In Focus This Week
Six steps for the 6th
The right actions and words now and on Nov. 6 will increase public trust
By Jennifer Morell
The work of running an election continues to be under a microscope. Misconceptions and misunderstandings about what election officials do or don’t do seem to be consistently in our daily news feed.
Increasing the public’s trust in your elections is as much about the accuracy and validity of the processes you complete as it is about finding meaningful ways to communicate that work.
Below are six examples of common practices that can be enhanced to strengthen confidence in your election.
Open-door testing. Showcasing your public logic and accuracy (L&A) test is a great opportunity to explain how your voting system operates and the tests and checks performed to ensure it functions properly during your election. Look beyond the legal language you’re required post and tell the public why it matters and why they should attend. This is also a great time to invite candidates, party officials, and other stakeholders to observe the process and discuss the tremendous amount of preparation going on behind the scenes. Encourage the media to observe and report on your L&A test by giving them the opportunity to get stock footage of election setup.
Also, consider broadcasting the event on social media. Opening your doors to explain the relevance of this test, as a way to ensure the voting equipment is operating correctly and has not been tampered with, is an important element to increasing trust in your election. Finally, think about how you can use infographics to take voters behind the scenes of some of your other critical functions like how ballots are processed, results are uploaded, or the process for conducting a post-election audit.
Information ambassadors. You’ve trained poll workers to check in voters and issue ballots, but have you given them the tools and training to be your election information ambassadors? Poll workers often become the voice and face of your office on Election Day and should be an integral part of your communication plan. Despite their best efforts to do and say the right thing, it only takes one misinformed (or poorly trained) poll worker to sow doubt on the validity of your process.
Have you provided them with clearly defined talking points for the questions they may be asked or scenarios that might come up? Is there a clear channel of communication for notifying you when things don’t go as expected? What are the expectations and guidelines if they are approached by a journalist or challenged by a voter? All of this should be clearly documented in a clear and simple set of guidelines that everyone has at the ready.
Review communication plans. Communication is a fundamental component of cybersecurity. Most likely you have a plan to communicate a cyber incident with state and federal officials. Have you mimicked that plan for staff and poll workers in your own office? What is the protocol for someone who sees a suspicious email, misinformation on social media, or suspicious activity with voting equipment? Who is the first line of communication? How will the issue be documented? How will you know if it has been resolved? The Belfer Center’s Election Cyber Incident Communications Coordination Guide is a great tool that can be adapted into a local plan. Don’t forget to include protocol for regular check-ins throughout Election Day to ensure things are running smoothly.
Master the password problem. A unique, complex password for every component of your voting system and every user is here to stay. Labels and sticky notes with user names, passwords, and hints are a thing of the past. Nothing will discredit the great work you have done like a visitor spotting a password posted next to your EMS workstation. But with so many usernames and passwords, how can the cybersecure election professional remember them all? A password management system is the answer. If you haven’t seen it already, take the 5 minutes to read and share the Center for Democracy and Technology’s field guide for passwords.
Check those forms. A solid ballot reconciliation process and chain of custody is not only good election practice but should be a critical component for post-election audits and certifying your election. Reconciliation forms and custody logs designed poorly can lead to inaccuracies or incomplete forms. It’s not too late to review the guidelines from the Center for Civic Design for creating effective poll worker materials. It also helps to have someone outside of your office try and complete the forms unassisted to determine if the instructions are clear and the form follows a logical order.
Once reconciliation forms are returned to the election office is there a clear assignment to validate the information recorded? There is a tendency on Election Night for poll workers to force the math to work so they can be done. Is someone reviewing chain of custody forms and noting any discrepancies? Are they filled out legibly? Both the reconciliation forms and chains of custody logs provide evidence to validate the way your election was conducted. Make sure poll workers and staff understand their relevance to the integrity of the election.
Lights, camera, action! There is a reason actors rehearse and bands practice. When you only have one day (or a handful of days) to get it right, practice really does make perfect. Nothing sparks doubt about the validity of your election like voters and candidates seeing poll workers or staff disagreeing about a process or providing contradicting statements to the media about your office protocol. Walking and talking through the motions of your most critical processes ensures everyone gets it right, all the necessary supplies and components are in place, and everyone involved can communicate the process accurately and confidently, especially when you practice the worst-case scenarios.
