In Focus This Week
Worldwide voting made easier with improvements to worldwide web
Study shows how states can improve military and overseas information on their websites
Simple improvements can make absentee voting information on websites of the 55 U.S. states and territories easier to find and use by Service members, their eligible family, and U.S. citizens abroad covered by the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA).
For example, according to the study released by the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP), only one state website meets readability standards for the information provided for UOCAVA absentee voters.
Every state and territory has specific absentee voting processes for UOCAVA voters, including use of the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) to register to vote and request their ballot, the option to receive their blank ballot electronically, and use of the Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB) if their official ballot does not arrive on time.
Requirements for voter registration and types of electronic transmission permitted (email, fax, online portals) vary by state. Whether voters can submit their ballots electronically also varies by state.
“Especially this year, when absentee voting may be delayed or disrupted by service reductions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is critical that state election websites clearly communicate with all voters covered under UOCAVA,” said FVAP Director David Beirne. “States and territories are welcome to use FVAP.gov as a resource for their UOCAVA content and to incorporate the best practices uncovered in our research.”
FVAP assessed three aspects of UOCAVA information on state and territory websites: how quickly UOCAVA information could be located, adequacy of the website’s information on registration and voting procedures, and how easy it was to understand and use the information. In most instances, a voter can quickly locate a state’s UOCAVA information, but the website of a few states and territories, it takes long, about one and a half minutes. On average, state websites included 9 out of 11 key pieces of UOCAVA voting information, but finding and understanding the information was rated the most difficult of the three tasks.
States can improve their websites and help military and overseas voters by:
- Implementing search engine optimization strategies
- Making it easy to find UOCAVA information on election homepages and through menus
- Putting all UOCAVA information on one page
- Organizing information by how a voter would go through the process
- Using lists or tables to organize information
- Avoiding jargon and removing unnecessary content
The complete study can be found at Assessing State UOCAVA Web Pages.
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2020 Election Updates
Michigan: Cities and counties throughout Michigan held local elections this week that included in-person voting. Overall, turnout for the local elections was at record-high numbers, but a majority of those voters, 98 percent, cast their ballots by mail. Still, some people did show up at the polls on Tuesday. Walker City Clerk Sarah Bydalek said she was surprised at the number of people that voted in-person. “I figured that everyone who was going to vote had voted by mail but we are seeing a lot of people coming in person,” she told WZZM. In Kalamazoo and Portage voters who didn’t have their own masks and wanted to vote in-person were provided masks. In Leoni Township, those who wanted to vote in-person had to do so by car. Genesee County Clerk John Gleason said the high turnout election was “smooth sailing”. “First of all the voters had nothing else really to do except watch Jeopardy and (mail) out their vote,” Gleason said. Kent and Ottawa saw turnout that was nearly doubled from past elections.
Ohio: Secretary of State Frank LaRose has issued a directive to county boards of elections that provisional ballots of voters who did not request an absentee ballot by the ballot deadline but did show up at boards of elections on the April 28 primary date will not be counted. Boards already have begun the 10-day “cure” period for voters to confirm their eligibility for about 44,000 provisional ballots cast in the primary, but it’s unclear how many of those were submitted by voters who never tried to vote by mail. In a letter to Democratic state lawmakers, LaRose wrote that a plan the Ohio General Assembly adopted to extend the election made only those voters who requested an absentee ballot and those who turned up in-person and affirmed that they were disabled or homeless eligible to vote in the election. “I sincerely wish this were not the case. I ran to serve as Ohio’s chief elections official to make the ballot box more accessible for every eligible Ohioan who wants to make their voice heard. However, as a constitutional officeholder in the executive branch, I am bound by my oath of office to abide by the law as you and your colleagues write it, even though I advocated for a different path,” he wrote.
Rescheduled Primaries: At press time, the following states have rescheduled their primaries: Connecticut 6/2; Delaware 6/2; Georgia 6/9; Indiana 6/2; Kentucky 6/23; Louisiana 7/11; Maine 7/14; Maryland 6/2; New Jersey 7/7; New York 6/23; Pennsylvania 6/2; Rhode Island 6/2 Virginia 6/23; and West Virginia 6/9.
Legislative and legal actions surrounding the elections and the coronavirus pandemic can be found in their respective sections of the newsletter.
Public Opinion: Another week another opinion poll about vote by mail. This one, conducted by USA Today and Suffolk University found that two-thirds of Americans support voting by mail as an alternative to voting in person in November. But while Democrats and independent voters overwhelmingly back vote-by-mail, the majority of Republican voters oppose it. The poll found 65% of Americans support vote-by-mail as an alternative, a greater than 2-to-1 margin over the 32% of Americans who oppose the option. Three percent said they were undecided. Eighty-four percent of Democratic voters said they support voting by mail and just 14% said they oppose it. Less than half of Republicans polled, 43%, said they support vote-by-mail as an alternative while more than half, 53%, were opposed. Self-identified independent voters said they back vote-by-mail during the pandemic by a 66%-31% margin.
