In Focus This Week
I. In Focus This Week
Polling place profile: Benjamin Harrison slept here
Presidential site makes debut as Indy polling place
By M. Mindy Moretti
Editor’s Note: From time to time we like to feature cool or unique polling places. If you’ve got a unique polling place location you’d like to see featured, let us know!
Benjamin Harrison was the 23rd president of the United States serving one term from 1889 to 1893.
While Benjamin Harrison may not have been as notorious a president as his grandfather, William Henry Harrison was, Benjamin Harrison did open Ellis Island and commissioned the Pledge of Allegiance.
He was also known as an advocate for African-American voting rights.
Therefore, it seems only right that his home in Indiana, where he lived before and after his four years in Washington, D.C. now serves as a polling place in Indianapolis.
While we can’t say for certain this is the only polling place where a president slept — George Washington seems to have slept in a lot of places on the East Coast — a quick review finds that this appears to be the only official Presidential site that serves as a modern-day polling place.
The Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site made its polling place debut this spring and by all accounts, it was a huge hit not only with voters, but also the poll workers who got to spend their day at a historical site.
“Civic engagement is central to the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site’s mission to, ‘increase public understanding of, appreciation for, and participation in the American system of self-government through the life stories, arts and culture of an American President,’” explained Charles Hyde, president and CEO of the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site. “As a privately funded nonprofit that receives no direct federal funding, this is a very public, non-partisan way for us to demonstrate our commitment to supporting our neighborhood and our community.”
Jennifer Pacala with the Office of Corporation Counsel for the City of Indianapolis — the entity that chooses polling places in Indy — said once the Corporation Counsel determined that the site met ADA and parking requirements it was an easy decision to move the polling place there.
“The management of the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site contacted us offering the use of their facility,” Pacala said. “Upon review of the area, it made sense to relocate a precinct across the street from the historical site that had been voting two precincts away at a crowded public school.”
The polling place was in the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site’s Welcome Center, located in a historic reconstruction of the president’s carriage house. This space is immediately adjacent to the main house, and allowed for more room for voting machines, poll workers, voters and all the other trappings necessary for an election.
“As we were able to schedule our exhibits around the voting, no special accommodations were necessary,” Hyde said. “The City of Indianapolis/Marion County was a great partner, and very helpful in making the process simple and straightforward.”
According to Hyde and elections officials, things went very well for the first outing as a polling place. Hyde noted that the neighborhood truly embraced the new site and its significance.
“It was truly a community affair, with many people walking and biking to vote,” Hyde said. “A number of voters expressed how cool and meaningful it was to vote in a place of national significance.”
Hyde said the site is looking forward to being a polling place for many years to come, especially during presidential election years when the location will have even greater significance.
He also hopes to serve as an example for others.
“The Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site is honored to serve as a polling place, and hope that our example inspires other presidential sites and organizations to do the same,” Hyde said.
Election News This Week
II. Election News This Week
- At a meeting of Alabama’s registrars, State Auditor Jim Zeigler announced that his office is looking into the possibility of requiring proof-of-citizenship on voter registration forms. In his remarks to the registrars, Zeigler asked them for ideas on how to implement such a system. “There is a false sense of security– a misunderstanding – that the new voter ID law provides proof of citizenship. It does not. A driver license or other valid voter ID can be obtained by a non-citizen,” he said according to WTVY.
- The Anchorage, Alaska Assembly recertified the recent mayoral runoff after a ballot box containing 58 ballots was found in a conference room. The addition of the 58 ballots altered the results by 0.01 percent. Municipal Clerk Barbara Jones told the Alaska Dispatch News that lack of space in City Hall may have lead to the misplaced box. “It’s partially a space issue, and the space issue results in us handling the same ballots multiple times — moving them from room to room — and that was one of the problems,” Jones said.
- Vote Centers Update: Following up on our story from last week about the increasing number of Texas counties moving to a vote center system, this week the Parker County commission voted adopt vote centers. Palo Pinto County also voted to request that the secretary of state’s office allow it to participate in the pilot program.
- This is no way to fix a “problem.” According to a story on Lehigh Valley Live, following complaints from voters that the Vote Here signs were also in Spanish—and not, apparently other languages—one Northampton County, Pennsylvania election official took it upon himself to cut out the “aqui” on the sigs so they simply said Vote Here in English. Northampton County Chief Registrar Dee Rumsey said her office is reviewing the matter.
- Personnel News: Pamela Goodmanis the new president of the Florida League of Women Voters. Former Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie has joined the board of the U.S. Vote Foundation. Andrew Carruthers has been appointed to serve on the Illinois State Board of Elections. New Hanover County, North Carolina board of elections chairman John Ferrante has said he does not wish to be reappointed when his term ends in July. Andrea Bagley is stepping down as the LaGrange Park, Illinois deputy clerk after 11 years on the job. Montana Auditor Monica Lindeen kicked off her 2016 campaign to run for secretary of state. Melvin Simmons has retired after 20 years on the Lincoln County, Tennessee election commission.