Although you’re in the weeds of the 2018 midterms, it’s never too early to start thinking about future elections. Before 2020, some states may adopt risk-limiting audit (RLA) procedures. An important first step in a RLA is thinking about how you organize, track and store paper ballots.
A ballot manifest is a log or spreadsheet showing how individual ballots or batches of ballots are stored. The basic components include fields indicating the ID of each individual scanner, a unique number or precinct for the scanned batch, the total number of ballots scanned in the batch, and an ID number to indicate the container the ballots are stored in. Additional best practices include maintaining standard batch sizes, verifying the number of ballots being scanned prior to scanning [using a precision scale to weigh ballots and get a piece count can be quicker, and more accurate, than having someone hand count each batch], and reconciling the ballot manifest to the number of ballots scanned into the election tabulation system on a regular basis.
These are just a few examples of how small changes to a routine process can increase voter confidence and trust in your elections.
(Jennifer Morrell is a consultant for the Democracy Fund. She previously worked as a local elections administrator in Colorado and Utah.)
According to Politico, there is a new push to get the Secure Elections Act moving forward. Sen. James Lankford is expected to introduce a revamped version of the bill after the September 30 government funding deadline. “As I like to say, we’re now fighting over nouns and verbs and prepositions to try to figure exactly how things are working, to make sure it lines up with everyone,” Lankford told Politico.
That being said, Lankford told The Hill that there is no way the Secure Elections Act will be approved by Congress ahead of the November elections. “The House won’t be here after this week so it’s going to be impossible to get passed,” Lankford said of the bill.
One place where Congress does seem to be moving forward is on the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Act, which has been in the works since the Obama administration, looks like it could be approved by the Senate soon. It was approved by the House last year. Under the bill, the Department of Homeland Security would be given a stand-alone cybersecurity agency, similar the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Election News This Week
The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas has stepped in on behalf of Spanish-speaking voters in Bexar County who have complained that Spanish translations for last week’s runoff election made no sense. The Spanish-language materials were translated using Google Translate. “The issue we have with that is that it generates translations that are literal and not always meaningful for the reader,” ACLU legal consultant Matthew McCarthy told the San Antonio News-Express. Specifically, in this case the words “election runoff’ were translated into “election water runoff” in Spanish. The ACLU also sent letters to 35 other counties warning that they could be violating the Voting Rights Act for not providing sufficient Spanish translation.
A report from the Maricopa County, Arizona auditor’s office has concluded that malfunctioning voting equipment and the lack of a back-up plan led to 62 polling locations opening late during Arizona’s August primary. According to the Arizona Capitol Times, The Maricopa County Internal Audit Department conducted a review of the election-day problems and found they were tied to the county e-poll books and ballot printing system. In a written response to the auditor’s report, the recorder’s office said that it had already addressed many of the issues and disputed some others. The contractor working with Maricopa County has released a report to The Arizona Republic saying when their technicians arrived, they found a plethora of problems.
The Wisconsin State Elections Commission has unanimously agreed to allow local clerks to reinstate the voter registrations of thousands of Wisconsinites who were removed last year. For the city of Milwaukee that means about 21,000 people will be returned to the rolls.
California Secretary of State Alex Padilla announced this week that 209,577 16- and 17-year-olds have pre-registered to vote. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, since the state’s statewide voter registration database was certified in 2016, more than 104,00 of the pre-registered teens have turned 18 and are now eligible to vote.
A recent poll by the University of North Florida has found overwhelming support for Amendment 4 on Florida’s November ballot. Under Amendment 4, Floridians with felony convictions would automatically have their rights restored upon completion of their sentence or probation. The poll found that 71 percent of potential voters support the amendment. It needs 60 percent approval to pass. According to the Orlando Sentinel, The referendum was placed on the ballot following a statewide petition campaign by Orlando resident Desmond Meade and his group Floridians for Fair Democracy, which successfully gathered more than 799,000 certified signatures. “We are excited that Amendment 4, through the hard work of an energetic grassroots movement, is uniting Floridians across the Sunshine State under the simple belief: when a debt is paid, its paid,” Meade said in a statement. “Regardless of party, gender, or race, Floridians strongly support Amendment 4.”
In other news from the Sunshine State, Floridians are facing one of the longest ballots they have ever seen and many supervisors of elections have been encouraging voters to vote-by-mail or vote early. To bring home just how long the ballot is — four feet — Seminole County Supervisor of Elections Michael Ertel, who is 6’1 and Assistant Supervisor of Elections Rebecca Quinn, who is 5’1 stood with the ballot between them. Hopefully everyone in Florida is busy studying their sample ballots and voter guides.
