In Focus This Week
I. In Focus This Week
News Analysis: New Jersey election not so special
Local officials balk at cost and timing of special election
By M. Mindy Moretti
In November 2012 many New Jersey elections officials were left scrambling to pull off the presidential election after Hurricane Sandy slammed into the Garden State just days before voters were set to hit the polls.
Now, with local elections officials preparing for the state’s off-year gubernatorial election, once again a storm has hit their shores although this time, the storm is in the form of a special election to replace the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D) who passed away at the age of 89 earlier this month.
Incumbent Gov. Chris Cristie (R), who will be on the November ballot, scheduled the special election for October 16 with a primary set for August 13.
Almost as soon as the election was set, it was embroiled in controversy. In addition to carrying a $24 million price tag, October 16 is a Wednesday.
Sen. Shirley Turner (D-15th District) has introduced two pieces of legislation. One would move the special election to coincide with the November general election and another that would eliminate special elections all together.
In addition to the pending legislation, a lawsuit was filed — by an ally of Christie’s November opponent — challenging the governor’s authority to schedule the election when he did.
The state appeals court rejected the challenge and now the case is pending before the state Supreme Court. In arguments before the Supreme Court, lawyers for the governor argued that the governor has vowed to hire more state workers and rent extra voting machines to ensure that the elections will run smoothly.
While the lawyers and legislators are haggling over the election reaction among local elections was mixed with many concerned about voter fatigue/turnout.
Warren County Clerk Patricia Kolb is concerned that voter turnout for the special election could be lower than the 10 percent turnout for the regularly scheduled primary on June 3.
“I think it’s not in the best interest of the voters for sure,” Kolb told The Express-Times. “You’re not going to get the turnout.”
Antoinette Battaglia, West Milford municipal clerk pointed out an added wrinkle that many may not have thought about: the ability to get poll workers.
Poll workers make $200 per day and since wages earned above $600 require filing income tax documents, Battaglia told The Record she is concerned that some long-time, experienced poll workers will be forced to sit out an election or two in order to not have to file the paperwork.
“Before polls closed [on June 3] it was already a problem … the poll workers were already concerned,” Battaglia told the paper. “… I will have an urgent need for poll workers. If anybody has anybody who could possibly [be interested in being a poll worker] just drag them in.”
Although the state has assured local election officials that it will pick up the tab for the election, many remain doubtful.
Union County freeholders were the first to decline to allocate the funds necessary — approximately $850,000 — to hold the special election.
“For us, this is a financial hardship,” Freeholder Mohamed Jalloh told The Star-Ledger.
Officials in Bergen County followed suit. This week, the freeholders voted unanimously to have their attorney file a “declaratory judgment action” contesting the cost of both the special primary and the special general.
Monmouth County freeholders said they don’t mind holding the special election as long as there are assurances that the state will pick up the tab as promised.
Not all local elections officials are concerned about the special election. Hunterdon County Clerk Mary Melfi told the Express-Times that as long as the promised funding comes through, she sees no problem with having the special election, especially after 2012.
“Especially after Hurricane Sandy, there’s not ever going to be another election that’s going to scare me again,” Melfi told the paper.
Election News This Week
II. Election News This Week
- This week, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on one of the voting rights cases before it, Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council that challenged the state’s proof-of-citizenship law. In a 7-2 ruling, the court affirmed the 9th Circuit’s ruling that the state had to accept the federal voter registration form that does not include the proof-of-citizenship requirement other than the voter’s affirmation they are indeed a citizen. In writing the opinion for the majority, Justice Antonin Scalia laid out a pathway for the state to pursue getting the question included on the federal form. Ariz. Secretary of State Ken Bennett said the state is not prepared to give up the fight and said the state will pursue appeals with the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC). In addition, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said that he would introduce an amendment to the pending Senate immigration bill that would allow states to require IDs before registering. Local Arizona lawmakers also began work on efforts to change the state laws to allow proof-of-citizenship. Following the ruling, states that have similar laws — Georgia, Kansas, Mississippi, Montana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Tennessee — pondered the impacts the high court’s ruling would have on them. While officials in Kansas and other states said the ruling would have no impact, Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp said the ruling would block a portion of the state’s voter ID law — although the law has never been enforced because according to Kemp he has been unable to gain access to a federal immigration database. Kemp told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he is considering appealing the EAC to include new instructions to the federal form.
