In Focus This Week
Tuesday is not so super for some voters
In the grand scheme it was a decent election day, but there were problems
By M. Mindy Moretti
My friends Natalie and Matt both live in Los Angeles. They are committed voters, never missing an election. Natalie even checked herself out of the hospital early after giving birth to get to the polls before they closed in 2016.
On Tuesday morning Matt stopped by one of LA County’s new vote centers and breezed through the voting process.
Several hours later with two small children in tow. Natalie went to the same vote center only to find out it would be at least a two hour wait to check-in and cast her ballot. She was offered and cast a provisional ballot.
Matt liked the new voting system and is looking forward to using it again in November. Natalie was left frustrated by the experience said she’ll probably vote-by-mail instead in November, but she will vote.
While this is just one anecdote from two voters in California it pretty much sums up Super Tuesday. In some places, voters sailed through the process and in others there were issues that left voters and elections officials frustrated.
There are a lot of stories out of Super Tuesday and we’ll drill down into some of the issues that arose in the coming weeks, but for now, here is a state-by-state snapshot of what did and didn’t happen.
You can also find all of our Super Tuesday Election Dispatches here.
Voters in the Yellowhammer State were also impacted by a line of storms on Super Tuesday. In Bibb County a storm damaged one polling place and also knocked out power to the site. A generator was brought and voting was able to continue. It wasn’t storms that caused problems at one Birmingham polling site it was missing ballots. When the polls opened at 7 a.m. the site only had Republican ballots on-hand. It took about 40 minutes for Democrat ballots to arrive. It was smooth sailing in Madison County on Tuesday and thankfully, unlike past rainy elections, it was relatively dry on Tuesday so the ballots didn’t swell and cause issues feeding them into scanners. In Dallas County, Probate Judge Jimmy Nunn said “I think everything went well, But there’s always room for improvement.” One thing Nunn would like to improve is having more e-poll books available at polling sites for check-in.
While several Arkansas counties experienced issues during early voting—including ballots with missing candidates—Super Tuesday itself was relatively smooth in the Natural State. Daniel Shults, director of the Arkansas Board of Election Commissioners, said his office had received a few calls — as always happens — from people who have questions and concerns about electioneering and things like that. In Washington County, poll workers using AT&T cell phones were unable to make calls to landlines presenting concerns when they needed to reach the county elections office.
Jefferson County faced several problems with its voting equipment on Tuesday with most problems being blamed on loose connections between a tape printer and the county’s aging iVotronic machines. Jefferson County Election Commissioner Stu Stoffer noted that high school-aged election pages were particularly helpful in the polling places with technical issues.
While Jefferson County had issues with old voting machines in Union County it was new voting machines. A poll captain at one site blamed the problems on lack of information. “It was a little chaotic because actually we did not have the full instructions of everything, but it did come around,” Poll Captain Linda Fowler told the El Dorado News-Times. “They did get it to us in a good amount of time before we did start getting a line of people.”
Ballots are still being counted in the Golden State and may be counted for some time to come.
While the counting goes on in elections offices statewide, the Monday-morning quarterbacking continues. Like Texas, while there were issues throughout the state on Election Day, most of the headlines came from the state’s population centers and especially Los Angeles County which is largest voting jurisdiction in the country with 5.5 million registered voters, it was also launching a new voting system and vote centers.
For Angelenos voting on Tuesday, some breezed right through the process and others were caught in hours-long lines due to technical glitches.
“This was a challenging day for a lot of voters in L.A. County and I certainly apologize for that,” Dean Logan, the county’s registrar of voters told The Los Angeles Times. “That’s something that has to be better.”
At least one Los Angeles County supervisor is calling for an immediate investigation into the problems.
According to the Times and my friend Matt, voters overall seemed to like the new voting system when they actually got to use them although some reported issues with the “more” button to view additional candidates and paper jams.
Of course Los Angeles isn’t the only county in the state (there are 57 others) and it was a mixed bag of what voters faced on Tuesday.
Orange County rolled out the use of vote centers for the first time and overall it was a smooth roll out although there were some lines at certain vote centers, especially those on campuses. “I’m really proud of where we ended up with a launch of a whole new way of voting and, overall, it’s worked really well,” Orange County Registrar of Voters Neal Kelley told The Patch.
In Fresno and a handful of other counties voting was slowed because of issues with accessing the state’s voter registration database. Some vote centers across Fresno County had connection problems. The issues were reported shortly after 9 a.m. By 11 a.m. all 53 vote centers were up and running as normal, Clerk and Recorder Brandi Orth told the Fresno Bee.
Sacramento County suffered a poll worker shortage after some poll workers failed to show up because of fears over the coronavirus although a county spokesman told the Sacramento Bee that there were more than enough poll workers on hand to make up for those that were absent.
When 75 percent of your voters vote before Election Day as they did in San Diego, things are bound to go pretty smoothly on primary day.
It’s been seven years since legislators in Colorado overhauled the state’s voting system moving to an all vote-by-mail/vote center system and it’s clear by the lack of headlines on Tuesday and the days since that it’s been a good move for the Rocky Mountain State. [Take heart California counties that have become Voter’s Choice counties.]
This was also Colorado’s first foray into Super Tuesday primary voting and turnout was high. In Larimer County, 41 percent of the county’s eligible voters had cast ballots before polls opened on Tuesday. The story was similar in Freemont County which had a 44 percent turnout. “This is our first Presidential Primary in nearly 20 years, and we’ve never had an all-mail Presidential Primary,” Fremont County Clerk & Recorder Justin Grantham told the Canon City Daily Record. “The turnout we have had is simply phenomenal, to be honest.”
In Mesa County, elections officials were operating under new procedures after ballots from a 2019 election were discovered in a ballot drop box in the days before the 2020 primary. Lake County officials were forced to reach out to about 250 unaffiliated voters after workers failed to record which party primary they voted in in advance of Tuesday’s primary. “We’re not asking how they voted or who they voted for, we’re just asking which party ballot they voted,” Lake County Clerk and Recorder Patty Berger told Colorado Public Radio, “We’re sorry it happened but we’re trying to do the best we can.”