Personnel News: Bill Freytag is retiring as deputy director of the Richland County, Ohio board of elections. Willie Green, III is the new Yuma County, Arizona elections director. Tracie Fisher has retired as the Transylvania County, North Carolina director of elections. Fisher has been in the elections office for 25 years and the director for three. Lisa Mason has been promoted to state election director for Idaho. Alvina Church, Sangerville, Maine town clerk for 24 years will retire at the end of October.
EAC to launch Countdown18 Series
Next week, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) is launching Countdown18, a blog series to highlight the innovative security and election administration work states, counties and municipalities are doing to prepare for the 2018 elections on November 6th. The series will run throughout the month of October until Election Day and will be spearheaded by Cindy Hoffman with the EAC.
Each week the series will be dedicated to a different phase in the election process, including priority issues such as voter registration, cybersecurity efforts, voting equipment updates, access to the vote, and post-election audits. The EAC is proud to highlight the work of election officials across the nation, including work made possible as a result of the recently distributed HAVA funding. The series aims to highlight successful efforts election leaders can consider as they plan for 2020 and beyond, as well as provide voters with a chance to look inside their state and local election offices to see ways election administrators are working to make elections more secure, accessible, and efficient.
There is a lot going on in the lead up to November 6th. Be sure to follow #Countdown18 on the EAC blog and social media throughout October to get the latest.
Federal Legislation: U.S. Sen. Tom Udall (D-New Mexico), vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, and U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D- Minnesota.), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, introduced S. Res. 631, a Senate resolution recognizing the 50th anniversary of the Indian Civil Rights Act and the importance of expanding voting rights access for American Indians and Alaska Natives. “This resolution recognizes the resilience and determination of Native peoples in the United States in their fight for equal access to the polls,” Udall said in a statement. “Time after time, for centuries, Native Americans have been denied their fundamental right to make their voices heard in our democracy. And, time after time, Native voters have successfully fought – in the courts and in the halls of Congress – to secure their constitutionally guaranteed right to exercise the franchise.”
California: Gov. Jerry Brown recently signed Assembly Bill No. 2218 into law which will require the secretary of state’s office to come up with an optional ballot tracking system for counties.
Michigan: Under House Bill 4671, state election law would be changed to allow a city or township to engage its county clerk or the state Bureau of Elections to handle the maintenance of their voter registration database. It would also allow the city or township to engage its county clerk or the clerk of another city or township to administer election-related administrative matters on its behalf.
The Michigan House has approved legislation that would allow Michigan to offer online voter registration. The bill was approved with bipartisan support and moves now to the Senate.
New Jersey: Sen. Sam Thompson has introduced a bill that would expand penalties for voter fraud.
Pennsylvania: The Butler County commission unanimously approved a new policy that will allow voters to take their cell phones with them into the polling place and to take ballot selfies. The policy prohibits people from taking photos or videos of other voters and their ballots.
Wyoming: A bill that would allow counties to move to all vote-by-mail elections has been approved by the Joint Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Interim Committee on an 11-2 vote. It’s unclear whether it will come before the full Legislature in the next session.
Arkansas: The Arkansas Supreme Court hear oral arguments last week on the legality of the state’s voter ID law. According to the Arkansas Times, Jeff Priebe, attorney for the plaintiff, argued that the 2017 law was an attempt to circumvent a similar law passed in 2014 that was struck down by the Arkansas Supreme Court. A change was made that allowed voters who didn’t have an ID to cast a provisional ballot and sign an affidavit and the vote is supposed to be counted unless other problems are found.
Georgia: Secretary of State Brian Kemp has filed a notice of appeal after U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg ruled that although there will be no paper ballots in November, the Coalition of Good Governance had validly stated a claim that the machines used in the state’s election are vulnerable to hacking the case may proceed.
Missouri: U.S. District Judge Brian Wimes has ordered Missouri officials to provide voter registration information to residents seeking to update their addresses at motor vehicle offices or by mail. According to KCUR, Wimes ordered the state to begin doing so immediately.
New Jersey: Lizaida Camis, 55 of Hoboken has been charged with violating the Travel Act for causing mail to be used to aid voter bribery. Camis allegedly paid voters $50 in 2013 to apply for mail ballots and then cast them for candidates that she worked for at the time.