- In Memoriam: Mary (Vinnie) McCauley, former Stamford, Connecticut registrar has died. She was 90. McCauley served as the Democratic registrar for 27 years before she retired in 1990.
III. Legislative Updates
Federal Legislation: The U.S. Department of Justice has said that it will seek legislation requiring states with American Indian reservations or other tribal lands to locate at least one polling place on those lands.
Alabama: The Legislature has approved Senate Bill 240 that will move Alabama’s primary to the second Tuesday in March making Alabama part of the “SEC Primary.”
The Legislature has also give final passage to a bill that will allow voters over the age of 70 and with disabilities to move to the front of the line at polling places if they want to. Poll workers will be required to post a sign notifying voters.
California: State Sen. Sharon Runner (R-Lancaster) has plans to introduce legislation that will allow the governor to cancel special elections if only one candidate qualifies for the ballot.
On the heals of a Department of Justice investigation, lawmakers are advancing SB589 that would make it clear that those who are under a court guardianship because of disabilities are presumed competent to vote unless a judge specifically finds that they are incapable of voting even with reasonable accommodations.
Connecticut: A bill to reform the registrar of voters system in the Nutmeg State was approved by the Appropriations Committee 42-3.
Also in Connecticut, the Senate has approved legislation that will create a task force to look into election reforms that would “regionalize, professionalize and enhance the efficiency of election administration.”
Delaware: A bill to bring same day registration to Delaware is expected to be introduced in the Senate when lawmakers return in June. A similar bill was released from Senate committee last session, but never came before the full Senate.
Kansas: By a vote of 64-58 the House has approved House Bill 2104 that will shift local elections from the spring to the fall. The bill was previously approved by the Senate and now moves to the governor’s desk.
Louisiana: Rep. Pat Smith, D-Baton Rouge, has introduced legislation that will study the state’s registrar of voters system that has come under fire recently after a television station investigation deemed that some registrar seats became life-time positions.
Maryland: Gov. Larry Hogan (R) has vetoed legislation that would have restored the voting rights to felons as soon as they are released from prison, even if they still had terms of service to complete. Members of the General Assembly are confident they have the votes to override the veto when they reconvene in 2016.
Michigan: The House Elections Committee has approved a substitute bill in the ongoing effort to legislatively deal with the upcoming Flint primary. Under the new bill, Flint would still hold it’s primary in August and Flint Clerk Inez Brown would be required to attend training and have the work of her office approved by the Genesee County clerk.
Missouri: Jay Ashcroft, a Republican candidate for secretary of state has filed a proposed constitutional amendment initiative with the secretary of state’s office that would require voters to show a photo ID in order to cast a ballot.
Nevada: The Assembly Legislative Operations and Elections Committee has defeated SB434 on a 4-6 vote. The proposed legislation would have changed the requirements for a ballot initiative.
Ohio: The Senate has approved legislation that will move the state’s presidential primary to March 15, one week later than previously scheduled. The bill now heads to Gov. John Kasich’s desk.
Oregon: The House has approved House Bill 3475 that would move Oregon to join a compact with states to move to a national popular vote.
IV. Legal Updates
California: According to the San Jose Mercury News, a group of blind voters who had filed a federal lawsuit against Alameda County claiming that malfunctioning accessible voting machines did not allow them to cast a secret ballot, have settled their suit with the county.
Mississippi: It might be 2015, but a lawsuit over the results of a 2013 mayoral election will proceed according to Judge Henry Lackey. Sheriel Perkins lost her bid to be Greenwood mayor by 206 votes in 2013. She claims that there were tainted votes, errors by elections officials, vote-buying and racial discrimination. Perkins wants the judge to either declare her the winner or call for a new election.
New York: The Appellate Division of State Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Dutchess County Elections Commissioner Erik Haight after he was sued by Commissioner Fran Knapp who alleged that Haight made a unilateral decision while they both served in office and Knapp wanted Haight held in civil and criminal contempt. The court disagreed.
Texas: This week, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it would accept a Texas case brought by a conservative advocacy group that considers whether states and localities may use a place’s total population to make redistricting decisions or if they should make those decisions based on the number of voting eligible residents.
Also in Texas, Visiting Judge Dan Mills dismissed an election contest lawsuit filed in Austin following the December 2014 runoff. Mills said the plaintiff did not provide any evidence that would call the outcome of the election into question.
