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August 30, 2012

August 30, 2012

In Focus This Week

I. In Focus This Week

Polling Place Profile
Calif. polling places require a land-sea approach for access

By M. Mindy Moretti

Twenty-two miles south-southwest of Los Angeles lie four of Los Angeles County’s most unique polling places.

While the buildings that house the polling places aren’t particularly unique as far as polling places go — two churches, a courthouse and a restaurant — what makes them special is their location.

The polling places are located on Santa Catalina Island — just Catalina to most of us — and that 22-mile distance from Los Angeles? That’s 22 miles of water that leaves the island only accessible by air or sea.

With the island accessible only by air or sea, getting voting machines to and from and ballots back and forth on election day has required a lot of logistics, good weather and the support of the county sheriff’s department.

“For the past 30 plus years, the county has been supported by the sheriff’s department to transport ballots from Catalina Island via watercraft or aircraft depending on weather conditions,” explained Adolfo Gonzalez, assistant division manager for the county’s registrar-recorder/county clerk. “Historically, ballots have been delivered either to Long Beach-Rainbow Harbor or Marina Del Rey.” 

Catalina is home to less than 4,000 people with the bulk of the population (3,728) living in the island’s only incorporated town of Avalon. Another couple hundred live in unincorporated Two Harbors with the remainder scattered throughout the island.

During the most recent election—the June 5 primary—the polling places served a combined 1,798 voters.

Because electronic voting machines are not certified in Los Angeles County, all the ballots must be transported back to the mainland once the polls close.

“We coordinate with the sheriff’s department and determine ahead of time which transportation method to use,” Gonzales explained. “Watercraft has proven to be the best choice overall since bad weather can ground a helicopter flight; however, in bad weather a watercraft can still travel at a slower speed and the ballots can still arrive and be counted.”

The final decision to use the transportation method is made by the registrar-recorder’s office and is confirmed by the sheriff’s department three weeks prior to an election.

Gonzales said they have never encountered such severe weather that prevented the transport of ballots from Catalina to the mainland either by boat or helicopter.

For the June election, the Avalon sheriff’s station used its own boat to transport the ballots from Avalon Harbor to Marina Del Rey where another sheriff’s deputy was standing by waiting for the ballots. The ballots were then taken to the county’s tally headquarters.

And of course it’s not just the ballots that need to get to and from the island, but also all the voting equipment and other sundries that are required an election. Just like the ballots, those too are literally shipped over.

“The voting machines are stored between elections at the recorder-registrar/county clerk’s Election Operations Center,” Gonzales explained. “All voting machines and supply tubs containing ballots are transported to Catalina one week prior to an election and returned to the Election Operations Center on the day after the election via a watercraft vehicle. “

Unfortunately, due to safety regulations, staff from the elections office is not permitted to ride with the ballots either via boat or helicopter.