Public Health: This week, a group of more than 800 public health experts sent a letter to Congress calling on it to fund mail-in voting. According to The Hill, the experts—made up of professors, phycologists and doctors led by the Center for American Progress—calling on Congress to provide $4 billion in funding to address vote-by-mail. “In order to ensure the integrity of the electoral process and protect the public health at the same time, it is incumbent on our leaders to prepare for a Presidential election by mail, in which ballots are sent to all registered voters, to allow them to vote from home and ensure their health and safety in the event of a new outbreak of SARS-CoV-2,” the public health experts wrote.
Presidential Opinion: Former President Jimmy Carter, who has observed elections all over the world, called for expanded vote by-mail in light of the global pandemic. “I urge political leaders across the country to take immediate steps to expand vote-by-mail and other measures that can help protect the core of American democracy – the right of our citizens to vote,” Carter said according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Many voters across the U.S. are likely to find themselves in areas where the pandemic has not abated and where the health risks involved in going to polling locations will be unacceptably high,” Carter said.
Connecticut: Secretary of State Denise Merrill has released her plan to conduct the August 11 primary and the November general election. the Office of the Secretary will be sending applications for absentee ballots to every registered voter in the state, and include postage paid return for those applications. After processing at the local level, the voters who request absentee ballots will be delivered ballots via the mail house, and the cost of both the mailing and return of the absentee ballot will be borne by the Office of the Secretary of the State. Resources will also be provided for towns to deal with the anticipated increase in absentee ballots. The plan allows for a larger number of votes by absentee ballot than ever, at no cost to the towns or voters.
Florida: The state’s Division of Elections offices in Tallahassee’s R.A. Gray state office building was closed after an employee there tested positive for COVID-19, a spokesman said. The building received a deep cleaning and was reopened after the weekend. The entire Department of State already had 200 employees working remotely.
Kansas: Secretary of State Scott Schwab is launching a statewide campaign to get young people to volunteer as poll workers for the November election. “It’s a great opportunity for a 16-year-old to say, ‘What can I do to help my country or my state?’ ” Schwab told The Topeka Capital-Journal’s editorial board. . “This is huge because it’s a healthy population.” Recruiting poll workers as young as 16 is part of Schwab’s strategy. In addition to being less likely to get sick from the coronavirus, youths are likely to be comfortable with the technology involved in quickly checking voters.
Kentucky: The State Board of Elections recently approved a set of emergency regulations at a special meeting conducted remotely. Highlights of the 19-pages of regulation include approving $1 million to $1.2 million to pay for returned postage for voters to return their absentee ballots to the county clerks and $1 million to $1.1 million for county clerks to hire staffers for four weeks to help with the election. The board also authorized drop boxes in locations in court houses designated by the clerks to drop off absentee ballots if someone didn’t want to use the free mail. Gov. Any Beshear announced this week that the National Guard would help state and county election officials ahead of and during the June 23 primary.
Rhode Island: There will only be 47 polling locations in 39 cities and towns open for the June 2 primary election in Rhode Island. In 2016, there were 144 polling places open statewide. In most communities there will be only one polling station. In Cranston and Warwick there will be two in Pawtucket there will be three, and in Providence four.
Texas: Attorney General Ken Paxton warned county governments against vote-by-mail expansion in the upcoming July and November elections, saying Harris County officials and others were “misleading the public” in their attempts to do so. Paxton issued a letter to Texas county judges and election officials saying that, under the Texas Election Code, citizens cannot claim disability and request a mail-in ballot purely on the grounds of fear of contracting COVID-19 through exposure at the polls. “Mail ballots based on disability are specifically reserved for those who are legitimately ill and cannot vote in-person without assistance or jeopardizing their health. The integrity of our democratic election process must be maintained, and law established by our Legislature must be followed consistently,” Paxton said. “My office will continue to defend the integrity of Texas’s election laws.” The Texas election code states that a qualified voter is eligible to vote early by mail “if the voter has a sickness or physical condition that prevents the voter from appearing at the polling place on election day without a likelihood of needing personal assistance or of injuring the voter’s health.”
Election News This Week
You’ve heard about fake news, but what about fake news reporters? According to The Billings Gazette, someone pretending to be an Associated Press news employee sent emails to the Prairie County Clerk and Recorder’s office from January through April to gather public information about the upcoming election. Matt Volz, Rocky Mountains news editor for the AP, told the Gazette he has passed the information on to his company’s lawyer who asked the deceptive emailer to “cease and desist. “We strongly discourage anybody from impersonating the Associated Press,” he said. “We’re going to take appropriate action.” As the paper points out, such a strange maneuver in a county with only 1,000 people might normally be shrugged off, especially since the election information is public. But, this election cycle hasn’t been normal in Prairie County as we reported in the April 9 edition of electionline Weekly. Prairie County Commissioner Todd Devlin did some online sleuthing and believes the emails were coming from former Clerk and Recorder Ruth Peck who is running for the office again this cycle after losing to current Clerk and Recorder Shari Robertson two years ago. Robertson failed to meet the filing deadline and will run as a write-in candidate. Peck has denied she is the one who sent the emails.
