In Focus This Week
There’s an algorithm for that
Caltech, Orange Co., CA partnership reviews voter rolls
By M. Mindy Moretti
With the eyes of the world closely watching preparations for the 2020 U.S. election cycle, state and local elections officials have been finding all sorts of new and unique ways to ensure that their election systems are secure and that their data is ready to go for what is sure to be a high turnout event.
Alvarez and his students began discussing a pilot project with Registrar of Voters Neal Kelley in the fall of 2017. A series of meetings and conversations in spring 2018 got them to the point where they understood what Kelley wanted the methodology to accomplish.
From there the team created algorithms that would look into the county’s 1.5 million voting records. The algorithms would focus on the issue of duplicates as well as statistical anomalies. The algorithms took daily snapshots of the data from April 2018 to May of 2019 and in August of 2019 the findings were released.
“It was important to me to have a third party, especially academic, reviewing our data to provide a second set of eyes and to validate the list maintenance (or not) of what we were doing,” Kelley said.
Alvarez said one of the central motivations for the project with Orange County was to develop fast, independent, and transparent ways to conduct end-to-end election administration performance audits.
“[B]ecause of concerns in 2016 and 2018 regarding the security of critical voter registration systems, we decided to see if we could develop a methodology that could provide fast and accurate auditing of voter registration data,” Alvarez said.
Letting anyone poke around voter data can be a bit nerve-wracking.
“I think I was resigned to allowing the process to unfold,” Kelley said. “I knew I was opening ourselves up to critical scrutiny but I was willing to take that chance to ensure our data and process was sound.”
For the Caltech team, the findings of the algorithms were a bit surprising.
“The most surprising finding — especially for academic researchers — was finding how volatile voter registration data in a large and complex election jurisdiction can be. Voter registration systems undergo many internal list maintenance operations, and we have been struck by how rapidly the information they contain can change,” Alvarez said.
As someone who works in the data on a daily basis, Kelley said that he wasn’t really surprised by the algorithms findings.
“They focused on the duplicate issue which we’ve been working on with the state. But overall what they found and reported on was expected,” Kelley said.
Kelley said the registrar’s office will continue to use the algorithms throughout the 2020 election cycle and would encourage other states or counties to conduct similar programs.
“It provides a critical review of data without the bias of internal review,” Kelley said. “It’s very important.”
Alvarez said he and his team are happy to discuss collaborations with any counties or states.
“Our team is happy to work directly with any election officials who may want to explore voter registration database auditing, or any other type of election performance auditing,” he said “We are also happy to collaborate with local colleges or universities, and to help support their efforts to collaborate with election officials in their area.”
Alvarez said one thing that he really likes about this project is building strong collaborations with election officials
“As you know, there has been some distrust between academics and election officials, and this is a great example of a type of project where we have been able to build strong, positive, and productive partnerships,” Alvarez said.
Caltech is continuing to work with Orange County and is conducting a similar pilot program in Los Angeles County’s voter data rolls which include more than four million registered voters.
Not just voter registration data
The approach Alvarez and his team have taken for auditing voter registration data can be used for other types of administrative data, in particular administrative data that is dynamic—that is, it naturally changes every day—and has many different points of access.
“In the elections space, we are most actively interested in extending this approach to the transactions data associated with voting by mail, where we believe that this methodology can help find potential anomalies and thus help mitigate potential problems in voting by mail jurisdictions,” Alvarez said.
Case-in-point Alvarez and his team are also working with Paul Gronke and the Reed College’s Early Voting Information Center on a pilot project.
“We launched a pilot project earlier this year to examine how our approach for election performance auditing might scale statewide in Oregon, focusing on voter registration database auditing,” Alvarez explained. “Scaling our methodology statewide presents challenges, in particular auditing across counties that may have very different voter registration workflows. We worked closely with the Oregon Secretary of State’s office and Reed College in this pilot project.”
Caltech has also built methodologies for auditing and studying other aspects of an election administration process, ranging from tracking vote-by-mail trends to forensic audits of voter turnout and cast ballot statistics.
Voter registration application data
By Tammy Patrick
The Democracy Fund
Registration is the first step in voting for most voters. What steps can election officials, technology directors, and voter registration managers take to identify potentially problematic registration applications?
This list provides a quick checklist of some items to monitor as applications are made to initiate or update a voter’s registration status. None of these alone indicate that there is an attack, a breech, or malfeasance; these could however be the “check engine light” of your VR system and somethings to have on your radar.
Additionally, what can be done as an applicant completes their information to aid them in successfully registering? We can secure the systems AND enhance their usability with vigilance and thoughtful architecture.
What are the timelines of submissions? The volume of applications hitting the system will vary depending on where you are in the election cycle with a large spike at the deadline to register. There can be variation over the timeline—a spike in September on National Voter Registration Day or as a result of a social media platform’s registration push that may seem like an anomaly if you are not expecting it. Understanding, and anticipating, when large volumes of records may be hitting the system will allow for election officials to differentiate between legitimate activity and potential denial of service attacks or other ill-intended actions. This is where partnerships and collaborations become critical.
