In Focus This Week
I. In Focus This Week
March for Our Lives nets thousands of new voters
State and local elections offices and nonprofits work the crowds
By M. Mindy Moretti
On Saturday, the March for Our Lives took place in dozens of cities throughout the United States and the world. At most of those events, voter registration was as important as the speakers and performers on the stage.
State and local elections officials, as well as national nonprofits that work in voter registration worked at rallies from coast to coast.
HeadCount, a nonprofit that’s registered about 500,000 new voters since 2004, mostly at music events, partnered with Voto Latino, the Hip Hop Caucus and others to register voters in several cities including at the main march in Washington, D.C.
According to Tappan Vickery, volunteer coordinator for HeadCount, the groups 2,000 volunteers registered more than 4,800 voters nationwide during the March for Our Lives.
“This was spot on for our target,” Vickery said. “We didn’t really know what to expect, and are really proud of our volunteers’ work.
In DC, there were about 800 volunteers who went through an hour-long training on voter registration before spreading out through the crowd that some estimated to be around 800,000 people. There were six drop-off points for volunteers to return the completed forms.
According to Vickery, all the forms are submitted to HeadCount’s central office in New York the next business after the event via FedEx.
“From there, we centrally process the forms pursuant to our arrangements with the states—send to state, county, municipality, etc.,” Vickery explained. “Every major election year we check with all the state offices to confirm our procedure prior to kicking off field operations.”
Volunteers tell the new registrants to expect their voter registration card in the mail in four to six weeks, or they can go to HeadCount’s website to verify their voter registration through their state’s website.
“If they do not get confirmed through either method, we ask them to let us know and we will follow up for them,” Vickery said.
When possible, HeadCount works with the state-specific voter registration form, but also has the national mail voter registration form on hand too. Volunteers were given a fact sheet so they knew what information registrants needed to complete and what states they could not register voters for — New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Texas and Wyoming. New Hampshire, North Dakota and Wyoming do not accept the national mail voter registration form, and the registration laws in Texas and New Mexico, where there is a 48-hour turn-around time for signatures, are too burdensome to overcome for large events like this
“Having the federal form delivers value to where local orgs only use local – for example, in Nashville, Tennessee, there were multiple voter reg orgs but we were the only group with the federal form and registered 100 people in 17 states,” Vickery said.
Although 74 percent of the states now offer online voter registration, Vickery said HeadCount still largely relies on paper for their process.
“We are implementing tablets in the field in states, such as Colorado and Wisconsin, where so much accessibility is determined by their online systems,” Vickery said. “However, at many of our events, especially festivals, have limited or no Wi-Fi or cell services, paper is always going to have a major role in our efforts.”
With personal security at the forefront, Vickery said HeadCount works hard to ensure that the information gathered from voters is secure. Volunteers are asked to turn in completed forms every 30 minutes and the forms are always in custody and control of team leaders.
According to Sam Mahood, spokesman for the secretary of state’s office, the Sacramento office completed 119 registrations/pre-registrations and the Los Angeles office, which partnered with the Los Angeles County registrar’s office and Yvote registered/pre-registered 125 voters.
“Young people have consistently lag behind in both voter registration and voter turnout rates. Secretary Padilla wants to change that because our democracy is stronger when more citizens participate,” Mahood said. “It has been clear that many young people are engaging in our electoral process in the wake of the Parkland shooting. We had already seen a recent spike in pre-registration. The March for Our Lives event was geared towards young people and receiving a lot of attention. It made sense for our office to provide nonpartisan voter registration and pre-registration opportunities to the many, predominantly young, people who would be in attendance.”
Mahood said that with a state as large as California, they receive voter registration forms, including the federal form, on a constant basis.
“Many groups get California specific voter registration forms from our office or county registrars ahead of big events, so we do not have many issues. Completed federal forms are acceptable. Federal forms get mailed to our office, and these forms do not include a field for voter’s county, so there can be a slight delay in processing time,” Mahood said.
