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October 3, 2019

In Focus This Week

Exit Interview: Natalie Adona
Democracy Fund’s Adona returns to her roots in local elections

By  M. Mindy Moretti
Electionline.org

Every election geek has their story for how they got started in the field. For Natalie Adona, it was doing poll worker training in San Francisco in 2008.

Following her foray in to local elections, Adona, who is the Senior Research and Learning Associate for the Elections Program at the Democracy Fund, went on to work at the Fair Elections Legal Network and Project Vote before coming to Democracy Fund.

While at Democracy Fund, Adona’s  primary interests were in election administration, with a particular legal research emphasis on the use of strict precinct requirements in provisional voting.

“Natalie has worked to promote and expand the study of election science and systems thinking to improve voting in ways that have left their mark. From initiating the first public survey of election officials in more than a decade, to promoting collaboration from foundations on research, to driving greater diversity in the political science field through the ‘Women Also Know Stuff’ initiative, Natalie has used research to promote a better system of elections in this country,” said Adam Ambrogi, director, Elections, The Democracy Fund. “I am glad she will be taking those skills and using them to promote elections and serve voters directly, and thank her for her years of service to Democracy Fund’s election team.”

Now Adona is getting back to her roots and is headed west to serve as the assistant clerk-recorder  in Nevada County, California. But before she packed up the U-Haul she sat down for one of electionline’s infamous Exit Interviews.

Good luck Natalie!

After being a local election official, then on the advocacy side with Democracy Fund, why have you decided to go back to being a local election official?
My first real job in local elections was as a poll worker trainer for the City and County of San Francisco. Then candidate Obama was running for president for the first time and Proposition 8 was on the ballot, the California citizen-led initiative that defined marriage as between a man and a woman. But for me, politics was not what made the work exciting. Rather, I really loved interacting with poll workers and explaining the voting process to the public. When I wasn’t training poll workers, I soaked up all I could about election administration, whether it was learning about warehouse operations, sifting through old election materials, being part of the call center team, participating in canvass—basically, every single process between registration and the audit. I was a natural born election geek!

At the same time, the nation was facing the worst economic recession in recent history. As many who’ve worked elections, I started out as a temporary employee. While I managed to find elections work beyond November, the 2008 financial crisis meant that there would be no permanent work in local government for the foreseeable future and temporary positions would get even more competitive. I was extremely disheartened because I felt like I found my calling but was being forced down another path.

Fortunately, I held onto my stubborn belief that I could control the direction I’d go. Unfortunately, competition for work got so bad that I had to look outside of California. Leaving my family, my friends, and everything I knew remains one of the toughest choices I’ve ever made. My expectation was that, through enough schooling, hard work, and persistence, someday I’d be able to go back to working in local elections. So, I highlighted my growing experience in elections research, which took me to Montana and then to Washington, DC. Through it all, I never forgot about how much I loved serving voters.

It took me over 10 years to come full circle, and I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m so happy and excited to come back home to the people I love and to serve California voters once again! I’ll be serving as the Assistant Clerk-Recorder for the County of Nevada, California (not to be confused with the state of Nevada, though the County does border the state line)!

How do you think your time working for the Democracy Fund will help inform your work as a local election official?
I definitely know more now than I did when I first started—as one would expect, but I never could have pictured how much I’d learn. Working in a DC-based philanthropy gave me a bird’s eye view of elections processes happening all over the country, as well as the people and organizations that work toward improving elections. I would not know as much about election policy, research, advocacy, or the resources available for election officials if I’d never been with Democracy Fund and the fine people that make up the Elections Program team.

While all this knowledge has obvious benefits (and I plan to use that knowledge to the fullest extent possible), I admit that I feel a lot of pressure to get it all right the first time around. Thankfully I’ll be working with a great team of people in Nevada County! I’ve also been lucky enough to get to know some of the country’s foremost elections experts and I hope that they’ll be glad to lend a helping hand when needed!

You have worked with academics, grantees, and election officials. How have you navigated those different audiences? How would you recommend they best learn to work together?
Navigating different audiences is not always easy, especially when you work with people as passionate as the election geeks I’ve met! That was definitely a learning curve for me. In those difficult-to-navigate moments, I reminded myself that my “true north” is the voter and my “map” is the elections process. I can only hope that in all my interactions with the folks I’ve talked to, they understand that my primary concern is in making elections understandable and accessible for voters and my main goal is to make sure that the voter feels empowered to participate.

For the future, I hope that academics, grantees, and election officials will continue the process of building trust with each other. I hope that they all continue to create space for stakeholders to have honest, productive conversations and encourage newcomers to participate. Some good examples where this is happening include the Election Science, Reform, and Administration conference, the NASS Advocacy Breakfast, and the Language Access Summit. The more you can invite folks into these spaces—especially those who haven’t had the chance to access these opportunities—the better.

Is there a question not on the new LEO survey that you wish someone would ask locals, and how would you answer that?
Good one! If I could add one question, I would ask for their opinions about whether election officials ought to be elected, appointed, or chosen in some other manner. The public opinion work that I’ve done with the Reed College team finds that the public prefers to elect their local election officials in nonpartisan contests. It’d be great to know what LEOs think about this important topic and the extent to which their opinions mimic the public’s.