Election News This Week

II. Election News This Week

  • Elections officials are some of the most organized, prepared folks I know. But no matter how prepared and organized they may be, even they can’t compete with the wrath of Mother Nature and that’s why several cities in Alabama had to postpone municipal elections this week when Hurricane Isaac threatened to throw a wrench in the works. At press time, most of the postponed elections had been rescheduled for later dates in September, although some localities were still working out the logistics. Not all affected polling places were closed though. In Saraland and Satsuma voters braved the wind and rain to cast their ballots.
  • A federal judge ruled this week that boards of elections in Ohio must count defective ballots if the mistakes were caused by poll workers’ errors. According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the lawsuit in revolves around a 2010 legal agreement that ensures defective provisional ballots would be counted if a poll worker’s mistake is to blame and the voter used the last four digits of their social security number as identification. The judge also ordered Secretary of State Jon Husted to issue a directive to all county boards of elections that they cannot reject provisional ballots cast in the Nov. 6 election in the wrong precinct due to poll worker error.
  • A circuit court in Kentucky ruled this week that military and overseas voters may cast ballots in a November 6 special election. Secretary of State Allison Lundergan Grimes and two county clerks took the issue to court because while federal guidelines require ballots to be mailed 45 days before an election, the state’s special elections law allows candidates to file as late as 28 days before the election. The judge issued an order to move the filing deadline for the special election to Sept. 10 to comply with the federal deadline.
  • If you wonder just how popular online voter registration is, look no further than the state of New York. On August 16, Gov. Andrew Cumo announced that residents in the Empire State would now be allowed to register to vote, update their voter information or change their party affiliation through the DMV’s website. A little over a week later 3,474 New Yorkers had used the site including 1,028 first time voters.
  • Personnel News: Retired Judge Joseph A. Goeke was dismissed from his post as St. Louis County, Mo.’s Republican elections director. Goeke had been on the job since 2005. According to the St. Louis Beacon, the county’s board of elections commissioners approved the termination 2 to 1 in a closed-door meeting. Following hearing last week, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted fired Montgomery County board of elections members Thomas Ritchie Sr. and Dennis Lieberman.
  • In Memoriam: Former Hawaii County elections warehouse manager Glen Shikuma died last week. Shikuma was one of four county elections employees fired in January following an investigation into alcohol storage and private business activities allegedly conducted at an elections warehouse in Hilo. In April, Shikuma and two of the three fired sued the county for $1.5 million and a public apology. Shikuma received an outpouring of sympathy on local blogs and in local media following his death. “It is so sad that Glen had to leave this good earth with all this fiasco at the elections office,” Lorraine Inouye, a former state senator and Big Island council mayor wrote on a local blog. “I can just imagine what this turmoil did to his self-esteem, to see his hard work go amiss.” Ed Kozohara, Shikuma’s former boss went so far as to say that none of the recent election-day problems would have occurred had Shikuma not been let go.
  • Award Nomination: IFES’ Joe C. Baxter Award recognizes the contribution of a professional whose skills, dedication and sacrifices to the field of election administration epitomizes the mission of IFES and embodies the spirit of former IFES Senior Adviser for Election Administration Joe C. Baxter.We encourage you to submit a nominee for the 2012 Joe C. Baxter Award. IFES looks for an individual whose work has focused on building local ownership and capacity; improving election administration procedures; and creating sustainable democratic processes. This year’s award will be presented at a special reception on Monday, November 5, in Washington, D.C.Submit a name for the 2012 Joe C. Baxter Award. The nomination period closes on September 19 at 9:00 a.m. EST.Learn more about IFES’ Baxter Award.


III. Opinion

National News: Early primaries; Voter ID, II, III; Voting technology; Voter fraud

Alaska: Precinct problems

Arizona: ‘I Voted’ stickers; Open primary; Vote centers; Voting Rights Act; Polling place parking

Colorado: Noncitizen voters

Florida: Election laws; Harry Sawyer, II; Absentee ballots, II; Special election cost; Early voting, II; Election night; Election problems; Equal access

Indiana: Voter ID; Ballot access

Iowa: Double voting

Maine: Voter ID; Voting system

Michigan: Initiative process

Minnesota: Secretary of state

Mississippi: Voter ID

Nebraska: Voter ID

New Mexico: Secretary of state

New York: Accessible polling places

Ohio: Early voting, II; Jon Husted; Uniform voting hours

Oregon: Voter ID

Pennsylvania: Voter ID, II

Rhode Island: Voter ID

South Carolina: Primary legal battles

Tennessee: Voter ID; Ballot controversy

West Virginia: Vote fraud, II

Wisconsin: Voter ID, II, III, IV, V, VI

**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

Deputy Commissioner for Communications, Philadelphia Election Commission —
 maintains effective relationships with state government, the press, and various government departments of the City of Philadelphia. Qualifications include: Dedication to the mission of Commissioner Singer’s office: free, fair elections, informed, engaged electorate, and a fair, respectful workplace; significant experience with elections and civic engagement; familiarity with Philadelphia neighborhoods and political traditions; second language fluency (Spanish or another major Philadelphia language); and advanced data analysis skills (e.g., MySQL, php). Salary: $50K-$64K. Deadline: Immediate opening, available until filled. Application: Please submit (hard copy to Room 130, City Hall, Philadelphia, 19107 AND electronic copy to ellen.chapman@phila.gov): Resume, list of references with contact information, persuasive writing sample (e.g., press release), analytical writing sample, and work product of which you are particularly proud (optional). For the complete job posting, click here.

