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May 1, 2014

May 1, 2014

In Focus This Week

I. In Focus This Week

Going to voters where they live
Local programs aim to get new or newly moved residents registered, updated

By M. Mindy Moretti

Voter-roll maintenance is one of the most important functions for an elections office. It’s also one of the most time consuming and for some, the bane of their existence.

And it’s because of this that elections officials are always looking for new and unique ways to help voters get registered or update their registration, which ultimately helps the elections officials as well.

In Wilson County, Tennessee, the county elections commission has teamed up with local realtors and title companies to assure that every new homeowner gets a voter registration form and information sheet.

“Our office has an active community outreach program and this is a part of that,” said Phillip Warren, administrator of elections for the county. “Accurate voter rolls are the foundation of great elections. We are always looking for initiatives to improve the voter rolls in Wilson County.”

Warren said that voter registration maintenance is often overlooked when voters move and only becomes an issue when it is time to vote.

“This partnership with the Realtors and title companies is an opportunity for the people involved with almost every person moving within the county, into the county or out of the county to help us keep our voter rolls as up to date as possible,” Warren said.

It is also another service the Realtors and title companies can provide their clients, as well and it is because of that, Warren said that the Realtors were very open to the idea and they also set up a meeting with the title companies.

“Realtors and real estate closing agents see clients every day that are moving to Wilson County, moving to a new address within the county or that are selling their home and moving out of the county,” Amy Hamilton, president of the Eastern Middle Tennessee Association of Realtors told a local paper. “Each real estate closing represents an opportunity to register a new voter or keep a voter’s record current.” 

To implement the program, Warren added a page to the election commission’s website where the Realtors and title companies can go and download all the necessary forms and information sheets. The page includes forms for new voter registration, address changes and request for removal for those leaving Wilson County. All the forms are .pdfs and there are instructions for completing the forms and how they should be returned to the elections office.

Warren said that by putting all the forms on the site instead of distributing paper forms, they are available “on demand” and it also saved the county money on printing additional forms.

The program just launched two weeks ago and Warren is eager to see results, especially because this year is an election year.

“This is a prefect partnership for any jurisdiction,” Warren said. “Maintaining accurate voter registrations is the foundation of successful elections and any partnership that enhances that is worthwhile.”

While the Wilson County initiative focuses on new homeowners there are at least two programs that focus on renters.

In 2012 the Madison, Wisconsin city council approved an ordinance to require landlords to provide voter information and registration forms to all new tenants.

The ordinance was not well-received by some landlords who told local media that requiring the landlords to provide the forms, while a nice gesture, extended the reach of what they should be required to do.

“Especially with voting, it just is not appropriate for us to be doing the work of the alders and the political parties. We’re not trying to obstruct people from voting, we just aren’t the people to do this,” Eileen Bruskewitz, a former Dane County supervisor and landlord told The Daily Page in 2012.

State-level legislation supported by the landlords attempted to supersede local ordinance, but the legislation failed.

While the landlords may not have been big fans of the ordinance, according to Maribeth Witzel-Behl, Madison clerk, it has been well received by the new tenants.

“We put a star on the registration forms that we initially gave to landlords, and 500 of them came back to our office, completed in October 2012,” Witzel-Behl said.

Witzel-Behl said there is no real additional work or costs to her office because they would be printing the registration forms anyway.

East Lansing, Michigan, home to Michigan State University — the University of Wisconsin is located in Madison — passed a similar ordinance in 2013.

Update on the News: Last week, shortly after electionlineWeekly “went to press,” with a story about the work three states are doing to prepare for a wide-scale implementation of voter photo ID, a judge voided Arkansas’ voter photo ID law saying that it violates the state constitution. On Friday, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel filed notice that he plans to appeal the judge’s ruling. A spokesman for the AG indicated they will also seek a stay of the ruling while it’s being appealed. Arkansans head to the polls on May 20. The state Board of Election Commissioners and the Republican Party have already sought an emergency stay which the judge granted mid-week.