- According to numbers received by the Associated Press, very few people are responding to letters mailed from the Colorado secretary of state’s office questioning their citizenship and right to vote. In the most recent round of letters (298) 63 people have responded affirming their citizenship and 15 have responding saying they are not citizens and wish to be removed from the voter rolls.
- The Democratic Party of Hawaii has filed suit in federal court claiming that the state’s primary system is unconstitutional. Under Hawaii law, every registered voter may participate in primary elections regardless of party. The Democrats claim the nomination process is in violation of the First Amendment.
- Although the use of vote centers is on the rise, this week Hidalgo County, Texas delayed a plan to test out vote centers this November. According to The Monitor, the county’s elections department began preparing to use vote centers in early 2013. The plan was supported by a committee established to study it, but drew complaints from McAllen City commissioners. The county commission decided to scrap the plan to test it in 2013, but said it would continue to study it.
- A fun piece of elections history was found recently in the Washington County, Pa. courthouse. A small, weathered yellow book less than an inch thick is a list of voters in Cecil Township in 1863. The book is on display at the elections office for anyone who wants to stop by and see it or trace their family history.
- Personnel News: John W. Small, Jr. was recently honored for being the longest serving elected office holder in Berkeley County, W.Va. Pat Beckstead, Davis County, Utah clerk who began work in the office 30 years ago as a temp, is retiring. Beckstead will be replaced by Brian McKenzie who has been serving as Beckstead’s deputy for the last six years. Julie Kassab has been hired as the first Comal County, Texas elections administrator. Ruth Bremer, Clay County, S.D. auditor is set to retire after more than two decades in the office. Ann Callahan, Ayer, Mass. registrar of voters has retired. Jordan Boston is the new Arkansas County, Ark. election coordinator. Poll worker Charlotte McLaughlin was recently honored by officials in Newburyport, Mass. for 60 years of work at the polls. Crenshaw County, Ala. Probate Judge Jim Perdue has announced that he will run for secretary of state. Derek Cressman, vice president of Common Cause, has announced that he will run for secretary of state in California. St. Clair County, Ill. Clerk Bob Delaney announced that he is resigning effectively immediately. Delaney has been on the job since 1999. Betty Smith, director of the Montgomery County, Ohio board of elections will retire at the end of July. Vicki Davis, Martin County, Fla. supervisors of elections and Debbie Dent, chief deputy both recently achieved Master Florida Certified Elections Professional status. Chris Chambless, supervisor of elections in Clay County was also among the 11 Florida officials receiving master status.
- In Memoriam: For more than 40 years Anna Marie Hoak worked the polls in Susquehanna Township, Pa. and never missed an election. Hoak, 87, died June 11.
- Available Grant: The Federal Voting Assistance Program strives to be a data-driven organization. We design and redesign our program based upon what we learn from our surveys and other data. The 2011 EASE grant program was created to better understand the different challenges that military and overseas voters face at every step of the voting process. The EASE grant program funded 35 programs that included online ballot delivery, online voter registration, automated ballot duplication, online ballot requests and online ballot tracking. With the research that we receive from this program, FVAP will be able to focus efforts on the necessary portion of the voting process to ensure that military and overseas voters are more successful. As we move forward to the next grant program, FVAP will narrow the scope of its research and address two of the most critical aspects of the electoral process for military and overseas voters: ballot transit time and voter confusion. The Effective Absentee System for Elections 2 grant program will focus in two specific areas: the development of online ballot delivery tools and the establishment of single points of contact (single POC) in State election offices. It is vital that we have a significant statistical sample in order to validate the effectiveness of these programs. In order for this to occur, we want to focus on statewide solutions in areas that have a great number of voters covered by UOCAVA. Closing Date: June 24. For the complete posting and to apply, click here.
Research and Report Summaries
III. Research and Report Summaries
electionline provides brief summaries of recent research and reports in the field of election administration. Please e-mail links to research to firstname.lastname@example.org.
IV. Legislative Update
Arizona: In the waning hours of this year’s legislative session, the Senate approved an elections overhaul bill. The bill, backed by state and local elections officials, will trim the state’s permanent early voting list and limit who may return a ballot on behalf of a voter.
