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March 13, 2014

March 13, 2014

In Focus This Week

I. In Focus This Week

South Dakota tests new program for military voters
State partners with Everyone Counts on iOASIS system

By M. Mindy Moretti

Like most new secretaries of state, South Dakota Secretary of State Jason Gant saw things that needed to be fixed when he entered office in 2011.


For Gant, a lot of his initial work was about streamlining processes, so he focused on new technology and putting more and more information online voters.


But he was also hearing from a select group of voters that were raising concerns about a process that was not streamlined at all — being able to register and vote while serving in the military overseas.


“We heard many stories about all of the challenges with voting while serving overseas,” Gant said.


So in 2011 the state began working on first creating a real-time voter registration management system. Once that project was complete, the state began work on solving the issue of eliminating the possible 60-day time from registering to vote to casting a ballot from overseas.


Now, South Dakota is the first state in the nation to utilize the Department of Defense Common Access Card (CAC) for verification and authentication to allow voter registration, absentee request, receive a ballot, and finally mark a ballot in a program called the Innovative Overseas Absentee-Balloting System (iOASIS).


Using a grant from the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP), South Dakota partnered with Everyone Counts to create the system that streamlines the process that used to take up to 60 days into a process that can now be as quick as five minutes.


The program was tested about 1,000 times by members of the South Dakota National Guard and recently Gant traveled to four different military bases throughout Germany to test drive the program with service members not only from South Dakota, but across the country.


“The system worked as we had planned,” Gant said. “We did learn a few things like the phone number format for an overseas line is different from the U.S., so little changes like that we are correcting.”


Gant said the feedback from the members of the military who tested the program has been extremely positive. 


“Their reaction was ‘Wow, finally a system that is user friendly and real time,’” Gant said. “The most positive comment was that they could register, request absentee, and receive their absentee all is one session on the computer.  They liked that they didn’t have to wait for additional paperwork or log back in another time.” 


In addition to testing in Germany and with members of the S.D. National Guard, Gant said they also reviewed and demonstrated the program with local election officials and the response was extremely positive.


“They were excited that our military and overseas voters could have the option of using such an easy and real-time system,” Gant said.


Although the new system streamlines the process on the front-end, it currently still does require the voter to mail their marked ballot back, but according to Lorie Steele, CEOO of Everyone Counts, the system provides flexibility and could include electronic return.


“The program in South Dakota does require the voter to mail back the ballot,” Steele said. “In the case of other jurisdictions, the ballots could be returned securely electronically or the voters could even securely return a full ballot package with signature electronically.”


Because the system uses the CAC cards, it is currently only available to members of the military, but Steele suspects that won’t always be the case.


“This will likely, though, be expanded with time.  Other jurisdictions could use CAC authentication for any federal government employee working overseas.  And the same technology could be used to authenticate civilians with things like driver’s licenses,” Steele said. “Really, this innovation opens up secure remote voting to any voter, anywhere!”


The system will be used for the first time in a live election on Tuesday, April 8th during the Sioux Falls city and school election and then during the primary election on June 3 and the General election in November.

Election News This Week

II. Election News This Week

  • According to records, Pia Farrenkopf of Pontiac, Mich. cast a ballot in the 2010 gubernatorial election, only problem is that Farrenkopf, whose mummified body was recently discovered, is believed to have died in 2009. “Our suspicion is it is simple administrative error,” Michigan Secretary of State spokesman Fred Woodhams told the Detroit Free Press. “But we have no way of checking it to 100 precent certainty.” They have no way of checking because forms filled out by Pontiac voters that year have since been destroyed.
  • Speaking of dying, the Orleans Parish registrar of voters’ office and the League of Women Voters recently went door-to-door to try to find out why a voting precinct in the Third Ward had such low numbers. “I think it’s a dying precinct,” Dr. Sandra Wilson, Orleans Parish registrar of voters told WDSU. The survey found only 75 homes left in the neighborhood although there are more than 300 people registered to vote in the precinct. The city council cannot redraw the district until after the upcoming runoff election.
  • A recent poll in Iowa found that 71 percent of Iowans think it’s more important that every eligible registered voter be able to vote versus 25 percent who say it’s more important that no ineligible person “slips through the cracks” to cast a vote.
  • What’s in a name? Well if the name of your town or county is Richland, it might mean you’ve got some elections issues. Electionline has long chronicled the problems in Richland County, S.C. and this week, we’ve posted stories about Richland Township, Mich. where Clerk Jacqueline Light acknowledged this week that she and her staff included spoiled ballots in the final tall of a tax vote.
  • Last week, we pointed out a neat story on the history of vote-by-mail that pegged a 1981 special election in San Diego as the starting point for the increasingly popular way to cast a ballot. Well this week, in more interesting historical elections news, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is taking credit (or blame) for creating voter registration! A report by WGBH for their “This Week in History” series details the passage of the country’s first voter registration law in Massachusetts in 1801.
  • Personnel News: Former Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard (D) has filed to run for secretary of state. Former Idaho Sen. Evan Frasure (R) has announced that he will run for secretary of state. Amanda Duncan has been appointed to serve at the Catawba County, N.C. director of elections. Republican Dennis Nguyen has dropped out of the race for Minnesota’s secretary of state seat. A day after Nguyen dropped out, former State Sen. John Howe (R) announced that he will run for the seat. After 25 years on the job, Morristown, N.J. Clerk Matt Stechauner will retire effective August 1, 2014.