And how would I answer that question? If forced to choose, I’d have to agree with the public on this one—especially on the issue of nonpartisanship, which is incredibly important to me. But it’s a hard question—“ought to” implies a judgment call on what process is better, and I can’t say that I really know which option produces the highest levels of voter confidence (assuming that’s what’s meant by “better”). On one hand, elections offer an opportunity for the public to hold election officials accountable, which is critical given the election official’s role in democracy. On the other hand, the potential for real or perceived conflicts of interest arise when the person in charge of overseeing elections processes also appears as a candidate on the ballot. The direct election of election officials and—importantly—the steps that they take to mitigate conflicts of interest is a somewhat (if not altogether) unique phenomenon in public administration that’s worthy of further study.

In research that you helped lead you identified that only 5% of respondents did not identify as being Caucasian. Now you are going to be a leader as a local election official yourself- can you talk about representation and diversity within the election official community— and what that means to you?
Thank you for asking! Yes, I was quite taken aback by that finding—but not because I thought we’d see the opposite trend. Rather, I thought that there would have been a change between the time that the Congressional Research Service conducted similar research over 10 years ago and today. There wasn’t. I also think it’s important to recognize that elections appear to provide paths to leadership for women—the majority of respondents to the Democracy Fund-Reed College survey were also female. Again, that finding was not different from the CRS surveys conducted so long ago.

As many who read electionline.org know, election officials create rules that have the potential to impact the voter experience, whether good or bad. Election officials deal in high stakes and are oftentimes blamed for problems, sometimes rightfully but other times without regard to any exculpatory details. Given the increasingly diverse electorate, I think it’s important to have a serious discussion about the apparent lack of racial diversity in elections leadership and what that might mean to voters and to the future leaders in the profession. This deserves more nuanced conversation than I have time for here—but I will say that it’s worth talking about the body of research showing that passive and active forms of representation in government have the potential to lead to more equitable administrative decision making. I find this conversation especially compelling now because I am entering into a position that’ll allow me to help shape the next generation of election administrators. In that role, I will endeavor to work with people who are knowledgeable, passionate, and have the ability to recognize how their decisions impact others. I believe that this part of my job will be best accomplished by inviting a diverse set of perspectives into our tight knit elections community.

What’s the one thing you’ll miss most about Democracy Fund and what’s the one thing you’re most looking forward to getting back into local elections?
I was afforded a lot of opportunities to participate and am thankful for the time I spent with Democracy Fund. I’m thankful for my team (which includes the Democracy Fund and Reed College), all of whom bring so much experience to their jobs and are amazing people. I had the opportunity to invest in innovative organizations and people who’ll no doubt continue to add tremendous value to the elections community. I got to know a cohort of election scientists who blow me away with their intellect and passion for research. I also had the great privilege of access—the standout for me was attending the pilgrimage from Montgomery to Selma with John Lewis and other members of Congress on the 52nd anniversary of the Voting Rights Act.

When I get back to local elections, I’m most looking forward to sharing the wealth of knowledge I’ve managed to accumulate over my time in DC (spoiler alert: I’m already doing that!). When your audience includes local election officials, it’s hard to get information to everyone. While I can’t promise to change California politics, I can play a role in making sure that my community of peers knows more about the wonderful research and projects that are available for election administrators, as well as the people behind those ideas. And I’ll have fun doing it!

You started out as an election administrator, took the academic route to philanthropy, and are now returning to administration. Is there a ninja movie with a plot line that mirrors your path?
First of all, anyone who really knows me knows that I love martial arts movies and know more about them than your average person. A marital arts movie that features elections? That would be pretty amazing! What would a movie like that be called? Way of the Intercepting Punch Card Ballot? The 36th Voting Booth of Shaolin? 47 State Senate Candidates? (Those election geeks who know martial arts movies would actually get those jokes. Is that you? Talk to me!)

Second of all, never did it ever cross my mind that there would be philanthropies that cared about election administration, nor that I’d find election experts in philanthropy. The idea that any person or organization would invest in democracy was all brand new to me. I’m glad I could be part of it!

Third and last, I agree that my career path has been pretty unconventional. I actually didn’t really start in elections—I spent the better part of my 20s working professionally in community theatre as an actor, dancer, and teacher. In my late 20s I decided it was time to get my Bachelor’s degree in political science, so I put myself through Cal and got one. In my mid-30s, I put myself through school once again and enrolled in a joint JD/MPA program at American University. As I was figuring out what the heck to do with myself after law school, I met Rob Ritchie of FairVote and he told me of an internship with a new program called Democracy Fund and said I should consider applying. Longest. Internship. Ever.

Tell us something embarrassing about Paul Gronke that no one already knows.
Haha! Excellent. (Touches fingertips together and sits back in seat like Montgomery Burns from The Simpsons.)

I’m totally kidding. The truth is, there’s nothing I know about Paul that people don’t already know. But I’ll share my two reactions:

Short answer: Mr. Outdoor Recreation has never been to Yosemite. He and I both know that he should feel embarrassed by that.