Turnout was the big story of the day in Maine. Voters turned out in unexpectedly high numbers. Secretary of State Matt Dunlap said they were sure in advance of Tuesday’s election they had printed enough ballots however record-high temperatures both of the climate kind and the political kind drove turnout. While initially officials expected turnout to be around 15 percent, it ended up being three times that.
“By 10 o’clock yesterday morning, we threw the playbook out the window,” Dunlap told WGME. “Because it was clear that we were looking at probably almost an historic turnout.” A Portland polling site ran out of ballots several times throughout the day.
Unfortunately, voters at the Blue Hill Town Hall were forced to leave the voting location and wait outside for about an hour after a voter died at the polls. While first responders were on the scene, voting booths and ballot boxes were moved to another location. They were returned to the auditorium for voting to resume.
Voters in Lewiston were faced with a parking problem and long lines at one voting location. According to the Sun Journal, a high school hockey playoff game held across the street from the city’s one polling location caused major parking issues. “The congestion was worsened when the first (hockey) game of the evening ran to three overtimes, adding even more traffic to the area, with fans arriving for the second game before those at the first had left,” City Administrator Ed Barrett told the paper. “We will take care in the future to limit situations where there are conflicts between voting and events at the Colisee. Again, we apologize to anyone who faced difficulties or inconvenience when coming to vote last evening.”
In Portland voters overwhelmingly voted to expand the use of ranked choice in the city.
Warm weather seemed to attribute to higher than expected turnout in Massachusetts as well. At one voting location in Plymouth, residents faced parking issues and long lines where one voter fainted while waiting to cast her ballot due to the temperatures in the long line.
In Northampton the polling site temporarily ran out of ballot and voters those chose to wait had to do so for about 45 minutes. “I take full responsibility for this. This is totally human error,” City Clerk Pam Powers told the Daily Hampshire Gazette on Wednesday morning at City Hall. “I take every precaution to not disenfranchise the voter.”
Voters at one Boston polling location were asked to show an ID, not to cast a ballot, but to enter the apartment building where the polling site was located. The secretary of state’s office contacted Boston Elections Commission Eneida Tavares who went to the scene herself to make sure that voters were able to access the location without presenting an ID. According to WBUR it was unclear whether any voters were actually turned away before the situation was remedied.
Minnesota was holding its first-ever presidential primary and according to early numbers, turnout increased 177 percent from the presidential caucus four years ago. While turnout was high, it was a relatively smooth experience for voters with few reports of problems.
The biggest issue in Minnesota on Super Tuesday occurred when the state’s polling place locator was seemingly mysteriously directing voters to a progressive website. Was this the election interference that everyone had been fearing? No, it was a human mistake. When the state’s polling locator go overloaded a staffer redirected web traffic to another polling locator, however instead of redirecting traffic to a nonpartisan site, the staff sent voters to the partisan site.
“It was an error in judgement,” Secretary of State Steve Simon told Minnesota Public Radio. “The person who made a mistake had no political agenda or anything. This was a career service employee and it was just a mistake and we corrected it immediately.”
Simon outlined three steps his office is taking to prevent a repeat of the problem: Websites that could be used as a fallback during periods of heavy traffic to the secretary of state’s office will have to be preapproved; More than one staff member must approve a similar change; and Staff will be required to adhere to preset contingency plans.
One of the great things about smooth-sailing elections is although that gives us here at electionline less to follow, we do get fun stories like this one about Helen Burgstaler, a Crow Wing County election judge who’s been working at the polls for seven (7!!!!) decades. A lot has changed since Erickson started working at the polls in 1950. Her first election at 18 was also her first election as a poll worker.
“Helen was one of the first election judges I met when I first started working elections, and … she already had probably close to 50 years under her belt as an election judge at that point in time,” Deborah Erickson, county elections chief told the Brainerd Dispatch. “I’ve always been struck by her passion and commitment to the democratic process, to be willing to continue to serve as an election judge all these years. … She was always one who’s always been willing to say, I want to work a full day, and I’ll work however you need me wherever you need me to serve and help service the voters.”
Voting in the Tar Heel State was relatively smooth on Tuesday. As with any election anywhere there were some issues but overall, things went well.
Voting was extended in several precincts throughout the state including in Bertie County where voting machines had gone down for a brief period of time earlier in the day and in Winston-Salem where one precinct ran out of ballots. Keeping those polls open longer obviously slowed the reporting of results in other locations.
Voters in Mecklenburg County used new voting machines for the first time and seemed to enjoy the experience. “It was a much better feeling knowing it was paper and it was going into a scanner and I waited there to make sure it completed and went through,” one voter told WCNC. Burke County also used new voting machines and Debbie Mace, the county board of elections director told the New Herald that she had the smoothest elections she’s had in 14 years as a director, most of which she chalked up to the new machines. Guilford County voters also cast ballots on a new hand-marked paper system.
Although things got off to a bit of a bumpy start at one Tulsa-area polling place when a ballot machine malfunctioned, that issue was quickly resolved and voting was not affected although voters did have to place ballots in an emergency bin instead of the ballot scanner. Once the scanner was repaired the ballots were scanned.
Our favorite story out of the Sooner State actually happened before Super Tuesday. Tulsa World has a great story about how Will Rodgers High School teacher Emily Harris took her eligible students to the polls so they could vote early.
“This is something that you’re going to remember for the rest of your lives,” Harris told them. “So I want you to leave today remembering that you should encourage others like you, 18 years old, to vote in elections. This is not the only time you’re going to be voting. You guys are going to be participating in democracy for the rest of your lives. It’s important that your voices are heard not just this year, but every year. Now let’s go. Let’s go vote.”