Elections Division Manager, Santa Barbara County, Calif. – Under administrative direction, directs, manages, supervises, and coordinates the activities and operations of the Election Division within the County Clerk, Recorder & Assessor’s Office in a manner consistent with applicable federal and state legislation and administrative procedures; assist in the establishment and evaluation of County elections policies and procedures; provides highly responsible and complex administrative support to the Chief Deputy Registrar of Voters; and may oversee programs and special projects for the County Clerk, Recorder and Assessor’s Department in periods where an election is not scheduled.  A Division Manager is also responsible for the development, administration, and control of associated budgets.  Ideal candidate will have:  Experience in performing duties directly related to the preparation and conduct of elections; knowledge of the California Elections, Government and Education codes, and applicable laws, rules, procedures, court cases, regulations and ordinances that affect the preparation and conduct of elections; the ability to promote teamwork among groups with differing priorities; a proven track record of successfully overcoming obstacles to achieve results; analyzing problems and identifying solutions; and applying election laws and procedures. Salary: $70-106,443 DOQ. Deadline: September 6, 2012.  For complete job posting and how to apply, click here.

Manager, Elections Initiatives, Pew Center on the States, Washington, D.C. —  Manager will serve as the lead manager across all the Election Initiatives. The Manager reports to the Director, Election Initiatives, who is based in Washington, DC, and will be part of a project staff including: a director, a senior officer, two managers, three senior associates, an associate, an administrative assistant and a research fellow. This position is funded through June 20, 2013. Qualifications Include: Eight + years of professional experience in public policy in general and election administration, technology policy, and open government in particular; undergraduate degree required; Masters or other advanced degree in a relevant area preferred; experience working with election officials, academics, technology experts, voting technology vendors, and other relevant stakeholders; proven programming skills in multiple languages including XML and strong system skills in Microsoft Office products required.  Familiarity with HTML, mapping, geographic information systems, voting technology vendors’ proprietary software, open source formats, and data management tools (Google Maps, Bing Maps, ArcGIS) and their prospects for use in elections technology preferred; demonstrated strong analytical, qualitative, and quantitative skills applied to public policy issues, including an ability to synthesize and summarize large amounts of information and to focus quickly on the essence of an issue; and a strong familiarity with statistical analysis software (e.g. SPSS, Stata, SAS). For complete listing and application, click here.

Manager, Communications, Elections Initiatives, Pew Center on the States, Washington, D.C. — offers a unique opportunity for an individual to contribute to exciting, high-profile initiatives. Reports to the Pew Center on the States’ Senior Officer, Communications and is part of the staff of Pew’s communications department. The communications manager is responsible for developing and executing a comprehensive and robust communications program to increase the visibility and impact of Pew’s experts, research, initiatives and events with target audiences. This position will also work with other communications colleagues to plan and execute integrated strategies, campaigns and outreach and other duties as assigned. Qualifications Include: Bachelor’s degree required including skills associated with completion of an undergraduate degree program in communications, journalism or related major; graduate degree in public affairs, public policy or journalism desirable; at least eight years of direct experience in position with communications/PR responsibilities, with considerable experience as a media relations professional – knowledge of pitching, media strategies – required. Experience in public policy preferred; superior oral and written communications skills. Proven experience drafting media materials and other public documents including press releases, fact sheets, speeches and op-eds; ability to manage and ensure professional development of junior staff; able to build and leverage relationships within and external to Pew to assemble networks that facilitate positive outcomes. For more information and to apply, click here.

Public Affairs Specialist, District of Columbia Board of Elections — conducts the public affairs program for the board with responsibility for developing and providing direction for all public information, internal information and community relations activities. Identifies communication needs and develops informational materials that inform voters of the agency’s policies, programs, services and activities; and plans, executes and evaluates the effectiveness of information and communication programs. Coordinates media. Works with the media in a proactive manner to identify news opportunities and to ensure positive news stories about the BOE relations, event planning and community outreach activities. It is desirable that the applicant be a graduate from an accredited college or university with a Bachelor’s degree in public administration, legislative or regulatory affairs, journalism, communication, marketing or a related field, plus three (3) to four (4) years of work-related knowledge or experience within functional areas such as communication marketing, public relations, legislative affairs or journalism. Interested persons can apply to the D.C. Dept. of Human Resources Job Center 441 4th St., NW; Washington, D.C. 20001. To apply online, got to http://dcop.dc.gov and click Employment Opportunities. Inquiries should be directed to HR Answers at 202.422.9700.

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