Research and Report Summaries

III. Research and Report Summaries

electionline provides brief summaries of recent research and reports in the field of election administration. The summaries are courtesy of the research staff of The Pew Charitable Trusts Elections Initiatives. Please email links to research to Sean Greene at Pew.

Disparities in California’s Vote-by-Mail Use: Changing Demographic Composition, 2002-2012 UC Davis Center for Regional Change, The California Civic Engagement Project, March 2014: New research shows that in 2012 more than 50 percent of California voters cast their ballots by mail, compared with 27 percent in 2002. In 2012, more than 50 percent of voters 55 years and older voted by mail, compared with 39 percent of those aged 18-23. Additionally, Asians used vote by mail at a rate of 58 percent, higher than the state average of 51 percent, while Latinos used it at a rate of 37 percent. Finally, while most regions of the state had vote-by-mail rates of more than 50 percent, the Los Angeles region’s rate was the lowest at approximately 33 percent.

Legislative Update

IV. Legislative Update

National News: Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told reporters that he is “hopeful” the House will approve new voting rights legislation by summertime. “We are very hopeful that we will pass a voting rights bill and do so in the near term, hopefully in the next couple of months,” Hoyer told during his weekly briefing with reporters.

Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) testified this week on behalf of his bill, The Fair, Accurate, Secure and Timely Voting Act (FAST) that would award grants to states that are proactive in their efforts to make it easier for people to vote.

California: Assemblyman Jeff Gorell (R-Camarillo) has proposed legislation that would make the secretary of state position nonpartisan.

Florida: The Senate Ethics and Elections Committee unanimously approved SPB 7068 that will allow online voter registration and put new restrictions on drop-off locations for absentee ballots.

Georgia: A bill allowing cities and towns to cut early voting times from three weeks to one week cleared the Senate Ethics Committee this week.

Kentucky: The House rejected changes made by the Senate to a bill that would automatically restore voting rights to many ex-felons. The Senate must now decide whether it will allow the changes to be dropped, if not the legislation goes to conference committee.

Minnesota: A Senate committee approved legislation that would create another study of e-poll books during the 2014 elections and require standards for poll books be included in state law.

The Senate Elections Subcommittee unanimously approved a bill that authorizes an online voter registration system already in place in the state.

South Carolina: The House Judiciary Committee advanced a bill that clarifies that the State Election Commission is responsible for conducting and therefore paying for the presidential primaries.

Utah: A House committee unanimously approved legislation that would change how voter challenges are handled. The legislation, which now goes to the full House, would allow both the challenger and the person being challenged to file supporting documentation.

The House voted 42-2 to approval a legislation that will allow for a test of an election-day registration program through 2016.

Wisconsin: After Senate Democrats tried to stop a vote on early voting legislation via procedural moves, the bill was approved by a one-vote margin. The legislation moves next to the Assembly.


V. Upcoming Events

Please email upcoming event — conferences, symposiums, seminars, webinars, etc. to mmoretti@electionline.org.


VI. Opinion

National News: DOJ nominee | Voting tech | Voting Rights Act

Alabama: Voter ID

Arkansas: Voter ID

California: Secretary of state race | Future of elections

Connecticut: Online voter registration

Florida: Absentee drop-offs | Voter access, II

Kansas: Voting rights | Party affiliations

Kentucky: Ex-felon voting rights

Massachusetts: Election reform

Missouri: Voting restrictions

Nevada: Voter fraud

New Mexico: Voter turnout

North Carolina: Morganton city elections | Election law changes | Voting rights

Ohio: Voter access | Early voting

Pennsylvania: Voter ID

South Carolina: Richland County, II, III

Wisconsin: Early voting | Voter ID | Voting restrictions

Job Openings

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 mmoretti@electionline.org. Job postings must be received by 5pm on Wednesday in order to appear in the Thursday newsletter. Listings will run for three weeks or till the deadline listed in the posting.