In addition to the national efforts in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, the DC Board of Elections participated in the event as well.
“DCBOE is committed to reaching our youngest voters and getting them registered for the 2018 election cycle,” said Rachel Coll, acting public information officer for the DCBOE. “We have held several registration drives at local high schools specifically for that reason. Given the projected high numbers of young people in attendance at the MfOL Rally, DCBOE hoped to engage large numbers of young eligible District residents.”
Coll, who worked the rally along with Policy Advisor Terri Stroud and Voter Outreach and Education Coordinator LaDwane White said they did have a few non-DC folks approach them about registering, but they pointed them in the direction of their home state’s voter registration. Although DCBOE didn’t register a large number of voters, attending the event was worthwhile.
“While we didn’t register many voters, we did have an opportunity to update voter registration information for several voters,” said Rachel Coll, acting public information officer for the DCBOE. “Additionally, individuals stopped by our table to ask questions about upcoming elections, pick up information, and thank us for attending the rally.”
In Massachusetts, the secretary of state’s office coordinated with march organizers and registered about 400 to 500 new voters.
“I’m very pleased we did it. I think it was a great opportunity to transfer [demonstrators’] energy and concern into practical action,” Secretary of State William Galvin told the Boston Globe.
Volunteers maned a table by the entrance to Boston Common where the march was held and also fanned out through the crowds. Galvin told the paper that Saturday’s event was the largest haul of new voters from one event he could remember.
The League of Women Voters worked the crowds in New York City along with HeadCount. Diane Burrows, vice president of the League told NBC News that her group sent out 45 volunteers with clipboards and voter registration forms. Burrows told the network the day after the march that the League had registered more than 150 voters with forms expected back later in the week.
“The engagement has really increased and I think it’s an awareness,” Burrows told NBC. “People are really understanding the power of the vote and that’s what’s really motivating a lot of them. They’re figuring out the importance and power of civic engagement.”
II. Federal-State Updates
According to Cyberscoop, a bipartisan group of lawmakers from the Senate Intelligence Committee have reintroduced legislation to bolster election cybersecurity.
The purpose of the original Secure Elections Act is intact: to facilitate communication between the federal government and the state and local offices that run elections, to expedite security clearances for those officials and to provide financial support for state election infrastructure. Changes include making funding available to local election jurisdictions and create an election security advisory panel, among other things.
U.S. Election Assistance Commissioner Matthew Masterson, who was not reappointed by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) for another term has landed a new gig at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Masterson will join DHS as a senior cybersecurity advisor.
Election News This Week
III. Election News This Week
Following ballot issues in the November 2017 election that gained worldwide attention, the Virginia State Board of Elections voted to update its ballot standards. According to the Virginia Pilot, now all ballots will include these instructions: “if you want to change a vote or if you have made a mistake, ask an election worker for another ballot. If you make marks on the ballot besides filing in the oval, your votes may not be counted.” Other recommendations included allowing candidates to include familiar nicknames instead just their full legal name, a more readable font size and having ovals instead of boxes. Researchers say that with boxes, voters are more likely to make a different mark, such as an “x” or a check.
A supplemental budget request has been submitted to the King County, Washington council for $381,000 to cover the cost of return postage for ballots in the 2018 primary and general elections. King County Executive Dow Constantine submitted the funding request. “When I was elected, one of my commitments was to remove barriers to voting,” said Wise in a county news release. “As we increase access with prepaid postage and ballot drop boxes, we’re beginning to see a real impact.” According to the Kent Reporter, the amount actually spent is reliant on voter turnout and method as voters may use either a drop box or return ballots by mail. The county will only incur a charge for prepaid postage when a voter specifically returns a ballot by mail.
