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September 20, 2018

September 20, 2018

In Focus This Week

CEIR voter registration database security report
Survey finds most states adopted best cybersecurity practices since ‘16

The Center for Election Innovation and Research (CEIR) has released a new report based on a survey of 26 states conducted between June and July of 2018 to assess the current state of security around voter registration databases (VRDBs).

The survey results, released ahead of National Voter Registration Day, show that immense progress has been made in securing voter registration databases since 2016, though significant room for improvement remains for states to strengthen their defenses against hacking attempts.

Voter registration databases have been a central focus of conversations around election security since the 2016 presidential election when several voter registration databases were scanned and at least one infiltrated by Russian operatives.

Amid concerns on the security and integrity of the upcoming midterms, the report provides a clear picture of the tangible improvements that have taken place to ensure voters can trust the democratic process this November.

The report finds that a significant majority of responding states:

  • Regularly train voter registration database users to detect cyber threats, like phishing
  • Consistently monitor for improper access to their database
  • Use secure HTTPS for websites with sensitive information
  • Employ tools to prevent distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks
  • Utilize recommended email protection tools
  • Back up their database daily – and regularly test the backup

However, states can do better when it comes to implementing more secure password requirements and further adopting multi-factor authentication.

“The survey shows just how much progress states have made since 2016 in key areas of cybersecurity to prevent, detect, and mitigate foreign interference,” said David Becker, executive director of CEIR.

CEIR is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization working to improve election administration through research, data, and technology. CEIR works with experts and election officials in every state and across the political spectrum to rebuild voter confidence in our elections and democracy, ensure all eligible voters can vote conveniently in a system with maximum integrity, and ultimately increase voter participation.

The survey consisted of 23 multiple-choice questions addressing three major areas of cybersecurity: (1) prevention, (2) detection, and (3) mitigation. The survey was sent to election officials in all fifty states and the District of Columbia. Of those, twenty-six states returned completed surveys.

Additionally, one state was able to contribute a small number of answers but declined to respond to most of the survey questions. That state’s answers are included in the analysis of the questions to which they responded. Three other states returned surveys which declined to answer any of the questions due to security considerations. Thus, those three states are disregarded in data-reporting and analysis.

This report details the results of the survey, while contextualizing the importance of certain security measures in maintaining a well-protected VRDB.

“There is no finish line in cybersecurity, so Congress and state legislatures will need to provide elections officials with a consistent funding stream to continue to improve their training and protocols around election cybersecurity,” Becker said.

To read the full report, click here.

(The Center for Election Innovation and Research is a grantee of the Democracy Fund although grant monies were not used to produce this report.)


Federal-State Updates

Late last week, the House Oversight Committee held a classified briefing on election security. According to The Washington Times, Chairman Trey Gowdy’s office reported that the Department of Homeland Security sent two top elections officials and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence sent officials that deal with Russia and Eurasia. The national intelligence officer for cyber issues of the ODNI was part of the briefing, as was the FBI’s Deputy Assistant Director Joe Bonavolonta and the Justice Department’s Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the National Security Division Adam Hickey.

“As we near midterm elections, we must take every step possible to safeguard our electoral process and ensure our fellow citizens have confidence in the security of elections,” Gowdy, R-S.C., said in a statement.


Primary Updates

New York: New York held the final primary of the 2018 election season on Thursday the 13th. In New York City, multiple voters reported problems with their names not appearing on voter rolls although they had recently voted. A larger turnout than expected in Erie County mean some polling places ran low on ballots. In Monroe County, officials are looking into how/why some voters were given the wrong ballot in Rochester. And in Orange County, paving near a polling place in Silver Lake was causing headaches for voters trying to park at the fire house and vote.

Research & Report Summaries

Research and Report Summaries are provided by Sean Greene. Greene has served as the director of research for the U.S. Election Assistance Commission and the Pew Center on the States Election Initiatives. He currently lives in Rome where he is studying Italian, drinking Moretti beer and still paying close attention to the administration of elections in the United States. He’s looking forward to casting his first ballot as a UOCAVA voter.

An Assessment of Minority Voting Rights Access in the United States – United States Commission on Civil Rights, September 2018: This report assesses minority voter access and evaluates the Department of Justice’s enforcement of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) since 2006, focusing on the time after the Supreme Court’s Shelby County v. Holder decision which held that provisions of the VRA unconstitutionally determined which jurisdictions needed federal government preclearance to change voting procedures. Findings include:

  • Laws and procedures like requiring photo ID at the polls, cutting back early voting times and locations, and closing polling places are impacting minority voting rights.
  • Without preclearance, elections have occurred under laws that were later found in court to be intentionally discriminatory against communities of color.
  • Enforcement and litigation under Section 2 of the VRA is an inadequate for protecting voting rights.

