In Focus This Week
I. In Focus This Week
Keeping up with technology
CTCL offers three ways to keep your elections office current
By Whitney May, director of government services
Center for Technology and Civic Life
“How did you get started in election administration?” is my favorite question for election officials.
I’ve heard from dozens of folks who entered the profession by accident, on a dare, and via other local government departments like the tax office, microfilm, or accounts receivable.
For me, election administration came by way of a goat farm and a manure spreader.
When I started as an Election Specialist III for the Durham County Board of Elections in August of 2007, I knew that I wanted to do a good job for my county. But I wasn’t sure of the exact steps to make that happen.
I had no idea how the precinct official appointment process worked or what provisional ballots were. But I was clear on my commitment to learn the law and to be helpful to the community. Some may call that dedication. My parents called it stubbornness.
As a new county employee, I had zero formal training on how to be an election administrator. After starting, I attended conferences each year, where I listened to state election officials, other local administrators, and academics speak about voter registration databases and election legislation.
When it came to our election website, data tools, and social media outreach, I was learning on the job, often by trial and error. Sadly, the Field Guides from the Center for Civic Design didn’t exist then. And so I just did my best, reading electionLine every morning and hoping not to see a news story about Durham County.
Technology didn’t tackle all of our challenges at the election office, but it did streamline important processes, including precinct official payroll. I spent a lot of my time at the election office wrestling with Microsoft Excel and our county website platform. I imagine many election officials have similar grievances.
Frustration with technology can be disheartening and can interfere with delivering services to voters and other stakeholders. That’s why we started the ELECTricity network in 2013 and, most recently, why we launched the first-of-its kind training for local election officials.
Our goal is to teach local election officials tech skills so they can run the best elections for their jurisdiction. One way we do that is through ELECTricity’s professional development program in building and maintaining an election website.
Following the success of the election website pilot project in 2014 and online prototype testing earlier this year, we created new learning opportunities for local election officials who want to build an effective election website with a modern look and feel.
2016 is around the corner. Find the training that best fits your office’s needs and register soon. We offer three different learning approaches to choose from:
- Tailored training at your election office
- Online workshops this fall and winter (limited space)
- Self-paced online course
Currently nine jurisdictions across the country have completed the training and are using our website template to publish their election information and connect with voters online. Are you ready to gain new skills and modernize your website in advance of the 2016 elections? Sign up for a tech training today.
Technology is for everyone — from rural to urban jurisdictions, from senior administrators to newbies. We believe that all election officials who are committed to learning new skills to improve their jurisdiction should have the opportunity to do so. Because we are a nonprofit organization, we can cover some or all training costs for offices that qualify.
Contact me to learn more: (919) 799-6173 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Election News This Week
II. Election News This Week
- This week, Connecticut Secretary of State Denise Merrill announced the launch of a state-mandated training program for registrars. Classes, which will be conducted by the University of Connecticut, begin on Monday and will be available via life video feeds. “We want there to be a certain standard across the state. Every voter should have the same experience in every town,” Merrill said at a press conference announcing the program. According to the Republican-American, cost of the training will be about $1,600 and be covered by local jurisdictions.
- With three recent resignations, including that of Director Kathy Jones, leaving only one employee in the Brown County, Ohio board of elections, the secretary of state’s office is stepping in to make sure the county is ready for upcoming elections. While there are now two people in the office, the director and deputy director positions remain open. Secretary of state employees have been meeting with the staff to make sure they are meeting pre-election deadlines.
- In an effort to move polling places out of schools, elections officials in Pawtucketville, Massachusetts may have created more problems than they solved. Less than a month before the September 29 preliminary city election, the town announced new polling locations to replace two schools. Voters immediately expressed concerns about accessibility and parking forcing the election commission to go back to the school polling place for the upcoming election. Officials will revisit the issue following the preliminary election.
- While September’s big voting holiday — National Voter Registration Day — isn’t until the 22nd, another elections-related holiday is next week (Sept. 17) and the Bainbridge State College Honors Program and the Decatur County, Georgia board of elections and vote registration plan on celebrating Constitution Day with a number of events including panel discussions, a quiz on the U.S. Constitutions, demonstrations on how the use the county’s touchscreen voting machines, a voter registration drive and a mock election.