Embattled Macomb County, Michigan Karen Spranger is out of job after St. Clair County Circuit Judge Daniel Kelly ruled she had lied about her residency therefore make her ineligible to be a candidate in 2016. Spranger claimed that a home in Warren, which media reports said was filled with “wall-to-wall garbage, feces and animals” was her home, but in his 17-page ruling Kelly said there is absolutely no proof of Spranger’s residency in Macomb County. According to the Detroit Free Press, controversy has surrounded her since she took office in 2017: she got kicked off her county computer for allowing non-county workers on it; fired her two top appointed deputies; sued the county over a litany of issues, and was named as a defendant in three other lawsuits, including a whistle-blower complaint in federal court filed by her former top aides. She was fined $100 for a county ethics violation; totaled her county car in a crash; filed a criminal complaint about the news media harassing her; and was caught on video pushing storage bins to a construction area before an office move she opposed. Spranger’s termination was effective immediately. Circuit Court Judge James Biernat appointed Kathy Brower, a longtime employee, as the temporary acting county clerk.
The votes are in and the winners of this year’s Lee County, Florida Supervisor of Elections Office’s 2018 Arts Vote Contest are two students from Cypress Lake High School. There were 26 entries in total and Supervisor of Elections Tommy Doyle, along with senior staff, judged the entries and selected winners in two categories- “Best Artwork” and “Most Original Artwork”. Paige Caldwell, a 10th grader, submitted the winning piece in the “Best Artwork” category and Hannah Gatof, a senior, submitted the winning piece in the “Most Original Artwork” category. “The 2018 Art Vote contest is part of the Lee County Supervisor of Elections efforts in engaging youth in the democratic process. This contest aligns during times which a new wave of youthful activism has swept Florida, in light of the recent Parkland school shooting,” officials told the Ft. Meyers Beach Observer.
Personnel News: At a recent meeting of the Arlington County, Virginia, Charlene Bickford was re-elected chairman, Scott McGeary secretary and David Bell vice chairman. Ross McDonald has been appointed the new Lake County, Ohio board of elections director. Kay Baum, Newton County, Missouri clerk is retiring after 24 years on the job. Peter Sullivan (D), a former state legislator and alderman from Manchester has entered the New Hampshire secretary of state’s race.
IV. Legislative Updates
Maryland: Marylanders will decide this November whether or not the state should allow election day registration. The Senate voted 33-14 to put the constitutional amendment on the ballot. The House already has passed it.
Also in Maryland, lawmakers have approved a bill that will move the state to an automatic voter registration system.
Minnesota: A bill that would have restored the voting rights to returning citizens upon release from incarceration was put on hold by the House Public Safety Committee. According to the Associated Press, that move most likely kills the bill for the current legislative session.
The Senate State Government Finance and Policy and Elections Committee has approved a bill that would prohibit Minneapolis, St. Paul and other Minnesota communities from using the ranked choice voting system. The vote was 5-4 along party lines. Secretary of State Steve Simon testified against the legislation. “I would hate to see the Legislature set a precedent of undoing or nullifying, in the case of those two cities, a popular vote where the citizens have spoken and they have said they want this system,” Simon said according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
Missouri: Sen. Bill Eigel (R-Weldon Springs) has proposed legislation that would eliminate electronic voting machines in the state and replace them with a paper ballot system.
Pennsylvania: Gov. Tom Wolf (D) has introduced the 21st Century Voting Reform Plan which is a series of bills that include no-excuse absentee voting, same-day voter registration and automatic voter registration through the state’s licensing bureau. The bill would also create an independent, bipartisan commission to create electoral maps.
V. Legal Updates
Arkansas: Jefferson Circuit Court Judge Phillip Green has ruled that Stu Soffer cannot serve on both the Jefferson County and state election commission. Soffer will have to resign from one of the boards, although which one remains unclear.
Colorado: U.S. District Court of Colorado Judge William J. Martinez has struck down a part of the voter-approved Amendment 71 which made it more difficult for people seeking to get a measure on the statewide ballot. Martinez ruled that requiring people hoping to get a constitutional amendment on the ballot to get signatures from at least 2 percent of the total number of registered voters in each of the state’s 35 Senate districts is unconstitutional.
Connecticut: Almost two months ago, the state Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s ruling that Bridgeport must conduct its mayoral primary for the third time. This week, the court released their detailed 26-page decision.