You can have all the contingency plans in the world, but no one ever really expects a massive tornado to sweep through the area in the hours before polls open leaving more than 20 people dead, homes and building destroyed or damaged and power lines and trees down all over the place, but that’s exactly what happened in parts of Tennessee Tuesday morning. The storms forced the relocation of numerous voting precincts and voting started an hour late and voting was extended as late as 10 p.m. so everyone could vote. The secretary of state’s office was closed but the elections division remained on the job to assist not only affected counties, but all the other counties voting Tuesday as well. Davidson County, home to Nashville and one of the most heavily hit areas actually saw a decent turnout on Tuesday.
“Last night, we still had 35,000 residents without power, roads blocked, the mayor asking people not to get out on the roads, an emergency declaration,” Davidson County Elections Administrator Jeff Roberts told the Associated Press. “All of those things added up, yet Davidson County voters still turned out.”‘
In Putnam County several polling sites were inaccessible to those voters were directed to vote at the election commission office. Two polling places in Wilson County were closed due to storm damage and several polling places were forced to operate with a generator. Voters in Nashville were forced to move to new locations after buildings scheduled for voting were damaged.
Voting went smoothly in other parts of the state with the exceptions of a few “typical” election day problems like a gas leak at a polling place in Shelby County. Also in Shelby County polls opened late at one polling place because an elections worker with a key overslept.
There are 254 counties in Texas, but based on the headlines coming out of Tuesday you would think that there are only five – Bexar, Dallas, Harris, Travis and Tarrant. Granted those are the state’s most populous counties and on Tuesday they proved the most troublesome.
Most of Bexar County’s problems arose after the polls closed on Tuesday. According to the San Antonio News-Express, county Elections Administrator Jacque Callanen said computers used to post results in a new voting system “crashed” three times, forcing election officials to post separate sets of numbers, rather than consolidating them as they had on past election nights. “We will be working today with the vendor to get the regular report that y’all are used to seeing,” Callanen told reporters at a Wednesday news conference. Voting in the county also got off to a rough start when 50 to 60 of the 280 countywide vote centers had issues with printers.
In Dallas County, where the turnout was 23.6 percent most of the issues came from lines at countywide vote centers. Election Administrator Toni Pippins-Poole apologized to voters and said that she and her staff were already working on remedies, including a lot more voter education, for November.
Harris County, which was using countywide polling places for the first time in a presidential primary may have suffered the most visible issues on Tuesday as the hours-long lines to vote and one voter not casting his ballot till Wednesday made national and international headlines. So what happened on Tuesday? First of all, turnout was way higher than expected. 271,354 voters cast ballots on Tuesday which was almost 40,000 more than in 2008. Harris County Clerk Diane Trautman also blamed long lines on a large number of last-minute voters, a long ballot and unpredictability from a new countywide voting system, which let voters go to any polling site rather than just their precinct.
Trautman noted that because the county GOP did not want to hold a combined primary, each polling site was required to have voting machines exclusively for each party. With Democrats far outweighing Republicans in the county that meant at times voters were lined up to use Democrat-programmed machines while Republican-programmed machines sat unused. “We did not want to short one party over the other cause how do we know, again, with voting centers, that a big rush isn’t going to come in on the Republican side or the Democratic side,” Trautman said. “That would be discrimination.”
Trautman is optimistic about November though because there will be more vote centers, 750 as opposed to 400 and voters will be able to use any machine available.
For voters in Travis County, the day got off to a rocky start when several polling sites did not have enough poll workers because some called in the day before or simply failed to show up citing concerns about the coronavirus. Although those staffing issues were quickly sorted out, Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir noted that lines persisted throughout the day because voters chose to go to vote centers in grocery stores that had fewer available voting machines than going to one of the megacenters. “Voters are causing these three-hour lines,” DeBeauvoir told The Statesman. “There are so many places where they can walk right in and vote easily, and yet they still create these monster lines at the grocery stores. I don’t know exactly what we are going to do about it,” she added. And although it may have felt like to some voters, the wait times really weren’t 100 hours, which is what a glitch on the county’s website said. The issue on the site was quickly repaired.
For the other 249 counties, job well done, we’ll see you in November.
Tuesday’s primary marked the Beehive State’s first foray into Super Tuesday voting and voters did not disappoint turning out in record-breaking numbers.
Like Super Tuesday voters in other states, some Utah voters who cast their ballot by mail before primary day wanted to spoil their ballots and vote for someone new after their candidate dropped out, however Utah does not provide that option. About 23 percent of Utah voters cast their ballot before primary day.
“We’ve had a lot of people asking if they can do a vote-over, revote,” Salt Lake County Clerk Sherrie Swensen told the Deseret News. “That’s not allowed by state law. I feel badly for the people that have cast a vote and now it’s not going to count.”
The only real issues that occurred on Tuesday happened in Weber County that was experimenting with using one countywide vote center. Given the high number of mail ballots the county made the decision to move all voters to Union State in Ogden. Although the voting process was smooth, some voters expressed frustrations that they weren’t aware of the move until they showed up at their regular polling place.
“Over the years, we’ve noticed that 10% of our voters or less are voting in person,” Weber County elections director Ryan Cowley told KSLTV. “But yet, consistently we’ve had some times where there’s long lines and things like that. And in our polling places, we’ve got some great polling places at our libraries, but there’s no room to expand or put in addition resources and things like that, and so it becomes very compact and people have sometimes had to wait in lines for long periods of time.”
It was fairly quiet in Green Mountain State on Tuesday although the polls were busy. We’ve not really found many reports of problems and turnout was around what it was in 2016, although it was up in some places like Burlington where reportedly one polling precinct briefly ran out of ballots.
The Democratic primary Virginia marked the commonwealth’s highest primary turnout on record. According to the Richmond Times Dispatch, more than 1.3 million Virginians cast ballots in the Democratic primary. The paper also noted that twice as many voters voted absentee as did in the March 2016 primary.
Even with the high turnout there were relatively few problems. Rumors about missing poll workers because of COVID-19 proved unfounded and when polling sites in the Richmond area lost power, voting continued without issue.
“I’ve worked in Virginia elections on and off since 2003, but I will say, in all of those years, I have not experienced a more smooth election,” Virginia Elections Commissioner Christopher Piper told the paper. “This is a real credit to the election officials out there in the field.”