Virginia: State representative candidate Susan Stimpson has filed suit in the Stafford County Circuit Court arguing the State Board of Elections overstepped its authority and took regulatory action without notice, which in turn allowed her opponent to create a website that generates absentee ballot applications with electronic signatures.
Opinions This Week
V. Opinions This Week
National Opinions: Redistricting | Online voting | Election corruption | Voting rights
Alabama: Online voter registration
Arkansas: Balancing budgets
Connecticut: Polling places
Florida: Voting system | Duval County | Online voter registration
Illinois: Automatic voter registration
Kansas: Secretary of state, II, III
Maryland: Canvassing | Ex-felon voting rights
Minnesota: Instant runoff voting
Mississippi: Polling places
Nevada: Voter rolls | Primary vs. caucus | Voter ID
New Jersey: Online voter registration
New York: Lever voting machines
Pennsylvania: Open primaries | Turnout
Tennessee: Poll workers
Utah: Count My Vote
Vermont: Voting rights
Virginia: Absentee ballot rules
Wisconsin: Voter rolls
VI. Available Funding
Grants for new ERIC members
For states considering membership in the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), The Pew Charitable Trusts offers the opportunity to apply for financial assistance to facilitate their participation.
Pew is offering limited financial assistance to states to help defray the expense, such as bulk mail service provider charges and postage, of the initial outreach to eligible but unregistered citizens by mail. Pew aims to maximize the effect of this funding by assisting multiple states.
Applications must be received by 5 p.m. EDT on May 31.
U.S. Election Assistance Commission Grants
EAC Grants Management Division is responsible for distributing, monitoring, providing technical assistance to states and grantees on the use of funds, and reporting on requirements payments and discretionary grants to improve administration of elections for federal office. The office also negotiates indirect cost rates with grantees and resolves audit findings on the use of HAVA funds.
VII. Upcoming Events
Please email upcoming events — conferences, symposiums, seminars, webinars, etc. to email@example.com.
Future of Voting Conference — The Future of Voting interactive presentation and workshop event has been designed to engage local and state election officials and legislators in a discussion about verifiable Internet voting. The event is part of a 4-city tour by the technical and project managers of the End-to-End Verifiable Internet Voting: Specification and Feasibility Study (E2E VIV Project). The project was funded by a grant from the Democracy Fund in support of a research-based approach to the unanswered question of whether remote absentee voting can be conducted securely online. Specifically, it was designed to examine a form of remote voting that enables a so-called “end-to-end verifiability” (E2E) property. This technology is of particular interest in the continued aim toward improved overseas, military and disabled voter solutions. When/Where: Seattle, Washington May 29; Portland, Oregon June 1; Santa Fe, New Mexico June 3. For additional information and questions, please contact Susan Dzieduszycka-Suinat, (202) 470 2480.
Policy & Elections Technology: A Legislative Perspective— NCSL is hosting a national meeting to bring together legislators, legislative staff, election officials, voting technology and computer security experts, legal experts, advocates, federal agency staff and other interested parties to discuss the future of elections technology. Sessions will cover voting technology 101; a report on NCSL’s Elections Technology Project; recommendations from the Presidential Commission on Election Administration; the impact of legislation on voting system design; alternative voting methods and implications for technology; testing and certifying voting systems; the use of technology for post-election audits, recounts and resolving disputes; and what is pushing change in the way ballots are cast. Where: Santa Fe, New Mexico When: June 3 – 5. Contact: Katy Owens Hubler, firstname.lastname@example.org, 303-856-1656. For more information and to register, click here.
Maryland Association of Election Officials Annual Conference— The Maryland Association of Election Officials will hold its annual conference and meeting in Ocean City this year. The agenda is filled with presentations from the State Board on the new elections system, MAEO’s annual membership meeting and lots of opportunities to mingle and network. When: June 9-12. Where: Ocean City, Maryland. For more information and to register, click here.
NASED Summer Meeting— The National Association of State Election Directors will hold it’s 2015 summer meeting in Cleveland, Ohio this year. Registration will open soon. Where: Cleveland, Ohio. When: June 23-25. For more information and to register, click here.
IACREOT Annual Conference — The International Association of Clerks, Recorders, Elections Officials and Treasurers will hold its annual conference in Vail, Colorado this year in June and July. Planning is still in the early stages, but be sure to mark your calendar. Where: Vail, Colorado. When: June 27-July 2. For more information and to register, click here.