Election News This Week

II. Election News This Week

  • Voter ID News: There was action on many fronts in the last seven-days with regard to several states and their voter ID laws. In Kansas, two elderly men dropped their lawsuit challenging the state’s voter photo ID law. The men said they dropped their suit because it would not be heard until 2015 and because they felt questions into their private lives were too intrusive. In Pennsylvania, a Commonwealth Court judge in denied a request to reconsider his previous ruling overturning the state’s voter ID law. Judge Bernard L. McGinley wrote: “The evidence showed the voter ID provisions at issue deprive numerous electors of their fundamental right to vote, so vital to our democracy.” McGinley initially struck down the law in January. The state has 30 days to decide whether or not they will appeal. Also this week, a federal judge in Wisconsin struck down the state’s voter photo ID law saying that it violates the U.S. Constitution and the Voting Rights Act. This is the second court to void the law. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, although the state AG vowed to appeal to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, it is unlikely the issue will be resolved before the November 4 elections.
  • If only all things in the world of election administration moved this quickly. On Monday a Ramsey County, Minnesota District Judge ruled that Minnesota’s online voter registration must be shut down immediately because Secretary of State Mark Ritchie did not have the authority to create the system. But on Tuesday, legislators, who were already working on a bill to create an online registration system and argued that Ritchie had overstepped his bounds, approved revival legislation that was also signed by Gov. Mark Dayton. The bill was approved 41-24.
  • This week staff of the D.C. Board of Elections (DCBOE) appeared before a council committee to explain what went wrong during the April 1 primary. Contrary to previous reports about poll workers having difficulties shutting down multiple iVotronic machines, Clifford Tatum, executive director of the board told the council the problem was not the handful of machines, but a broad computer network failure. Tatum admitted during the hearing that DCBOE staff ultimately had no idea what caused the election night tallying hang up in the initial hours after polls closed. The problems weren’t just limited to tallying the vote. During the hearing, Tatum also acknowledged that calls from poll captains to the board went unanswered on election night, a coding error published inaccurate tallies on the board’s website and pens, instead of pencils, were distributed to the city’s 143 polling places for the paper ballots.
  • In the final installment of Golden Week — a five-day period in Ohio when voters may both register to vote and cast ballots at the same time during early voting — saw very little participation with only 89 voters statewide taking advantage of the opportunity. Legislation signed by Gov. John Kasich earlier this year eliminated the week beginning with the November election. According to The Plain Dealer, 54 counties had no ballots cast by newly registered voters and of the 34 counties where people registered and voted on the same day, 28 of those counties collected ballots from three or fewer people.
  • Late last week the Maryland State Board of Elections declined to certify an online absentee ballot system. The system would have allowed voters to download and mark ballots before sending them in through the mail. The 5-member board cited security concerns about the system as their reason for failing to certify it. According to published report, the board did not actually vote against the system, it didn’t vote at all when it became clear the votes to certify were not there. Board staff and an opinion from an assistant attorney general assert the system for downloading the ballots may still more forward, only the portion of the system that allowed the ballots to be marked before printing remains in limbo.
  • The city of Augusta, Georgia filed a motion to dismiss a federal lawsuit that is seeking to move the city’s upcoming May 20 election to a later date. According to the Augusta Chronicle, the motion to dismiss cited the difficulty in canceling an election that is now less than a month away.
  • Personnel News: After 34 years on the job, Janice Winn is stepping down as the St. Clair City, Michigan clerk. Winn is one of the longest serving officials in southeastern Michigan. In Arizona, former AG Terry Goddard (D) filed nominating petitions for the secretary of state race. The Washington County, Virginia League of Women Voters honored Registrar Mary Ann Compton at its recent meeting. Char Peterson, Appleton, Wisconsin city clerk resigned from her position earlier this month. Peterson had been in the position for about two years. Karl Tatgenhorst of Porter County, Indiana has been nominated to run for secretary of state for the Libertarian party. South Lake Tahoe City Clerk Susan Alessi received the 2014 Presidential Award of Excellence from the City Clerk’s Association of California. The Ohio Secretary of State’s office has determined that Licking Co. BOE member Larry Wise did not violate the state’s ethics policy.
  • In Memoriam: Former Leon County, Florida Supervisor of Elections Jan Pietrzyk died on Saturday. He was 67. Pietrzyk was elected to the supervisor position in 1984 as the first Republican elected in Leon County since Reconstruction. Pietrzyk was suspended from his job following a botched primary, but was reinstated by the state Senate. Pietrzyk ran for re-election in 1988 but was defeated by current Supervisor of Elections Ion Sancho.

Research and Report Summaries

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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.

Independent Auditors’ Report: U.S. Election Assistance Commission Financial Statements for FY 2013 and FY 2012 – U.S. Election Assistance Commission Office of Inspector General, December 2013:A recently posted required financial audit of the federal Election Assistance Commission for fiscal years 2012 and 2013 concluded that due to uncertainties related to the reporting of expenses and obligations in FY2013, no opinion could be issued on the financial statements of the agency. The report specifically cites “significant uncertainties exist relating to the accrual of an approximately $2.2 million grant payment, as well as the validity of remaining obligations totaling approximately $900,000 reported for a 2008 requirements payments appropriation.” The report included a number of recommendations, and in response the EAC generally agreed with the findings and provided specific actions they would take to address the recommendations.