District of Columbia: While most states finished haggling two years ago over when their state primaries would be held, legislators in Washington, D.C. are considering moving the District’s primary again. Legislation was introduced that would move the 2014 primary to June. The primary, traditionally held in September, was moved to April in 2012 to comply with the federal MOVE Act. Following a recent hearing where members of the public supported moving the primary to June and the D.C. Board of Elections supported moving it to May — if it had to be moved at all — the legislation appears dead in committee with three of the five council members on the committee opposing it.
Florida: Gov. Rick Scott vetoed a bill that would have provided a public records exemption for email addresses on voter registration forms. “In order to ensure that voters continue to have efficient access to election-related materials and information, it is essential to keep these channels of communication open to the public,” Scott wrote in his veto message.
Maine: A measure that would create an early voting system in Maine failed to garner the two-thirds support it needed in the House to put the question before voters. The Senate had approved the measure and met the two-thirds threshold.
Maryland: The Bowie City Council, in an effort to boost voter turnout for local municipal elections, recently voted to allow no-excuse absentee voting.
New Hampshire: Negotiations between representatives of the House and Senate broke down this week and it appears that an effort to roll back the state’s voter ID law have failed and the second phase of the law which narrows the list of acceptable IDs will go into effect.
New York: According to published reports, lawmakers in the Senate and Assembly have reached an agreement and are expected to vote at press time on bringing back the beloved lever-voting machines for the upcoming primary and primary runoff in New York City. In addition to allowing for the use of the lever-voting machines, the legislation will also push back the date of any runoff election to three weeks after the primary instead of two. Optical-scan machines will still be used for November’s general election.
Ohio: Legislation pending in the House may make it as easy as A-B-C to cast a ballot in future elections. Senate Bill 109 — approved in May by the Senate and now being considered by the House — calls for exchanging numbers for letters as the way in which polling places process voters on election day. According to The Chronicle-Telegram, sign-in tables at polling places would be denoted by signs bearing a certain number of letters in the alphabet such as A to F, rather than the present system that identifies tables and poll workers by precincts such as 1-A, 1-B and 1-C.
Rhode Island: The House Judiciary Committee voted 11-1 to recommend a bill (H-5776 Sub A) to the full House. Under the legislation, voters who do not have photo ID could still vote provided they show some type of ID.
IACREOT 42nd Annual Conference and Trade Show — The excitement is building; the crowds are restless; the speakers are at the gate raring to go! And, we’re off to the IACREOT Annual Conference in beautiful Louisville, KY, home of world famous Churchill Downs. IACREOT has a stimulating, educational and yes, exciting conference planned for you. Timely seminars conducted by experts in your field, professional classes on best practices and nationally known speakers will bring you the latest developments in your division. Scroll through the Call to Conference for an in-depth calendar of classes, activities and speakers. Add a world-class Trade Show with vendors who conduct business in a variety of counties, parishes, states and countries and can demonstrate their products in front of your eyes. Mix an entertaining venue and you have all the ingredients for a successful conference. We just need you! So pack your bags, bring your Derby bonnet and let’s go! There also will be pre and post conference public administration courses taught by the faculty of George Washington University, our partner in the Certified Public Leadership Program. Where: Louisville, Ky. When: June 28-July 2, 2013.
California: Cost of elections
Florida: Election fraud
Idaho: Election laws
Iowa: Secretary of state
Michigan: Fair & open elections
Minnesota: Instant runoff voting
Nevada: Election legislation
New Mexico: Open primaries
North Carolina: Ballot security
South Carolina: Richland County
Tennessee: Cost of elections
Wisconsin: Election laws
Wyoming: Voting laws
VII. 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 email@example.com. 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.