Election News This Week

A new poll from National Public Radio and Marist found that about 1 in 3 American adults think that a foreign country is likely to change vote tallies and results in the upcoming midterms. That being said. The majority of Americans think that efforts to make this year’s voting more secure are adequate, as 53 percent said they think the U.S. is either very prepared or prepared to keep the midterms safe and secure. Conversely, nearly 40 percent of Americans doubt that preparation. “There’s been so much saturation of [Russia] discussions,” Neal Kelley, the registrar of voters for Orange County, California told NPR. “You can’t help but have a segment of the population that’s going to feel that way. But the bottom line is, there have been so many things done since 2016, to prepare for 2018.”

Florence News: The impacts of Hurricane Florence on the 2018 midterm election still remain to be seen, but already the storm is causing angst. The North Carolina state board of elections & ethics enforcement said in a statement that it is communicating with elections officials in the state’s counties. The state has taken over sending ballots on behalf of some counties that are unable to do so because of flooding. Fortunately for Fairfax County, Virginia, which uses a printing plan in New Bern, North Carolina to print election ballots, the ballot arrived at the county elections office just a few days before the storm hit.

The Washington County, Ohio board of elections will be employing some special helpers on Election Day in November. The BOE has partnered with WASCO, Inc. and Ewing School, two nonprofits that work with adults with developmental disabilities. The six volunteers will serve as greeters at polling places. “We got the idea when we went to our summer conference and learned that another county with a similar set-up to WASCO and Ewing were having them volunteer,” Washington County Board of Elections Director Mandy Amos told the Marietta Times. “We thought maybe we could have them as volunteers too and they could greet people and show them around from when you check in to where you pick up your ballot, or they could hand out stickers, too.” Two volunteers interviewed by the Times said they were most excited to hand out “I Voted” stickers and we think that’s pretty awesome!

Everyone is going back to school! Recently the Livingston County, Michigan Human Services Collaborative held the “Accessible Voting For All” class that taught voters with disabilities and those who may need assistance how to cast their ballot this fall. Anne Richardson, director of the Arc Livingston told WHMI the class discussed issues like how to use voting equipment, the process, citizens’ rights, what to expect, and why it’s important to vote. About 45 people attended the class.

If you happen to be in Rhode Island between now and November 23, consider stopping by the State Archives in Providence to check out an exhibit called “Voting in Rhode Island: 380 years of ‘I voted’”. According to WPRI, the exhibit includes 19th and 20th century ballots and ballot readers and original 17th century documents about election results and the earliest legislation providing for proxy and absentee voting. There’s also an “I’m a Voter” selfie station is outside the state archives so voters can show their commitment to voting.

Maestro, or in this case Yara Shahidi and Jimmy Fallon, play us out please!

Personnel News: Walter Foeman, Miami, Florida city clerk has announced that he will retire as of December 31. Congratulations to former Milton, Wisconsin Clerk Nancy Zastro who was recently awarded the Wisconsin Municipal Clerks Association Lifetime Achievement Award. Denise Smith has been named to the Portage County, Ohio board of elections. Adams County, Wisconsin Clerk Cindy Phillippi has resigned.


Legislative Updates

California: Gov. Jerry Brown has signed the Every Vote Counts Act into law. Under the new law, voters will be provided an opportunity to verify signatures on their vote-by-mail ballots.

Maine: The Maine Legislature adjourned for the year without being able to muster the votes to override Gov. Paul LePage’s veto of a bill that would have provided additional funding to the secretary of state’s office to cover the costs of using ranked-choice voting in the November election.

New York: The state Senate has announced that it will hold hearings into Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive order that automatically restored the voting rights of more than 24,000 parolees. “I am troubled by the seeming automatic release of cop killers, sex offenders and violent felons who now have had their rights restored through a questionable process,” Sen. Pat Gallivan (R-Erie County), who chairs the Criminal Justice Committee told The New York Post. The hearings will be held on Oct. 1 and 2 in Albany and on Long Island

Vermont: This week, the Winooski City Council blocked a ballot initiative that would have asked residents whether or not voting rights should be extended to documented non-citizens in local elections. City Manager Jesse Backer told the Burlington Free Press that the decision to keep the question off the ballot was so that there could be more community engagement about the issue.


