In Focus This Week
I. In Focus This Week
A case study on college poll workers
An in-depth look at the Chicago Program
By M. Mindy Moretti
Elections officials looking to improve efficiency on election day should look no further than the nearest college, university or community college according to a recent study of the college poll worker program in Chicago.
Among other things, the Student Leaders in Elections: A Case Study in College Poll Worker Recruitment found that recruiting college poll workers helps improve the transmission of election results, makes it easier to staff polling places in need because students aren’t married to a location and students who served as bilingual poll workers are more likely to serve in future elections.
The U.S. Election Assistance Commission has long supported the practice of college poll workers and one of the recommendations of Presidential Commission on Election Administration was for jurisdictions to recruit more college students as poll workers.
But how effective are they and given the notorious disinterest of Millennials, how do you recruit them? Following the PCEA recommendation, in 2014 and 2015, the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (CLCCRUL) set out to find the answers.
“…having read the PCEA report, we realized that we could help improve election administration and engage our target population through a program like this,” explained Ruth Greenwood, lead attorney, Voting Rights Project, CLCCRUL.
“The Chicago Board of Elections expressed interest in a college student program, so we took on the challenge to try to prove that a large college student program using modern technology — email and online signups, online trainings, etc. — could work effectively to engage our target demographic and to improve election administration.”
Chicago actually began the college poll worker program in 2000 with just 100 students and since 2006 as many as 1,700 college poll workers are at the polls during any given election. Last year — when the Board teamed up CLCCRUL — was the first time there was ever a forceful recruitment effort on campuses across the city.
For the study, CLCCRUL was responsible for recruiting students and developing relationships with the colleges and universities in Chicago while the Chicago Board of Elections Commissioners was responsible for training and assignment using the city’s existing mechanisms.
CLCCRUL used a variety of recruitment tools including emails, in-person recruitment at tables/booths at welcome events or in highly trafficked areas, flyers and posters, online job boards and presentation to classes and student groups to use a few.
They ended up receiving 3,535 applications with 1,578 students serving in at least one election and 500 who served more than once.
According to Greenwood, the most difficult part of the project was the lack of modernization at the board of elections — something that a board spokesman said the board was already working on before the study, but wasn’t ready yet in 2014/2015.
“We worked with them to ensure that the new system is as efficient as possible, including a fully online application process, online scheduling for training and placement on Election Day, additional optional online training modules, and a new position to be added at each polling place: Election Coordinator, who will have substantially more training and be able to trouble-shoot on multiple issues,” Greenwood said.
James P. Allen, communications director for the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners, said that it was an affirmation of sorts to see that the CLCCRUL independently was telling the board that this was something they need to implement.
Once the college poll workers were in place, the study found that efficiency increased by 32 percent in polling places where college students were working.
Allen said the city has always known that a combination of older judges and college-age poll workers work best, but the study helped shed light on that.
“This report, though,” Allen said, “was the first time that there was clear analysis that revealed a very clear and direct connection between the participation of younger poll workers and the faster, smoother reporting of results on Election Night.”
In addition, the study found that bilingual poll workers were more likely to serve as repeat poll workers and community college students were more likely to serve as repeat poll workers than they’re 4-year peers.
“We suspected that we could show that using tech-savvy college students would increase the efficiency at the polling place but were especially pleased that we managed to show that not only did community college students stay as engaged as other students, but they were actually more engaged,” Greenwood said.
This is was particularly exciting for Greenwood because many community college students are low-income and/or minority students.
“It is tough to find institutional ways to civically engage with 18-30 year old low-income people of color, but we have shown that targeting community colleges as much, or more than, 4 year colleges, is a way to focus on that target population,” Greenwood said.
The study had several recommendations for elections offices and policy makers including:
- Put everything online;
- Fund the EAC College Poll Worker Grant Program;
- Remove GPA requirements for poll workers;
- Allow students to serve without being registered voters;
- Allow non-citizens to serve as poll workers; and
- Allow students who serve as poll workers an excused absence from college classes.
In addition to a more efficient process, Greenwood is hopeful that programs such this will get the aforementioned disinterested Millennials, more actively engaged. A post-election survey found that 82 percent of participants would be willing to serve again and 89 percent said they were more likely to vote in the future.
“It would be great to get more data on this, so we strongly encourage all election jurisdictions to partner with community and 4-year colleges to conduct similar programs and to assess whether they lead to ongoing civic engagement by Millennials,” Greenwood said.