As we head into the primaries and voters may be adding or changing political parties, knowing what those trends tend to be in your jurisdiction (particularly if you have a closed primary and a voter’s ability to participate hinges upon having a party designated) could prove critical. Are eligible electors suddenly removing their party and, thus, making themselves ineligible?
What are the submissions’ timing? With online voter registration (or automated voter registration) there may be large files that are downloaded in batches from DMVs or NVRA agencies. Monitoring for tranches of forms being submitted all at once and at odd times that are contrary to your typical data flows is something to look at, especially if you have a real-time connection. Is it rare to get submissions on a Saturday night? How about Wednesday? Knowing historical trends will help to know if there are activities that need to be looked at.
Where are the applications for? In addition to the timing of applications, where they are for is equally important. Many jurisdictions know what addresses are single-family or multi-family dwellings and have thresholds on the number of applications that can be submitted in a given timeframe for a single address.
If voters are unable to register at commercial addresses or mailboxes for residency requirement reasons, systems should know what those addresses are (especially for those that give the appearance of a brick and mortar building rather than a “POB” designation). Conversely, there are thousands of addresses that do not get mail delivery at the residential address, USPS calls them R777 addresses, and THOSE addresses have to have a mailing address associated with it or mail will be returned as undeliverable. These R777 addresses are identified by their zip code and election officials should check with their mailing vendor or USPS Election Mail Specialist for more information.
Where are the applications coming from? Many systems will track the IP that is generating the application. Some caveats to this sort of system control is to make sure that you first identify all of the legally-required NVRA agency ISPs and locations with the potential for a lot of traffic such as political party headquarters or public libraries. There may be an inclination to block foreign IP addresses but remember that there are between 3 and 5 million eligible Americans living overseas and serving in the military who may only be able to participate if they register remotely.
Is your system “smart”? When people move they may not always get their address correct. Does the application process verify the address as valid prior to submission? Does it have the capacity to offer potential correct options if a street name is misspelled or to go as far as to populate a zip code based on the house number, street descriptor, and directional?
What prevents an application from getting on the rolls? Knowing what the most common failings are in successful submission is the first step in making your system more user-friendly and better serving the electorate. Mandatory fields should be noted and an application not able to be submitted without their completion.
Are addresses attributed to the proper district(s)? Voters will only get the right ballot if the address is placed in the appropriate district. A system that monitors the correctness of the street address (or GIS coordinates) to the appropriate geo-political district further enhances the integrity of the process by providing additional assurance that voters are only presented with candidates representing the district within which they live.
Are you using common data formats (CDFs)? Data matching and analysis is easier when a common format is used. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) recently published the Voter Records Interchange (VRI) specification that can dramatically ease the ability to streamline data input and review that data for inaccuracies.
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Election Security Updates
A group of 39 Democratic senators sent a letter to the leaders of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees urging the panels to better fund election security.
The senators requested funding for election security grants and for the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) in the Fiscal Year 2020 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill.
Speaking at an event sponsored by security tech firm, U.S. Election Assistance Commissioner Thomas Hicks said that the U.S. is “light years” ahead of where it was in 2016, but also emphasized there’s plenty more to do to ensure good security for the 2020 election cycle.
Hicks said the situation in the 2016 cycle was characterized by “agencies not talking to each other … we were in silos.” He said that changed with elections were classified as critical infrastructure. “now if something happens, we know exactly who to call across thousands of jurisdictions … We can communicate better,” he said.
2019 Election Updates
Georgia: Four candidates contested the results of their respective elections in Fulton County this year and that’s most election complaints the county has seen from candidates in six years. “That is a significant increase,” Richard Barron, Fulton’s director of registration and elections told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution of the four challenges filed in 2019. “I think it shows a lack of trust in the results of the system.”
Mississippi: The state’s Supreme Court has appointed judges to hear challenges in eight local elections. According to the Associated Press, county supervisor races are being challenged in Jasper, Leflore, Madison, Monroe and Washington counties. Elections for chancery clerk and circuit clerk are disputed in Quitman County. The sheriff’s race is being challenged in Yalobusha County.
Ohio: Proving, yet again, that every vote counts, especially in local elections, five races in Montgomery County are headed to automatic recounts. Rhine McLin, board of elections chairwoman, told WHIO it’s the first time in her tenure that so many races have been so close.
Pennsylvania: Tied races are decided in a lot of different ways and in Washington County, Pennsylvania it’s by pulling a number ball (1-16) out of a bag. Whoever pulls the highest number wins. The county has been deciding tied races this way since the 1930s.
New Jersey: In the Garden State, Judge Julio Mendez has granted recounts for two candidates in Atlantic County who where ahead at the polls Nov. 5, but lost after hundreds of mail-in ballots were counted. In Morris County lawyers for a losing candidate are asking the state to order a recount of 42 provisional ballots that were rejected because their envelopes weren’t sealed. “In multiple cases, the voter attempted to seal the ballot but was unable to do so because of issues with the glue. In some instances, those voters were instructed to give the unsealed ballot to the poll worker, who placed it in the bag given to the poll workers by the Board of Elections,” the attorney wrote.