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2020 Primary Updates
South Carolina: Voters in the Palmetto State went to the polls on Saturday where the state’s new voting system was used for the first time in a statewide election. There were a few minor problems, but overall the primary, which featured high turnout, went off without a hitch, especially with regard to the new voting system. The problems that did arise were isolated. In Richland County, the first set of results reported was missing 74 in-person absentee ballots. Given the overwhelming popularity of voting absentee in the primary, officials in the state are already thinking ahead to November and calling for more time to process and count absentee ballots.
Election Security Updates
According to The Hill, U.S. Cyber Command leader Gen. Paul Nakasone told a House panel that election security is his “top priority,” emphasizing strides made in combating threats in the years since Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election.
“We are 244 days from the 2020 presidential election,” Nakasone testified during a House Armed Services subcommittee hearing on U.S. Cyber Command’s proposed fiscal 2021 budget. “My top priority is a safe and secure election that is free from foreign influence.”
Election News This Week
Elections officials in the upcoming primary states are taking a wait and see approach about the impacts the coronavirus may have on voting but they are preparing. Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose said the office is considering all scenarios. “If there’s one thing that’s more important than a fair and honest election, it’s life and health and safety,” said LaRose according to Politico. “That’s when very difficult decisions have to be made, including whether there needs to be an order to suspend election day. Let’s hope we don’t have to, but we’re ready for it.” A spokesperson for the Georgia secretary of state said the state is monitoring the situation and moving forward as planned with the primary. Some Florida supervisor of elections are encouraging those concerned about the spread of the virus to vote early by mail. In Washington, where nine people have died from the virus and all voters cast their ballot by mail, officials in the secretary of state’s office are discouraging voters from licking their ballot envelopes and instead use a sponge to moisten the flaps. “The Washington State Department of Health advised we encourage voters who have yet to turn in their ballots to seal the envelopes by using an alternative method, such as a wet sponge or cloth,” Kylee Zabeel with the secretary of state’s office told Q13News. In Missouri elections officials are adding some items to their to-do lists in advance of the primary like purchasing disinfectant wipes and gloves for poll workers. Elections officials in Illinois are “taking it pretty seriously” and in Champaign County Clerk Angela Patton is making sure her emergency management plan is up-to-date and adding extra precautions at the polls.
Having none of it. The Clarke County, Georgia board of elections has voted to use paper ballots instead of the state’s new electronic voting system for the upcoming presidential preference primary. The three members of the board of elections voting in favor of paper ballots instead of the electronic system cited ballot privacy concerns as the major reason for their vote. They claimed that plans presented to the board for how polling sites would be laid out to ensure privacy did not allay their concerns. Judd Drake, the attorney for Athens-Clarke County, cautioned board members Tuesday that it would be difficult to meet that standard in court after the county’s own election supervisor insisted the machines could be arranged in a way that protects voters’ privacy. “It could present a challenge later on to the board’s decision if the board decides to use the paper ballots,” Drake said on an audio recording of the Tuesday meeting available on the board’s website. He added the decision would likely face a lawsuit by voters or state election officials.
With Democratic candidates for president dropping like flies, many voters who cast early or absentee ballots if they can get a do-over on their ballot. Most states don’t allow that process, but one that does, Michigan, has seen more than 8,100 voters request to “spoil” their original ballot and cast a new one. “AAARRRGGGHHH,” Westland City Clerk Richard LeBlanc told The Detroit Free Press on Wednesday afternoon. “There have been times in the last few days when we’ve had a dozen people waiting in line to spoil their ballot with only two staff members available to assist them. This has been a really challenging election for a lot of reasons.” According to the Free Press, Local clerks say some people have even revoted twice as their first and second choices in the Democratic field have dropped out of the race. The number of revoting has forced some elections offices to change how they do things. Saturday is the last day that voters may recast their ballots ahead of the primary although it can be done at the polls on Tuesday. “I’m in the ‘not much sleep’ mode now,” Livonia City Clerk Susan Nash told the paper. “We’ll be open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday and I would expect that we’re going to have a crowd.”
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney (D) is proposing an 84 percent increase to the current $12.2 million budget for the city’s elections office. According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Kenney cites both the presidential election which will require additional staffing, materials, equipment, and outreach to accommodate an expected spike in voter turnout — and implementation of new election laws in Pennsylvania.
A study by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law has found that 378,000 transgender people may have issues voting this election cycle because the state-issued ID they have does not have a correct photo of them. According to the study, often, a transgender individual will change their name, or identify with a gender that doesn’t correlate to the gender that was assigned with their sex at birth. Therefore, the information that is on all of their official documents is rendered incorrect. The school of law identified eight states — Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin — that have strict voter ID laws. All eight require that voters show a driver’s license, passport or military ID at the polls. “When voting at the polls, election officials and poll workers are the ones who decide whether the voter in front of them is the person on the voter registration rolls,” Jody L. Herman, co-author of the study told The Hill. “Especially in states that require an ID to be shown, this could result in some transgender voters being disenfranchised,” she continued.
Personnel News: James Savage has resigned as the Delaware County, Pennsylvania voting machine warehouse manager. Oregon state Senator Shemia Fagan has announced her candidacy for secretary of state. Bradley Seaman has been appointed Missoula County, Montana elections administrator. Linda Carter is retiring after 35 years as the LaRue County, Kentucky clerk.
In Memoriam: Joanell Wilson, longtime Rapides Parish, Louisiana registrar of voters has died. She was 73. Wilson, who was known as JoJo by friends and family, worked in the registrar of voters office for almost 50 years. She retired in July 2015. According to KALB, Wilson was instrumental in implementing the Registrar of Voters’ offices statewide computer system. While a member of the Louisiana Registrar of Voters’ Association, she served on the Louisiana Board of Supervisors of Elections, the Retirement Board, and many other committees, including chairing the Legislative Committee for many years. “We were wonderful friends,” Lin Stewart, current Rapides Parish Registrar of Voters told the TV station. “She is responsible for a lot of bills that improved the state’s voting systems.”
