In Focus This Week
I. In Focus This Week
Voting Information Project makes official data available wherever voters look for it – online
In 2008, The Pew Charitable Trusts and Google realized voters were having trouble finding accurate voting information. Millions of people were looking for answers to three main questions: “Where do I vote?”, “What’s on my ballot?”, and “How do I navigate the election process?” but no standardized, reliable, and official source for this information existed.
Pew partnered with Google and the states to address the issue by creating the Voting Information Project (VIP). Pew works on VIP with state election officials to develop cutting-edge solutions to standardize and publish the data, and Google and other partners have ensured that voters find data where they’re looking for it most — online. The results of this partnership have been dramatic.
During the 2014 general election, official information provided by VIP was accessed an estimated 31 million times from a variety of sources, including: Google products, such as Search; customized tools on the websites of national organizations such as the Republican National Committee, the Democratic National Committee, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Rock the Vote, and the League of Women Voters; or, on one of over 1,500 websites that housed VIP’s white-label voting information tool.
Additionally, Pew, in collaboration with The Internet Association and technology companies like Facebook, Foursquare, Google, and Twitter created the website Get to the Polls that saw approximately 8 million total page views, most on Election Day.
In addition to serving voters, VIP is also committed to providing state and local election officials with the resources they need to deliver important voting information to their constituents. To this end, VIP offers several free, open-source tools and apps that election officials can use to reach their voters:
The Voting Information Tool is an easily embeddable, mobile-optimized, white-label tool that provides official voting information–such as polling place and ballot information–to anyone using just a residential address. It is available in 10 languages. During the 2014 general election, the tool was embedded on the official state website in the following states: California, Iowa, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Virginia.
White-label iOS and Android apps that can be customized, branded, and released by state and local governments, or third-party organizations. Kansas was the first state to brand and release an iOS version of the app—VoteKansas—as its own.
Connecticut and North Carolina have also released their own branded versions. The apps are available in Spanish and English.
A short messaging service (SMS) tool will provide voters with election information via text message in 10 languages. By texting “VOTE” to GOVOTE (468683), voters can find polling places, contact information for local election officials, and registration URLs. This nationwide number, live later this year, will be available for state and local election officials to promote for users without a smartphone or internet access.
Throughout 2015, VIP is building a first-of-its kind Data Management Suite to collect, standardize, validate, and publish official election data. When complete, the Data Management Suite will process data formatted to match VIP’s 3.0 Specification and validate it against a set of criteria that rigorously tests for errors, from structural to geographical accuracy. This process is illustrated in an infographic recently released by Pew that visualizes the process of delivering data from a state to VIP.
As VIP builds out its Data Management Suite, it is simultaneously working to expand the scope of elections it supports. In 2015 VIP will cover over 60 elections, including municipal and down ballot races in several states. The project’s goal is to be “always on” in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, ensuring that if there is an election happening anywhere, voters can easily access the information they need to participate. With the pending release of its new system and its efforts to provide data for local elections, VIP is one of the most comprehensive sources for official election information across the county.
VIP relies on its state partnerships to improve the quality and availability of election data. Any election official interested in learning more about the project, or in assistance from VIP, can reach the team at email@example.com.
Election News This Week
II. Election News This Week
- At it’s most recent meeting, after receiving no negative feedback, the Brazoria County, Texas commissioner’s court declared vote centers a success through a court-approved proclamation. According to The Pearland Journal, County Judge Sebesta will provide a letter of success to the secretary of state’s office and seek approval to continue the use of vote centers without applying to the state for future election use.
- The city of Lynn, Massachusetts is considering cancelling the city’s September 1 preliminary election in order to save more than $125,000. Instead, all names will be listed on the November ballot. The city’s charter is written in such a way as to allow this change. “Given the fiscal challenges the city and schools have, I understand they want to be careful about how they spend money,” candidate Jared Nicholson told The Daily Item.
- According to The Roanoke Times, nearly a dozen poll workers who staff voting precincts in Botetourt County, Virginia have declared that they will no longer work for the county on Election Day in protest to the decision made by the county’s elections board not reappoint former registrar Phyllis Booze. Electoral board vice chairman William Heartwell told the paper, but while the dozen or so who submitted letters may not affect the election-day process, he did have some concerns about those who simply won’t return.