Washington: We’ll know more on December 9, but it looks like a race for Fairfield council in Spokane County could end up tied with the winner being drawn from a milk bottle…yes, milk bottle. State law requires the drawing of lots for ties and in Spokane, numbered balls are put into a milk bottle and whichever ball comes out is the winner. How did the county start using a milk bottle? “Because our bingo ball dispenser broke,” Auditor Vicki Dalton told KXLY. Until it stopped working, the county had used a battery-operated mini bingo ball dispenser which would spit out one ball at a time. When it broke, the milk bottle took its place. “I truly have no idea where the milk bottle came from, no idea whatsoever,” said Dalton.
Election News This Week
Start of a trend? During the November 5 election, three Vanderburgh County, Indiana voters refused to use the county’s electronic voting machines citing security concerns. The three voters were given paper provisional ballots that were eventually counted. County Clerk Carla Hayden told the Courier & Press that she will seek changes to the state to prevent voters from doing this in the future. Provisional ballots are only permissible under seven criteria, not wanting to use the electronic voting machines is not one of the seven. “We’re instructed by the clerk to do everything we can to ensure that somebody gets to vote,” said Don Gibbs, the poll worker who handed out the provisionals. “We were never instructed to say, ‘Well, you’ve got to use the electronic machine or you don’t vote.’ That’s why you have the provisional ballots. The bigger responsibility is to help ensure somebody gets to vote.” Hayden, a member of the state clerks association’s legislative committee, said she will approach local legislators. It’s not enough, she said, that a voter’s refusal to use machines isn’t among the seven criteria for issuing provisional ballots. “We need specificity,” she said.
Suffrage News: New York City’s Central Park is getting its very first statue that will honor real-life women — Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Sojourner Truth. The sculpture, which will debut on August 26, 2020, will be located on the park’s Literary Walk. The Girl Scouts, foundations and private donors raised the $1.5 million for the statue. According to The Associated Press, of the 23 statues of historical figures in the 840-acre, 166-year-old public park, none honors actual women. There are statues of three female fictional characters: Alice in Wonderland, Mother Goose and William Shakespeare’s Juliet, who appears with Romeo. “It’s fitting that the first statue of real women in Central Park depicts three New York women who dedicated their lives to fighting for women’s rights,” said Pam Elam, president of Monumental Women, in a written statement last month after the project received approval from a city commission.
The History Channel has a fun look back at Election Day in colonial times. Voting was all done in person and usually not with a ballot and almost always with a beer or some other adult beverage in hand! But they weren’t just drinking, voters were also eating, especially something called Election Cake!
Sticker News: Oakland County, Michigan will have two new I Voted stickers for the upcoming election cycle that celebrate the 100th anniversary of suffrage. Voting is now open in Wyoming for a new I Voted sticker that will celebrate suffrage. The Wyoming secretary of state’s office partnered with the Governor’s Council for Women’s Suffrage Celebration. The winners of El Paso County, Texas’ I Voted sticker contest will be recognized by the county commission.
Personnel News: Kathy Boockvar has officially been sworn-in as Pennsylvania’s secretary of state after receiving senate confirmation on a 45-4. Jeanette Manfra, a senior DHS cybersecurity official is leaving her role at the end of the year. Jonathan Brater will be the new Michigan director of elections effective January 2. Trumbull County, Ohio board of elections deputy director Ron Massulo was suspended for three days after current and former employees complained about his behavior. Tiffany Peguise-Powers has resigned as the chairperson of the Robeson County, North Carolina board of elections. Janae Cooper has resigned as the Ionia County, Michigan clerk. Kim Kean has retired as the chief deputy clerk for Hood River County, Oregon. Virginia Martin has won another term as Democratic election commissioner in Columbia County, New York. Lyons, Colorado Town Clerk Deb Anthony is retiring after 22 years on the job. Fayette County, West Virginia Clerk Kelvin Holliday is retiring after 27 years on the job. Caitlin Sabadish is the new Carteret County, North Carolina board of elections director. Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill has ended his bid for U.S. Senate. Madison County, Texas Election Administrator Earl Parker has resigned after 12 years on the job. And best wishes to Whitley County, Kentucky Clerk Kay Schwartz who, after 44, has resigned. When asked about her resignation, Schwartz said: “I don’t want to learn anything else. I’d rather just put that energy into playing with my grandkids and having a good time. I feel like if I am not willing to learn the new software and the changes then I need to leave.” Have all the fun Kay, you deserve it!
In Memoriam: Joanne Palmucci, chairwoman of the Mercer County, New Jersey Board of Elections died unexpectedly on November 17. “I was deeply saddened to hear of the passing of my good friend Joanne Palmucci, who was a respected and hard-working public servant for many years. My heartfelt condolences go out to Joanne’s family, friends and colleagues,” Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes told TAPinto. Palmucci was first appointed to the county board of elections in 2006 and subsequently reappointed numerous time. “Today, I am mourning the loss of my dear friend and colleague, Joanne Palmucci. She was very dedicated to her job and worked to do her best in that regard. In fact, she was returning home from a trip to Florida last evening for a special elections meeting,” Mercer County Clerk Paula Sollami Covello told the publication. “She was also an exceptional cook and a very generous person. She threw sensational dinner parties and fundraisers. I will miss her greatly. I loved her spirit because she really took her job very seriously even though it was a part-time job. Her staff is devastated, but they’re carrying on.”