California: Under Senate Bill 994, county courthouses would be required to share juror information, including age and citizenship status, with election officials.
Also in California, a nonpartisan group of community leaders is pursuing a November ballot measure that would ask San Diego voters if they wanted to use ranked choice voting for local elections.
Georgia: Under Senate Bill 463, if lines last for more than one hour, county election superintendents would have to split up precincts that more than 2,000 voters, provide additional voting equipment or hire extra poll workers. The legislation is supported by Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.
Indiana: House Republicans voted won an amendment to the budget that would have allocated an additional $10 million to upgrade the state’s voting machines. In their vote against the amendment, some GOP members argued that a lot more than $10 million will be needed and that should be considered at a future time.
Iowa: According to The Courier, Gov. Kim Reynolds has signaled her willingness to sign a bill that would require felons to fully pay any court-ordered debts to victims before having their voting rights restored. Reynolds has been advocating a constitutional amendment that would allow for the automatic restoration of voting rights. The proposed legislation would come into play if that amendment is approved. The Senate approved the bill 31-11 this week.
Kansas: The Senate has voted not to advance a bill that would have lowered the number of ballots that get tossed in the trash after election day. The bill would have allowed provisional ballots cast by voters who have moved from one county to another but failed to update their registration to be counted.
Kentucky: The Senate has approved a bill that would restore the voting rights to some returning citizens. The bill, which is a constitutional amendment that would ultimately be up to the voters in November if approved by the house would allow felons to have their voting rights restored after serving full sentences, as long as they were not convicted of treason, sex crimes, violent crimes or crimes against children.
Also in Kentucky the House has approved an amended bill that would require voters to show a photo ID in order to vote. Senate Bill 2, approved 62-35 by the House, would require Kentuckians to show a government-issued photo ID to vote. But those who don’t have photo IDs would still be able to cast a ballot if they have a credit card or social security card and sign an affidavit swearing they are who they claim to be. The measure would also create a new process where people who can’t afford an ID can get a free one through their local county clerk’s office.
Minnesota: By a 5-4 vote the Senate State Government Finance and Policy and Elections committee has advanced a bill that would require voters to show a photo ID in order to vote. Under the Senate bill, the state would provide voter identification cards to Minnesotans at no cost. It would also establish a new system of provisional ballots for people who are unable to prove their identity and residence.
Mississippi: Under Senate Bill 2670 the secretary of state’s office would have the power to check voters’ names against databases from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and other agencies to determine if the voter is a U.S. citizen. If the voters citizenship was called into question, they would have 30 days to provide documents to prove their citizenship.
Missouri: BY a 109-45 vote the House has approved a bill that would tighten the state’s voter ID law after the Missouri Supreme Court ruled in February that it was unconstitutional. Under the proposal, voters casting a provisional ballot would have to sign a form stating that they understand their vote won’t be counted unless they return to the polling place the same day with a valid ID or their signature matches what’s on file with election authorities.
New York: Under S.6925, any towns and cities with populations between 50,000 and 100,000 to have at least one early voting location within their borders. The bill has been approved the Senate and now awaits action by the House.
Ohio: The Ohio Ballot Board has split a proposed ballot initiative into four separate issues. In a party-line 3-2 vote, the Ohio Ballot Board’s Republican members ruled the proposed constitutional amendment was actually four separate topics and that each should be a separate ballot question: elections administration, voter registration, voting rights for citizens with disabilities and a requirement for a post-election audit.
In Yellow Springs voters will once again be asked if they want to extend the voting franchise to 16-year-olds as well as documented non-citizens. The franchise would only extend to village issues and races. Each issue will be considered separately on the ballot. In 2019 a similar measure failed but officials believe that’s because the voting issues, along with extending the mayor’s term, were all presented as one ballot question.
Virginia: The Senate has approved HB201 that would allow for election day registration in the commonwealth.
The Virginia General Assembly has voted to do away with the casting of lots when a tied General Assembly race remains tied following a recount. Instead a special election will be held to determine the winner. The bill does not apply to elections for president, nor does it apply to the governor, lieutenant governor or attorney general races — the legislature would have to change the constitution for that to happen.
Georgia: U.S. District Court Judge Stephen Grimsberg has ruled that Gwinnett County does not have to open its satellite early voting sites a week early. The Gwinnett County NAACP, the Georgia State Conference of the NAACP and the Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda filed suit, saying the county’s operation of one polling place in the first week of early voting for the Democratic presidential primary violates the First and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
Also in Georgia, the state’s Attorney General Chris Carr has closed an investigation into allegations that the state’s Democratic Party attempted to breach the state’s voter registration database in the days leading up to the 2018 gubernatorial election. Carr’s office said an inquiry from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation found “no evidence of damage to the SOS network or computers, and no evidence of theft, damage, or loss of data.”
Illinois: Advocates have filed a federal lawsuit against the secretary of state and state elections officials over the state’s automatic voter registration system. According to NBC Chicago, the suit alleges multiple violations of state and federal voter laws in a delayed automatic registration rollout, including a lack of access for limited English speakers and failing to update voter rolls when people moved. “Unfortunately, the promise of voter modernization and inclusivity has not only gone unfulfilled, it now appears that even basic voter registration services are mishandled in disregard of repeated calls for transparency and accountability by non-partisan organizations in the state,” according to the lawsuit. The groups seek court oversight.
Minnesota: U.S. District Judge Wilhelmina Wright has ruled that city ordinances in Minneapolis and St. Paul that require landlords to provide voter registration information to new tenants is unconstitutional. According to Courthouse News Service, in her ruling Wright did not comment on the claim that voter registration information served an ideological objective. “There is nothing in the record that addresses the actual or purported effectiveness of Defendants’ ordinances,” Wright wrote. “Defendants provide no evidence as to the percentage of tenants who receive the voter-registration flyers, as to how many of those renters actually review the flyers or find them helpful, or that the flyers have had any actual effect on voter participation among renters. Nor is there anecdotal evidence that similar efforts elsewhere have resulted in higher voter participation among renters.”