Long-ish answer: Paul is one of the most kindhearted people I know and a great mentor. (This isn’t a secret but deserves to be said because it isn’t said enough.) The first time I ever worked with Paul, he strolled into our office grinning ear-to-ear, proudly holding a homemade apple pie he carried with him on the airplane (accompanied by a story about his refusal to use McCormick’s cinnamon spice, which I found both frustrating and hilarious) and some beer (presumably from some local brewery ‘cause that’s how he rolls). I was struck by his unfiltered honesty, his passion for teaching, and his West Coast “work hard, play harder” attitude. I knew right then and there that he was someone I’d enjoy working with. And I was right! You’re the best Paul (and if you’re reading this: https://media.giphy.com/media/Itrkk5dvZLgeA/giphy.gif )

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Clearie Awards

EAC Opens Submission Period in Fourth Annual Clearie Awards
Celebrating Best Practices in Election Administration

The U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) is seeking submissions for its fourth annual national Clearinghouse Awards. Dubbed the “Clearies” for short, the awards provide election offices an opportunity to share their innovative efforts and celebrate successes. The Clearies play an important role in furthering the EAC’s responsibilities under the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA). Under that Act, the EAC serves as a clearinghouse for election administration information.

The Commission will present awards in the categories of outstanding innovations in elections, improving voting accessibility for voters with disabilities, and recruiting, training and retaining election workers. It will also award a special award in 2019 recognizing the most original and creative “I Voted” sticker submitted for consideration. Entries from all sizes of jurisdictions, both large and small, are encouraged to submit their work. All entries must be received by Monday, November 25, 2019. The 2018 winners of the Clearie awards can be found here.

“The EAC Clearie Awards celebrate the innovative and creative approaches that election officials use each day in their work to serve voters,” said EAC Chairwoman Christy McCormick. “These awards are a testament to their work and dedication and highlight best practices that other election administrators can emulate.”

This year’s entries will be judged using the following criteria:

  • Innovation
  • Sustainability
  • Outreach efforts
  • Cost-effectiveness
  • Replicability
  • Creating positive Results

Election officials utilize innovative and resourceful initiatives on Election Day. We want to hear about these outstanding best practices in EAC’s 2019 competition. By incorporating Election Day into the submission deadline, we are able to capture activities implemented throughout the 2018 and 2019 elections.

All submissions should be sent to the EAC via an email to clearinghouse@eac.gov. Nominators should use the following subject lines based on entry category: Election Worker Competition, Accessibility Competition, Outstanding Innovations Competition, or Sticker Competition.

All entries must include a summary of the election program nominated. Entrants may attach relevant documents, images and links that can be used to assess the entry. Submissions should also include contact information for the person submitting the program for consideration. Each entry must be submitted in a separate email.

For more information about this year’s competition, please contact Patrick Leahy at pleahy@eac.gov.

Election Security Updates

The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on election security last week. Kathryn Boockvar, the acting secretary for the Pennsylvania State Department and Tom Burt, corporate vice president for customer security and trust at Microsoft were among the witnesses. Chairman  Jerry Nadler (D-New York) noted that there is no getting around the imperative to tighten election security.

“Our adversaries are agile and technologically advanced. We must be too,” Nadler said.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday warned against foreign interference in U.S. elections, threatening that nations seeking to meddle in the 2020 races will “have a serious problem” on their hands.

“I’m convinced we’re ready for 2020,” he continued. “Any foreign country that messes with us is going to have a serious problem in return.”

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) remains highly confident in the agency’s efforts to defend against nation-state cyber threats including those targeting U.S. elections and supply chains, a senior CISA official said today.

“I remain very, very confident that the tally of votes – the actual vote count itself – will be faithful to what the voter actually put in the machine,” CISA’s Assistant Director for Cybersecurity Jeanette Manfra said at the Washington Post Live Cybersecurity Summit earlier this week.

2019 Election News

Connecticut: According to Connecticut Public Radio, the secretary of the state’s office has referred Coventry’s Republican registrar of voters to the State Elections Enforcement Commission. The referral stems from errors that forced this month’s primary election to be pushed back a week. “[The secretary of the state’s office] referred this to SEEC because the error that was made was sufficiently serious so as to keep an otherwise qualified candidates off the ballot through no fault of their own, and required a lawsuit and a judge’s order to fix,” said Gabe Rosenberg, the communications director for the secretary of the state.

Also in Connecticut, Judge Barry Stevens is allowing a lawsuit seeking a new Bridgeport mayoral primary to move forward. The lawsuit alleges that absentee ballot manipulation seemed to swing the election for the incumbent.

Tennessee: Thurston Smith, a candidate for office the upcoming Memphis election has been accused of pulling a gun on a poll worker at an early voting site. Smith was arrested, booked and released on $5,000 bond Wednesday afternoon, records show.

Election News This Week

Following weeks of outreach, Ohio recently purged about 182,000 voters from their rolls. According to The Columbus Dispatch, 158,000 of those, around 87 percent, were removed because the voter had not cast a ballot in the last six years. Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose’s office said those registrations could be duplicates, belong to deceased voters or those who have moved but didn’t notify the U.S. Postal Service. According to the Dispatch, the analysis sheds light for the first time on the reason most voter registrations are purged in Ohio. Far more voter registrations were purged under the more controversial supplemental process, which the U.S. Supreme Court upheld as legal in a 2018 decision. Although concerned about the number of people removed from the rolls under the supplemental process, Jen Miller, executive director of the League of Women Voters. But she said “we now understand the purge process better than ever” because LaRose required more reporting by county boards of elections than past administrations.