Federal Legislation: In an interview this week, House Administration Committee Chair Zoe Lofgren (D-California) said that she believes the House will take up a bill, before year’s end, that would lay the foundation for the restoration of the full Voting Rights Act that was altered by the 2013 Supreme Court ruling in Shelby v. Holder.
Arizona: SB 1014, proposed by Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita, R-Scottsdale, would require that any changes in the formal election manual be approved by the Governor’s Regulatory Review Council. That means there would be formal public hearings. What it also means is that the council would be able to quash any changes that members believe go outside the legal authority of the secretary of state.
Also in Arizona, State Rep. Kelly Townsend has pre-filed a bill that would limit the number of acceptable forms of ID in order to cast a ballot. Townsends would eliminate the use of student IDs as well as the use non-photo documents like bank statements and utility bills.
Florida: Gov. Ron DeSantis has approved a proposal from Bay County Supervisor of Elections Mark Anderson to allow the county, which is still struggling to recover from Hurricane Michael in 2018, to use vote centers in the 2020 election cycle. “I have six identified fully which would be nine days for the presidential primary and then the primary will be another nine days but when we hit the general, they’ll be open for 14 days. These sites will allow us that we will open them but we will not close until election night,” Andersen told WMBB.
Kentucky: Under a bipartisan proposal from by Republican House Speaker David Osborne and Democratic House Minority Leader Rocky Adkins, an automatic recount would be triggered if election results show a candidate winning by less than half of a percentage point. The change would require a constitutional amendment.
Another proposal up for consideration in the 2020 General Assembly would expand the list of those allowed to cast absentee ballots to include those employed in roles that are deemed “essential services personnel”.
Michigan: The Oakland County board of commissioners approved a resolution — along party lines — designating Election Day a paid holiday for Oakland County employees.
Minnesota: The Red Wing city council has decided to suspend the push toward putting ranked choice voting on the 2020 ballot.
New Jersey: By a 46-23 vote, the Assembly has approved a bill that will reinstate voting rights to those on parole or probation. The bill would not extend voting rights to those incarcerated and would provide criminal penalties for those incarcerated persons who cast a ballot. A similar bill has been introduced in the Senate.
Ohio: A bill that would essentially create automatic voter registration in the Buckeye State has been temporarily put on hold. The bill was scheduled for a hearing this week, but the bipartisan sponsors of the bill have requested a delay in the hearing in order to hear from more interested parties.
Pennsylvania: Following a slew of voter complaints on Election Day, a speedy bill seeking to alleviate the privacy problems is on its way to Gov. Tom Wolf’s desk. In addition to requiring counties to provide voters with more privacy to cast their ballot, the bill also would do away with ballot stubs which caused problems with York County’s new voting system.
Vermont: By a 9-3 vote the Burlington city council passed a resolution that seeks to adopt ranked choice voting in all mayoral, city councilor and school commissioner elections. The resolution now heads to the Charter Change Committee for a vote on whether to put the question on the March 2020 ballot to be approved by voters. The state Legislature will get the final say.
Washington: The Port Angeles city council voted 4-2 against adopting a resolution to consider adopting ranked choice voting. Two weeks before the vote, the city council asked city staff to create the resolution. Councilman Mike French said he doesn’t think voters here have a clear enough understanding of ranked-choice voting to be adopting the resolution.
Wisconsin: Gov. Tony Evers recently signed a bill into law that will make voting more accessible to people with disabilities. Voters with speech-affecting disabilities will no longer be required to state their name and address at a polling place. They will now be able to use written identification instead or an election official or trusted person can say the voter’s name and address for them.
Also in Wisconsin, by a 5 to 1 vote, the Wisconsin Elections Commission has voted to direct staff to start talking to lawmakers about the process for when they should purge voter rolls. According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the commissioners want clearer rules about how to treat voters who may have moved — either with a law that spells out those rules or a law that gives the commission the power to set those rules on its own.
Arizona: Priorities USA and Voto Latino have filed a complaint alleging that the state’s absentee ballot deadline — 7 p.m. on Election Day — puts an undue burden on voters and takes away rights to procedural due process.
Florida: The legal battle over Amendment 4, and whether or not felons have to complete financial restitution before regaining their voting rights continued this week with a contentious hearing before U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle over whether or not the entire amendment was void because of the lack severability with regard to the restitution issues.
Michigan: Priorities USA has filed another lawsuit in Michigan, this one against secretary of state Jocelyn Benson that challenges two provisions in the state’s voting laws: restrictions on documents that demonstrate residency and restrictions on automatic voter registration for people younger than 17-and-a-half.