New York might be the greatest city in the world (been listening to too much Hamilton during the lockdown), but the residents of Gotham aren’t so great about voting. The New York City Campaign Finance Board released its latest Voter Analysis Report and it’s a really interesting look into voting habit of New Yorkers. In addition to providing a comprehensive look at the 2019 election, the report also includes a 10-year longitudinal study of millions of individual voters, the places with the best and worst electoral engagement, and the factors that have influenced voter participation. It’s fascinating. According to the review 21 percent of registered voters did not cast a ballot for the entire decade. Only 3 percent voters voted every time they could. “People often talk about how we have a registration problem in New York, but what we’ve found is that people are registered to vote. They are just not turning out to vote,” Allie Swatek, the Campaign Finance Board’s director of policy and research, told the Gotham Gazette. “The participation score captures that problem: how often people turn out to vote in elections that they are eligible to vote in.”
Oregon Secretary of State Race: Three Democrats and two Republicans are running in the May 19 primary election for secretary of state in Oregon. Shemia Fagan (D) is a civil rights attorney who grew up in eastern Oregon. Mark Hass (D) is a state Senator from the Portland area. Jamie McLeod-Skinner (D) is a natural resources attorney who lives in central Oregon. Kim Thatcher (R) owns a construction project management company, is a state Senator and lives in Keizer. Dave Stauffer (R) is an environmental engineer who lives in the Portland area.
Personnel News: Linda McCall and JoAnne Day have been appointed to the South Carolina Election Commission. Cheri Robinson is the new Hancock, Maine town clerk. Hillsborough County, Florida Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer is the new president of the Florida Supervisors of Elections.
Alabama: Sen. Rodger Smitherman, D-Birmingham, filed a bill this week that would authorize no-excuse absentee voting. Smitherman’s Senate Bill 335 strikes out the list of excuses that qualify a voter for an absentee ballot, and deletes a section of state law that says they must have one of those excuses to apply for an absentee ballot.
Illinois: The panel that sets legislative goals for McLean County government has approved asking state lawmakers to order county clerks to send mail-in ballot applications to all registered voters. According to WGLT, county board member Carlo Robustelli said during a recent legislative subcommittee meeting that the move will help people exercise their constitutional right to vote during a pandemic. “Given that the federal government and CDC and Illinois Department of Public Health are making recommendations about social distancing about certain segments of our population that will be most vulnerable, we should be proactive in making sure people do not have to choose between their health and their life, and voting,” said Robustelli.
Massachusetts: Secretary of State William Galvin introduced his plan this week that would alter how ballots are cast in the commonwealth during the pandemic. The slate of changes would apply only for the Sept. 1 state primaries and the Nov. 3 general election in an attempt to balance voter engagement and protection against COVID-19 transmission risks. Under the secretary’s proposed legislation, voters could seek mail-in ballots for either or both elections without any excuse, and local election officials could mail them as soon as possible. In-person early voting would also expand from 12 days ahead of the general election to 18 days, including two weekends, and from zero to 7 days before the primary.
Michigan: Sen. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) has introduced a bill that would move Michigan to an all vote-by-mail state. Under the bill, registered voters would return their ballots by mail or drop them off at designated, local sites. My bill proposes using the system already in place for absentee ballots to provide that opportunity for citizens to vote through the mail,” said Irwin. “And clerk’s offices would be open on election day for individuals who want to make use of same day registration or, if they’re disabled voters, who need particular accommodations or if people just want to drop their ballot off in person because they don’t want to put it in the mail.” The bill has been referred to the Committee on Elections, chaired by Republican State Senator and former Secretary of State Ruth Johnson.
Missouri: The House Elections and Elected Officials Committee approved the bill on a party line vote of 5-2, with Republicans in favor and Democrats opposed. The bill would let Missouri residents vote absentee if they are at risk of contracting or transmitting COVID-19 and the governor has declared a state of emergency.
New York: The Ulster County Legislature voted 22 to 1 to hold a public hearing on a proposal that would change county law to require that ballot recounts in close elections happen only the requested by a candidate. “I’m just flabbergasted about why we would even be considering something like this,” said Legislator John Parete, a former county elections commissioner. “I was in the Board of Elections. That’s our job,” Parete said. “I can’t, for the life of me, figure out or rationalize where this came from.”
North Dakota: North Dakota Secretary of State Al Jaeger has approved for circulation a petition seeking to reshape several aspects of North Dakota elections by a public vote this fall. The measure proposes a new constitutional amendment outlining processes for military and overseas voters, election audits, open primaries, instant runoff elections, legislative redistricting by the new Ethics Commission and subdivision of House legislative districts. Its text fills three pages. Supporters submitted the petition format to Jaeger in March. Organizers need 26,904 signatures by July 6.