Advocates for ex-felon voting rights in Florida are not happy with how the state voter registration form is addressing the issue. According to the Miami Herald, the form still has the same language it has always used about felony convictions: “If you have been convicted of a felony, or if a court has found you to be mentally incapacitated as to your right to vote, you cannot register until your right to vote is restored,’’ reads the online and print form used to register voters across the state. However, following the passage of Amendment 4, the state added this line below it: “pursuant to s. 4 , Art. VI of the State Constitution.” “Nobody understands what that legal gobbledygook means,’’ Liza McClenaghan, state chair of Common Cause Florida, one of several groups that have asked state officials to update their forms to reflect the changes to state law told the paper. “It is confusing.” Sarah Revell, spokeswoman for the agency, told the Herald/Times: “The language you cite is carried over from the previous voter registration form and the form is currently in rulemaking.”

One of the hardest jobs for an election administrator is to find suitable polling places to serve voters. When Johnson County, Kansas had to recently move a polling place to a Catholic Church from a private school, the county ran into issues. According to the Kansas City Star, but many fear the move to the creates a conflict, citing the church’s stance against homosexuality. One candidate is a parishioner at the church, and his wife is a teacher at the parish school. His opponent is openly gay. “I don’t have a problem with it being a Catholic church … but when you move it to a church that one of the candidates attends, and when the church has a history of being anti-LGBT, the optics themselves are eyebrow-raising,” said state Rep. Brandon Woodard, a Democrat from Lenexa and one of the first openly gay legislators in Kansas. “Do I think the election office did this maliciously? No. But I would hope they would consider the optics of this.” The Johnson County Election Office has relocated five polling places for the November general election, spokeswoman Lori Sand told the paper. She added that the county is moving away from using schools as polling locations for security reasons.

At hearing of the U.S. House Subcommittee on Elections held in Arizona, tribal leaders told members of Congress this week voting rights of Native Americans in Arizona are routinely suppressed by a slew of requirements and practices, such as photo ID laws, a scarcity of polling places, and lack of language accessibility. Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Stephen Lewis, governor of the Gila River Indian Community proposed a Native American Voting Rights Act that, according to Cronkite News, could ease some of the burdens by removing the requirement for photo ID, adding translators for Native speakers, being less restrictive with mail-in ballots and opening more polling places.

There’s been a lot of consternation in Pennsylvania over the required purchase of new voting equipment before the 2020 election cycle, but The Philadelphia Inquirer has a story this week about one happy accident with regard to Philly’s new voting equipment. According to the paper, the city’s new voting machines can’t be carried up stairs due to their size and weight and therefore, the city has been forced to find polling locations that allow the machines to be rolled up ramps, which will in turn make every city polling place accessible to voters with mobility issues. “If that’s what’s going to drive the change, I’ll take it,” Michelle Bishop, a voting-rights specialist at National Disability Rights Network told the paper.

The numbers are in and they are pretty impressive. It’s estimated that 400,000 citizens registered to vote or updated their voter information as part of National Voter Registration Day. According to NVRD, this unprecedented number is more than three times the previous record set for an “off-year” focused primarily on local elections, and far outpaced expectations.

Research and Report Summaries

The National Association of Secretaries of State released a guide on cybersecurity resources this week. Aimed at supporting secretary of state offices, the guide summarizes available cybersecurity resources provided by federal agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, Election Assistance Commission, Federal Bureau of Investigation, General Services Administration, and National Institute of Standards and Technology, as well as various associations of election officials and non-governmental organizations.

The Alaska Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights issued a report on Alaska Native voting rights last week. The report evaluates Alaska’s efforts to meet legal requirements from a 2015 settlement on language access and examines the potential impact of adopting a vote-by-mail system in the state. Among the committee’s findings:

  • There is an unequal distribution of election equipment among urban and rural polling stations in the state, and election equipment in rural locations lacked privacy;
  • The Division of Elections has no procedures in place to assess the effectiveness of poll worker training or outreach worker training; and
  • When the Division of Elections was considering a vote-by-mail system, there were no studies examining the impact of vote by mail on Alaska Natives, limited English proficient voters, geographically and linguistically isolated communities, and voters who receive mail exclusively by P.O. Box.

DEF CON released a report last week on its findings from the August 2019 DEF CON Voting Machine Hacking Village. The report finds that commercially-available voting system hardware used in the U.S., including new ballot marking device products, are vulnerable to attack, recommends the use of paper ballots and risk-limiting audits, and identifies infrastructure and supply chain issues as areas of significant security risks.

(Research and Report Summaries are written by David Kuennen.)

Legislative Updates

Federal Legislation: According to Government Executive, the legislation authorizing $250 million for election security spending does not include much new funding for the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. Under the Senate legislation, EAC would receive $11,995,000 in 2020, about $2 million more than it received in 2019, however $1.5 million of that would be transferred to the National Institute for Standards and Technology to develop voluntary state voting system guidelines, and another  $2.4 million is designated for the EAC’s relocation to new offices. 

Maryland: Several new elections laws took effect this week in the Old Line State including same day registration—available in 2020, a law mandating that an election service contractor must provide specified notice of ownership, investment, or avenues for influence that a foreign entity may hold in the business and a new law allowing students in grades six through 12 to serve as Election Day pages and help judges at polling places.