Legislative Updates

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IV. Legislative Update

Hawaii: The House and Senate have both approved to House Bill 2590 allowing for same-day registration in the Aloha State. The bill includes $100K to help the state’s Office of Election implement the legislation.

Missouri: According to published reports, House Republicans are pushing for a constitutional amendment that would require voters in the Show Me State to show some photo ID in order to vote.

New Hampshire: The House is considering legislation—SB 206—that would shift the burden of proof for voter challenges to the challenger instead of the voter who is challenged. The Senate approved the vote by voice vote in March.

Rhode Island: The House Judiciary Committee is debating legislation that would eliminate the master lever on ballots by 2016.

South Carolina: Legislators are contemplating a bill that would merge election and voter registration boards statewide.

Upcoming Events

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V. Upcoming Events

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

Nashville Regional Hearing: The National Commission on Voting Rights is hosting hearings across the country to learn more about the current landscape of elections. At this hearing, the Commission will focus on Arkansas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Kentucky and West Virginia. Over the past few years, numerous states have enacted restrictive voting laws, while many others continue to grapple with recurring election administration and electoral reform challenges. The Commission will document what keeps voters from the ballot box and election reform efforts that expand access. Where: Greater Bethel AME Church, Nashville, Tennessee. When: May 8 4pm to 8 pm. For more information and to register to attend or submit testimony click here.

National Association of Counties Annual Conference and Exposition: NACo’s 79th Annual Conference and Exposition provides an opportunity for all county leaders and staff to learn, network and guide the direction of the association. This year, the conference will be held in Orleans Parish, (New Orleans) Louisiana. The Annual Conference provides county officials with a great opportunity to vote on NACo’s policies related to federal legislation and regulation; elect officers; network with colleagues; learn about innovative county programs; find out about issues impacting counties across the country; and view products and services from participating companies and exhibitors. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Where: New Orleans. When: July 11-14. For more information and to register, click here.

National Association of Secretaries of State Summer Conference: NASS is celebrating a Star Spangled Summer at this year’s annual conference in Baltimore. Members will exchange ideas, share lessons learned and highlight best practices in policy making and programming for state member offices.  Agenda programming will include: Expert speakers who will inspire new ways of thinking about state agency leadership; Real-world lessons & success stories from state peers; Topical workshops focused on communications & professional skills advancement; Networking opportunities with public and private-sector attendees; and Excursions to explore Baltimore & learn more about culture and state government. Where: Baltimore. When: July 13-16. For more information and to register, click here.

International Association of Clerks, Recorders, Election Officials and Treasurers’ (IACREOT) Annual Conference: IACREOT will hold its annual conference this summer in Bonita Springs, Fla. The agenda will include seminars, training sessions, a delegate awards luncheon, IACREOTs elections and board meeting as well other opportunities for networking. Where: Bonita Springs, Fla. When: July 19-24, 2014. For complete information and to register, click here.

National Conference of State Legislatures Legislative Summit: Bring home 1,000 ideas from the land of 10,000 lakes this summer. For 40 years, the Legislative Summit is where legislators and staff come together across the aisle to tackle critical problems and find solutions that work. With more than 100 sessions, the time to dig deep into issues you care about, and opportunities to make new friendships and connections. Where: Minneapolis. When: August 19-22, 2014. For more information and to register, click here.

Elections Center 30th Annual National Conference: More information will be forthcoming, but mark your calendars now for the annual conference. Courses offered at the annual conference will include Course 5 (Ethics in Elections); Course 6 (Communications in Election Administration); Renewal Course 20 (Federal Impact on Elections-1960s to present); and New Renewal Course 27. Where: San Francisco. When: August 19-23, 2014. For more information and to register, click here.

National Association of County Recorders, Elections Officials and Clerks: More information will be forthcoming, but mark your calendars now for the annual conference. Where: Long Beach, Calif. When: August 22-25, 2014. For more information and to register, click here.

National Association of State Election Directors: More information will be forthcoming, but mark your calendars now for the annual conference. Where: San Francisco. When: August 22-24, 2014. For more information and to register, click here.