Ohio: Democrats in the Ohio House of Representatives have proposed launching a blockchain voting pilot for overseas military voters registered in Ohio. The bill calls on Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose to “establish a pilot program” of blockchain voting specifically for uniformed service members stationed outside the U.S. The bill was introduced by Reps. Beth Liston and Michele Lepore-Hagan, and cosponsored by 16 other Democrats. If passed, it would see military members transmit their ballots to election officials via “encrypted blockchain technology” that “protects the security and integrity of the process and protects the voter’s privacy.” The receiving board of elections would then print out that ballot “for counting purposes.”
Oklahoma: Two days after the Oklahoma Supreme Court struck down a requirement that absentee ballots be notarized, House Republicans pushed through a bill to reinstitute it. Rep. Chris Kannady (R-Oklahoma City) authored an amendment to another bill in order to get the change pushed through. SB210 allows voters to attach a photocopy of their state ID or voter registration card to their absentee ballot during the COVID-19 pandemic instead of having it notarized. All House Democrats and three Republicans voted against the bill, which now goes to the Senate.
Texas: El Paso County commissioners are showing support for vote-by-mail measures to protect people from being infected with COVID-19 as the pandemic continues to impact the city. The commissioners voted unanimously to authorize the El Paso County Attorney’s Office to file a brief supporting a Travis County court judge’s ruling to allow all Texas voters to cast a ballot by mail. County Commissioner Carlos Leon said during the meeting that the county’s number one priority should be safety. “We as a county need to look at this closer and give our voters the flexibility to vote by mail or show in person,” Leon said.
Wisconsin: The Racine city council approved a proposal that would direct City Clerk Tara Coolidge to mail absentee ballot applications and a postage-paid return envelope to every registered voter in the city for the November general election.
Alabama: Three civil rights organizations filed a federal lawsuit seeking to loosen some absentee voting requirements and overturn bans on curbside voting amid the COVID-19 outbreak. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC); the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program (ADAP) filed the lawsuit on behalf of several plaintiffs, including four voters with medical conditions that would leave them vulnerable to COVID-19 if required to vote in-person. The lawsuit seeks to overturn requirements that a notary or two witnesses sign an absentee ballot. Attorneys call it an “unreasonable requirement,” particularly for those who live alone. Plaintiffs also seek to suspend a requirement that voters include a photocopy of their personal identification with ballots and to allow curbside voting, in which individuals can cast a vote at a polling place in their car. The lawsuit names Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey; Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill and 4 county election officials as defendants.
California: An agreement in a lawsuit filed in June of 2019 that accused Palm Desert of violating the California Voting Rights Act will push the implementation of ranked choice voting until 2022. The agreement acknowledged that given current conditions due to the coronavirus it would be difficult and expensive to roll out ranked choice at this time.
Florida: Priorities USA, Alianza for Progress, the Florida Alliance for Retired Americans and individual plaintiffs filed a lawsuit this week challenging parts of Florida’s rules for vote by mail ballots. The lawsuit challenges state laws and procedures that include requiring elections supervisors to receive vote-by-mail ballots by 7 p.m. on election night for the ballots to count. The lawsuit argues that ballots should be valid so long as they are postmarked on or before Election Day.
Also in Florida, after a week and a half of testimony, the ex-felon voting rights trial wrapped up with U.S. District Court Judge Robert Hinkle signaling that he will rule on the side of the plaintiffs. In 2018 voters overwhelming approved Amendment 4 with reinstated the voting rights to former felons after they had completed the terms of their service. In 2019 the state Legislature approved a bill requiring all ex-felons to repay all fees, fines and restitution before their voting rights may be restored. Plaintiffs argue that the new law is a modern-day poll tax.
Georgia: U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg ruled that requiring postage on mailed absentee ballots for the June primary is not an unconstitutional poll tax on Georgia voters, but she said she will consider changes in future elections. Totenberg said that removing the postage requirement would be difficult for the state to implement so close to the June 9 primary and confusing to voters who had already received their absentee ballots.
Iowa: A judge has ruled the number of polling places in Woodbury County for the Primary Election on Tuesday, June 2nd, and a special election Tuesday, July 7th must be increased from two to a minimum of five. The judge also ordered Woodbury County Auditor Patrick Gill to establish a polling place in each of the five state representative districts in Woodbury County. Gill says that’s a workable compromise.
Michigan: Michigan election officials agreed to allow visually impaired voters to use software to complete an absentee ballot in local elections this week. The deal filed in federal court last week is a temporary fix in an ongoing lawsuit. Voters with visual impairments will have an opportunity to request an absentee ballot typically reserved for military personnel or citizens who are out of the country. The ballots can be completed using electronic reader software. They still must be mailed or delivered to local clerks. Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson says she’s confident a long-term solution can be found.