Minnesota: The Red Wing City Council unanimously voted to begin the process of putting ranked choice voting on the 2020 general election ballot. According to The Post Bulletin, Council President Dean Hove told the audience at the city council meeting that the city has been talking about ranked choice for about six years, specifically at Charter Commission meetings.

New Hampshire: Gov. Chris Sununu has vetoes House Bill 315 that would have removed New Hampshire from the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program. “House Bill 315 would impose unreasonable restrictions on the Secretary of State’s ability to determine the best voter registration information-sharing arrangement for our state,” Sununu wrote. “New Hampshire should maintain the Secretary of State’s flexibility on this issue and trust him to make the best decision for the people of New Hampshire, as he has done for over 40 years.”

New Jersey: Assembly members Nick Chiaravalloti (D-31), Angelica Jimenez (D-32) and Annette Chaparro (D-33) are sponsoring a bill that would bring ranked choice voting to the Garden State. Bill A-5205 would establish ranked choice voting for all elections including presidential elections.

Also in New Jersey, Assemblyman Ronald Dancer (R-Plumstead) has introduced a bill that would allow residents to register to vote through the state Division of Fish and Wildlife and its official “license agents” which are businesses where people get licenses for boating, fishing and hunting. The registration would be automatic unless the resident specifically declines.

New York: Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed legislation into law extending the deadline for registered voters to switch their party in advance of partisan primaries. The new law scraps the previous Oct. 11 deadline, giving voters until Feb. 14 to switch parties and still vote in the state’s primary elections in April and June. The bill was approved by the state Legislature in June.

North Carolina: The House has approved Senate Bill 250 which would require jury excuses to be sent to the state board of elections so officials can remove non-citizens from the voter rolls. Under the bill, clerks of court would forward the elections board the names of people who get out of jury duty by saying they’re not U.S. citizens. Those names would be published online, and election officials, the bill states, “shall use this information to conduct efforts to remove names from its list of registered voters.”

Ohio: The House has voted 90-0 to approve Senate Bill 52 which would create the Ohio Cyber Reserve. Under the command of the Adjutant General, the team of experts would protect against attacks on critical infrastructure and government systems. The legislation also calls for the secretary of state to be added to the Homeland Security Advisory Council. The secretary of state would be mandated to appoint a chief information security officer, who would be a resource for county boards of elections. The bill also calls for regular audits of elections.

Wisconsin: The Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors has unanimously backed a resolution proposed by Sup. Sequanna Taylor to restore voting rights to people on probation and parole. Nearly 65,000 Wisconsinites are denied their right to vote because of parole status, despite having already served their debt to society.

Legal Updates

California: Attorney Harmeet Dhillon, a Republican lawyer who has waged lawsuits on behalf of the Trump administration sued the state of California and its Department of Motor Vehicles Tuesday, saying the agency is failing to verify citizenship for voter registration. The lawsuit alleges that California Secretary of State Alex Padilla and the director of California’s DMV, Steve Gordon, have violated the National Voter Registration Act and that Padilla has “forsaken his duty to ensure that non-citizens” are kept off voter rolls. She told the Sacramento Bee the lawsuit does not allege voter fraud but that the state is neglecting one of its duties as outlined by the voter act.

Iowa: Judge Joseph Seidlin has upheld part of a new Iowa voting law that requires ID to vote. While Seidlin left in place photo ID, he did strike down as unconstitutional the law’s provision that would have prohibited election officials from issuing a voter ID card based on Iowa driver’s license or nonoperator’s identification card records, as well as a provision that would have allowed election officials to dispute the signature on a registered voter’s application. The split decision had both plaintiffs and defendants claiming victory.

North Carolina: A group of local and national news organizations is suing North Carolina election officials for records connected to 2018 federal subpoenas that targeted hundreds of voters across the state. The suit seeks public voter data gathered by state and county election boards months after they received subpoenas from U.S. Attorney Robert Higdon’s office in a secretive voter fraud probe. Both the Wake County Board of Elections and the State Board of Elections are named in the suit.

Pennsylvania: 2016 Green Party candidate Jill Stein has threatened to take legal action if the Pennsylvania Department of State allows localities, including Philadelphia, to use the ExpessVote XL voting machines from ES&S. “We will seek relief in the court if this unverified, unauditable, hackable, expensive machine is not promptly decertified,” Stein said.

West Virginia: Two candidates in Harpers Ferry’s municipal election have taken their challenge of the June 11 election results to Jefferson County Circuit Court. Nancy Singleton Case and Debbie McGee filed a lawsuit asking a circuit judge to reverse a municipal election tribunal order declaring the election results final and to require the town to add four disputed provisional ballots to the tally in a recount.

Tech Updates

Maine: A virus attacked several state computers last week including in the secretary of state’s office. The cybersecurity measures we have in place through OIT, combined with the immediate actions taken by our Information Services team, left us with minimal impact from what could otherwise have been a far more serious incident,” Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap said. The Central Voter Registration database was not impacted.

New York: According to a report in Gotham Gazette, with under a month to go before early voting makes its debut in New York, the New York City Board of Elections has yet to acquire the 10,000 e-poll books needed to make early voting at vote centers possible. The publication found that the Board of Elections had moved to adopt a $19.1 million contract with KNOWiNK for the devices, but no contracts have been submitted to city or state fiscal oversight entities. No one from the Board of Elections responded to the publication’s request for comment.

Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania’s voter registration database was down for several hours last Friday preventing local elections officials from processing voter registration applications and prevent residents from applying online for absentee ballots. The Department of State said the incident was an unplanned outage. Its statement said, “The system is now back up and fully operational.”

West Virginia: The FBI is investigating after one or more people tried to penetrate West Virginia’s mobile voting system during the 2018 midterms. Sources tell the National Investigative Unit the attempted intrusion of the mobile voting app is believed to have come from inside the U.S., not from overseas. Opening the current federal investigation into the attempted hack “is to caution people to not even attempt to mess with an election,” Secretary of State Mac Warner said.

Opinions This Week

National Opinions: Election security, II, III, IV, V, VI | Stacey Abrams

California: Los Angeles County, II, III

Connecticut: Voter fraud | Bridgeport election

Florida: Ex-felon voting rights

Kentucky: Election Day holiday

Maine: Open primaries

Missouri: Election reform

New York: Ranked choice voting, II | Ex-felon voting rights

North Carolina: Board of elections

Ohio: Voter registration

Oklahoma: Voter registration

Oregon: Vote-by-mail

Pennsylvania: Election reform, II | Voting machines

Texas: Ex-felon voting rights

Utah: Suffrage

Virginia: Voting system | List maintenance

Washington: Voting rights

West Virginia: Automatic voter registration, II, III

Wisconsin: Election dates

Request for Information

IT-ISAC Elections Industry Special Interest Group Request for Formation

On August 15, 2019, the IT-ISAC Elections Industry Special Interest Group released a paper that detailed the commitment of voting systems manufacturers to the development and implementation of corporate Coordinated Vulnerability Disclosure (CVD) Programs.

The white paper also noted the value of Crowd-Sourced CVD programs and discussed potential challenges in applying such programs to the elections industry and noted that the SIG would create a Request for Information to solicit feedback on how crowd-sourced CVD programs could be implemented in the elections industry.

The IT-ISAC Elections Industry Special Interest Group seeks public input, comments and suggestions on the following challenges:

  • How to manage a crowd-sourced CVD program on systems that are designed to be closed, isolated, and disconnected from the Internet including stand-alone embedded systems?
  • How to ensure that those engaging in a crowd-sourced CVD program are not nefarious actors seeking sensitive information that can then be used in attacks against the elections’ infrastructure?
  • How best to ensure the confidentiality of the researcher findings so that vulnerability announcements are disclosed simultaneously with a fix or mitigation for the vulnerability

Comments and input should please be sent to cvd@it-isac.org by October 21, 2019

Upcoming Events

NCSL Redistricting Seminar — It’s almost time to redraw districts—and it’s definitely time to plan for it. When it comes to redistricting, the learning curve is steep. Let the National Conference of State Legislatures help you and your team prepare for this complex, once-a-decade task. Where: Columbus, Ohio. When: October 24-27.

IGO 2020 Mid-Winter Conference — The International Association of Government Officials will hold its 2020 Mid-Winter Conference in Isle of Palms, South Carolina in January of 2020. Check back here for more details as they become available.  Where: Isle of Palms, South Carolina. When: Jan. 20-24.

NASED Winter 2020 — Twice a year, the National Association of State Election Directors members gather to discuss the latest developments in election administration.  Members of the public are welcome to attend at the non-member registration rate. Check back here for more information about the Winter 2020 Conference. Where: Washington, DC. When: January 30-February 2.

NASS Winter 2020 — The National Association of Secretaries of State will hold their Winter 2020 conference at the Fairmont Hotel in Washington, D.C.’s West End. Check back here for more information about the Winter 2020 conference when it becomes available. Where: Washington, D.C. When: January 30-February 2.

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.

