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March 29, 2012

March 29, 2012

In Focus This Week

I. In Focus This Week

Wisconsin clerks prepare for April 3 primary
On-again, off-again voter ID law, other issues complicate prep

By M. Mindy Moretti
electionline.org

Election years are busy for everyone who works in the field of election administration, but for the city and county clerks in Wisconsin, 2012 is presenting a new set of challenges in addition to regular preparations.

“It has been an interesting four months preparing for our presidential preference primary on April 3rd,” said Kathy Nickolaus, Waukesha County clerk. “We have had new statutory requirements on the administration of elections, new rules from the Government Accountability Board and also laws that no longer were required and I am speaking specifically about the Voter photo ID law, which was ruled unconstitutional.”

At the forefront of this is the state’s on-again, off-again voter ID law. Currently the law is not in effect following injunctions by two judges. But that could all change before polls open on April 3 so clerks are preparing for every scenario.

“We have trained clerks, who have then trained election inspectors, for both having to provide ID and not having to provide it.  They will be able to handle whichever is in effect on election day,” said Karen Peters, clerk for Dane County.

On Wednesday, the Court of Appeals certified both pending voter ID cases to the Supreme Court, which according to Kevin Kennedy, executive director of the GAB, could rule before 7a.m. on April 3.

Kennedy said that his office has done extensive communications to municipal and county clerks to keep them apprised of the latest developments.

In Rusk County, the changes have meant additional dollars in already tight budget times.

“It has caused us to back track on a lot of things, we’ve had to change our training materials for election workers making the election process even more costly then it already is,” said Denise Wetzel, Rusk County clerk. “We’ve had to try and do press releases to keep the public informed, change information on many different web pages, pull publications, etc. that also leads to added cost of wages for people to do all this. “

According to Ginny Dankmeyer, the clerks in her county used  2011 to prepare for 2012.

“We had several elections last year when our poll workers asked for the ID during the soft implmentation.  So to go back to not having to ask is minor.  Not knowing if the injunction will be overturned before the April election is probably more of a concern.” Dankmeyer, La Crosse County clerk said. “The biggest issue is the confusion it is causing with the public.  We worked hard to make sure they were educated and informed on this new law only to have it reversed.  We are getting calls asking for clarification on the injunction and what parts the injunction affects.” 

Nickolaus noted that although preparations for the upcoming election did not change much after the ruling against the photo ID requirement, she echoed Dankmeyer’s concerns about the impact it may have on voters.

“I believe voters which had an election in February — when voter photo ID was required — may become frustrated with the on-again/off-again requirements,” Nickolaus said. “In the portion of Waukesha County that had an election in February only one person forgot their photo ID and voted provisionally.”

For the clerks in Milwaukee County, while the change in voter ID law has played a role in preparations, other factors like redistricting and new bilingual requirements have added additional work this cycle.

“It was more time-consuming determining ballot styles based on the recent redistricting due to the fact that most of the voter data bases have not yet been updated reflecting the new districts,” said Lisa Catlin Weiner, administrator of elections for Milwaukee County. “Also, it took additional time to prepare the City of Milwaukee’s ballot as they are now required to provide ballots in both English and Spanish based on the recent census results.”

And once the clerks get through the April 3 primary, it’s not over. In addition to the November general election, there are several recall elections on the horizon including a statewide gubernatorial recall tentatively slated for June.

“With all the changes back and forth this has been an extremely busy time for the clerks and I feel they deserve much more credit than they are getting for all their hard work and dedication,” Peters of Dane County said. “They are truly amazing.”