Nevada: Chief U.S. District Judge Miranda Du rejected an injunction by True the Vote, on behalf of three Nevada voters, to halt a plan to conduct the state’s June 9 primary election mostly by mail. In a 24-page order, Du concluded that the plaintiffs lacked standing to assert their claims and that Nevada’s interests in implementing the plan far outweigh the burdens placed on plaintiffs’ right to vote. And this week, a group of Democratic Party-aligned groups dropped their lawsuit after Clark County election officials agreed to expand in-person voting and other changes for the June primary.
New York: In a 30-page ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Analisa Torres wrote that the plaintiffs, which included former presidential candidate Andrew Yang, had presented a credible argument on the basis of constitutional rights and that New York should reinstate it’s presidential primary scheduled for June 23. The state board of elections has indicated that it will appeal the ruling.
North Carolina: A group of voters backed by Democratic legal groups sued North Carolina seeking to loosen rules around absentee mail-in ballots amid predictions that the coronavirus pandemic will make voting by mail a widespread practice. They want the state to provide prepaid postage on all absentee ballots, change a requirement for two witnesses to sign a ballot, extend the deadline for receipt of ballots until nine days after Election Day and give voters a chance to fix signature discrepancies before election officials reject those ballots.
North Dakota: A group behind a proposed voting rights ballot measure filed a lawsuit against North Dakota Secretary of State Al Jaeger, arguing that petition circulators should be allowed to collect signatures online during the coronavirus pandemic. The plaintiffs, which include former first lady Jane Sinner and a Fargo-based organization called North Dakota Voters First, contend that the state law requiring petition circulators to collect necessary signatures in-person is unrealistic and dangerous as the outbreak of COVID-19 continues to affect the state. The group would need to submit at least 26,904 signatures from qualified voters by July 6 to get the measure on the Nov. 3 general election ballot.
Oklahoma: The Oklahoma Supreme Court on Monday struck down a requirement that absentee ballots must be notarized to be valid. An order issued Monday by Chief Justice Noma Gurich bars the Oklahoma State Election Board from issuing ballot forms or other election materials that suggest notarization is required. Instead, a statement signed, dated and declared under the penalty of perjury will suffice on absentee ballots. The order from the state’s high court requires the State Election Board to recognize the signed statements as proof that said voter did fill out their own ballot.
South Carolina: The South Carolina Republican Party is trying to intervene in a potentially historic legal action in the S.C. Supreme Court where Democrats are seeking a high court ruling to expand absentee voting this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. “The SC GOP simply wants a seat at the table to ensure all stakeholders have a voice in this matter of public interest and importance,” the Republican Party lawyers said in their motion. The Supreme Court has not yet said whether it will hear the case — a move called original jurisdiction —without sending it to a lower court first.
A third lawsuit seeking to expand all voters’ rights to vote absentee in South Carolina’s June 9 primary and November general election was filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Columbia. This lawsuit — brought by the Democratic National Campaign Committee, the Democratic National Committee and the S.C. Democratic Party — is the third in two weeks seeking expanded absentee ballot rights. The lawsuit alleges that racial bias in S.C. laws and history make it difficult for African Americans to vote, especially during the threat of the coronavirus pandemic. It’s also the second suit filed by the DCCC the S.C. Democratic Party, which a week earlier filed a suit with the S.C. State Supreme Court asking for an expansion of mail-in voting along with two S.C. Democratic candidates running in contested primaries in June.
Tennessee: A coalition of Tennessee nonprofits sued the state in an effort to expand access to absentee voting and mail-in ballots during the COVID-19 pandemic. Tennessee’s limits on voting by mail force voters to “choose between risking their health by voting in person, or forgoing their right to vote entirely,” the federal lawsuit stated. “Tennessee voters must be permitted to cast their ballots without subjecting themselves to unnecessary exposure to a pandemic disease.” The plaintiffs called on a judge to ease absentee voting restrictions, which they called unconstitutional. The lawsuit also challenged laws that can disqualify some absentee ballots and limit groups’ abilities to help people get mail-in ballots.
Texas: The Texas Democratic Party has asked a court to order state officials — specifically the state’s attorney general — not to interfere with a previous court order that opened up mail-in voting. In their filing Tuesday with the Third Court of Appeals, lawyers accused the state of thrusting voters and local election officials into “legal limbo” by contradicting the earlier ruling. In its filing, the Texas Democratic Party said the court needs to step in to ensure counties and voters do not fear applying for and processing vote-by-mail applications. “The State has taken the extraordinary action of publicly disregarding an order from a coequal branch of the government, asserting that its view of the Texas Election Code, which was rejected by the trial court, is law of the land and threatening those who follow the trial court’s interpretation with prosecution,” lawyers wrote in their motion. “This includes calling into question the validity of the injunction within Travis County and intimidating Travis County voters.”