Florida: U.S. District Judge Mark Walker has given Gov. Rick Scott (R) and three of his cabinet members until April 26 to create a new system to restore voting rights to ex-felons in Florida. According to The Hill, Scott and his cabinet members need to create a system with “specific and neutral criteria to direct vote-restoration decisions,” and “meaningful, specific and expeditious time constraints.”
Indiana: Lawyers representing the Indiana State Conference of the NAACP and a group of Lake County voters are asking a federal judge to put on hold legal proceedings seeking to block the consolidation of Lake County’s small voting precincts.
Michigan: U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith has ruled that the special election to fill the congressional seat vacated by Rep. John Conyers will coincide with the November election as originally decided by Gov. Rick Snyder.
Mississippi: The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has filed suit against the state of Mississippi’s disenfranchisement clause which currently denies voting rights to about 180,000 residents, or 8 percent of the adult population.
Tennessee: The state Supreme Court has agreed to immediately take up an appeal that seeks to overturn a lower court’s ruling to dismiss a lawsuit challenging Nashville’s August mayoral election. Oral arguments will be heard on April 9.
Wisconsin: Dane County Circuit Judge Josann Reynolds has ruled that Gov. Scott Walker (R) must call special elections to fill two vacant seats in the Legislature. According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Reynolds determined that Walker had a duty under state law to hold special elections so voters could have representation in the Legislature. After losing an appeal in the state Court of Appeals, Walker announced that he would not appeal the case to the state’s Supreme Court.
VI. Tech Thursday
West Virginia: On May 8, the Mountain State will become the first state to allow Internet voting by blockchain. The option will be available to only a couple dozen military members and their families deployed to two different countries. The state will be using Voatz. According to Governing, Voatz’ technology works by recording votes on a blockchain, a cryptographic concept popularized with cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin. A voter’s identity is verified using biometric tools like a thumbprint scan, then they vote using a mobile device. Their vote is recorded on a “chain” containing all the votes cast, where each vote is mathematically “proven” by a third-party participant.
Opinions This Week
VII. Opinions This Week
Colorado: Secretary of state
Iowa: Ex-felon voting rights;
Maine: Ranked choice voting
Maryland: Automatic voter registration
Missouri: Election issues
New Jersey: Ex-felon voting rights
New Hampshire: Student voters
New Mexico: Straight ticket voting
North Carolina: State board of elections
Pennsylvania: Election security
Rhode Island: Early voting
VIII. Available Grants/RFPs/Awards
Charles T. Manatt Democracy Awards
The online nomination process for the International Foundation for Electoral Systems’ (IFES) 2018 Charles T. Manatt Democracy Award is now open! The Democracy Award is given annually to three individuals: a Republican, a Democrat, and a member of the international community. Nominations for the international recipient are open to the public and will be accepted through April 6, 2018. The three Democracy Awards are presented in a single ceremony each year. This year’s event will be held on September 24, 2018, at the Four Seasons Hotel in Washington, D.C. Submit your nomination here.
New Initiatives Grants in Election Science
The MIT Election Data and Science Lab invites applications for grants to fund systematic research on the conduct of elections in the United States. The Lab has allocated up to $100,000 in 2018 for grants, with individual grants capped at $20,000. Proposals will be judged by the significance of the research project; the project’s design, plan of work, and dissemination; the applicant’s qualifications; the relationship of the project to the Lab’s goal of encouraging research that is relevant to the improvement of elections; and the appropriateness of the budget request for the project’s requirements. Deadline for application is April 2. For the complete announcement and how to apply, click here.
IX. Upcoming Events
Election Security War Game: Testing Critical Infrastructure Designation: This year’s Symposium will kick off with a “war game” simulating an appellate argument that takes place in the fictional state of “Flichigan.” The moot tests the interplay of state and federal laws and constitutional provisions when it comes to securing our elections. Participants will then debrief the moot argument and discuss how law impacts state and federal efforts to protect election security. When: April 12. Where: Williamsburg, Virginia.