- Personnel News: Eustis Mayor Michael Howland has pre-filed to run for the Lake County, Florida supervisor of elections seat. Donna Morrison has retired as the Newton County, North Carolina board of elections director. She was on the job for nine years. Angela Mantle, assistant director, will take over as director. Tommy Doyle, a Florida businessman has joined the race for Lee County supervisor of elections. Marisa Crispell has returned as the Luzerne County, Pennsylvania elections director. Donna Johnson is the new Montgomery County, North Carolina board of elections director. State Sen. Corey Stapleton (R) has announced his intentions to seek the secretary of state seat in Montana.
- In Memoriam: Andrew Kohut, founder of the Pew Research Center, died this week. He was 73. Mr. Kohut founded the Pew Research Center in 2004 and served as its president until his retirement in 2013. Before Pew, Mr. Kohut was the president of the Gallup Organization from 1979 to 1989 and founded the Princeton Survey Research Associates. “As good as he was at writing questionnaires — arguably the hardest and most important part of the survey process — he was a genius at crafting a story about data that brought the evidence to bear with a minimum of words, using sharp declarative sentences that elevated the important findings out of the thicket of numbers,” Scott Keeter, director of survey research for the Pew Research Center told The New York Times. Mr. Kohut is survived by his wife, two children, one grandchild and his sister.
III. Legisltive Updates
California: AB363 is awaiting Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature. If signed, the legislation will allow elections officials to start transporting ballots from polling places to central counting locations at mid-day, rather than waiting to transport all the ballots when the polls close. Officials believe transporting ballots mid-day will save on costs and help results be released faster.
Also this week, the Assembly approved AB44 that will allow the governor to order a state-funded recount if any statewide ballot measure or elected office in which the margin of victory is extremely small. The recount would have to be done by hand. The bill now heads to Gov. Brown.
IV. Legal Updates
Alabama: Robert Kennedy, Jr. has been convicted of voting obstruction and possession of firearms at certain places for illegally wearing, in open view, a holstered pistol to a polling site in Pelham, Alabama during the November 2014 general election. According to AL.com, Shelby County District Court Judge Daniel A. Crowson, Jr. sentenced Kennedy to 30 days in jail but suspended it 24 months and placed him on unsupervised probation.
Arizona: Secretary of State Michele Reagan has filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court regarding the pending redistricting case. According to the Arizona Daily Star, Reagan aligned herself with Republicans who want the Court to rule the state’s independent redistricting commission acted unconstitutionally.
Nevada: According to The Associated Press, the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals overturned a lower court’s move to dismiss a lawsuit against Nevada’s public assistance offices. The suit was filed by the NAACP and the National Council of La Raza and charged that the agency was not doing enough to register low-income clients to vote. The case will now be reassigned to another judge.
Ohio: Federal Judge Michael Watson has granted the Ohio Democrats request to join a lawsuit filed by the Ohio Organizing Collaborative in the spring over the state’s new voting rules.
V. Tech Thursday
California: With more and more voters voting by mail and the state possibly moving to all vote-by-mail in years to come, San Francisco is trying to figure out how to replace it’s aging voting machines. Earlier this summer, John Arntz, the city’s director of elections, put out a request for information inviting companies to bid on an upcoming contract. The RFI lists dozens of preferences the city has for a new system including the ability to use ranked choice voting. “We don’t want to end up with a bunch of equipment that we don’t need anymore,” Arntz told The San Francisco Chronicle.
Iowa: Although the county’s voting equipment is less than 10 years old, Black Hawk County, Iowa is on the market for new equipment due to the increased demand for absentee ballots. “We’re getting to the point where, in the general election, we’re close to half our ballots being voted absentee,” Auditor Grant Veeder told the Globe Gazette. “The current system we use doesn’t have a central counting device, so we have to use precinct tabulators not built for this kind of volume.”
Louisiana: Secretary of State Tom Schedler, who officially qualified for re-election this week, announced his intentions of bringing iPad voting to the Pelican State in the next two or three years. In addition to iPad voting — which would, among other things, allow voters to complete their ballot ahead of time on a mobile app and then transfer that information to an election machine, Schedler said he is also looking into moving to a vote center model.