Virginia: The Virginia Supreme Court has given permission to three towns in Loudoun County to move their municipal elections to next month in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. With the court decision, the towns of Lovettsville, Middleburg and Purcellville will now hold their municipal elections to Thursday, June 4.
Also in Virginia, a judge has approved an agreement between the state and the League of Women Voters that will allow voters to submit and absentee ballot without a witness signature. The judge writes that “applying the witness requirement during this pandemic would impose a serious burden on the right to vote, particularly among the elderly, immunocompromised, and other at-risk populations. Weighed against those risks, the present record reflects the likelihood that the burden would not be justified by the witness requirement’s purpose as an anti-fraud measure.” Under the agreement, the Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Elections will be required to take “additional reasonable steps” to make sure people know the witness requirement will not be enforced for voters who think they cannot safely have a witness present.
Opinions This Week
Colorado: Voting system
Florida: Ex-felon voting rights
Illinois: Vote by mail
Iowa: Voter safety
Maryland: Vote by mail
Massachusetts: Election reform
Mississippi: Vote by mail
New York: Vote by mail
North Carolina: Pandemic voting
Oklahoma: Vote by mail
Pennsylvania: Election costs
Tennessee: Vote by mail
Vermont: Vote by mail
Washington: Voting safety
West Virginia: Vote by mail
Wyoming: Vote by mail
Communicating Trusted Information: The Center for Tech and Civic Life is launching a 4-course online series, Communicating Trusted Election Information. The courses cover election websites, social media, accessible communications, and how to combat misinformation. Effective communication is especially important during the pandemic, so these courses are offered for free. When: May 12 and 14. Where: Online.
COVID-19 Webinars for Elections Officials: The Center for Tech and Civic Life is launching 12 free webinars on COVID-19 for election officials that cover topics ranging from ballot dropoff locations to virtually training election workers. The webinars feature experienced guest speakers with detailed, actionable practices that you can implement in your office. When: May 19-June 30. Where: Online.
VVSG 2.0 Public Comment Period
The U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) is taking important steps to advance the development of the next generation of federal voting system standards, known as the Voluntary Voting System Guidelines 2.0, or VVSG 2.0. These steps include sharing the recommended VVSG 2.0 Requirements with the EAC’s Standards Board and Board of Advisors for review, launching a 90-day public comment period.
“Each step toward final approval of VVSG 2.0 is another step toward improving election security. The final VVSG requirements will enable manufacturers to develop updated, improved, accessible, and secure voting technology. The process to gather feedback from our stakeholders is critical to completing this process,” added EAC Chairman Ben Hovland, who has served as the EAC’s designated federal official for the TGDC for the past year. “We look forward to getting input from our Board of Advisors and Standards Board, and to hear from the public through the hearings and public comments.”
In March, the Technical Guidelines Development Committee (TGDC) unanimously voted to provide the EAC with recommendations on the VVSG 2.0 Requirements. The recommended requirements, developed with the support of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), were submitted to the EAC’s Acting Executive Director on March 9, 2020. On March 11, the EAC submitted the proposed VVSG 2.0 Requirements to the EAC’s Standards Board and Board of Advisors for review.
The EAC has initiated a 90-day public comment period on the VVSG 2.0 Requirements, which will run through June 22, 2020. Those who wish to review the VVSG 2.0 Requirements document, as recommended by the TGDC, and submit comments may do so via regulations.gov.
EAC Commissioners are expected to consider the VVSG 2.0 for adoption following their review of feedback provided by the Standards Board and Board of Advisors on the proposed VVSG 2.0 Requirements, as well as testimony and comments provided during public hearings and the public comment period.
Upon adoption, VVSG 2.0 would be the fifth iteration of national-level voting system standards. VVSG 2.0 offers a new approach to the organization of the guidelines and seeks to address the next generation of voting equipment. It contains new and expanded material in many areas, including reliability and quality, usability and accessibility, security, and testing. The Federal Election Commission published the first two sets of federal standards in 1990 and 2002. The EAC then adopted Version 1.0 of the VVSG on December 13, 2005. In an effort to update and improve version 1.0 of the VVSG, on March 31, 2015, the EAC commissioners unanimously approved VVSG 1.1.
The advancement of the VVSG 2.0 Requirements follows efforts in recent years to advance the VVSG 2.0 Principles and Guidelines, which are 15 principles and related guidelines that form the core of VVSG 2.0 and are supported by the Requirements. The TGDC provided the EAC with recommendations on the VVSG 2.0 Principles and Guidelines in September 2017. The EAC Standards Board and Board of Advisors recommended the VVSG 2.0 Principles and Guidelines for adoption in April 2018. The EAC solicited public comments on the VVSG 2.0 Principles and Guidelines from February to June 2019, and held three public hearings on them in April and May 2019.
The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) establishes three federal advisory committees that support the EAC in its work: the Technical Guidelines Development Committee (TGDC), the Standards Board, and the Board of Advisors.