Director of Elections, Craven County, N.C. — Plans and supervises daily operations, ensuring accuracy and efficiency in voter registration. Receives, reviews and approves registration applications. Processes completed registrations in master file, precinct file and precinct registration book. Supervises and assigns work to subordinate office personnel and ensures accuracy and efficiency. Receives candidates’ registration for county offices and others designated by the State Board of Elections [SBE]. Sends requested absentee ballots, submits applications for Board approval, and mails ballots for all approved applications. Maintains current registration files; maintains timetable of Board duties; notifies Board members of all deadlines and meetings. Prepares all reports required by the SBE according to General Statutes. Maintains current statistics of all registered voters by precinct and party affiliation. Contacts news media and publicizes voter registration laws. Supervises and instructs precinct Judges in preparation for elections. Prepares all voting equipment and supervises the storage, maintenance and delivery of such to the polls. Prepares budget proposal for Board approval. Monitors expenditures and administers approved budget. Interviews and recommends personnel to Board of Elections on new hires and terminations. Performs various related functions in connection with the administration of State and County Election laws and regulations. Qualifications: Graduation from high school supplemented by college-level course work in management, business or a related field and three to five years of experience in office management involving public contact, preferably in a Board of Elections office. Graduation from a four-year college or university preferred. Applicants must have certification from the State Board of Elections, or the ability to obtain within three years of employment. Thorough knowledge of electoral procedures and policies as set forth in general statues and regulations of the State Board of Elections is preferred. Computer skills and the ability to use general office equipment are required. Deadline: July 3, 2013. Application: Please submit letter and resume to: Employment Security Commission, 2836 Neuse Blvd., New Bern, N.C. 28560 or click here.
Elections Administrator, Coconino County (Flagstaff), Ariz. — performs work of considerable difficulty in the management, planning, coordination and administration of elections for state and county mandated elections and by contract with other political jurisdictions in the County. Manages the planning, direction, development, implementation, administration and evaluation of all office and field operations related to poll worker recruitment and training, voter education and outreach, election mapping, election systems, campaign finance, nomination, recall, initiative and referendum processes, ballot preparation and tabulation, elections services, and elections logistics; develops and writes procedures to conduct elections and ensure compliance in accordance with federal and state law, the Arizona Secretary of State’s Procedures Manual, the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and any other applicable; oversees programming of election management software; researches and analyzes issues, legislation and decisions as they relate to the election process; prepares and manages division budget and provides input and direction into departmental action plan and goals; directs the development of training curricula and the conduct of training of election workers at the polling places on election day; coordinates with state, cities, towns and special districts the timely election results for official canvass for all elections conducted by the County; researches administrative, programmatic and technical problems in the County election processes and develops timely solutions to the problems encountered. Minimum Qualifications: Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science or related field and four years of progressively responsible governmental management experience including two years in administration of elections; OR, any combination of education, training and experience which demonstrates the ability to perform the duties of the position. Ideal candidate will have 4 or more years experience doing direct supervision of election personnel involved in all aspects of elections; have a thorough knowledge of federal and state laws and procedures governing election conduct and administration; knowledge of theory, principles, practices and techniques of election management; and thorough knowledge of voting equipment and effective procedures for their use. Salary: $54,809-$78,282. Deadline: June 21, 5pm. Application: For the complete job posting and apply, click here.
Election Programmer, Jefferson County, Texas — codes each election as prescribed by The Texas Election Code in compliance with the federal, state, county, political subdivisions and political party requirements. Coordinate and code all ballot information including precinct, office, candidate, and polling location data; and provide English, Spanish and audio coding; coordinate the accuracy of the paper and iVotronic ballot; responsible for loading election data on Ivotronic touchscreens, Personal Electronic Ballots, and flash cards; responsible for performing operational testing; responsible for overseeing the logic and accuracy testing of ballots; responsible for the printing or outsourcing of paper ballots; program and make ready all EA tablets which contains the voter registration database; create and maintain election equipment inventory database; must assist field technicians during early voting and help desk representative to technicians on Election Day; responsible for backing up all audit data and election files; report election results to Secretary of State of Texas. Minimum Qualifications: Education and experience equivalent to an Associate’s degree from an accredited college or university in computer science, electronics or in a job related field of study. One (1) year of work related experience. Experience in election programming preferred. Must possess a valid Texas Driver’s License with a good driving record. Experience with computer programming, Access database management, electronics, hand tools and skilled in the use of standard software applications. Restrictions exist on the ability to be a candidate for a public office or an office of a political party, hold a public office, or hold an office of or position in a political party. Special rules apply to political contributions. Salary: $43,094-$58,858. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job posting and to apply, click here.