Mississippi: The Fifth Circuit heard arguments this week in a challenge to a Mississippi law that permanently blocks certain felons from voting unless they can get their rights restored through a process their attorney says is basically nonexistent. According to Courthouse News Service, a lawyer for the plaintiff’s told the judges that the state’s permanent disenfranchisement law is preventing 29,000 Mississippians who have already served their sentences from voting.
Missouri: The state of Missouri has agreed to make online voter registration easier in order to settle a lawsuit alleging the state was violating the federal National Voter Registration Act. As part of the settlement reached Thursday, the Department of Revenue will redirect residents to the secretary of state’s voter registration website when they change their address through the Department of Revenue. The Department of Revenue also agreed to changes to in-person and by-mail change-of-address transactions. The suit was brought by the League of Women Voters and the A. Philip Randolph Institute.
New Hampshire: Opening arguments began this week in the legal battle over Senate Bill 3 which requires those registering to vote within 30 days of an election to provide documentation proving that they live where they say they do. Plaintiffs argue that the law imposes unnecessary burdens on the registration process, especially for college students, the elderly and homeless people. The state attorney general’s office counters that the law simply requires people registering to vote to substantiate that they are domiciled in the state.
New York: A federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit from a coalition of advocacy groups against the Rensselaer County Board of Elections over a proposal to share voter registration data with federal immigration authorities, saying both parties shouldn’t have acted so quickly.
Pennsylvania: Court papers filed by former Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein and several supporters accuse Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration of violating their year-old agreement in Philadelphia’s federal court by certifying the ExpressVote XL touchscreen system made Election Systems & Software. The filing is asking the court to force the state to rescind its certification of the machines.
South Carolina: The S.C. Democratic Party and two national Democratic campaign organizations have sued the state Election Commission over a longstanding state law that requires prospective voters to submit their full Social Security number in order to register. According to The Post and Courier, the groups argue the requirement has an unconstitutional chilling effect on potential voters who are concerned about sharing Social Security numbers, something that is mandated in only four states nationwide.
Tennessee: Pamela Moses of Memphis faces 12 counts of illegal registration or voting, one count of falsifying an election document and perjury. According to an indictment returned by a grand jury, Moses voted in several elections dating back to 2016 knowing that she was a convicted felon and disqualified from voting. The indictment also alleges she made a false entry on her voter registration information on Sept. 3 this year.
Also in Tennessee, Shelby Advocates for Valid Election (SAVE) have appealed a judge’s September dismissal of their suit against the state and the use of electronic voting machines. The group’s recent lawsuit claimed that touchscreen voting machines are not secure because they don’t produce a voter-verifiable paper trail. A district judge dismissed the suit in September because he said it failed to show that any harm has been caused by these machines. Now the group is appealing the decision and pushing for hand marked paper ballots. “That’s what we’re after, hand marked ballots is basis. If someone can hack a machine, they can put in ransom ware and hold an election at ransom,” said plaintiff Mike Kernell.
Texas: Former Austin Assistant City Manager Terrell Blodgett, Texas Young Democrats (TYD) and Texas College Democrats are suing the secretary of state’s office over House Bill 1888 that bans local governments from setting up temporary polling locations—or any polling location that isn’t open throughout all of early voting, this includes mobile voting sites at senior communities.
West Virginia: Twenty-third Judicial Circuit Judge Debra McLaughlin, who had ordered provisional ballots in the Harpers Ferry June 11 municipal election be counted as part of a recount on Nov. 6, ruled that those who have challenged that decision have until Dec. 6 to “perfect” their appeal before the state’s high court. According to the Herald-Mail, the state Supreme Court of Appeals has been asked to expedite a review of the case, but McLaughlin ruled she would lift a stay that she has granted in the case if the appeal isn’t perfected with the high court by Dec. 6.
Wisconsin: The League of Women Voters of Wisconsin asked Ozaukee County Judge Paul Malloy to let it intervene in a lawsuit brought by conservatives that could force up to 234,000 voters off the rolls. A hearing is scheduled for Dec. 5.
Audits: DHS’ Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) announced recently that is partnering with nonprofit VotingWorks on the open-source software tool Arlo that is provided to state and local election officials for free. “Heading into 2020, we’re exploring all possible ways that we can support state and local election officials while also ensuring that Americans across the country can confidently cast their votes,” CISA Director Christopher Krebs said in a statement.
Arizona: This week the Arizona secretary of state’s office launched the Arizona Voter Information Portal to help residents keep track of their registration and find other election-related information. The portal, which can be accessed at My.Arizona.Vote, is in conjunction with the new Arizona Voter Information Database. The secretary of state’s office and recorders and elections directors in the state’s 15 counties have completed their transition to the new database after years of testing and preparation, the release said.
California: Secretary of State Alex Padilla has launched a new website, www.HowToVoteForPresident.sos.ca.gov to help Californians understand which candidates they are able to vote for under the state’s primary rules. Padilla noted that the site is particularly important for those voters who choose No Party Preference.
Oklahoma: The state has launched the OK Voter Portal that allows voters to: verify registration status, view voting districts, find their polling place, view a sample ballot, change address or party affiliation, respond to address confirmation notices and request and check the status of absentee ballots. “The OK Voter Portal is a one-stop-shop for voters. It’s convenient, mobile-friendly, and most importantly, it’s safe and secure,” said Paul Ziriax, state election board secretary.