The TGDC assists the EAC in developing the VVSG. The chairperson of the TGDC is the director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The TGDC is composed of 14 other members appointed jointly by EAC and the director of NIST, including state and local election officials, individuals with technical and scientific expertise in voting systems, and representatives from the Access Board, American National Standards Institute, and Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.
The Standards Board and Board of Advisors advise the EAC on various matters, including the development of the VVSG. The Standards Board consists of 55 state election officials selected by their respective chief state election official, and 55 local election officials selected through a process supervised by the chief state election official. HAVA prohibits any two members representing the same state to be members of the same political party.
The Board of Advisors consists of 37 members, as specified by HAVA. Members include two people appointed by each of the following groups: National Governors Association; National Conference of State Legislatures; National Association of Secretaries of State; The National Association of State Election Directors; National Association of Counties; The National Association of County Recorders, Election Officials and Clerks; The U.S. Conference of Mayors; Election Center; International Association of Clerks, Recorders, Election Officials, and Treasurers; U.S. Commission on Civil Rights; and Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board. Other members include representatives from the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Public Integrity, and the Civil Rights Division; the director of the U.S. Department of Defense Federal Voting Assistance Program; four professionals from the field of science and technology, one each appointed by the Speaker and the Minority Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives, and the Majority and Minority leaders of the U.S. Senate; and eight members representing voter interests, with the chairs and the ranking minority members of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on House Administration and the U.S. Senate Committee on Rules and Administration each appointing two members.
Job Postings This Week
electionlineWeekly publishes election administration job postings each week as a free service to our readers. To have your job listed in the newsletter, please send a copy of the job description, including a web link to firstname.lastname@example.org. Job postings must be received by 5pm on Wednesday in order to appear in the Thursday newsletter. Listings will run for three weeks or till the deadline listed in the posting.
Deputy Administrator, Michigan Secretary of State’s Office— This position is responsible for assisting the Director in the overall management and supervision of the activities performed in the Bureau of Elections. This position is also responsible for providing supervision to the Bureau??s teams. These responsibilities include leadership and direction to professional staff, as well as planning, organizing, direction, and evaluation of projects and high priority initiatives. This position also provides internal Bureau-wide coordination and communication with outside advisory groups, vendors, and other agency and Departmental staff; coordination of major purchasing processes; and oversight and monitoring of the Bureau budget including Help America Vote Act (HAVA) federal grant expenditures. Salary: $95,730.00 – $130,146. Deadline: May 12. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Director, Jefferson County, OH BOE— The Jefferson County Board of Elections is currently accepting applications for the position of Director. The candidate must be a member of the Democratic Party and a qualified elector of Jefferson County within 30 days of employment at the agency. The Director will oversee the total operations of the Jefferson County Board of Elections, in conjunction with the current Deputy Director and members of the Board of Elections. All functions of the operation of the office fall under the responsibility of the Director. The following are the common operations of the office, but not all fall under the complete operation of the Director. The Director has the discretion of assigning duties to the Deputy Director and staff members as he or she sees fit. Deadline: May 20. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Election Data Analyst, NC State Board of Elections— The Elections Data Analyst will be part of the State Board’s Communications Team and report to the Public Information Officer, with regular guidance from the Chief Information Officer and his staff. The employee also will work routinely with other departments in the agency. The Elections Data Analyst provides consultative statistical work in the evaluation and analysis of program data for the State Board of Elections. This position functions with independence within very general guidelines and either initiates studies or works from broad goals and objectives to conduct studies. Study design, analysis, procedures, and conclusions are the responsibility of the position. Consequence of error in studies may be great, since program or project direction may result from the conclusions of significance or trends. Completed or draft studies are reviewed in terms of subject matter, correctness of interpretation, and conformance to agency policy. Salary: $48,051 – $65,000. Deadline: May 8. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Election Program Specialist, NC State Board of Elections— the In-Person Voting Program Specialist has extensive knowledge of election administration and performs detailed planning and preparation for conducting in-person person in all 100 North Carolina counties in compliance with General Statute 163. In-person voting includes one-stop early voting and Election Day for all primaries, second primaries, recounts, special elections, and general elections. In-person voting programs include but are not limited to voting inside the polling place, curbside voting, provisional voting, precinct officials, and electioneering. This position will work closely with agency legal counsel, Project Management section, Training & Outreach section, and other SBE and CBE stakeholders to review election law and make necessary recommendations in election processes, procedures, and information systems pertaining to in-person voting. Collaborates with Communications Division to develop and maintain web content and other public documents pertaining to in-person voting. This position provides in-person administration assistance, which includes statute and process clarification and materials creation and review. The work involves keeping informed of all laws, rules and regulations in North Carolina that apply to in-person voting, communicating this to the county boards of elections, and providing the necessary materials and supervision needed to conduct successful elections in North Carolina. Responsibilities will also include directing a program assistant, as well as a small group of seasonal temporary employees to carry out program standards and objectives. The employee will work with all federal, state and local agencies to assure all standards are met and in-person voting reports and surveys are completed. Salary: $46,203-$59,240. Deadline: May 8. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here
