-by-mail, II

Colorado: Voter ID

Connecticut: Election reform; Provisional ballots; Election turnout; Voter disenfranchisement

Illinois: Voting restrictions

Iowa: Voter ID

Massachusetts: Ballot colors

Minnesota: Voter ID, II, III

Mississippi: Voter ID; Absentee ballots

Nebraska: Voter ID

New York: Poll workers

North Carolina: Voter ID, II

Pennsylvania: Voter ID, II

Tennessee: Voter ID, II

Utah: Vote-by-mail

West Virginia: Election fraud

Wisconsin: Voter ID, II, III, IV; Doughnuts

**Some sites may 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.

Administrator, Bureau of Elections, Bernalillo County, N.M.– Under the assigned supervisor, responsible for the election operations section of the Bureau of Elections, manages the voting machine warehouse and directs the functional operation of the voter registration section. Supervises training of personnel in related areas. Responsibilities include: Direct the functions and activities related to the conduct of elections under the jurisdiction of the County Clerk; review the State Election Code and Federal Voting Rights Compliance Act to ensure proper procedures are followed by the County; assist in preparing instructions on the conduct of elections for election officials; responsible for polling locations and ensure election personnel are sufficient in number and well trained; oversee the preparation of lists of registered voters, absentee voters, election officials, polling places, and voter signature rosters; responsible for the purchase and distribution of election supplies and equipment prescribed by the State Election Code and other legislative mandates. Maintain a perpetual inventory of all election supplies, voting machines, parts and accessories; assure that voting machine technicians are trained in the programming and maintenance of the various types of voting machines used by the County. Coordinate an on-going maintenance program of all machines. Minimum Qualifications include: Bachelor Degree in Business, Public Administration, Government, Political Science or other or related field plus seven (7) years experience in a professional administrative/management capacity; knowledge of the New Mexico Election Code and Federal Voting Rights Compliance Act and principles, practices and procedures of election administration; advanced computer technology experience and skills. Application: For more information and how to apply, click here. Deadline: March 30, 2012.

Computer Engineer, U.S. Election Assistance Commission, Washington, D.C. — incumbent will assist with and consult on technical reviews, and is directly responsible for assisting with and consulting on technical reviews of documentation submitted by manufacturers and test labs during the testing of voting systems applying for EAC certification. This includes review of (1) Technical Data Packages, (2) Test Plans, and (3) Test Reports. In addition, the EAC will work with the laboratories as they develop test methods and specific test cases for manufacturer specific electronic voting systems. Reviews shall ensure that a plan was in place to properly test each voting system to the applicable voting system standards, that these test were properly performed and documented, and that the test results demonstrate conformance with applicable voting system standards. As the employee develops expertise in this area, he/she may also be tasked with serving as the EAC program manager for specific voting system test engagements. Experience in: computer architecture, testing methodologies and network principles; technical standards and standards sett; voting system testing and/or election administration practices. Salary: $59,383-$91,801. Application: For the complete job listing and how to apply, click here. Deadline: April 30, 2012.

Deputy Election Director, Board of Elections, Montgomery County, Md. —employee will be directly responsible to and supervised by the Election Director. The employee must have in-depth knowledge of the conduct of elections and Federal and State election laws and provide high quality services to the approximately 600,000 registered Montgomery County voters. Duties include: exhibit and attain a comprehensive knowledge base of election administration; collaborate with and support the Election Director, Board and all sections on election matters; provide substantive input on upper-level policy issues, decisions and operational decisions; collaborate on resolutions of complex problems; function in a highly visible environment; coordinate, initiate and implement the selection process for all appointments and the procurement, production and deliveries of State mandated sample ballots; coordinate precinct redistricting resulting from boundary changes; provide senior level collaboration on county, state and federal legislative issues; coordinate county resources to aid in the conduct of elections; approve purchases; research and respond to public inquiries and reporting of agency performance measures. Other duties include using the operative computer systems, e.g., the statewide election management system for voter registration, absentee data and campaign finance; evaluate election procedures and propose improvements; use Microsoft Office and Oracle databases; cooperate and collaborate with county and state election employees in the administration of elections; handle complex details with high accuracy, including proofing and editing voter information; handle extended periods of stress and multiple task workloads with changing priorities and tight deadlines under minimal supervision. The employee will also supervise the Election Operation Manager and other employees in a secure environment; handle sensitive equipment, software, data and related security; contact and present information to other local, state, national election officials, contractors of related products/services, agencies; share and collect information; follow officially prescribed and recognized election procedures; ensure the integrity of the entire election process, including voting days, post-election audits and assessments. Experience: Five years of progressively responsible professional experience in conducting, planning, and/or managing the conduct of federal, state and/or local government elections. Education: Graduation from an accredited college or university with a Bachelor’s Degree. Salary: $63,411 – $115,901. Application: To view the entire job announcement and to apply, click here. Deadline: March 30, 2012.