Oregon: Pierce County announced this week that after a successful pilot of the Votaz mobile voting system for military and overseas voters during local elections in 2019 that the county will continue to use the voting system moving forward. Pierce County had an excellent experience with the Voatz pilot. We intend to continue offering mobile voting as an option for overseas voters. Pierce County sees this as a safe and secure alternative for UOCAVA voters. We also see future potential for voters with disabilities– especially those who are blind or have difficulty handling paper and pens. A secure mobile voting app could be an important accommodation,” Pierce County Auditor Julie Anderson said according to The Suburban Times.
Texas: Using a nine-point criteria, the League of Women Voters of Texas review all of the county elections websites and found that 20 percent are following best security practices. According to KXAN, largely the state’s metro area counties scored highest with Hays County coming out on top overall. “What we find is just like Texas is a huge state, and there are many counties with a lot of resources, and counties with very few resources,” League of Women Voters of Texas president, Grace Chimene, said. “You can tell by looking at their election websites what they have available to them.”
Opinions This Week
Arizona; Vote by mail
Colorado: Ranked choice voting
Idaho: Ranked choice voting
Iowa: Ex-felon voting rights
Maine: Ranked choice voting
Maryland: Montgomery County
Massachusetts: Secretary of state
New Hampshire: Ranked choice voting
New Jersey: Vote-by-mail
New Mexico: Ranked choice voting
South Carolina: 2020
Virginia: Early voting
IGO 2020 Mid-Winter Conference — The International Association of Government Officials will hold its 2020 Mid-Winter Conference in Isle of Palms, SC on January 24-30, 2020. This conference will offer approximately 30 hours of continuing education with 9 hours hosted by iGO’s new Certified Public Leader (CPL) Partner, Pepperdine University! Join iGO at Wild Dunes Resort this January to further your education on best practices, industry trends, and emerging technology, all while creating and strengthening professional relationships. iGO’s conferences provide the perfect combination of education and networking events to appeal to current members, prospective members, and non-members alike. Where: Isle of Palms, South Carolina. When: Jan. 24-30.
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 email@example.com. 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.
Advanced Data Analyst, North Carolina SBOE— This position is responsible for technical and analytical work with an emphasis on data analytics. Employee uses their knowledge and expertise to participate in the collection, preprocessing and analysis of structured, unstructured, and geospatial data, analyze data from disparate sources to discover trends, propose solutions and strategies to business challenges, and present information using various data visualization tools and techniques. The employee should be able to work collaboratively in cross-functional teams as well as independently with minimal supervision. Salary: $82,485 – $95,000. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Assistant Registrar, Richmond, Virginia— The City of Richmond Registrar’s Office is seeking qualified, dynamic, hardworking, and enthusiastic candidates to fill the position of Assistant Registrar I. This class assists citizens register to vote and assists in the election process by providing clerical assistance and customer service. Incumbents are responsible for maintaining accurate voter registration records and for providing election information and services to candidates and the general public. Incumbents may also train Elections officials on voting practices/eligibility. Incumbents may serve as lead workers, assigning work and monitoring work completion, especially to temporary or contract workers. Salary: $30,000-$45,500. Deadline: Dec. 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.
Database Administrator, North Carolina SBOE— Responsible for the administration of all county and state campaign finance and elections databases and database server instances. Collaborate and consult with the Infrastructure Group personnel on issues relating to data storage, access, backup/restore, and data archiving. Implement measures to provide for database integrity, backup and recovery, disaster recovery, and business continuity. Establish data security and access policies/practices. Based on knowledge of agency systems and supported applications; develop complex SQL code to automate routine administration tasks, continuously monitor infrastructure resources and processes and generate timely operational and maintenance alerts (including the disposition of county/state transactions, replication, scheduled database jobs, and the status of servers and services). Establish and administer database management, design, and coding standards. Create and maintain technical and procedural documentation. Model database entities and attributes and maintain data dictionary. Communicate database related issues and problems with relevant agency team members, developers, testers, and managers. Recommend and employ third party database tools to enhance efficiency and support capabilities. Salary: $82,485 – $95,000. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Director of Elections, Henderson County, North Carolina— An employee in this class is responsible for planning elections, negotiating and setting up polling places, and training staff and poll workers. Work also includes establishing procedures and methods used in registration; supervising the receiving and processing of voter registrations; filing of candidates for elected office in the County; and providing staff support to the County Board of Elections in coordinating and scheduling meetings, recording minutes, drafting the budget and notifying them of potential voter problems and trends. Independent judgment and initiative, tact and courtesy are required in operating the Elections Office. Work is performed in accordance with the State election laws and policies and procedures established by the State and County Board of Elections. Work is performed under the general supervision of the County Board of Elections and is evaluated through reports, periodic conferences and efficiency of office and elections operations. Salary: $51,558.00 – 96,856.50. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Director of Elections, Northampton County, North Carolina— The Northampton County Board of Elections is accepting applications for a Director in the Elections office to perform administrative and coordinative work in organizing and maintaining voter registrations, County candidates’ filing records, and managing the election process for the County and the Elections Board. Education/Requirements: Graduation from a two-year college with a degree in business or related field and several years of responsible clerical experience dealing with the public, preferable at least a year of experience with the electoral process; or an equivalent combination of education and experience. Must possess a valid North Carolina driver’s license upon hire. Must be willing to work towards certification as a Notary Public and take the N.C. State Board of Elections Treasurer Training within the probationary period (9 months); if classes and/or trainings are available within the allotted time frame. Salary: $35,018 – $61,796. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Director of Elections, Rutherford County, North Carolina— The employee in this class is responsible for planning, directing and supervising all areas of the election process and the daily operations of the Elections Department. Work includes preparing for and executing all federal, state and municipal elections in the county; ensuring accuracy of election results; preparing voting equipment and supplies for elections; training poll workers; conducting voter education and registration drive programs; maintaining addressing of voters by use of maps; overseeing the filing of campaign finance reports; and overseeing and participating in voter registration. Work also involves developing and implementing procedural and technical improvements for the elections process and department operations; preparing and maintaining the departmental budget; preparing bid specifications for election services and equipment; answering questions from the public and the media; and maintaining the department website. The employee provides staff support to the County Board of Elections in coordinating and scheduling meetings, preparing agendas, recording and reviewing minutes, and presenting potential voter problems and trends. Independent sound judgment, initiative, tact and courtesy are required in overseeing the filing and elections processes and in dealing with the general public. Work requires a thorough knowledge of State Statutes relating to election laws and a high degree of accuracy is critical. Work is performed in accordance with State election laws and policies and procedures established by the County Board of Elections. Work is performed under the general direction of the State Board of Elections, County Board of Elections and the County Manager and is reviewed through accuracy of records, efficiency of office and election operations, and feedback from the public. Salary: Minimum starting salary $54,397. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Director of Elections, Surry County, North Carolina — Surry County is accepting applications for a Director of Elections. This individual is responsible for overseeing, directing and administering the Board of Elections Office. This position requires someone who can thrive in a high-stress, high scrutiny environment. The Director of Elections performs complex technical, supervisory and administrative work directing the registration, voting and election activities for Surry County. The Director of Elections is appointed by the Surry County Board of Elections and approved by the State Board. This position exercises supervision over office staff and precinct election officials, interprets laws, regulations, policies, and procedures and makes appropriate decisions accordingly. Must have the ability to exercise tact and courtesy and to work under pressure and adapt to rapidly changing circumstances. Other duties as required and all duties must be performed in a nonpartisan manner. Salary: $50,544 -$86,004. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Director of Elections, Tyrell County, North Carolina— Tyrrell County is seeking qualified applicants for the full time position of Election Director. The Director performs responsible administrative, legal, technical and mechanical work in planning, organizing and directing all aspects of the election process. Plans for various elections on an annual basis covering primaries, second primaries, municipal elections, general elections, special elections, recommends annual budget to the Board; plans for and purchases supplies as needed; identifies number of polling places required and potential location and negotiates usage as needed; insures ADA compliance. Processes voter registrations, assures each voter is placed in the correct precinct and in the correct local, state, and federal districts; oversees the preparation and revisions of geocodes for redistricting, filing of candidates for office including managing their campaign finance, as well as auditing their reports. Handles all ballot preparation for the vendors, proofs, orders and burns the coding from the vendor to the flash and M100 cards used during the election. The Director is responsible for testing the coding against a generated test script used to test the equipment during the Logic and Accuracy testing of the AutoMark (visual and hearing impaired equipment) and the M100 that read the ballots. The training of all workers for One Stop and Election Day as well as preparing the equipment and necessary materials needed at each precinct. The Board Members and the Director meet weekly during an election and are responsible for Election Night with the processing of the unofficial results with accurate reports to the State Board of Elections and to the public in a timely manner. After Election Day the Director moves to the research and processing of Provisional and timely received Absentee Ballots before the Board holds Canvass (making the unofficial local results become official). During the next days the opportunity is there for Challenges, Protests, Recounts or any other related matters before the votes are made official at Canvass on the State level. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Director of Policy & Research, New York City Campaign Finance Board — The New York City Campaign Finance Board (CFB), a nonpartisan, independent city agency that enhances the role of New York City residents, seeks a Director of Policy & Research to oversee its intergovernmental outreach and policy and data research work. This position will report to the Deputy Director of Public Affairs. Responsibilities: Directly supervise a team of intergovernmental, policy, and data research staff. Create legislative strategies to advance agency priorities at the city and state level. Oversee outreach to elected officials and their offices to support the agency’s legislative work and government outreach. Oversee policy analysis related to campaign finance and voting in New York City and State. Participate in high-level agency discussions around policy development and spearhead agency legislative recommendations in its regularly published reports. Oversee research projects with internal staff and external researchers, as well as overseeing research content for CFB publications, reports, white papers, and policy briefs. Oversee public opinion research performed on behalf of the agency that informs voter communication and education initiatives. Salary: $90,000-$100,000. Application: For the complete job listing & to apply, click here.