Standards Board Meeting: The U.S. Election Assistance Commission’s Standards Board will hold its 2018 meeting in Florida on April 18. When: April 18. Where: Coral Gables, Florida.
Election Center Special Workshop — The focus of this workshop will be Preparing for the Unexpected in the Voter Registration and Election Office. In addition, to the topics covered in the special workshop, several core curriculum in election administration and voter registration will be offered. When: April 25-29. Where: Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Election Center Professional Program Special Session — During May’s special session, the following core curriculum in election administration and voter registration will be offered: Enfranchisement, Enhancement & Enforcement – Modern Federal Election Law and Regulation: 1965-Present; Constitutions, Courts and Cases to 1965 – Early America to 1965 with focus on State and U.S. Constitutions; History I: Ancients to 17891; and History II: 1781 to Modern Era. When: May 7-12. Where: Auburn, Alabama.
2018 Election Mail Forum — The National Postal Forum will hold a one-day Election Mail Forum. At the forum, participants will hear from speakers, attend panel discussions on the Intelligent Mail barcode and discover how the USPS can be an election mail partner and how this can help better serve voters. Where: San Antonio, Texas. When: May 8.
NASS 2018 Summer Conference — Mark your calendars now for the National Association of Secretaries of State 2018 summer conference in the City of Brotherly Love. Check back soon for more information about the agenda. When: July 13-16. Where: Philadelphia.
2018 NASED Summer Meeting — Mark your calendars now for the National Association of State Election Directors’ 2018 summer meeting in the City of Brotherly Love. Check back soon for more information about the agenda. When: July 13-16. Where: Philadelphia.
NACo Annual Conference and Exposition — Mark your calendars now for the National Association of Counties Annual Conference and Exposition in Music City. Check back soon for more information about the agenda. When: July 13-16. Where: Nashville, Tennessee.
2018 iGo Annual Conference — Mark your calendars now for the International Association of Government Officials 2018 Annual Conference in The Biggest Little City in the World! Check back soon for more information about the agenda. When: July 16-21. Where: Reno, Nevada.
Election Sciences Reform and Administration (ESRA) — The conference brings together political scientists and other experts in election administration to develop rigorous empirical approaches to the study of how law and administrative procedures affect the quality of elections in the United States. Participants will identify major questions in the field, share new insights, foster collaboration between election administrators and election scientists, and connect senior and junior scholars. When: July 26 and 27. Where: University of Wisconsin-Madison.
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.
Account Manager (Florida) – ES&S — An Account Manager serves as the interface between customer service and sales with respect to the full array of ES&S product lines. Operating as the lead point of contact for any and all matters specific to customers within the assigned territory from initial implementation of new voting systems through each election cycle. Ultimately, Account Managers are responsible for building and maintaining long-lasting customer relationships, negotiating and promoting Account Management contracts and agreements to maximize profit, and acting as the overall liaison between the customer and internal team members. Account Managers partner with our customers to ensure their long-term success. The Account Manager role includes managing a portfolio of assigned customers, developing new business from existing clients and actively seeking new opportunities. Account Management responsibilities include developing strong relationships with customers, and connecting with key county/jurisdiction officials. Account Managers will liaise between customers and cross-functional internal teams to ensure the timely and successful delivery of our solutions and to proactively identify customer needs and improve the entire customer experience. In addition, Account Managers collaborate with our Sales team to achieve sales quotas and grow our business. Salary: $57K-$73K. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Deputy Registrar of Voters, Solano County, California— the Deputy Registrar of Voters provides support to the Assistant Registrar of Voters with planning, organizing and directing the daily operations of the Elections Division including developing goals and procedures, registration of voters, conducting primary, general and special elections; receiving and verifying nominations and citizen petitions, tabulating and certifying election results to the Secretary of State. Salary: $94,682-$115,086. Deadline: April 9. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Field Sales Director, Hart InterCivic — the Field Sales Director works primarily on the road and from a home office when he/she is not on business travel. The Field Sales Director is responsible for creating news sales with prospects and existing clients in a defined region. Today, this role is a single contributor and does not directly manage people. This position will report to the VP of Sales. Application: For the complete job listing an to apply, click here.