Researcher, CIRCLE, Tufts University, Medford, Mass. —seeking a researcher to conduct research, perform data analysis, participate in program evaluations, help with project administration, and help communicate our findings to audiences that include academics, educators, policymakers, and the press. Responsibilities include conducting quantitative research for CIRCLE’s in-house research program; drafting fact sheets, web pages, and other research products for various audiences; participating in research and evaluation projects that may use a mix of methods, including qualitative research and field experiments; and answering queries from the general public, reporters, policy makers and academics. Basic Requirements: Bachelor’s degree; three (3) years of related experience; excellent computer skills and knowledge of at least one statistical package, such as STATA, SASS, or SPSS; strong quantitative research (social science methods) and writing skills required. Familiarity with analyzing large public datasets such as those provided by the US Census. Preferred Qualifications: Master’s degree in a social science field. Knowledge of youth civic engagement programs (such as service-learning, youth media-production, or youth voting) is desirable. Application: Click here. Deadline: April 13, 2012.

Senior Researcher, CIRCLE, Tufts University, Medford Mass.—seeking a senior researcher to conduct research and to help to lead some of CIRCLE’s research or evaluation projects. Responsibilities include: serving as a researcher on a range of research projects that may include secondary data-analysis, literature reviews, field experiments, program evaluations and original surveys; producing reports, fact sheets and press releases on timely and relevant topics, often in close collaboration with CIRCLE colleagues; providing guidance to other CIRCLE staff and students who produce research (quantitative and qualitative); contributing to research grant proposals; representing CIRCLE at a wide range of events including research conferences, practitioner forums, press events and other public events; and answering queries from reporters about CIRCLE research. Basic Requirements: Master’s degree; five (5) years of related experience; experience with statistical software packages, databases, and Microsoft Office; strong research skills, including a good working knowledge of at least one statistical package, such as STATA, SAS, or SPSS, and some experience using large public datasets. Experience with multivariate statistical techniques or qualitative methods and evaluation methods; ability to communicate effectively with practitioners, reporters, scholars, and young people through writing, speech, and graphs; ability to produce reliable, accurate, and readable evaluations and research products on short deadlines; ability to work collaboratively with CIRCLE colleagues from varied backgrounds and to interact with practitioners; ability to teach research methods to colleagues and student/workers. Preferred Qualifications: PhD in a social science discipline. Enthusiasm for youth civic engagement desired; however, prior research in this specific area is not required. Application: Click here. Deadline: April 13, 2012.

Temporary Elections Assistant, Hennepin County, Minn. — assist full-time elections staff and voters, in carrying out various aspects of elections administration, including absentee voting and voter registration.  Perform duties including relaying and responding to a broad range of requests for information via telephone or in person; explaining requirements, policies, and procedures regarding services to public and staff; solving customer problems; greeting and directing clients/visitors/applicants; entering and retrieving information from computerized systems.  Assumes responsibility and works with minimum instruction. Required skills and abilities: Ability to learn and follow processes and procedures necessary to use the State Voter Registration System (SVRS); must be trusted to handle sensitive voter registration and election information in a private and confidential manner; ability to learn and follow election processes and procedures to correctly answer questions; attention to detail; ability to communicate and work effectively in groups; and some lifting up to 50 pounds. Salary: $12.65/hour. Deadline: Various positions will be available. Some positions will begin in early May and may continue through January 2013. Interviews will be scheduled in February and March. Application: Please email your resume to Terri Garner. No phone calls please.

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