Assistant Director of Elections, Worcester, Mass. — successful candidate shall assist the Clerk in the operation and administration of all phases of local, state and federal elections and with the direction, coordination, development and supervision of the staff involved in conducting and monitoring elections, voter registration activity and the compilation of the annual street list. Responsibilities will include preparing reports, conducting research and analysis and outreach efforts and assumes the task of recruitment, training and supervision of poll workers.  Will participate in outreach and training of student poll workers from the public high schools; in the acquisition and maintenance of voting equipment and supplies; assist with the preparation and presentation of the annual budget; support for the five member (5) Board of Election Commissioners as assigned; and perform other duties as requested by the City Clerk. Qualifications: successful candidate shall be a person experienced and knowledgeable in the operation of elections and shall have graduated from a four-year college or university with studies in public administration, political science, history, urban studies or similar field of concentration. The successful candidate shall be familiar with statutes and regulations of the Commonwealth regarding elections and voter registration, or, those of another state and, if from another state, commit to becoming thoroughly knowledgeable of Massachusetts law and procedures within one year of the date of hiring. Salary: $63,000 to $81,000. Deadline: March 21, 2014. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Elections Administrator, Tarrant County, Texas — shall perform the duties and functions of the Voter Registrar; the duties and functions placed on the County Clerk by the Election Code or by statutes outside the Election Code. Provides executive strategic and tactical direction and support to directors, managers, and supervisors in the operations of their department or division. This level of support and direction is achieved by delegating and/or reviewing the management of work assignments, service delivery, resources provided, and budget required; ensuring the training, evaluation and personal development of their employees; handling difficult problems; managing the development, implementation, and oversight of applicable unit products and services; monitoring department resources; and ensuring compliance with policies and laws. Salary: $3,283.96 – $3,612.36 biweekly. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job posting and to apply, click here.

Election Programmer, Jefferson County, Texas — 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.  Program and make ready all electronic pollbook tablets which contain the voter registration database, including backup of data.  Create and maintain election equipment inventory database.  Must assist field technicians during early voting and on Election Day.  Responsible for backing up all audit data and election files.  Report election results to Secretary of State of Texas.  Create and maintain computer database files utilizing various software applications to create documents.  Preserve the election files as prescribed by the Secretary of State. Provide training to employees and election workers in the use of voting equipment and on pertinent election laws.  Coordinate work orders to Warehouse Supervisor, to prepare, test and set up election equipment as needed.  Maintain the Online Poll Worker training and election websites through website publishing, quality assurance, feedback monitoring, and performance monitoring. Assist with training scheduling and support at the Election Barn.  Perform the management duties of the Elections Warehouse Technician Manager in his/her absence. Education & Experience:  Education and experience equivalent to an Associate’s degree from an accredited college or university in computer science, or in a job related field of study required.  One (1) year of work related experience.  Experience in election programming preferred. Salary: $43,094-$58,858. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job posting and to apply click here

Voter Registration & Voting Services Manager, Oregon Secretary of State’s Office, Salem, Ore. — successful candidate will manage and direct the daily operations of the Voter Registration and Voting Services section of the Elections Division as well as ensure Oregon’s compliance with the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) program. This is accomplished in part but not limited to: Coordinate all daily activities and employee assignments with the Voter Registration and Voting Services section; work with Elections Director to prioritize projects and to maintain adherence to overall statewide election system objectives; work in partnership with county clerks, election officials and filing officers representing special districts; train county and city elections officials on procedures and changes related to Oregon Centralized Voter Registration (OCVR), HAVA, and Nation Voter Registration Act (NVRA); coordinate with counties, United States Postal Service and partner states in developing standards and practices for maintaining an accurate and effective voter registration database; interpret laws, rules policies and procedures and explain to customers to ensure compliance with and understanding of Oregon’s compliance with HAVA; implement and administer HAVA projects and objectives under the direction of the Elections Division Director; ensure HAVA Steering Committee represents cross sections of stakeholder populations, meets regularly and the concerns of the membership are relayed in a time manner to the Elections Division Director and Agency Management. Qualifications: Six years of experience in supervision, staff-technical, or professional-level work that includes
experience with voter registration and/or election administration. Two years of this experience must have included program/project leader responsibility involving one or more of the following areas: a) development of program rules and policies, b) development of long- and short-range goals and plans, c) program evaluation and/or project evaluation, or d) monitoring and controlling or preparing a budget. Salary: $4881-$7,550 per month. Deadline: March 31, 2014 at 11:59pm. Application: For the complete listing and to apply, click here.

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