Election Specialist, NC State Board of Elections — the Candidate and Canvass Program Specialist has extensive knowledge of election administration and performs detailed planning and preparation for candidate filing, pre-election processes, post-election processes, and canvass in all 100 North Carolina counties and the State Board of Elections in compliance with General Statute 163. Performs work in assuring that candidate filing is successful in all 100 counties and the State Board of Elections, coordinating pre-elections tasks with the Voting Systems Division such as ballot proofing and election setup, coordinating post-election tasks such as the audits and surveys, and that the canvass process is properly conducted with the cooperation of all North Carolina county boards of elections and the State Board of Elections canvass. This position will work closely with agency legal counsel, Voting Systems section, IT division, Campaign Finance division, and other SBE and CBE stakeholders to review election law and make necessary recommendations in election processes, procedures, and information systems pertaining to candidate filing, candidate petitions, candidacy challenges, election protests, pre-election procedures, post-election procedures, and the canvass period. Collaborates with Communications division to develop and maintain web content and other public documents pertaining to these areas and the Judicial Voter Guide to North Carolina households. Work involves providing guidance to those in the SEIMS infrastructure work group as well as the SEIMS helpdesk in questions involving candidate filing and the candidate filing process. Responsibilities include working with the IT infrastructure team and Helpdesk in supporting counties with preparation for Canvass. Responsibilities will also include directing a program assistant and other staff to carry out program standards and objectives. Salary: $46,203-$59,240. Deadline: May 8. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Election Services Manager, Douglas County, Colorado— The Election Services Manager is responsible for the management and coordination of elections administrative operations, voter registration, mapping for voting districts and precincts, addressing library, and support for mail ballot processing as directed by the leadership team. The objective of this position is to perform a variety of functions and diverse leadership roles on a routine basis, including performance management for a team of Election Specialists. This is a highly visible position requiring exceptional leadership, organizational, and communication skills. The Election Services Manager is responsible for oversight of responsibilities within the elections office and Voter Service and Polling Centers, coaching and supervision of staff; creation and enforcement of policies, procedures, and state and federal statutes and regulations; creation and execution of strategic and tactical plans for operating successful elections; coordination of election functions with entities participating in a County election or conducting their own election; managing key vendor relationships and election assets. Coordinates with and assists other Clerk & Recorder Divisions as needed. Salary: $4,785.83 – $5,982.33 Monthly. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Elections Technology Specialist, Boulder County, Colorado— The Boulder County Clerk and Recorder’s Office, Elections Division, has an opening for a Technology Specialist. This is a term position for the duration of 2020 which includes both the June 30 Primary Election and the November 3 General Election. This position will learn and perform a variety of complex, technical, and specialized tasks associated related to elections, software/hardware support, and voting systems. To be successful in this position you must be eager to learn, possess an aptitude for troubleshooting, technical information and documenting process through conversation, implementation and observation. Successful applicants will be comfortable in a high-stakes, team-focused work environment. We seek a person who is process-oriented and motivated to do meaningful work that facilitates the democratic process. Salary: $57, 024. 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.
IT Security Engineer, Dominion Voting Systems— We are looking for an IT Security Engineer to join our IT team in Denver, Colorado! We are looking for a security-minded individual who can perform both day-to-day technical management and maintenance of IT security programs and who can also strategically assess and enhance the overall IT security enterprise-wide. This role covers a broad scope of responsibilities as some days you may be evaluating new security solutions and attending security briefings, while other days you will be managing our existing IT security toolsets and reviewing threat and log data to identify risk and mitigate vulnerabilities. You must be a self-starter, who collaborates well with others and can explain IT security best practices to anyone from the end-users to executive team members. You will also work for hand and hand with colleagues within the IT department and work with our vendors and external threat organizations to understand and mitigate risks. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Operations Manager, Center for Election Innovation and Research— The Center for Election Innovation & Research (CEIR) seeks a qualified Operations Manager to join our team. The Operations Manager will report to the Program Director and will be responsible for the execution of CEIR’s general operations. The Operations Manager will be in charge of ensuring our human resources, finances, and administrative functions run efficiently and effectively. Under the supervision of the Program Director, the Operations Manager determines objectives and milestones, and builds effective relationships within the team and with outside partners. 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.
Voter Service Manager, Arapahoe County, Colorado— This position provides the opportunity for you to take your voting or government-related experience to a new level in an exciting year where we will administer a statewide primary election in June and the November Presidential General Election. Join our team of dedicated public servants in supporting voters across Arapahoe County while upholding public trust and integrity in our elections process. This position will assist with complex administrative and supervisory work in directing daily activities. The Voter Service Manager supports the Elections Deputy Director, Chief Deputy Director and the Clerk and Recorder with issues concerning all operations of Elections. Salary: $65,960 – $105,365. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
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