Also in New Jersey, an appellate court has ordered the Passaic County clerk’s office to draft new ballots for November 6 saying the clerk’s decision to include blank columns on the ballots of 15 of the county’s 16 towns was unlawful.
New Hampshire: Spencer McKinnon, 20, has been charged with voting in both New Hampshire and Massachusetts in the 2016 general election. He faces up to seven years in prison if convicted.
North Dakota: In a split decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit suspended a federal judge’s April ruling mandating the state accepts IDs and supplemental documentation with a current mailing address as proof of ID in order to vote. According to the Grand Forks Herald, the appeals court noted North Dakota is the only state without voter registration and has a “legitimate interest in requiring identification and a showing of current residence to prevent voter fraud and to safeguard voter confidence.” It said the state would be “irreparably harmed” without a stay as requested by Secretary of State Al Jaeger.
Also in North Dakota, Hannan Yassin Aboubaker of Shakopee, Minnesota entered an Alford plea on a Class A misdemeanor “election offense”. Aboubaker was accused of submitting an absentee ballot in Minnesota as well as voting in person in Fargo.
Social Media: Twitter is joining other social media platforms like Facebook and Instragram in an effort to get users registered to vote. The program, #BeAVoter was launched in conjunction with TurboVote. Twitter will show users a prompt encouraging them to register to vote. The prompt will include a tweet users can share to encourage others to become a voter.
Social Media: Not to be outdone by Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, Snapchat has announced a partnership with TurboVote to encourage voter registration. Beginning this week, all Snapchat users—which skew younger than most of the other social networks—over the age of 18 will receive register to vote link directly in their profile page.
California: UCLA recently rolled out MyUCLA with will autofill a California voter registration form with each eligible student’s name and information and send to the secretary of state’s office at the beginning of the fall quarter. According to the Daily Bruin, students will be prompted to double-check the information and will also be able to choose whether to register in Los Angeles or their home district.
Opinions This Week
Alabama: Voting rights
Arizona: Poll workers
Georgia: Voting system
Guam: Youth voter registration
Illinois: Automatic voter registration
Indiana: Election security
Kansas: Voter ID
Massachusetts: Student voters
Montana: Missoula County
Nevada: Automatic voter registration
New York: Election laws
Oklahoma: Federal grant money
Tennessee: Ranked-choice voting
Texas: Young voters
Utah: Ranked-choice voting
Vermont: National Voter Registration Day |
West Virginia: Voter list maintenance
Wisconsin: Election security
EAC Election Readiness Summit – The EAC Election Readiness Summit event aims to inform the public and lawmakers about the steps election leaders can take to ensure secure, accessible, and efficient elections. The summit will also highlight innovative and cost-effective steps election administrators should consider as they look to 2020 and beyond. The event will feature expert panelists and keynote speakers who will examine election security best practices, as well as investments in accessibility, post-election audits, and other vital election activities. Following these discussions, the EAC will host an open house for election vendors who wish to display and demonstrate their equipment. Where: Room 216 of the Hart Senate Office Building and online. When: Wednesday, October 3 from 9am to 4:30pm.
Council of State Governments Annual Conference — The Council of State Government will hold its 2018 National Conference in the Northern Kentucky, Greater Cincinnati area in December. Keynote speakers are J.D. Vance, author of Hillbilly Elegy and Story Musgrave who started life in the Marines and finished is public service at NASA where he spent more than 1,200 hours in space. The conference will include a 2.5 hour session on election cybersecurity communications mapping. Where: Cincinnati, Ohio. When: December 6-8.
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 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.
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.
Certification Project Manager, Hart InterCivic — The Certification Project Manager manages state and federal certification projects of our Hardware and Software products, under the direction of the Certification Program Manager. The Certification Project Manager must be able to exercise sound judgment and interact with regulatory authorities in a professional manner, particularly in high-pressure situations. 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.
Director of Government Affairs, Hart InterCivic — The Hart InterCivic Director of Government Affairs oversees all aspects of support services for Hart’s government relations activities for state and federal government entities. These include: identifying and engaging critical stakeholders at the federal, state, and county level, researching and providing consistent and proactive communication of company’s regulatory strategy, partnering with key internal cross-functional departments, participating in industry forums ensuring active engagement where most critical, and developing monitoring/measurement tools to provide visibility and transparency. 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.
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: email@example.com.
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.
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.