- The National Association of Secretaries of State recently held their annual conference in Maine and in addition to swearing in a host of new board members, including Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Schedler as president, the group also passed several elections-related resolutions. Additionally, the organization handed several awards for the 2015 cycle. News about the conference can be found here.
- Personnel News: Pinellas County, Florida Supervisor of Elections Deborah Clark has filed for re-election. Candler County, Georgia Chief Deputy Registrar and Clerk of Elections Brooke Boyette was arrested on three charges of financial transaction card fraud. Paul Foley has resigned from the North Carolina Elections Board. Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate was honored by Google for his efforts at improving elections through open data. Julie Wise has been confirmed as the deputy director for King County, Washington elections. Franklin County Supervisor of Elections Ida Elliot has resigned her position citing her ongoing battle with cancer. Electionline would like to wish her all the best. Elaine Barnes has been appointed as the new Yadkin County, North Carolina director of elections.
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.
The Future of Voting: End-to-End Verifiable Internet Voting Specification and Feasibility Assessment Study – by U.S. Vote Foundation, July 2015L This new report examines the security, usability, and transparency requirements necessary to consider the use of Internet voting. It notes that no current Internet voting system meets these requirements and makes recommendations for how future systems could be more secure and transparent.
IV. Legislative Updates
California: The Senate has approved AB554 that will allow high school students to serve as poll workers. The bill was approved 28-11 and now heads to the governor’s desk.
The Senate also approved legislation that will allow the governor to cancel a special primary election and declare the candidate elected if there is only one qualified person on the ballot. That bill now heads to the Assembly.
Was it something that we said? This week legislative leaders in California put on hold a bill that would have moved California to an all vote-by-mail/vote center system. The bill was championed by Secretary of State Alex Padilla and has been put on hold until January 2016. Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) and Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) issued a joint statement in which they committed to working with Allen during the coming months to come up with something that would be ready for public hearings next year.
Kentucky: The legislature’s Administrative Regulation Review Subcommittee voted 4-3 to move forward legislation that make Kentucky one of a growing number of states to allow online voter registration.
Minnesota: Minneapolis City Councilmember Jacob Frey plans to introduce legislation that would require landlords within the city to provide voter registration forms to new tenants.
New Hampshire: Gov. Maggie Hassan has vetoed legislation that would have required a 30-day waiting period for new residents to vote. The bill also attempted to better define domicile for voting purposes as the primary residence or abode.
V. Legal Updates
North Carolina: The federal voting rights trial in Winston-Salem concerning the state’s new election laws got underway this week. During opening statements, attorneys for the U.S. government and the NAACP said they would prove that North Carolina lawmakers deliberately suppressed voting rights for minority groups. The trial is expected to last two to three weeks.
Texas: The Grand Prairie city council was expected to vote this week to end a lawsuit filed by a Hispanic voter who had claimed that under the city’s current at-large voting system, that Hispanic voters were hurt. The city was expected to vote the change to a mix of at-large districts and smaller districts.
VI. Tech Thursday
Arizona: The Arizona secretary of state’s office has terminated its relationship with the vendor responsible for publishing the state’s election results online. The end of the relationship comes after there were persistent problems in 2012 and 2014. According to the Arizona Republic, Matt Roberts, spokesman for the secretary of state, said the contract was not renewed in March, because of SOE Software’s poor election-night performances, “communication issues,” and the system’s limited customization features. “Specifically in those first 20 minutes (on election night), where it’s very important that we get it right and display results in those minutes, where everyone wants to see them, and there are issues with it, that’s a problem for us,” Roberts told the paper. “We were pretty disappointed with our performance in those elections.”
California: Los Angeles County has hired IDEO, a design company to overhaul the county’s voting process. The company, with roots in Silicon Valley, has developed a touchscreen system that incorporates features familiar to voters used to scrolling and tapping on hand-held devices.