New Jersey: Chiung-Lin Cheng Liu, a losing candidate for the Holmdel Township committee has filed suit in Freehold County Superior Court alleging that dozens of legitimate vote-by-mail ballots were improperly disqualified on technical grounds. Liu lost the election by two votes.
North Carolina: Advance North Carolina has filed suit in federal court over Senate Bill 683 which changed absentee voting rules in the wake of the ballot-harvesting scandal in Bladen and Robeson counties. Advance North Carolina argues that the law takes “aim at lawful, constitutionally protected activities, like grassroots organizing and absentee voting application drives.” “By imposing barriers to requesting an absentee ballot, and invalidating requests that do not adhere to the state’s new restrictions, the organizing ban reduces access to vote-by-mail opportunities on which Advance Carolina’s members and other voters have come to rely or would otherwise utilize, thereby burdening their fundamental right to vote,” the lawsuit states.
Ohio: A three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower court’s ruling that said elections officials in the state have to provide absentee ballots to jail inmates arrested after a deadline to request absentee ballots. According to The Cleveland Plain Dealer, the 6th Circuit panel wrote in their opinion that requiring election workers to deliver absentee ballots would serve as an undue burden to thinly-stretched staffs during an already-hectic time period. This is especially true in rural counties where there are as few as two employees for a board of election, the opinion says.
Pennsylvania: The League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania, along with the LWV Pittsburgh chapter and One Pennsylvania have filed a motion in support of Allegheny County in a lawsuit brought against the county by the Public Interest Legal Fund over the county’s voter rolls. The League of Women Voters argues that it represents “the interests of organizational members who are eligible registered voters in Allegheny County, each of whom has a cognizable interest in remaining on the voter lists and depend upon the proper enforcement of the National Voter Registration Act,” according to court documents.
Wisconsin: The District 4 Court of Appeals has struck a ruling by an Ozaukee County judge that said 209,000 voters who may have moved should be immediately removed from the voter rolls. The three-judge panel rejected the argument from the plaintiffs—the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty—saying that the state elections commission “…has no ‘positive and plain’ duty to deactivate voters.” According to Wisconsin Public Radio, the panel also reversed the lower court’s call for three members of the commission to be held in contempt of court and pay fines because they didn’t immediately purge the voters.
Illinois: LaSalle County suffered a ransomware attack this week but according to the county’s ID Director John Haag, the county’s elections systems were not impacted. “Election is secure and nothing’s been compromised with our elections and it’s proceeding as our election was proceeding prior to. We have some affected PC’s in the (County Clerk’s) department but it doesn’t affect the overall operation with how election security works,” Haag told WEEK
Kentucky: Gov. Steve Beshear (D) has launched a new website with a searchable database for returning citizens to find out whether or not their voting rights have been restored. The website lists the crimes for which rights are not automatically restored, including bribery in an election, certain violent offenses, assaults, strangulation and human trafficking. Felony convictions in other states, or in the federal system, are also exempt. “My faith teaches me forgiveness — that we should welcome these Kentuckians back into our communities and allow them to fully participate in our democracy,” Beshear said according to the Courier Journal.
Maryland: Officials with the Maryland State Board of Elections say they have determined what caused the state’s e-poll book system to slow down during a recent special election. “We have confirmed that the database became locked when performing multiple functions simultaneously,” Nikki Charlson, administrator for the board told WAMU. “This prevented electronic poll books from retrieving the requested voter information and slowed down the check-in process.” Charlson said the board is conducting additional testing on the poll book database. The board has decided that the states six largest counties will use the server during early voting.
West Virginia: Secretary of State Mac Warner has announced that voters with disabilities and military and overseas voters will now be able to use a mobile voting service from Democracy Live instead of a blockchain-based app from Voatz which the state had previously used for its military and overseas voters. “If the public doesn’t want it, or is skeptical to the point they’re not confident in the results, we have to take that into consideration,” Donald “Deak” Kersey, Warner’s general counsel, told NBC News.
Wisconsin: The Wisconsin Elections Commission has voted to publicly scold six local election jurisdictions if they do not upgrade their outdated computer systems in a timely fashion. According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, The commissioners said they would tell the communities to upgrade their systems or be publicly outed. The commission will make federal funds available to them to help pay for the upgrades, which are expected to cost a few thousand dollars.
Opinions This Week
Colorado: Ex-felon voting rights
Illinois: Election commission merger
Indiana: Election integrity
Maryland: Student voters
North Carolina: Voter ID
North Dakota: Ranked choice voting
Pennsylvania: Voter education
South Carolina: Voter suppression
Tennessee: Election security
Vermont: Election administration
Election Center Special Workshop: The following courses will be offered during this workshop: Course 3 (Planning and Budgeting); Course 4 (Information Technology & Security); and Renewal Course 21 (Public Trust and the Integrity of Elections). Where: Seattle When: April 29-May 3
NASED Summer 2020 Conference: — 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 Summer 2020 Conference. Where: Reno, Nevada When: July 19-22.
NASS Summer 2020 Conference: The National Association of Secretaries of State will hold their Summer 2020 conference at the Silver Legacy Reno, Nevada. Check back here for more information about the Winter 2020 conference when it becomes available. Where: Reno, Nevada. When: July 19-22.
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.