Election News This Week
II. Election News This Week
- Due to budget cuts, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency is cutting 31 part-time driver’s license offices and although Secretary of State John Merrill has said his office and local elections offices will work to make sure voters have the necessary photo ID to vote, advocates are concerned. In addition to local elections offices that can issue IDs, the state has a mobile ID unit that Merrill said will have visited every county by Oct. 31.
- According to an analysis by the Wichita Eagle, most of the people on Kansas’ suspended voter list are young and unaffiliated voters. The paper’s review found that 40 percent of the people on the list are under the age of 30 and more than half are unaffiliated with any party. Also, a grassroots organization, Vote Kansas, which reviewed the suspended list noted that there are active members of the military on the suspended list. [See Legal Updates form more news.]
- The Navajo Human Rights Commission is alleging that San Juan County, Utah’s move to vote-by-mail is disenfranchising members of the Navajo Nation because it closes rural polling places and eliminates translators that used to help voters with limited English skills.
- The November mayoral election in Telluride, Colorado will use instant runoff voting to choose the city’s next leader. In 2008 voters approved an initiative to use the voting mechanism, but the first time an election was eligible to use it, 2011, the winning candidate received more than 50 percent of the vote so the IRV system did not kick in. According to the Telluride Daily Planet, because there is not a state-approved machine that can count instant runoff ballots, Telluride election staff will have to manually count the ballots for mayor. The instant runoff ballot for the Telluride mayor will be a separate sheet.
- Let the ballot selfie controversies begin! Recently, a Fall River, Massachusetts candidate for mayor (and current city council member) posted a picture of his voted ballot on Facebook. When he started receiving phone calls complaining about his choices, he discovered that someone — he alleges a local television station reporter — blew up the image to show who he voted for, which is against Massachusetts law. The candidate—Jasiel Correia, II said that he didn’t intend for his choices to be shown and enlarging the photo was an act of exploitation.
- Late last week ES&S laid off 25 employees in management and administrative positions in order to hire more staff in customer service areas such as technicians that serve voting machines.
- Apparently where the sidewalk ends is in front of the Licking County, Ohio administration building. As part of a major reconstruction project the sidewalk in front of the county building is closing…just in time for early voting to start in the same building. To accommodate the sidewalk closure, elections officials are suggesting voters request their ballots by mail.
- Personnel News: Elizabeth Martin is the new Winchester, Virginia registrar of voters. Late last week Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley and others announced the 66 appointees to the Alabama Board of Registrars. Meghan Deal Hassler has been appointed the new Sebastian County, Arkansas election coordinator. Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey has announced that she will challenge U.S. Rep. John Conyers for his seat in 2016. Weber County, Utah Clerk Ricky Hatch was honored as the state’s county clerk of the year. Karen Patterson is the new Lynchburg, Virginia registrar of voters. Constance M. Hoverman has been appointed to the Van Wert County, Ohio board of elections. Theresa Brasco and Lisa Flanagan, the GOP registrar and deputy in Weston, Connecticut have both resigned.
III. Legislative Updates
Kentucky: A pre-filed bill—House bill 176—aims to amend Kentucky law that would direct most local option elections to held during regularly scheduled primary and general election days.
Massachusetts: During the November Town Meeting in Falmouth a proposal to allow legal town residents who are non-U.S. citizens to vote will be discussed.
Minnesota: The Minneapolis city council has approved an ordinance that will require landlords to provide their tenants with voter registration information when they move in. The ordinance was unanimously approved and goes into effect in March 2016.
North Carolina: The House and Senate have both approved legislation that would consolidate all of North Carolina’s primaries into one day — March 15. The bill next moves to Gov. Pat McCrory’s desk and according to the WTVD, he has not expressed whether or not he will sign it.
Pennsylvania: Bills that would automatically register to vote anyone eligible who obtains a driver’s license, would eliminate gerrymandering, would allow for vote-by-mail and would create no-excuse absentee voting have all been introduced by Democratic lawmakers.
Wisconsin: Gerald Nichol, chairman of the Government Accountability Board has sent a letter to lawmakers expressing his concerns about the Legislature’s plan to overhaul the state election board 13-months before a presidential election.
IV. Legal Updates
Alabama: The Alabama Supreme Court has reversed a lower court’s ruling that dismissed a case contesting the results of the 2013 Tuscaloosa school board election. The case focuses on 397 potentially illegal votes.