Legal Updates

Federal Lawsuits: The Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law has field a federal lawsuit against the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (ICE) arguing that they believe the current administration is purposefully slowing down the naturalization process before the November election. The plaintiffs demand records, data, and any information about possible changes in training for the officers who interview the applicants. It is alleged that some interviewers have departed from protocol and engaged in extreme vetting.

Alabama: Twitter users who have been blocked by Secretary of State John Merrill have sued in federal court arguing that he’s blocking their right to free speech. Merrill told The Associated Press on Wednesday that he has blocked people he considers harassing, rude or who “won’t listen to reason.” But he said he is one of the most accessible and personally available elected officials in the history of the state of Alabama.” Merrill said blocking Twitter users “doesn’t stop them from communicating with me” in other formats, including his cellphone. Merrill said he lists his cellphone number on his office business card that he hands out to the public.

Arizona: Judge James Teilborg has refused to order the secretary of state’s office to immediately update voter registration addresses of 384,000 Arizonans who moved since the last election. Teilborg acknowledged that the state is in violation of the National Voter Registration Act but said that it would cause chaos too soon before the election to change all the registrations.

Georgia: U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg denied a request for an injunction that would have forced the state to switch from DRE voting machines to paper ballots by November 6. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, in her 46-page order said she was concerned about “voter frustration and disaffection from the voting process” if she had prohibited electronic voting machines just weeks before the election. “There is nothing like bureaucratic confusion and long lines to sour a citizen,” Totenberg wrote.

Also in Georgia this week, a federal judge has ordered the redo of an election for a North Georgia House district voters where human error led to dozens of voters casting ballots in the wrong race. The new primary will be held Dec. 4.

Kansas: The American Civil Liberties Union is suing Johnson County in order to get the names of the voters whose provisional ballots were denied in the August primary.

New Hampshire: Grace Fleming, 70 and John Fleming, 71 have been indicted for casting an absentee ballot in New Hampshire while also voting in Massachusetts in 2016 general election. If convicted, they could face up to 14 years in prison.

New Jersey: According to the New Jersey Globe, Republicans will appeal an order issued by a Superior Court Judge on Thursday instructing the Passaic County Clerk to eliminate dead space on the ballot caused by special elections in the 38th district, a move that potentially helps Democrats to win a County Clerk seat Republicans have held for the last ten years.

Texas: Laura Janeth Garza has been convicted of illegally voting in the 2016 election. Garza, not a U.S. citizen, used her cousin’s identity to register to vote. She is facing deportation.

In Starr County, the county and the American Civil Rights Union have reached a settlement in a suit filed by the ACRU over the county’s voting lists. Under the agreement, in addition to paying legal fees, the county has agreed to actively work to identify and remove deceased voters from the rolls.

Also in Texas, U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos issued a two-sentence order dismissing the lawsuit challenging the state’s voter ID law.

West Virginia: Four former employees of the secretary of state’s office that had filed wrongful termination lawsuits against Secretary of State Mac Warner have settled out of court for a total of nearly $1 million.

Also in West Virginia, Jeffrey Hartman, 72, has been arrested for voting illegally in West Virginia and Maryland. An investigation by the secretary of state’s office and the Morgan County sheriff’s department found that Hartman has property in both states and the voted in multiple elections for several years in both states.


Tech Thursday

Tech Companies: Symantec announced this week that it is offering a free new tool to campaigns and election officials that will help fight against fraudulent websites. With the new service, Symantec is repurposing a tool it already used for its paying customers and making it publicly available. SpoofProof takes images of legitimate websites and scans the internet looking for similar sites.

Social Media: Instagram is getting in on the GOTV bandwagon. The social media site plan to run ads in Stories and feed powered by TurboVote that will target all U.S. users over the age of 18 and point them towards information on how to get registered to vote and what the voting rules are. In addition, on Election Day, Instagram users will be able to add an “I Voted” sticker to their photos.

Social Media: Facebook is also partnering with TurboVote as well as the International Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute to push users of the social media site to register to vote and then to cast a ballot.

Massachusetts: Early voting is still relatively new in Massachusetts and this week the city of Boston launched a new website, Vote Early Boston that will provide information about how and where to vote early.