Field Support Engineer (Ohio), Clear Ballot — Oversee and perform installation, configuration and maintenance of Ubuntu servers and Windows desktop and laptop machines, local area network, related equipment and devices; become expert at installation and configuration of Clear Ballot Group software; respond to end user reported incidents, create and track incidents in a ticketing system; daily interaction with both local and remote users for needs gathering and problem analysis; provides technical leadership on a variety of highly specialized project-related activities requiring expertise in specific scientific/technical areas for digital voting systems. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Operations Technician, Clear Ballot — the Operations Technician’s primary duty is preparing, installing software, staging, and shipping equipment to customers. Additionally, the position manages an internal IT network and maintains inventory of company equipment. The successful candidate has all or some combination of experience with hands on hardware and software integration, IT, project management, procurement, logistics, and inventory management. This position reports to the Director of Field Operations. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Product Manager, Clear Ballot — the Product Manager position is a member of the Clear Ballot Product team. At Clear Ballot, the Product team is the hub around which all other functions orbit. The team manages the company’s product planning and feedback cycle, interacting and collaborating regularly with Customer Success, Engineering, Business Development, Compliance/Certification, Field Operations, and Executive Management. Clear Ballot Product Managers work on a multi-disciplinary product team which is assigned one of more of Clear Ballot products. As the customer representative on the product team, the Product Manager creates, prioritizes and represents product requirements to the product team. The Product Manager also the product team’s representative to stakeholders inside and outside of the organization. The Product Manager is often working with prospects and clients to gain insight, vet ideas, and present solutions. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Senior Manager, Technical Product Support (Denver, CO) – Dominion Voting Systems — Dominion Voting Systems is seeking a tech-savvy, passionate Senior Manager, Technical Product Support to join our team in Denver, CO! This position is responsible for strategically leading and developing a multi-state team of election technology software and hardware Product Specialists through a number of critical projects throughout the Western United States. Salary: Negotiable base + bonus & benefits. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Senior Technical Trainer, Clear Ballot — training courses and learning materials support users whose skills range the technical spectrum and include laypersons (pollworkers), election officials, and system administrators. Our small and growing documentation and training team has an immediate need for a new member with intermediate-to-senior experience in: Instructional design; Development of learning curricula; Production of training materials; Hands-on, customer facing training. Generally, the training department, technical staff, and operations staff provide training at the customer’s site. We need an instructional designer and trainer who can analyze the learners and materials, and establish an appropriately targeted learning program. The opportunity exists to develop computer based training as an enhancement to our learning curriculum. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
State Election Technology Associate, Clear Ballot— our growing team has an immediate need for a new member to manage testing, approval and certification campaigns of election technology in new states. This position works directly with State Government to test and approve voting systems. Certification and approval is key to success in the election systems domain. Diplomacy and empathy alongside professional and tactful communications are key contributors to smooth state certification campaigns of new election technology. All voting system components (ballot layout, in-person voting, absentee voting, results reporting and audit) and their associated documentation are certified by state agencies; evaluation is performed by demanding government laboratories. Requirements vary across the States; and these requirements are found in statute, Rule, by written and oral tradition, and sometimes are ambiguous and even unwritten. Attention to detail is paramount to success. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Systems Engineer, Clear Ballot — We are looking for a talented Systems Engineer who has both a technical and services/support background which enables them to quickly assess customer needs and offer value to Clear Ballot’s customers. The Systems Engineer will gain a deep understanding of how Clear Ballot’s products operate and their optimal configuration to build a streamlined installation process of the Clear Vote election system. The ideal candidate for this position can prioritize mission critical tasks and coordinate the implementation and expansion of our systems. They will be able to work directly with customers, display innovation, think conceptually and act tactically to build consensus around system installation and enhancement and meet deadlines. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
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