Opinions This Week
VI. Opinions This Week
National Opinions: Voting machines
Arizona: Cochise County
California: Marin County
Florida: Accessible voting machines | Emogene Stegall | Ballot collection
Indiana: Ballot selfies
Kansas: Suspended voters, II | Kris Kobach, II
Michigan: Voter fraud
New York: Voter registration
Montana: Voting Rights Act
Pennsylvania: Online voter registration, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII | Online voting
Tennessee: Poll workers
Texas: Vote centers | Turnout
Utah: Vote by mail | Utah County
VII. 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.
VIII. Upcoming Events
Please email upcoming events — conferences, symposiums, seminars, webinars, etc. to email@example.com.
America’s Voting Technology Crisis: Preparing for 2016 and Beyond— NPR Correspondent Pam Fessler and the Brennan Center’s Lawrence Norden will discuss the current state of voting machines in America with Edgardo Cortes, Neal Kelley, and Doug Lewis. When: Thursday September 17 at 12pm. Where: National Press Club, Washington, D.C. 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.
Give Us the Ballot: A Book Talk with Ari Berman — The Brennan Center will host a book talk with Ari Berman, discussing his new book, “Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America.” Where: Lipton Hall, NYU School of Law-New York City. When: October 15. For more information and to RSVP, click here.
NASS Winter Conference: The National Association of Secretaries of State will hold its 2016 Winter Conference at the JW Marriott in Washington, D.C. February 10-13, 2016. Details are still in the works, so be sure to check the NASS website for more information.
Job Postings This Week
IX. 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 firstname.lastname@example.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 Executive Director, Campaign Finance Administration, New York City Campaign Finance Board — position reports directly to the Executive Director and manages the units charged with administering the agency’s nationally recognized small donor matching funds program. Responsibilities: Supervise the heads of the Auditing and Accounting, Candidate Services, and Special Compliance units. These units provide guidance to candidates, make recommendations to the Board for public matching funds payments, audit campaigns’ compliance with the Campaign Finance Act, oversee investigations into complex compliance issues, process complaints, and administer NYC’s doing business law and independent expenditure disclosure requirements. As supervisor, the Assistant ED; sets and oversees standards and goals for each supervised unit; ensures each supervised unit has the resources to meet agency’s business needs; assists unit heads with day-to-day management and staffing issues; support and facilitate inter and intra-unit communications and interactions; systematically build the capacity of the supervised units and promote a continuous improvement culture; participate in agency-wide strategic planning and decision-making as part of the executive team; and provide support to the Executive Director in dealings with the Board, as needed. Salary: $135K-$150K. Deadline: September 30. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Candidate & Voter Services Manager, Orange County, California — position is responsible for the overall and day-to-day planning, organizing and execution of all the candidate and voter services functions within the agency. The position requires a vision for the future, the ability to develop strong teams and an individual well versed in strategic planning and working in a multidisciplinary organization. This interesting and challenging position is responsible for managing the candidate filing process; services to the public such as vote-by-mail and military/overseas ballots; filing of recall, referendum and countywide initiatives petitions; acts as the filing officer for county, school district and special district measure documents for the sample ballot pamphlet and official ballot; supervises retirement board, Mello-Roos and LAFCO elections; acts as a liaison with Orange Co. city clerks, school districts and special districts; manages the compilation of the sample ballot pamphlet and proofreading the official ballot; supervises the handling of damaged or spoiled ballots. Position reports to the Registrar of Voters (executive), works closely with six managers on the operational team, and leads a team of six dedicated and skilled professional staff that assist in accomplishing the ROV mission and vision. Salary: $73,777- $131,123. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Communications Specialist II, King County, Washington — position reports to the Department of Elections’ Communication and Strategic Planning Manager under minimal supervision and is responsible for researching, writing, designing and creating communication to inform voters, stakeholders and others about all aspects of elections in King County. This includes media contacts, public relations and/or public involvement, as well as the design and development of information for the website, social media, and other communications materials for both internal and external audiences. As a Communications Specialist, you will work on a team to provide high profile communications by inspiring and capturing creative ideas, continually improving customer satisfaction and lead responsibilities for supporting the communication needs of alternate language populations. The person in this position must also be capable of working collaboratively maneuvering through sensitive situations effectively, relating well to customers at all levels both internal and external to the organization.Salary: $28.87-$37.87 hourly. Deadline: September 14. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Elections Manager, Cowlitz County, Washington — position manages voter registration and administers all elections in Cowlitz County, Washington. The Elections Manager trains and supervises permanent and temporary staff responsible for preparing and conducting elections, voter registration maintenance and other duties needed to comply with statutes and deadlines. The Elections Manager resolves election issues, whenever they occur, to ensure elections and voter registration activities are not obstructed. Salary: $4,156. Deadline: Open until filled. 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.