Administrative Specialist III (Election Specialist Lead), King County Elections— This is an amazing opportunity to be engaged in the election process! The Department of Elections is recruiting for a Ballot Processing Lead. This position will lead processes, projects, and people which will include leading, coaching, mentoring, and training temporary and regular staff. Leads may also provide assistance and/or participate in long-term cross-training in multiple work areas to meet organizational agile efforts. This is a great opportunity for a customer service oriented person with strong communication and interpersonal skills. The Department of Elections is searching for an energetic and resourceful professional who likes to “get stuff done”. The Administrative Specialist III position in the Elections Department combines an exciting, fast-paced environment with the opportunity to cultivate talent and apply a variety of skills. The ideal candidate will thrive in an innovative, fast-paced environment and will not hesitate to roll up both sleeves, work hard, have fun, and get the job done. Salary: $24.14 – $30.73 Hourly. Deadline: October 8. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Assurance Engineer, Free & Fair — Free & Fair (F&F) seeks an experienced assurance engineer—a developer who is thrilled to work on high-assurance open source elections technologies that demonstrate what is possible with modern applied formal methods-based development processes, methodologies, tools, and techniques. Our focus on national critical infrastructure, transparent engineering, and formal assurance makes this opportunity unique. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Data & Analytics Director, Voto Latino — Voto Latino seeks a Data & Analytics Director to build a program to track, support, and optimize our rapidly growing online and offline outreach to young and diverse voters. We know that Latinx voters are poised to be the largest minority voting bloc in 2020, with more than 800,000 Latinx citizens become eligible to vote each year. Voto Latino, building on a track record of organizational successes since 2004, is ready to take on this challenge, with the guidance and support of a great Data & Analytics Director. This position will work across teams — field, political, digital, communications — and act as the central data resource and key strategist for all of Voto Latino’s campaigns and programs. This position will be responsible for building and implementing sophisticated targeting programs nationally for both our growing online and on-the-ground efforts. There will be a strong focus on key states for civic and electoral engagement, working with data vendors, visualizing data and analytics, learning from historic and contemporary data, and managing Voto Latino’s voter outreach data. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Embedded Systems Engineer, Free & Fair— Free & Fair (F&F) seeks an experienced embedded systems engineer—a developer and engineer who is thrilled to work on a high-assurance open source elections technologies that demonstrate what is possible with modern development processes, methodologies, tools, and techniques. Our focus on national critical infrastructure, transparent engineering, and formal assurance makes this opportunity unique. One component of the BESSPIN Voting System is a custom-built, open source, open hardware platform for demonstrating secure hardware. It includes low- and mid-range FPGAs running softcore RISC-V CPUs, simple I/O devices, and an RTOS. This platform is called CASCADES (Configurable, Affordable System-on-Chip for Analysis and Demonstration of Election Security) and is a CrowdSupply project. A prototype for CASCADES is the Smart Ballot Box that we brought to DEF CON 2019. We call this role an embedded systems engineer, since much of the development that we do spans hardware, firmware, and software design and development. Moreover, we use a mixture of low-level and high-level languages, COTS and novel (FPGA-based) development platforms, and traditional and novel operating systems. We hope that potential applicants do not put themselves in an unnecessarily small box. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Global Election Technology and Cybersecurity Advisor, IFES — IFES seeks a Global Election Technology and Cybersecurity Advisor to counter evolving threats to democratic processes stemming from changes in election technology and cyber vulnerabilities. This individual will work closely with frontline defenders and elections experts around the world to help democratic institutions flourish in the face of rising anti-democratic trends. IFES’ Election Technology and Cybersecurity Advisor understands the unique and varying dimensions of cybersecurity in the elections context, and has demonstrated expertise and innovation in analyzing threats and proposing and implementing solutions to mitigate or manage those threats. He or she is an expert in election technologies and cybersecurity. As such, he or she understands the institutions and processes involved in elections, has demonstrated an ability to partner closely with relevant actors globally, and is oriented toward countering current challenges as well as anticipating future threats. At the same time, he or she understands the critical importance of transparency and verifiability in the elections context and how to advance these principles without compromising security. He or she understands the cross-cutting nature of election technology and model’s collaboration with electoral advisors in other technical fields such as legal/regulatory reform, inclusive political processes, and strategic communications. He or she maintains strategic relationships with a range of actors, such as governments, donors, EMBs, judiciaries, INGOs, foundations, technology vendors and other technology actors. He or she is actively tracking next generation challenges such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, and quantum computing – and the challenges they might pose for the electoral process. The Global Election Technology and Cybersecurity Advisor will report to the Senior Director (Applied Research, Learning and Strategy) in the Center for Applied Research and Learning. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Global New Media and Disinformation Advisor, IFES — IFES’ New Media and Disinformation Advisor is an expert in new media and the challenges stemming from disinformation in political and electoral contexts. As such, he or she has a deep understanding of how new media is being used in the context of elections around the world, with a commitment to confronting existing challenges as well as anticipating tomorrow’s threats. This individual is well-versed in the dynamics of major social media platforms, understands challenges and developments in the regulation of these platforms, and closely follows the emergence of the next generation of challenges in this space. He or she is also versed in the technological shifts underpinning this issue set, including data-mining and privacy, artificial intelligence, deep fakes and quantum computing that will enable a forward-looking perspective on emerging threats to electoral processes stemming from technological changes. He or she understands the cross-cutting nature of new media challenges and models collaboration with regional experts and electoral advisors in other technical fields such a legal/regulatory reform, cybersecurity, inclusion, and public outreach. He or she maintains strategic relationships with a range of actors working or thinking in this space, such as governments, technology and new media companies, donors, election administrators, judiciaries, INGOs, academics and foundations. The Global New Media and Disinformation Advisor will report to the Senior Director (Applied Research, Learning and Strategy) in the Center for Applied Research and Learning. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Program Director, National Voter Registration Day — We are seeking a Program Director to organize and rally key national partners around one of the most prominent and important civic holidays in the nation – National Voter Registration Day – held on the fourth Tuesday of every September. In 2020, we aim to break past years’ records and register over one million voters with the help of over 50 major national partners and 4,500 field partners. To do this we require a creative and entrepreneurial Program Director with sincere people skills and a passion for civic engagement and democracy. Salary: $68,000 and $76,000. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Project Manager, Hart InterCivic— Project Managers at Hart InterCivic are highly motivated “self-starters” who are enthusiastic about providing exceptional customer service. Working with other members of the Professional Services and Operations teams, the Project Manager directs activity, solves problems, and develops lasting and strong relationships with our customers. Hart InterCivic’s unique and industry known culture of innovation, transparency, and customer-centric focus creates an environment where team members will continually grow and be challenged to develop their careers. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Product Manager, Hart InterCivic — as Product Manager, you will join a team that is charged with product planning, design, and execution throughout the lifecycle of Hart’s products, in support of the company’s overall strategy and goals. This includes: gathering, validating, and prioritizing internal and external customer needs; documenting and communicating product and technical requirements; gathering market and competitive intelligence; supporting the certification, sales, and marketing teams. The Product Manager must possess a unique blend of business and technical savvy – with experience in elections technology or other government-oriented products preferred.  To succeed in this role, the ideal candidate must spend time in the market to understand its unique attributes; demonstrate competence with specialized hardware and software; and find innovative solutions for the broader market. The Product Manager plays a key role in helping others to understand the product positioning, key benefits, and target customer, as well as providing advanced subject matter expertise in using the company’s products. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Research Analyst II, National Conference of State Legislatures— The Research Analyst II position performs increasingly more independent research tasks requiring more extensive contact with legislators, staff, and others, though rarely on a face-to-face basis. An employee at this level should demonstrate a solid understanding of NCSL’s primary constituencies, its structure, services and information resources. The work consists largely of handling information requests, assisting with surveys, developing short reports and articles, and summarizing legislation or information for longer publications. The work is performed in collaboration with other redistricting and elections team members within established program guidelines or project specifications. All major work products are reviewed by more senior professionals or program managers/directors for quality, policy considerations, form, and substance. The employee will have, or will develop, expertise on elections administration and to a lesser degree on redistricting, state-level politics and campaign finance. The work includes research, writing, maintaining internal and external documents and resources, developing connections with state legislators and legislative staff as well as meeting planning. Salary: $3,634/month. Deadline: October 4. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Rigorous Systems/Software Engineer, Free & Fair — Free & Fair (F&F) seeks several experienced systems/software engineers—developers who are thrilled to work on high-assurance open source elections technologies that demonstrate what is possible with modern development processes, methodologies, tools, and techniques. Our focus on national critical infrastructure, transparent engineering, and formal assurance makes this opportunity unique. We call this role either/both system engineers or software engineers, since much of the development that we do spans hardware, firmware, and software design and development. Moreover, we use a mixture of low-level and high-level languages, COTS and novel (FPGA-based) development platforms, and traditional and novel operating systems. We hope that potential applicants do not put themselves in an unnecessarily small box. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Software Sales Specialist, VOTEC— VOTEC’s Sales Specialist is responsible for creating news sales with prospects and existing clients in targeted areas in the US. We are looking for an election professional comfortable using insight and consultative selling techniques to create interest that offers unique solutions on their operations, which link back to VOTEC’s solutions. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