Assistant Director, Kentucky State Board of Elections— The Kentucky State Board of Elections is an independent agency of state government, established by the Legislature to administer the election laws of the Commonwealth. The SBE also provides training and resources to the County Clerks and County Boards of Election, and supervises registration and purgation of voters within the state. The position of Assistant Director is a highly skilled and valued member of the SBE staff who performs duties ranging from staff management, advising and training of local and state officials, budgeting and policy development. While not required, a license to practice law is preferred. Compliance with Kentucky Revised Statute 117.025 requires that this position be filled by a candidate that is a registered member of the Republican Party of Kentucky. Out of state candidates will be considered if they can show proof of registration with the Republican Party of their current state of residence. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Campaign Finance Compliance Analyst, North Carolina State Board of Elections— Primary Purpose of the Position: Developing the forms and reports used to disclose contributions and expenditures, as well as the North Carolina Campaign Finance Manual. Enforcing North Carolina campaign finance Statutes, Rules and Regulations. Educating the public regarding campaign finance matters. Training campaign committee officers, special filers, party committee officers, internal staff and county board of elections staff regarding campaign finance matters. Note: This includes compliance training, software training using the Agency’s custom software (CF Remote) and program training regarding campaign finance procedures and policies adopted by the State Board to internal staff, county board of elections staff and board members. Salary: 46,203 – $78,218. Deadline: March 9. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Chief Operating Officer, U.S. Election Assistance Commission— The U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) is looking for a seasoned manager to serve as Chief Operating Officer (COO). This is an exceptional opportunity for an individual to oversee the functions and programs of the Commission coming up to the 2020 Elections! The COO is the primary management official responsible for supervising the day-to-day operations of EAC staff. EAC has several program operation divisions which will report to the COO: Voting Systems Testing and Certification, Grants, Research, Communications, HR/Administration, and Finance. Plans and implements communications plans, events, media campaigns, press conferences, briefings, messaging and interviews. Participates in developing communications and media initiatives, planning and implementing of media events, and maintaining a proactive media strategy for the EAC. Under the leadership of the Executive Director, EAC is elevating attention on management issues and transformational change. To manage this change, and to enable the Executive Director to focus attention on Congressional affairs, external relations, budget formulation and execution, and clearinghouse activities, the COO position was created to manage the programmatic, financial management, and administrative functions of the Commission, all of which will continue to be directed by talented professionals with strong expertise in their areas of responsibility. The COO will have special responsibility for supervising senior staff, ensuring that key program areas work in a carefully coordinated way, as well as ensuring that new systems and procedures are effectively adopted whenever such change is required to support the Commission’s transformation and improvement. Salary: $134,789 to $156K. Deadline: April 8. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Communications Associate, Democracy Works— The communications team ensures the vision of Democracy Works is clearly and creatively articulated to our stakeholders in a variety of contexts. We develop strategic communication plans and programs for our internal and external audiences, promoting the mission and brand of Democracy Works across several channels. We love democracy and are excited to communicate our work to strengthen it. As a part of the team, you will: Support and maintain a strategic, goal-oriented vision for all Democracy Works internal and external communication projects; Develop fresh story ideas: Proactively research and write materials to tell our story and engage a variety of audiences (i.e. website, blog and social media content); Produce communication materials: Prepare executive talking points and bios, briefing materials, newsletters, and presentations that align with our organization’s strategic goals and branding; Assist other teams by copy-editing and proofreading written content; Brainstorm strategic outreach ideas, and produce creative content for new and ongoing projects; Media outreach: Identify strategic narratives and compelling storylines to pitch relevant reporters and secure timely media coverage; Media monitoring: Track and report media coverage of Democracy Works, our products, campaigns, and industry trends; and Press lists: Build and maintain comprehensive press lists to develop relationships with reporters Deadline: Target start date April 28. Salary: $58K-$68K. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Deputy Chief Information Security Officer, U.S. Election Assistance Commission— As the Deputy Chief Information Security Officer (Deputy CISO), the incumbent provides policy, leadership and direction, and serves as a key contributor to the EAC’s strategy regarding achieving mission goals; ensuring that all IT functions are integrated, prioritized and executed within agency priorities and allocated resources; and working closely with EAC’s service providers. Salary: $96,970 to $148,967. Deadline: April 27. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Director of Communications, U.S. Election Assistance Commission— Plans and implements communications plans, events, media campaigns, press conferences, briefings, messaging and interviews. Participates in developing communications and media initiatives, planning and implementing of media events, and maintaining a proactive media strategy for the EAC. Develops and maintains productive relationships with members of the media. Enlist the cooperation of media representatives in providing accurate information to the public that furthers the goals and objectives of the EAC. Provides background information to the media as required and drafts talking points for spokespersons ahead of interviews and presentations. Researches, develops, writes and edits reports, presentations, press releases, fact sheets, feature articles, letters, speeches, testimony, annual reports, opinion pieces, videos, and other public-facing communications materials that effectively communicate the Commission’s goals to EAC stakeholders and a variety of public and internal audiences. Procures and manages contracts and assists with the procurement of other Communications-related needs, i.e. photography, video, subscriptions, and other non-EAC services and goods. Attends staff briefings and policy discussions to gain knowledge of Commission activities in order to remain current on the latest developments of interest to the public, assist in preparing for and responding to media inquiries, and formulate recommendations regarding agency policies and programs. Performs other related duties as assigned. Salary: $96,970 to $148,967. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Director of Elections, Pasquotank County— Independently performs complex technical, administrative and managerial functions in the operation of the office of the Pasquotank County Board of Elections. Responsibilities include receiving and processing applications for registration; candidate filings; processing absentee ballot applications; training and supervising personnel; preparing for federal, state, district, county, municipal and special elections; directing the day-to-day operation of the office, including budget proposals; providing clerical and administrative assistance to the Pasquotank County Board of Elections. Considerable tact and courtesy must be exercised in the extensive public contact of this office and in the dissemination of information to the news media, political parties, candidates and the general public. Independent judgment and initiative are required in applying laws and administering policies to specific cases and in carrying out assignments. Duties are performed in accordance with Chapter 163 of the North Carolina General Statutes and other relevant federal, state and local election laws, rules and regulations, under the administrative supervision of the county board of elections. Records are subject to use and scrutiny by the general public. Attendance is required at a variety of meetings. Upon employment (after May 1, 1995), employee must complete the State Board of Elections certification requirements. The director reports to the Chairman of the Pasquotank County Board of Elections and the State Executive Secretary-Director of Elections. Deadline: March 17. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Elections & Passport Manager, Benton County, Oregon— Benton County is currently seeking an Elections & Passports Manager to join the team. This position is responsible for the management of the Elections and Passports division operations and staff. Organize election and passport activities in Benton County, under the direction of the County Clerk and in accordance with applicable laws. Assist the Department Director/County Clerk in oversee operations in the Records & Elections department. Manage Records & Licenses division staff and assume the duties of the County Clerk, as needed. Salary: $59,404 – $89,119. Deadline: March 6. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Executive Director, Chicago Board of Election Commissioners— The Executive Director serves as the chief administrator, providing leadership and implementing policies and programs to carry out the work of the Board. The Executive Director directs an annual operating budget of approximately $34M and leads a staff of 130 full-time employees broken into 7 Divisions comprised of: Registration; Information Technology; Human Resources; Finance; Community Services/Poll Workers; Pre-Election Voting & Logistics; and, Warehouse Operations. All full-time employees, including the Assistant Executive Director, are compensated through the City of Chicago and subject to the benefits offered to City employees, although they are employees of the Board and not the City. Although an employee of the Board, the Executive Director is compensated through Cook County and receives employee compensation and benefits in line with County policies. By statute, the Executive Director must take an oath of office before the Cook County Circuit Court. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Grants Specialist, U.S. Election Assistance Commission— The Grants Specialist will assist the Grants Director to manage and administer the grants program for the EAC pursuant to 5 USC §3109 (See 42 USC §15324(b)) and §204 (6)(c) of HAVA. The incumbent provides expert advice to EAC leadership regarding grants management; provides advice and guidance to States and U.S. territories regarding the use of funds provided by EAC to ensure State/U.S. territory compliance with HAVA, Appropriations Law and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) circulars; conducts pre- and post-audits to review how funds have been spent; and makes recommendations to the Executive Director for audit resolutions. Salary: $69,581 to $128,920 per year. Deadline: June 17, 2020. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Lead Campaign Finance Disclosure Specialist, North Carolina State Board of Elections— This role is responsible for providing overall oversight and team lead of two disclosure specialists under the direction of campaign finance director. The employee in this position will perform independently specialized compliance work in the enforcement and application of State Campaign Finance Laws. The employee must have the ability to obtain all the necessary information for accurate and complete compliance of political committee filings to perform cursory audit examinations including but not limited to prohibited contributions, principal occupation information and permissible expense purpose codes of political committees or filers disclosure reports, financial records and examination of source documentation related to such filings. Work requires considerable contact with our campaign finance director, disclosure team, auditor team, campaign finance attorney, noncompliance coordinator, chief operations manager, county boards of elections’ staff and political committee treasurers. The employee must develop proficiency using the agency’s e-filing reporting software, understanding of QuickBooks invoicing statements and provide guidance to disclosure specialists, compliance team members and technical support to users. This includes developing proficiency in using the agency’s customer software for importing and storing report data. The employee will manage the electronic reporting County Board of Elections use to certify late or non-compliant political committee disclosure reports to North Carolina State Board of Elections. The employee will train state and county staff users in the new electronic STEPPS system. The employee guidance to users and filers for waiver requests and petition process for contested cases of penalty assessments with OAH. The employee serves as the agency’s lead in managing such data including but not limited to tracking all documentation that is required, performs technical `work, makes recommendations on such filings using specific criteria developed to handle waiver requests and prepares Board reports of the final recommendations. Salary: $46,203 – $78,218. Deadline: March 9. 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.
Proposals Manager, Hart InterCivic— The Proposals Program Manager will be responsible for leading and coordinating cross-functional teams for the successful development of proposals and management of the proposal lifecycle. This includes requests for proposals, requests for information, support for post-proposal contract questions, and other related activities. The Proposals Program Manager will work closely with key stakeholders and input providers across each peer group including Sales, Product Management, Finance, Operations and Engineering. This position reports to the Director of Certification and Proposals. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Quality Assurance Engineer, Democracy Works—You will be our first QA-specific hire, meaning that we are looking for someone who can help us build our approach to QA from the ground up with an eye toward providing guidance to our engineers in their work and potentially building out additional QA capacity over time. As a part of the team you will: Stand up end-to-end testing on our large/complex microservices setup; Structure our approach to QA from the ground up and potentially build a team of QA engineers over time; Write automated testing for our user-facings tools; Integrate into our dev process to confirm the quality of the code our developers are producing; Do some amount of manual testing as needed; Regularly collaborate with other members of the voter engagement team. Salary: $105K-$125K. Deadline: Target start date April 27. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Senior Cyber Program Manager, U.S. Election Assistance Commission— As the Senior Cyber Program Manager, the incumbent provides policy, leadership and direction, and serves as a key contributor to the EAC’s strategy regarding the Election Technology Program. The incumbent furthers the EAC’s efforts in various arenas; works to improve federal, state and local relations with regard to elections; and provides strategic guidance to senior staff on various issues pertaining to elections and specifically, election security. Salary: $96,970 to $148,967. Deadline: April 27. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Site Reliability Engineer, Democracy Works— As our first Site Reliability Engineer, you will guide the direction of the infrastructure engineering discipline at Democracy Works; exemplifying reliable, measurable, secure and repeatable practices that will act as a “force multiplier” across our products. You will: Maintain our infrastructure using Terraform and Kubernetes. Design, build, maintain, and plan for growth of infrastructure at Democracy Works. Create and maintain monitoring and alerting for services. Create and maintain documentation for the systems and tools that you work with. Automate “toil” – discover repetitive manual actions, document those actions, and automate them if possible. Improve existing automation to mitigate risk introduced through the natural process of software change. Join an on-call rotation for services you are responsible for. Review existing code and architecture for security and reliability. Work closely with developers and product teams regarding security and reliability implications of software and infrastructure changes. Aid developers in debugging production issues across services in a distributed system. Assist with interview processes for other available roles at Democracy Works. Work with product teams to balance and prioritize your work according to external deadlines and organizational goals. Salary: $105,000 – $125,000. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
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