Elections Clerk I, Douglas County, Colorado— This position serves as office support for the Elections Division of the Clerk and Recorder’s Office. The Election Clerk provides customer service, assists with clerical functions, and performs data entry for voter registration. Other duties in support of the conduct of elections or mail ballot processing may be assigned. Must be detail oriented, well organized, productive, and able to adapt in a high change environment. This role requires both independent judgment and the ability to work well as a part of a team. Professional representation of the Clerk and Recorder’s Office to the public is required to include standards outlined in the Vision, Mission, and Core Values of the Office. Salary: $2,304.00 – $2,879.00 Monthly. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Elections Specialist, Douglas County, Colorado — This position is focused on routine customer service and general office/clerical support including data entry, communications, and processing mail. This is a support role capable of performing a variety of tasks, with problem solving abilities, managing multiple competing responsibilities and prioritizing to maintain a continuous flow of election office operations. This is a visible and crucial position requiring exceptional computer, customer service, and communication skills. This position may require technical work in a lead role capable of performing a variety of complex tasks, with solving problem abilities, managing multiple competing tasks and prioritizing to maintain a continuous flow of operations and temporary support. This position may be classified as an Elections Specialist I or II dependent upon the skills of the candidate and the department’s business needs. Salary: $2,842.00 – $4,017.00 Monthly. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Elections Specialist, King County Elections — The Department of Elections – is searching for energetic and resourceful professionals who like to “get stuff done”. The Administrative Specialist II positions in the Voter Services Department combines an exciting, fast-paced environment with the opportunity to cultivate talents and apply a variety of skills. The ideal candidate will have a desire to help ensure the democratic process through public service. They will thrive in an innovative environment and will not hesitate to roll up both sleeves, work hard, have fun, and get the job done. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Elections Warehouse Worker, Douglas County, Colorado — This is a highly physical position with a heavy emphasis on warehouse work, requiring the ability to continually lift equipment weighing more than 50 pounds. This position will perform routine maintenance on voting equipment, identify non-routine repairs to election equipment and mark and track equipment for follow up maintenance. incumbent will coordinate equipment and maintain records documenting device history. Forklift certification is a plus. Salary: $2,445.00 – $3,056.00 Monthly. 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.
Government Affairs Director, Democracy Works — In this role, you’ll be building relationships with officials across the country. Some are already supportive, some are skeptical, and some have had little to no contact with Democracy Works in the past. In some places, you’ll be making new connections around our voter engagement work with officials who are already engaged with our election administration programs, particularly the Voting Information Project. As you lead this initiative, you’ll have support from and collaborate with our election administration outreach staff, the voter engagement product, research, and support teams, and senior leadership. You will: Design, document, and execute a government outreach strategy; Build relationships and communicate with the states about our tools for voters, and communicate state interests internally; Define research processes to ensure that we’re using our state relationships effectively to ensure the accuracy of our election information; Represent state needs in setting our product roadmap; Monitor changes in laws and processes that shape election administration practices in all 50 states, and communicate these developments across Democracy Works; Support an election official advisory group, from creation through ongoing engagement; Travel across the country frequently, meeting with state and local election officials and attending/speaking at statewide and national convenings of election officials; and Create clear and accurate written communications for an audience of election officials. 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.
Quality Assurance Engineer, Democracy Works— The Voter Engagement team works on TurboVote and the Democracy Works API. You’ll join seven software developers and an engineering manager to collaborate with the product and partnership teams in building software that helps voters and future voters. The technology that underpins this work is mostly microservices written in Clojure running in Docker containers on Kubernetes hosted on AWS. These services communicate over RabbitMQ and store their data in Datomic. The web front-ends are written in ClojureScript backed by React. We pair program, collaborate with product managers, and make sure our efforts deliver value to voters and election administrators. We support junior team members by explicitly setting aside time for learning and providing training from a more senior developer. We collaborate across teams architecture and operations so that expertise and knowledge don’t stay siloed. Salary: $100K to $135K. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Research Manager, Center for Election Innovation and Research — The Research Manager will report to the Executive Director and will be responsible for the execution of CEIR’s research agenda. The Research Manager will assist or lead research activities generally associated with the conduct of elections and voting. Under the supervision of the Executive Director, the Research Manager determines objectives and milestones, builds effective relationships within the team and with partners, and performs the following activities: Manage day-to-day operational and tactical aspects of multiple research studies, delegating or coordinating duties with research staff as appropriate; Develop and manage project activity timelines, study budgets, and tracking documents for study management, progress tracking, and general logistics; Design and manage research studies, including the development of methodologies and data collection tools; Lead and supervise research and support staff. Provide and oversee appropriate training of research staff; Develop and maintain research-team specific standard operating procedures and training materials; Submit routine (informal) progress reports to the Executive Director; Work closely with the operations manager on issues related to budget, grant compliance, and other financial issues; Collaborate with public and private sector partners, including academic and research organizations, to facilitate implementation of project objectives; Conduct data analysis and draft study reports; Conduct literature reviews to identify research and emerging data relevant to projects. 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.
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.
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