Director of Elections, Forsyth County, North Carolina — position is the department head appointed by the Forsyth County Board of Elections. The position works in a fast-paced environment and utilizes a thorough knowledge of procedures and policies set forth by the State Board of Elections and the General Statutes for registration, voting and reporting the results elections. The position requires the ability to interpret and apply election laws and regulations; the ability to train and supervise others effectively and to maintain an effective working relationship with employees; the ability to establish and maintain good working relationships with precinct officials and representatives of news services and the ability to deal courteously with the general public. Deadline: September 17. 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.
Program Manager II, Medford County, Oregon — career opportunity for an experienced manager with a background in Elections Administration to join our team. The ideal candidate will be a confident team leader who possesses a proven track record of integrity and a commitment to excellence. Plans, organizes, and manages the development, implementation, and on-going operation of moderately sized program or several small specialized programs. Initiates and implements management activities within program area; prepares and administers budget for the program; and provides leadership and support to staff. Salary: $65,603-$83,720. Deadline: Open Until Filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Senior Associate, Election Initiatives, Pew Trusts, Washington, D.C. — Pew Charitable Trusts is seeking to hire a Senior Associate to work on the Voting Information Project (VIP) initiative. The Senior Associate will be expected to contribute at multiple levels, such as implementing VIP’s state assistance strategies, managing technology vendors, and leading outreach to state partners. This position will require autonomous work and creative thinking in managing relationships with our state partners. The position will be based in Pew’s Washington, DC office and will report to the Election Initiatives Project Director. It is expected that this position is for a term period through June 30, 2017, with the possibility of an extension pending the success of the program, funding sources and board decisions on continued support. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Trial Attorney, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, D.C.— trial attorneys selected for these positions will be responsible for developing investigations and litigation addressing all aspects of the Voting Section’s enforcement duties. Responsibilities include: (1) planning and conducting investigations to assess potential violations of the federal laws enforced by the Voting Section; (2) analyzing and evaluating data and evidence, including witness statements, documents, electronic databases and records, demographic and geographic data, election records, historical evidence and statistical studies; (3) researching factual and legal issues, including likely defenses and counter-arguments; (4) preparing written recommendations for further investigation and/or litigation and drafting pleadings; (5) litigating cases, including conducting pre-trial written discovery, electronic discovery and depositions, drafting motions, briefs, and other court filings, working with expert witnesses, trial preparation and conducting hearings and trials; and (6) drafting settlement proposals, preparing for and participating in settlement negotiations, and monitoring compliance with consent decrees and other settlements. In addition, trial attorneys participate in monitoring elections around the country and may conduct administrative reviews of voting changes under the Voting Rights Act. Salary: $76,378-$158,700. Deadline: September 18. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
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Konnech, Inc. is offering free use of the ABVote Voter Information Platform to any United States election jurisdiction that wants to participate. hThis free service is used by the Lieutenant Governor of Alaska to serve the State’s voters and it has also been deployed for several large counties and cities in the lower 48 States. The Platform works on computer browsers as well as iOS and Android smart phones and tablets. Using a residential address, it calculates the precinct and ballot style, reminds voters upon request of election day via email or push notices, displays their sample ballots, lists their polling place/vote center with hours, ID requirements, address, and Google route map, provides the jurisdiction contact information, and provides the forms to request voter registration, absentee ballot, and/or FPCA. Since the free voter information platform calculates this information based on the residential address, it does not interface to the voter registration database and does not require the voter to enter any personal identifying information.The site carries no advertising, does not sell any information to anyone, and does not collect user information. There is no cost to administrators or to voters.Contact Laura Potter at Konnech, firstname.lastname@example.org, 517-381-1830.