Oregon: This week, the Oregon secretary of state’s office announced an initiative to use Facebook to bolster participation by reminding hundreds of thousands of inactive voters to update their voter registration. The initiative will be cross-referencing the inactive voters list with the Facebook data of those who list Oregon as their home state. Those users will then get a reminder to register to vote. According to the Lewiston Tribune, the video outreach features Richardson speaking directly to voters who have been listed as inactive, encouraging them to update their registration to receive a ballot in the mail. A link will be included for voters to take care of their registration


Opinions This Week

National Opinions: Election security | Transgender voters | College-aged voters | Voter registration | Vote at home | Voting rights

Alabama: Voting rights

Arizona: Maricopa County | Poll worker pay

Arkansas: Vote-by-mail

Delaware: Ballot access

Florida: Ex-felon voting rights, II, III |  Early voting sites | Election chaos | Voter registration

Georgia: Voting system, II

Illinois: Cybersecurity

Indiana: Election security

Iowa: Voter ID | Cybersecurity

Louisiana: Secretary of state race

Massachusetts: Lowell elections

Michigan: Voter access laws | First-time voters

New Mexico: Voter access

New York: Voting problems, II, III, IV | Automatic voter registration

North Carolina: Subpoenas

North Dakota: Voter ID

Ohio: Secretary of state race

Pennsylvania: Preferential voting

Tennessee: Ballot language | Voting rights

Texas: Young voters

Utah: St. George County

Virginia: Voting system

Washington: Paid postage | King County


Upcoming Events

International Association of Government Officials — IGO’s 2019 mid-winter conference will be held in Irvine, California, January 6-11, 2019. Watch this space for more details about agendas and registration.

National Association of State Election Directors — The NASED Winter Conference will be held in Washington DC, February 1-4, 2019. Watch this space for more details about agendas and registration.

National Association of Secretaries of State — The NASS Winter Conference will be held in Washington, DC, February 1-4, 2019. Watch this space for more details about agendas and registration.

International Association of Government Officials — IGO’s 2019 Annual Conference will be held in Houston, Texas, July 11-17. Watch this space for more details about agendas and registration.

National Association of Counties — NACo’s 2019 Annual Conference will be held in Clark County (Las Vegas), Nevada July 11-15, 2019. Watch this space for more details about agendas and registration.

National Association of State Election Directors — The NASED Summer Conference will be held in Austin, Texas, July 14-16, 2019. Watch this space for more details about agendas and registration.


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 mmoretti@electionline.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.

Certification Manager (Denver, CO) – Dominion Voting Systems — Dominion Voting Systems is seeking a Certification Manager to join our team in Denver, CO! This position is a cross -functional leader playing a key role in managing certification efforts for Dominion Voting products. In this role, you will act as a representative of the company with State and Federal certification officials, test labs, and other key internal and external stakeholders throughout the certification process. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Customer Relations Manager (Phoenix, AZ) – Dominion Voting Systems — Dominion Voting Systems is seeking a Customer Relations Manager to join our team in Phoenix, AZ! This position will be responsible for effectively and proactively managing the day-to-day relationship, administration and technical/product support of one or more assigned customer accounts. Additionally, the CRM will serve as project manager for specialized projects such as pre- and postelection day support, new product implementations, and/or product upgrades/updates. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Elections Program Manager, CIS— the Elections Program Manager is assigned to the Elections Infrastructure ISAC (EI-ISAC) at the Center for Internet Security. Reporting to the Director of the EI-ISAC, the Elections Program Manager will partner with other cybersecurity team members to promote the CIS mission and help support our growth. The primary purpose of this position is to serve as a subject matter expert on and represent the EI-ISAC in public forums regarding election infrastructure issues. The Elections Program Manager will work with the EI-ISAC Director to build relationships in the elections community and identify tools, products, and initiatives that meet the security needs of election officials. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Elections Supervisor, Pinal County, Arizona— performs professional and administrative work in planning, organizing and directing strategic and daily goals and objectives, operations and activities of the Elections Department. Work is performed under the general administrative direction of the Elections Director. The employee is expected to exercise initiative, independent judgment and discretion. Salary: $49,647-$56,473. 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 and to apply, click here.

Full Stack Architect / Senior Software Engineer, Clear Ballot— Clear Ballot is looking for an accomplished, Boston MA based Architect/Senior Software Engineer who wants to bring their technical and leadership skills to bear on a hugely consequential problem: Bringing transparency to democratic elections. The successful candidate will implement new products and features under tight deadlines. You will be using primarily Python and MySQL that interface with front-end web applications implemented in JavaScript and HTML5. The ideal candidate should have strong technical and leadership skills and a good working knowledge of the latest concepts in security, performance, and resilience. You will be working with a small team of highly skilled individuals to build and enhance a platform that is changing the elections industry. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Full Stack Software Developer, Clear Ballot — The successful candidate will build and enhance enterprise-level, highly available applications using primarily Python and MySQL that interface with frontend web applications implemented in JavaScript and HTML5. The ideal candidate should have strong technical skills and a good working knowledge of the latest concepts in performance, security and resilience. One of the hallmarks of our system is its emphasis on new visualization techniques made possible by sophisticated data structures that enable high-performance in a multi-user environment. You will be working with a small team of highly skilled individuals to build and enhance a platform that is changing the elections industry. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Inside Sales Representative, Runbeck — to support our desired growth and market expansion, we continue to hire outstanding talent in multiple departments. We are looking for highly motivated, dedicated and talented individuals who will be able to contribute significantly to the success of the company while receiving great opportunities for professional growth and financial benefits. Responsibilities include: Contact potential or existing customers to inform them about a product or service; ability to present solution and its value to a prospect over the phone; answer questions about products or the company; ask questions to understand customer requirements and close sales; enter and update customer information in the database; keep records of calls and sale and note useful information in the CRM; process orders in an accurate manner; and go the “extra mile” to meet sales quota and facilitate future sales. Application: In order to apply, please send a resume to Tammy White: twhite@runbeck.net.