Election News This Week

II. Election News This Week

  • Even though the Idaho primary is still almost two months away, auditors throughout the state are busy preparing for what some have said could be a very complicated election to run. In addition to polling place location changes due to redistricting, for the first time ever, voters will have to declare a party at the polls on May 15th. In addition to picking a party, voters must then pick a ballot — Democrat, Independent, Republican — but because it’s a closed primary, only Republicans may pick a Republican ballot. After voters have declared their party affiliation and chosen their ballot, for the first time ever, that information will be part of the public record. “This is becoming the most complicated election we’ve ever run,” Ada County Chief Deputy Clerk Phil McGrane told NWCN. All of these changes have created quite a challenging preparation for auditors. For instance, Ada County has 145 precincts with three different ballots in each precinct. Fortunately the auditors did have a chance try out the changes during a school levy election in March. “We learned lessons from that election.  So we’re really working on our processes.  We have been for a while,” McGrane said.  “Ever since that election ended, we’ve been looking at how can we change some of our practices to ensure that everyone can easily identify which ballot is which, that each voter gets the right ballot.”
  • A proposed constitutional amendment aimed at making it easier for convicted felons to vote in Delaware has cleared the House after a second roll call. The bill failed to garner the required two-thirds majority in the first vote earlier this week but was resurrected after a dissenting lawmaker was assured that a lifetime ban on voting for felons who commit violent crimes would remain in place. The bill would amend the state constitution to eliminate the five-year waiting period before eligible felons who have fully completed their sentences could have their voting rights restored. The bill now moves to the Senate and must pass two consecutive general assemblies before it becomes law.
  • Voter ID Update: Another attempt to legalize voter photo ID in Illinois failed again this week in a Senate committee. By a 36-30 vote, the Minnesota Senate approved a proposed constitutional amendment that would require voters to show photo ID at the polls. The amendment will now go before the voters in November, although several groups have threatened lawsuits. Elections officials in Pennsylvania are scrambling to implement a test of the state’s new voter ID law in time for the upcoming May primary. The law will be fully in place for the November general election. Several North Carolina counties continue to push for voter ID on a local level including Forsyth County that recently passed a resolution supporting a bill that would require photo ID. The resolution passed on a contentious 4-3 vote. And on Wednesday, after eight hours of debate, the Nebraska legislature voted to kill a proposed photo ID law. A vote to end a filibuster on the voter ID billed failed by three votes and therefore the bill died and according to the Omaha World-Herald is dead for 2012. In South Carolina, the League of Women Voters asked a three-judge panel for permission to join the legal challenge of the state’s voter ID law. An attempt to repeal Tennessee’s new voter photo ID law has stalled in the state legislature after it was killed by a Senate panel early this week. According to media reports, two legal challenges to Wisconsin’s photo ID law seem to be headed to the state’s Supreme Court.
  • Personnel News: After seven years on the job, Heather Maddox is stepping down as the democratic co-chair of the Tippecanoe County, Ind. election board. Maddox helped implement Tippecanoe County’s successful vote center program. She will be taking on the job as director of the 51% Club, a new organization that works to engage female voters to continue to vote in upcoming elections. Maddox will be replaced by Amy Wenrick. Randy Gravley has been tapped to serve as the new chairman of the Cherokee County, Ga. board of elections and registration. Maine Secretary of State Charlie Summers announced his bid for the Senate seat being vacated by Olympia Snowe. Summers has said he will remain on the job during the election. Longtime Black Hawk County, Idaho Auditor Grant Veeder announced this week that he will seek a seventh term in office. Donna Patterson, Arlington County, Va.’s deputy general registrar is heading south. Patterson is stepping down from her position in Arlington to take over registrar duties in Virginia Beach, the state’s second largest voting jurisdiction. Six of the seven members of the St. Croix, V.I. Board of Elections are facing recalls.