Opinions This Week
VII. Opinions This Week
National Opinions: Voting Rights Act, II, III, IV | Voter engagement | Automatic voter registration | Internet voting, II
Arizona: Election costs
California: Automatic voter registration
District of Columbia: Non-citizen voting
Michigan: Voter access | Absentee voting
Minnesota: Voter registration, II
Missouri: Voter ID
New Jersey: Election reform
New Mexico: Dona Ana County
North Carolina: Voting laws, II, III, IV
Ohio: Lawrence County
Texas: Early voting
VIII. Available Funding
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.
IX. Upcoming Events
Please email upcoming events — conferences, symposiums, seminars, webinars, etc. to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
EAC Election Data Summit — EAC will host an election data summit to discuss how good data can help elections run better. Attendees will include a broad spectrum of election researchers, state and local government election officials and representatives from leading non-profit election organizations. Agenda details will soon be posted here. Where: American University, Washington, D.C. When: August 12 and 13. For more information, 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
X. 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.
California Program Coordinator, Civic Engagement, NALEO, Los Angeles — California Program Coordinator for Civic Engagement will provide support to the NALEO Educational Fund’s Civic Engagement program work across California. This includes providing program, logistical and administrative support as needed for the implementation of the department’s naturalization promotion and assistance, voter engagement, and capacity building programs. The Program Coordinator will be responsible for oversight of community-focused initiatives; organization of and responsibility for NALEO Educational Fund technical trainings and community events; development/use of program assessment tools and implementation of program improvements; management, training, and engagement of regional volunteers; reporting on California-based civic engagement activities; effective and professional management of external partner relationships; and other programmatic and administrative support for the team as needed. Salary: $16.00-$18.00 per hour. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Clerk-Recorder Services Specialist, Contra Costa County, California— specialist performs the most complex and technical support activities associated with the responsibilities of the Clerk-Recorder Division, plan, coordinate and direct/lead the day-to-day work activities of subordinate staff and ensure that proper procedures are followed while performing those activities. The ideal candidate will possess knowledge and understanding of the County Clerk and Recorder functions. Working knowledge of the principles and practices of work organization and the ability to apply them in planning, coordinating and completing work activities to meet specific deadlines is a must. Salary: $3,910-$4,752. Deadline: July 24. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Deputy Election Coordinator, Boulder County, Colorado —position is a member of the leadership team and instrumental in strategic planning for the Elections Division and the Clerk and Recorder’s Office. This position is accountable for the execution of compliant, accurate, fair and transparent elections for a county of 200,000 voters. The person in this position will ensure the integrity and accuracy of the processes in accordance with federal and state laws, Secretary of State rules and Clerk and Recorder policies. This position will report directly to the Clerk. The ideal candidate must have the ability and desire to serve the public and Boulder County. He or she has extensive experience and competency in planning, coordinating and implementing many projects that span multiple months, with complicated steps and hard deadlines. A background in project management or process management and the ability to drive a project from inception to completion through teams is essential to the success of this role. The ideal candidate is experienced with compliance related processes and comfortable reading statutes and rules to ensure compliance. In addition to strong project management skills, he or she must want to develop and lead a team of 11 permanent staff members and hundreds of temporary workers. The ideal candidate has experience and enjoys both creating teams and managing projects. Attention to detail and timelines is critical as elections are a dynamic and ever changing environment. He or she is competent in ensuring outcomes are met and reporting tools and documentation are accurately and fully completed. This position will require, extensive overtime, nights and weekends during election seasons. This often entails working odd hours during election cycles in an exciting and sometimes stressful environment. Salary: $81,000-$100,000. Deadline: July 28. Application. For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Elections Management Analyst, New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office, Santa Fe — position conducts research and analysis regarding best practices for the administration and implementation of the election code. Prepares plans and writes guidelines, documentation, and rules for areas related to the Election Code. Develops operational procedures and guidelines related to administering the election code and provides county clerks appropriate guidance and documentation on election related activities. Minimum Qualifications: Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and two (2) years of experience in the procedures of business and managements principles involved in strategic planning. Any combination of education from an accredited college or university in a related field and/or direct experience in this occupation totaling six (6) years may substitute for the required education and experience. Salary: $31,782.40-$55,307.20 annually. Deadline: July 22, 11:59 pm. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Elections Services Specialist, Contra Costa County, California — position is assigned to one of the functional unites of the elections division. Position performs the most complex and technical support activities associated with the preparation for and the conduct of elections; performs database managements in one or more database systems; and has lead responsibility over the Elections Services Technicians and unit clerical staff. Ideal candidate will possess knowledge and understanding of the entire election process cycle and the interrelationships of each section of the Elections Division. Salary: $3,910-$4,752 monthly. Deadline: July 24. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Elections Technology Specialist III, Boulder County, Colorado — position will perform a variety of complex and specialized tasks associated with elections management, elections processing systems and the statewide voter registration system. The position is responsible for the implementation and results of related processes, as well as related procedural development, training and technology support, while ensuring compliance with elections rules, laws and policies. This role requires varying degrees of process management and supervisory support of temporary employees, as well as a high level of initiative, attention to detail, collaboration, problem-solving and analytical ability. Ability to work effectively under pressure while remaining positive and flexible is also key to success. This position requires additional hours; evenings, weekends, and some county holidays as needed during election cycles. Salary: $52,572-$75,696. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
General Registrar, Fairfax County, Virginia — The Fairfax County Electoral Board, serving Fairfax County (population 1.1 million), the largest locality in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and a suburb of Washington, D.C., is currently recruiting qualified candidates with exceptional senior leadership and management experience for the position of General Registrar to serve a four-year term. With close to 700,000 registered voters, and using advanced technology, the incumbent will be responsible for the oversight of a large and complex non-partisan voter registration and election administration agency. Duties include adherence to Virginia Code Sec. 24.2, and other federal, state and local codes; and management of the Office of Elections, an office with approximately 28 full-time, 200 temporary and 3,700 Election Officer employees. This is an executive management position that reports to the Fairfax County Electoral Board. Specifically, the General Registrar oversees the day-to-day operations of the Office, which is responsible for the registration of voters, the conduct of elections, and other related activities. The General Registrar is also responsible for formulating policies and procedures for carrying out the Office’s goals and objectives, and suggesting and implementing changes in methods and procedures to improve operations. Salary: Negotiable. Deadline: July 31. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Hotline Operator, Civic Engagement, NALEO, Los Angeles, California — NALEO Educational Fund seeks motivated individuals to staff its national bilingual hotline. The Hotline Operator will be responsible for answering calls, documenting calls and assisting individuals with basic non-legal information and local referrals related to U.S. citizenship, elections and administrative relief programs. Duties also include, but are not limited to recording all call details in a simple database, following up on pending calls and retrieving voicemail as instructed. This is an entry-level, part-time/temporary position. Work hours will vary and may range from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. (PST) Monday through Friday. Salary: $12.00 per hour. Application. For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
IT Coordinator, Bowen Center for Public Affairs, Dept. of Political Science, Ball State University — administer and coordinate all activities related to the computer operations and databases created and maintained by the Voting system Technical Oversight Program (VSTOP) in the Bowen Center for Public Affairs; work with the co-directors and other staff of the project; provide professional and technical advice in the areas of maintaining and integrating databases and web-based interfaces; maintain responsibility for all database operations; update protocols used in the testing of voting equipment and related peripherals and provide oversight on field tests of voting equipment. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
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There are still items available for purchase from Yavapai County Arizona’s previous Diebold system. Most notably, Accu-Vote Precinct Packages, which are $35.00 and include 1 Scanner w/ key, transfer case & power cord. This is good news for Jurisdictions who may be interested in AVOS central count machines, as vendors have indicated that they are still selling the EPROMS that turn AVOS precinct counters into central count machines (see vendor for details). Other items still available for purchase include: 128K Accu-Vote Memory cards ($25.00), 32K Accu-Vote Memory cards ($25.00), and TSx PCMCIA Memory cards ($25.00). Equipment is being sold as-is on a first come, first served basis until all items have been liquidated. Interested parties may send a request for more information to: email@example.com. Please be sure to include in your email: Contact Name, State, County, and phone number.