Program Manager, Overseas Voting Initiative, Council of State Governments — the Program Manager of CSG’s Overseas Voting Initiative, funded through a cooperative agreement with the US Dept. of Defense (DOD) Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP), provides day-to-day management and oversight of the Initiative, including research and policy analysis of electronic absentee voting systems for military voters, and development and dissemination of educational policy programming and deliverables to state leaders in support of the cooperative agreement. The Program Manager works within CSG’s Center of Innovation and in cooperation with CSG’s policy and executive management teams as well as regional offices, affiliates and members to support, monitor and improve state elections processes for military and overseas voters. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Project Manager (Austin, TX) – Hart InterCivic — Hart InterCivic is looking for a project manager to work with our Professional Services Team.  The project manager oversees the deployment of voting systems and training to both existing and new Hart customers. The ideal candidate has experience in the elections industry, is PMP certified, and is motivated to achieve success for our customers with initiative.  Travel up to 80 percent. Reports to the Manager of Professional Services. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Sales Engineer, Clear Ballot — Our Sales and Marketing team is looking for a seasoned, hardworking and energetic Sales Engineer with proven experience and a passion for selling technology solutions. This role is responsible for being the primary technical resource for our sales force while also actively driving and managing the technology evaluation stage of the sales process. You will be required to have an in-depth technical knowledge of Clear Ballot’s Clear Vote suite and demonstrating the product capabilities to prospective customers. The ideal candidate must also be able to identify and provide reliable solutions for all technical issues to assure complete customer satisfaction. Measures of success include new customer acquisition rates, renewal rates, upselling, cross-selling, customer satisfaction and contribution to overall sales team and new customer success Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Senior Level Software Developer, BPro — We are a well-established small business that has been developing requirements and producing software for the needs of state governments since 1985 and continue to maintain and upgrade many of those systems. We have offices in Pierre, South Dakota, Fargo, North Dakota, Minnesota & Virginia. We’re currently looking for an energetic and intelligent .Net Developer to join our growing team. Our ideal candidate is one who loves to learn, enjoys working as a team, and who can multitask and meet deadlines. Skills required: .NET, VB, VBA, ASP, SQL, HTML, and JavaScript. A four-year college degree is the minimum educational requirement. All applicants must have excellent written and verbal communications skills. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Senior Software Developer, Runbeck— Runbeck Election Services is looking for full stack enthusiasts who are comfortable tackling end-to-end and enjoy building products that solve big problems and delight customers. We’re a collaborative team who knows how to get things done (Lone Rangers need not apply). We believe that small teams focused on shipping software move the fastest and make the most impact. The ideal candidate for this position has extensive back end skills (C#, MVC, ASP.Net, SQL Server) paired with solid web and desktop skills (IIS, JavaScript, HTML 5, CSS, jQuery, WPF, Win Forms). Must have a solid grasp of our basic toolset (Jira, Visual Studio). Willing to learn new plug-ins and IDE enhancements in order to boost your productivity and are excited to introduce us to new tooling experiences that have worked for you in the past. You bring discipline and care about implementation practices. You are familiar with Agile/Scrum processes, practice common design patterns, embrace clean coding principles, and employ many other techniques in an effort to bring a high level of software craftsmanship to your finished product. Application: In order to apply, please send a resume to Tammy White: twhite@runbeck.net.

Software Product Specialist II (Phoenix, AZ) – Dominion Voting Systems — Dominion Voting Systems is seeking a Software Product Specialist II to join our team in Phoenix, AZ! This position will be responsible for delivering a wide variety of technical and non-technical customer support services related to the implementation, operation, repair, maintenance and upgrades of Dominion Voting Systems technology products. 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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