Continuing Legal Education — Need CLE? Late breaking news!With support from the Bipartisan Policy Center, IACREOT is developing 7 hours of continuing legal education (CLE) on Saturday, June 27 in conjunction with the IACREOT annual conference in Vail, CO. In addition to 2 hours of ethics, the CLE will include an overview of federal election law, and also cover current hot topics in voter access and voting integrity, legal implications regarding the 2014 Presidential Commission on Election Administration (PCEA) report, and ballot access. While the current schedule and faculty is not yet final, confirmed speakers include nationally renowned ethics expert, Tom Spahn, EAC Commissioners McCormick and Masterson, John Fortier and Don Palmer from the Bipartisan Policy Center, Doug Chapin of Election Academy blog, Wendy Underhill from NCSL, Colorado SOS Wayne Williams, and IACREOT’s long time General Counsel, Tony Sirvello. While IACREOT members will get a discount, the CLE is open to non-IACREOT members, as well, so please share this with the lawyer(s) who work in or support your office so they can be better prepared to legally assist you. Where: Aspen, Colorado. When: June 27. Registration: Separate registration is required; the form and further information is on the IACREOT conference website.
NASS 2015 Summer Conference — The National Association of Secretaries of State Annual Summer Conference is set for July this year. Planning is still in the early stages, but be sure to mark your calendar. Where: Portland, Maine. When: July 9-12. For more information and to register, click here.
NACo Annual Conference and Exposition— The 80th Annual Conference and Exposition of the National Association of Counties will be in Mecklenburg County (Charlotte), North Carolina. Registration opens February 9th. Where: Charlotte, North Carolina. When: July 10-13. For more information and to register, click here.
NCSL Legislative Summit 2015 — The National Conference of State Legislators will hold their 2015 Legislative Summit in August. Planning is still in the early stages, but be sure to mark your calendar. Where: Seattle. When: August 3-6. For more information when it becomes available and to register, click here.
Election Center 31st Annual Conference— The Election Center hold its 31st Annual Conference in Houston in August. Planning is still in the early stages, but be sure to mark your calendars now. Where: Houston, Texas. When: August 18-22. For more information and to register, click here.
NACRC Annual Conference— The Annual Conference of the National Association of County Recorders, Election Officials and Clerks is set for Houston in August. Planning is still in the early stages, but be sure to mark your calendar. Where: Houston, Texas. When: August 21-25. For more information and to register, click here.
MEOC Conference — The Midwest Election Officials Conference is back! Following a several-year hiatus, Brian Newby, Johnson County, Kansas election commissioner is bringing back the regional conference for elections officials. There are still a lot of details to work out, but if you’re an elections official in the Midwest, mark your calendars now! Where: Kansas City area. When: September 30-October 2. For more information, stay tuned to electionline and Brian Newby’s Election Diary.
Job Postings This Week
VIII. Job Postings This Week
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.
Associate, Elections Initiatives, The Pew Charitable Trusts, Washington, D.C. — will report to the project director of Election Initiatives and will be part of a project staff including a director, a project director, a manager, two officers, three senior associates, two associates and an administrative assistant. The associate’s primary responsibilities involve supporting the activities and goals of the portfolio of Pew’s Election Initiatives work which includes the Elections Performance Index, Upgrading Voter Registration, the Voting Information Project, as well as other projects aimed at improving the research portfolio of the elections team. The associate will be an integral part of all these projects, spending much of his or her time researching and drafting data dispatches, reports, memos, policy briefs, 50-state scans and other research products that are highly relevant to policy deliberations. This individual will need to analyze and translate large amounts of data and research related to election administration into written products that policymakers and the public can easily understand. Additionally the associate will be part of team collecting, cleaning and coding data as well as communicating with states and counties when conducting research. Consequently, the associate must be able to think creatively about how to collect, use and report elections information from state and local officials. This individual will be required to coordinate and sustain our inquiries and relationships as well as manage research consultants we work with. The project and position are approved through June 30, 2017, with the possibility of renewal depending on the initiative’s progress, board approval and continued funding. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Elections Services Manager, Contra Costa County, California — management position reports to the Assistant Registrar in the Elections Division of the Clerk-Recorder’s Office and acts in the place of the Assistant Registrar during his/her absence. This position is responsible for assisting the Assistant Registrar in planning, organizing and directing the day to day activities of the Elections Division; the development, establishment, implementation and evaluation of County elections policies and procedures according to Election and Government Codes, applicable laws, rules, procedures, court cases, regulations and ordinances that affect the preparation and conduct of elections and registration of voters. The ideal candidate will possess knowledge and understanding of the election process, cycle and Election law as well as knowledge and understanding of the interrelationships of each unit of the Election Department. This classification will supervise Elections Division administrative, technical and supervisory staff. Strong management and administrative skills are required as the incumbent will have primary responsibility for day-to-day direction and coordination of the Election Division activities. Excellent Interpersonal skills are required, as the incumbent will interface with staff on all levels as well as county officials, news media, and the public. Salary: $75,260.28 – $91,479.36. Deadline: June 26, 11:59pm Pacific. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
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