Senior Associate, Elections Initiatives, Pew Charitable Trusts, Washington, D.C. — the Trusts is seeking to hire a senior associate to work on the Upgrading Voter Registration (UVR) initiative and report to the UVR project manager, Election Initiatives. The senior associate will be expected to contribute at multiple levels, assisting with implementation of UVR’s state assistance strategies, tracking legislation, conducting outreach to states and partners, and supporting the entire spectrum of activity under the project, including interaction with the other election initiatives, research, communications, and both state and national campaigns. The position will be based in Pew’s Washington, D.C. office. It is expected that this position is for a term period through December 31, 2015, with the possibility of an extension pending the success of the program, funding sources and board decisions on continued support. Requirements: Minimum of five years professional experience in public policy arena; working knowledge of issues around state voter registration systems and election administration preferred; Bachelor’s degree required; Masters or other advanced degree in a relevant area preferred; experience convening groups of policy makers, practitioners, stakeholders, researchers and other constituencies, and supporting their efforts to develop consensus and move toward a desired outcome. Acute political awareness and non-partisan perspective and approach; experience working with complex policy and political issues, and developing sophisticated communications and government relations strategies; demonstrated strong analytical 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; ability to communicate ideas, thoughts and concepts clearly and concisely and in a compelling way, both in writing and orally and to multiple audiences including policy makers, the media, and public. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job posting and to apply, click here.
Senior Associate, Elections Initiatives, Pew Charitable Trusts, Washington, D.C. – The Trusts is seeking to hire a senior associate to perform research and analysis across all of the Election Initiatives work; including, Upgrading Voter Registration, the Voting Information Project, and the Elections Performance Index. Reporting to the research manager, the senior associate will be expected to contribute at multiple levels, such as conducting research and writing related to all the team’s projects. The position will be based in Pew’s Washington, D.C. office. It is expected that this position is for a term period through December 31, 2015, with the possibility of an extension pending the success of the program, funding sources and board decisions on continued support. Requirements: Minimum five years of professional experience in public policy research; working knowledge of issues related election administration preferred; Bachelor’s degree required; advanced degree in a relevant area 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. Familiarity with statistical analysis software (e.g. SPSS, Stata, SAS) preferred; Strong writing and communications skills are essential.; Experience working with public or election officials, academics, and other relevant stakeholders preferred; Acute political awareness and non-partisan perspective and approach; Ability to communicate ideas, thoughts and concepts clearly and concisely and in a compelling way, both in writing and orally and to multiple audiences including policy makers, the media, and public. A clear, effective writing and presentation style; Demonstrated time- and project-management skills, including an ability to meet multiple deadlines by maintaining a high level of organization. Ability to think strategically and creatively, adjust to changing circumstances, organize time, remain attentive to details and identify resources for projects. Ability to establish a systematic course of action to ensure project completion; Ability to fit into the creative, fast-paced and highly professional corporate culture of the Trusts, which emphasizes excellence, collegiality and teamwork. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job posting and to apply, click here.
Senior Associate, Elections Initiatives, Pew Charitable Trusts, Washington, D.C. – The Trusts is seeking to hire a senior associate to work on the Voting Information Project (VIP) initiative and report to the VIP project manager, Election Initiatives. The senior associate will be expected to contribute at multiple levels, such as assisting with implementation of VIP’s state assistance strategies, conducting outreach to states and partners. The position will be based in Pew’s Washington, D.C. office. It is expected that this position is for a term period through December 31, 2015, with the possibility of an extension pending the success of the program, funding sources and board decisions on continued support. Requirements: Minimum five years of professional experience in public policy arena. Working knowledge of issues around election administration preferred; Undergraduate degree required; Masters or other advanced degree in a relevant area preferred; Experience convening groups of policy makers, practitioners, stakeholders, researchers and other constituencies, and supporting their efforts to develop consensus and move toward a desired outcome. Acute political awareness and non-partisan perspective and approach; Experience working with complex policy and political issues, and developing sophisticated communications and government relations strategies; Ability to understand and explain technological concepts, such as APIs and XML. Familiarity with elections technology, open data and data standardization preferred; Demonstrated strong analytical 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; Ability to communicate ideas, thoughts and concepts clearly and concisely and in a compelling way, both in writing and orally and to multiple audiences including policy makers, the media, and public. A clear, effective writing and presentation style; Demonstrated time- and project-management skills, including an ability to meet multiple deadlines by maintaining a high level of organization. Ability to think strategically and creatively, adjust to changing circumstances, organize time, remain attentive to details and identify resources for projects. Ability to establish a systematic course of action to ensure project completion; Ability to fit into the creative, fast-paced and highly professional corporate culture of the Trusts, which emphasizes excellence, collegiality and teamwork. Application: For the complete job posting and to apply, click here.