Opinions

IV. Opinions

National: Weekend voting; Voting rights; Latino voters; Voting Rights Act; Voter ID

California: Vote-by-mail

Colorado: Voter ID

Connecticut: Voter registration; Election reforms

Florida: Election reform law, II; Palm Beach County

Georgia: Voter ID

Illinois: Primary problems; Winnebago County; Election judges

Iowa: Voter ID

Maryland: Early voting

Massachusetts: Pre-registration

Michigan: Secretary of state; Voter ID

Minnesota: Voter ID, II; Same-day registration

Mississippi: Voting Rights Act

New Hampshire: Voter ID

New York: Vote count

North Carolina: Voter ID

Oregon: Election date; Kate Brown

Pennsylvania: Voter ID, II

South Carolina: Open primaries

Tennessee: Election date

Texas: Voter ID

Utah: Voter turnout

**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.

Trial Attorney, Department of Justice, Washington, D.C. — core duties of Trial Attorneys in the Voting Section are: conducting investigations to assess alleged violations of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) and other voting statutes enforced by the Section, including reviewing investigative files, materials and records, and applying relevant case law, interviewing witnesses, requesting additional information and documents, analyzing data and evidence, and drafting written recommendations for further investigation and/or enforcement litigation; developing cases for trial, including conducting written discovery and depositions, developing litigation and trial strategy, drafting complaints, motions and other court filings, representing the United States in federal court at arguments, evidentiary hearings and trial; negotiating settlement agreements and/or consent decrees resolving enforcement matters; assisting in coordinating the federal observer program during elections; and assisting in the administrative review of voting changes submitted pursuant to the preclearance requirements of the VRA. The complexity of the matters assigned, and the level of supervision required, varies depending on the Trial Attorney’s years of specialized experience. Qualifications: Applicants must possess a J.D. degree, be an active member of the bar in good standing (any jurisdiction), and have a minimum of one (1) year post-J.D. experience.  Applicants must have excellent interpersonal skills, be mature and self sufficient, communicate effectively orally and in writing, and possess excellent professional judgment. Application: To apply, please submit a resume, cover letter and a writing sample (a brief or comparable analytic legal exposition that is your work product) by one of the two following means: Diane Turner; Fax: 202-514-6603; Email: crd.attyvacancies@usdoj.gov. For more in click here. Deadline: April 6.

Senior Election Planning Specialist, IFES, Iraq — since September 2003, IFES has assisted, advised, and supported Iraq’s electoral and legislative authorities in the preparation, organization, and administration of elections and referenda. With the Elections Support Project, IFES will continue to provide assistance to the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) through strengthening its strategic planning monitoring and evaluation capacity, as well as its internal management processes and systems, and through improving IHEC’s capacity to manage external affairs with key electoral stakeholders. Responsibilities: Provide technical assistance to the IHEC, through advice and assistance to the relevant IHEC divisions in the operational planning and implementation of electoral activities; work with the IHEC Operations Division and other actors to develop the operational plans of electoral activities including voter registration, elections and/or referenda; provide advice, assistance and coordination with regards to general operational planning within the IHEC; provide support in the development of capacity-building activities with the IHEC and GEOs on relevant activities; work with the COP to plan and implement comprehensive strategic planning activities for the IHEC; assist the COP and DCOP in the coordination of the activities of all other technical staff and consultants working with the IHEC; assist in the preparation of work plans, progress reports, M&E data and reports, and other documentation or reports as required; other duties as assigned.Qualifications: Bachelor’s degree required; Master’s Degree in Political Science, Public Administration or related field; minimum of 7 years experience with election administration; demonstrated operational planning and implementation experience; proven track record with democracy and governance programming in developing countries; demonstrated experience in monitoring and evaluation; familiarity with political, economic, and social issues in Iraq and the region and ability to work in a post conflict environment; experience organizing and leading trainings; fluency in English (oral and written) required; familiarity with the Middle East region highly preferred; Arabic language skills highly desirable; excellent interpersonal and mentoring skills; strong diplomatic and negotiating skills; ability to detect problems and produce acceptable solutions. Application: Applications will be accepted online only, through the IFES website. To apply visit our careers website at http://www.ifes.org/About/Careers.aspx. Then follow the instructions on how to upload your resume and answer prescreening questions. A cover letter is welcome and can be placed in the applicant notes section.

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