Arkansas: Protect Fayetteville, the organization that opposed a civil rights ordinance passed by voters in a special election, has filed a motion to dismiss the Washington County Election Commission as defendants in its lawsuit.
Iowa: An Iowa judge has upheld a state law that revokes felons’ voting rights. However, despite upholding the existing law, the lower court said that the state Supreme Court needs to sort out the confusion the upper court caused last year when it ruled not all felons are automatically disenfranchised.
Kansas: Voters have filed a federal lawsuit seeking to prevent Kansas from requiring proof-of-citizenship in order to register to vote and to prevent the state from removing “suspended” voters from the rolls. According to the Associated Press, the lawsuit against Secretary of State Kris Kobach argues that both the citizenship requirement and the voter purge violate the potential voters’ rights to due legal process.
New Mexico: According to the Albuquerque Journal, Sandoval County will pay $215,000 to attorneys representing three Rio Rancho Republicans who filed a federal lawsuit over the number of voting locations and machines assigned to the city. The county settled the lawsuit.
South Carolina: A candidate for Orangeburg city council is challenging the election after losing by one vote. After the unofficial results—which ended in a tie—were recounted and following a ballot hearing, Shirlan Mosley-Jenkins lost by one vote. The city’s election commission chose not to count a provisional ballot because the commission said the provisional ballot should have never been counted because the voter did not provide a valid reason for not having a photo ID.
Virginia: Attorneys representing the Commonwealth of Virginia have asked a federal judge to dismiss the lawsuit against the state’s voter ID law. The attorneys argue that the plaintiffs don’t have the standing to file the case.
Also in Virginia, according to SCOTUSblog, the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday told lawyers involved in a case on the constitutionality of a congressional election district in Virginia to file new briefs on whether the case can go forward. In the order, the court questioned whether current and former members of the House had a legal right to pursue their appeal.
V. Tech Thursday
Connecticut: The State Bond Commission has approved $6.7 million in funding for voting system upgrades statewide. In addition to accessible voting equipment for every voting place, the money will also cover software upgrades and high-speed scanners to automate post-election audits.
Mississippi: Hinds County will be among one of the first counties in the state to use a system that allows election workers to use a scanner to scan voters’ driver’s licenses in order to pull up their information in electronic poll books.
New Jersey: Monmouth County has launched a new website www.MonmouthCountyVotes.com to provide voters and residents in the county with a website dedicated to elections and voting system. The new site was a collaboration between the county board of elections, the county superintendent of elections and the county clerk.
Vermont: Effective Oct. 12, the secretary of state’s office will roll out an online elections management system that will allow Vermont residents to register online to vote, request absentee ballots and track personal voting information.
West Virginia: Effective Sept. 30, West Virginians can now register to vote and update their existing registration without ever leaving home. The state became the 25th state, plus the District of Columbia to allow voters to register online.
Opinions This Week
VI. Opinions This Week
Georgia: Voter registration
Indiana: Voter registration
Maryland: Montgomery County
Michigan: Instant runoff voting
New Hampshire: Online voter registration
New York: Voting system
North Dakota: Voter registration
Ohio: Two-party system
South Carolina: Special election
Texas: Voting system
Vermont: Online voter registration
Washington: King County
VII. Available RFIs/RFPs
If you would like to have your Request for Information or Request for Proposal listed in electionlineWeekly, please email it to email@example.com.
Request for Information — E poll books
The Rhode Island Department of Administration/Division of Purchases, on behalf of the Rhode Island Office of the Secretary of State is soliciting responses from qualified vendors to offer electronic poll books for the State of Rhode Island. The Department of State is interested in acquiring electronic poll books for use in the 2016 election cycle beginning with the April 26, 2016 Presidential Preference Primary in order to achieve the following goals:
- Accurate and up-to-date voter rolls on Election Day
- Shorter wait times at polling places on Election Day
- User-friendly check-in process for both voters and poll workers
- Reduced provisional voting
- Reduced printing costs
An overall more modern check-in system at polling places on Election Day
For the complete Request For Information, please click here.
Request for Proposals — Voting Equipment System
The Rhode Island Department of Administration/Division of Purchases has issued a Request for Proposals/Bid for a voting equipment system. The bid package and information concerning the bid is available here. The Closing Date & Time for this bid is October 30, 2015 at 10 a.m. (Eastern).