VI. Opinion

National News: Voting Rights Act | Voter fraud | Voter ID, II | Voting system

Alabama: Voter rolls, II, III | Voter ID, II

California: Secretary of state race

Florida: Election reform

Idaho: Secretary of state race

Illinois: Same-day registration

Indiana: Open primaries

Iowa: Mandatory voting | Voting access

Kansas: Election performance | Kris Kobach

Kentucky: Ex-felon voting rights

Massachusetts: Polling places

Michigan: Election system

Minnesota: Online voter registration, II

Mississippi: Voter ID, II, III, IV

Nevada: Election fraud

New Jersey: Cost of elections

New Mexico: Polling problems

North Carolina: Senior voters

Ohio: Open primaries

Pennsylvania: Election performance

South Carolina: Richland County

Tennessee: Voting rights

Texas: Instant-runoff voting | Vote centers | Election planning

West Virginia: Early voting

Wisconsin: Voter ID, II, III, IV | Online voter registration

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.

Director of Communications, Democracy Fund, Washington, D.C.—seeking a creative thinker with senior-level strategic communications experience and a deep commitment to non-partisan political reform to serve as its first Director of Communications. The director will be responsible for developing the organization’s overall communications and branding strategy, as well as managing all internal and external messaging. The director will work closely with the organization’s program team to advance our strategic goals and support the needs of Democracy Fund grantees. The director will be responsible for cultivating the organization’s role as an important convener and thought leader in the field, while building a network of advisors, partners, and champions who will increase the organization’s influence and impact. Qualifications: Deep passion for strengthening American democracy; excellent written and oral communication skills required; at least 10 years of experience in communications, coalition building, organizing, policy analysis, advocacy, or public affairs; strong strategic mind set and proven ability to translate strategy into action; success in developing and maintaining institutional, political, and personal relationships; strong track record of working with Republican, Democratic, and Independent political leaders; extensive experience with social media; ability to travel periodically for project work; demonstrated experience handling multiple assignments simultaneously; flexibility and initiative to work both independently and as part of a team; familiarity with the field of democracy and political reform, as well as the organizations and leaders involved in the field. Education: BA required. Deadline: Open until filled. For the complete job posting and to apply, click here.

Elections Training Specialist, Ohio Secretary of State’s Office — under the supervision of the Deputy Elections Administrator, researches, writes, and coordinates the development of training materials published by the Secretary of State for use by boards of elections in recruiting and training precinct election officials, including, but not limited to, Precinct Election Official Training Manual and the Quick Reference Flip Chart Guide; Develops and maintains a library of training materials developed and published by boards of elections for recruiting and training precinct election materials. Reviews county materials for compliance with the minimum content standards in the Secretary of State’s materials; Develops and maintains the Secretary of State’s online poll worker training system. Assists boards of elections and users with properly accessing and utilizing the system; Develops and implements training seminars and/or meetings for board of elections personnel regarding the recruitment and training of precinct election officials, webinars for county election officials, training programs for new board members, directors, and deputy directors, participates in the planning of the Secretary of State’s summer conference for county election officials, and other topics; Writes, coordinates the development, and curates forms and other resource materials published by the Secretary of State’s office for use by county boards of elections; Liaises with the Secretary of State’s Communications Department on elections-related publications, including but not limited to the PEO recruitment resources and forms, and the Poll Worker Newsletter, and liaises with county boards of elections and other entities on all matters relating to PEO recruitment and training; Answers correspondence, e-mails and telephone calls; represents office at related meetings & conferences. Performs other duties as required. Qualifications: Completion of undergraduate core program in communications, education, public administration or any related area of study; 12 mos. experience in program development and evaluation of program initiatives; 3 mos. experience in developing and conducting trainings; 3 mos. experience in voter registration programs and/or election advocacy.Or equivalent of Minimum Qualifications noted above. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete listing and to apply, click here.

Voting Systems Manager, Colorado Secretary of State — position manages the voting systems team to ensure certification of voting systems, county support for technical issues, and implementation of the Election Night Reporting, Uniform Voting Systems, Post-Election Audit, Risk-Limiting Audit, and Ballot on Demand programs. Responsibilities include: Supervision of the voting system team, oversees certification of voting systems and verification or reinstallation of trusted build on county systems, ensures timely reporting of election night results on statewide basis, plans and implement Uniform Voting System when approved and funded, assists counties with technical issues relating to pre-election voting system testing, coordinates statutory post-election audits and plans for and implements risk-limiting audits on statewide basis, provides assistance to counties with ballot-on-demand, ensures that county voting systems are periodically audited and used in compliance with all applicable legal requirements, assists counties and vendors in resolving technological issues related to voting systems. Qualifications: Graduation from an accredited college or university with a bachelor’s degree in Public Administration, Business Administration, Business Management, or Political Science and three years of professional program management and implementation experience. Salary: $4,764.00 – $6,803.00 Monthly. Deadline: Friday, May 2, 2014 at 11:59pm MT, or until 50 applications are received. Application: For complete job posting and to apply click here.

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