State Election Director, North Dakota Secretary of State — A primary purpose of this position is to ensure the elections administered across the state are executed in compliance with laws and rules, and in a manner that is responsive to the public’s needs. In addition to directing the staff and operations of the Elections Unit, this position is responsible for supervision and oversight of the staff and activities of the Information Management and Public Information units. Direct and supervise staff of assigned units. Oversee the staff hiring, performance and evaluation processes within the assigned units. Evaluate and increase the performance and efficiency of the assigned units. Provide support and oversight to the state’s local election officials cooperatively and individually in their administration of elections to ensure that the standards of the Secretary of State and law are met. Oversee the development of conferences, trainings, and educational materials for election officials as required by both statute and the direction of the Secretary of State. Provide oversight of projects and initiatives within the assigned units. Develop, implement, evaluate, and revise policies, procedures, processes, workflows, and electronic systems to administer statutory requirements and maintain public accessibility related to the assigned units. Ensure that responsibilities of the units are executed in compliance with state laws, rules, policies, and procedures in a manner responsive to the public and the needs of the office. Perform activities related to the legislative process including drafting bills, testimony, and fiscal notes; tracking bills; attending legislative hearings; and testifying at legislative hearings. Participate as a member of the office’s leadership team. Salary: $5,500 – $6,400/month + benefits including fully paid family health insurance. Deadline: November 4. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

UI/UX Engineer, Free & Fair — Free & Fair (F&F) seeks an experienced UI/UX engineer—someone who practices user-centric design, finds usable security a fascinating area of R&D, someone who appreciates usable and accessible technologies, and a developer and engineer who is thrilled to work on high-assurance open source elections technologies that demonstrate what is possible with modern development processes, methodologies, tools, and techniques. Our focus on national critical infrastructure, transparent engineering, and formal assurance makes this opportunity unique. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

VP of Engineering, Free & Fair— Free & Fair (F&F) seeks an experienced systems engineering development leader—an executive who can step in and build a dynamic, distributed engineering team, deliver solutions to the market, and execute challenging development activities focused on national critical infrastructure. The VP of Engineering at F&F will be responsible for executing on the Company’s overall technology vision and driving its development execution. This person will recruit world-class talent, manage and evolve development processes and methodologies, and foster an organizational structure to help our high-performing development team deliver applications to the market. This person will keep abreast of and influence research and technology trends, standards, and stakeholders. This person will have the ability to bridge technology with business acumen, will bring experience in developing state-of-the-art customer-facing applications, and will develop and sustain a culture of passion, hard work, and innovation. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Marketplace

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