VIII. Available Funding/Partnership Opportunities
Erase the Line
Erase the Lineis looking for election officials who are interested in using data to better understand and improve their election-day logistics. A Data Team is a group of election workers who collect key data about operational details at polling places on Election Day. Data Teams measure lines and wait times at different stations, as well as the time needed for election workers to complete different processes, such as checking in a voter or setting up a ballot. The data will impart a precise understanding of your jurisdiction’s polling place operations and identify strengths and weaknesses. Over time, this information can reduce costs, eliminate wait times, build data sets for online tools, provide performance indicators and improve customer service. Erase The Line is looking for jurisdictions that want to tap into their operational analytics and help improve the data team process for the future. For more information or to find out how you can get involved, contact Lester Bird at the D.C. Board of Elections.Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 202.727.5407 Twitter: @EraseTheLine
The Foundation Center
The Democracy Fund and seven other foundations have formed a partnership to create a data visualization platform that maps out how foundations support democracy and political reform in the U.S. The tool, hosted by The Foundation Center, is the only known source of information on how foundations are supporting U.S. democracy and provides direct access to available funding data. The tool enables nonprofits to:
- Identify additional funding sources that are an appropriate fit for their work;
- Learn what funders and peers are doing;
- Better understand the priorities and practices of specific funders; and
- Build effective collaborations.
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 email@example.com.
Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights In America — the Center for American Progress and the American Constitution Society will host a panel discussion on the history of the Voting Rights Act and the Current state of voting rights in American: Where: Center for American Progress, 1333 H St., NW, Washington, D.C. When: October 6. For more information and to RSVP, click here.
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
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 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.
Elections Compliance Officer, New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office — position will work as an independent professional under the oversight of the State Elections Director to plan, implement, and oversee elections and election related activities in accordance with election law. This position will work with a broad constituency including political candidates/incumbents, county clerk staff, and the general public. This position is responsible for administering the Election Code in its statewide application and ensuring compliance with federal National Voter Registration Act, the Help America Vote Act and the Voting Rights Act. The employee will lead election related activities such as results canvass, clerk training, and process development and improvement. The employee is expected to work during all emergency/disaster situations and on all election days\nights, candidate filing days, and during canvass or recounts which may include significant and extended overtime hours. Salary: $31,782-$55,307. Deadline: October 8. 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.
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.
Researcher, CIRCLE, Medford, Massachusetts — seeking a full-time Researcher to conduct research and to help manage some of CIRCLE’s research and evaluation projects. Reporting to the Director of CIRCLE and based on the Medford/Somerville Tufts University Campus, the Researcher will work as part of the CIRCLE team on CIRCLE products and activities. The Researcher will also interact with a larger group of colleagues at Tisch College, and will be expected to participate in various college-wide initiatives such as college-wide events and assistance with student program evaluations. 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.
Senior Program Analyst, Clark County, Nevada — provides lead direction, training and work review to a programming project team; organized and assigns work, sets priorities, and follows-up and controls project status to ensure coordination and completion of assigned work. Provides input into selection, evaluation, disciplinary and other personnel matters. Gathers and analyzes information regarding customer systems and requirements and develops or modifies automated systems to fulfill these needs. Conducts feasibility studies and develops system, time, equipment and cost requirements. Using computer generated techniques, simulates hardware and software problems, tests and evaluates alternative solutions, and recommends and implements appropriate applications design. Develops program logic and processing steps; codes programs in varied languages. Plans and develops test data to validate new or modified programs; designs input and output forms and documents. Troubleshoots hardware and software problems, as needed, for customers, other agencies and information systems personnel. Writes program documentation and customer procedures and instructions and assists user departments and staff in implementing new or modified programs and applications; tracks and evaluates project and systems progress. Writes utility programs to support and validate adopted systems and programs. Confers with customer department staff regarding assigned functional program areas. Maintains records and prepares periodic and special reports of work performed. Maintains current knowledge of technology and new computer customer applications. Contributes to the efficiency and effectiveness of the unit’s service to its customers by offering suggestions and directing or participating as an active member of a work team. Uses standard office equipment in the course of the work; may drive a personal or County motor vehicle or be able to arrange for appropriate transportation in order to travel between various job sites depending upon departments and/or projects assigned. Salary: $58,760-$91,104 annually. Deadline: Open until filled. 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.