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June 18, 2020

June 18, 2020

In Focus This Week

Bringing a national training tour to your home
Defending Digital Democracy offers a virtual election prep bootcamp

Bo Julie Crowley
Defending Digital Democracy

The 2020 election will look different from any election before, but unfortunately, many threats – such as targeted disinformation campaigns and cyber attacks – remain the same. While some of these risks have persisted for years, widespread social media use and sophisticated attack tools have amplified their reach and increased scrutiny on the state and local officials working to secure and operate our elections. COVID-19 has compounded these challenges by upending normal ways of working, communicating, and voting.

To support local election officials in responding to these changes, the bipartisan Defending Digital Democracy Project (D3P) has launched a free national training program that delivers best practices for crisis communications, operations management, and disinformation, as well as special topics like cybersecurity and how to proactively address the impact of COVID-19.

D3P’s mission is to identify and recommend strategies to protect democratic processes and systems from cyber and information attacks. Since D3P was launched in 2017, we have met with numerous state and local election officials across the country to determine election needs and vulnerabilities. We have provided detailed security advice for officials through a series of playbooks such as the State and Local Election Cybersecurity Playbook and the Elections Battle Staff Playbook. We also have hosted hundreds of officials from more than 40 states at in-person trainings to reinforce new tools and best practices for securing elections. Our efforts have benefited tremendously from the many officials who provided feedback on our content and participated in our events.

This summer, we have developed a new, highly interactive training program that aims to bring D3P’s Battle Staff approach to local officials around the country. These virtual sessions highlight the following key topics:

  • Operations Management and Incident Tracking (e.g., Frameworks from the Elections Battle Staff Playbook)
  • Incident Response / Crisis Communications (e.g., Cyber and Mis/Disinformation Incident Communications Response)
  • Information Operations (e.g., Tools and frameworks for identifying, responding, and reporting disinformation and misinformation incidents)
  • Insight around COVID-19 and how different states are adapting their election processes  to combat related cybersecurity and disinformation threats

Local and state officials can request a training session or more information through D3P’s signup form. The training content, timing, and format can be adapted to fit attendees’ preferences, with delivery formats that allow participants to concentrate the training into one day or, alternatively, spread out sessions over the course of a week. Regardless of format or number of participants, the training is designed to take advantage of virtual breakout sessions and small-group discussions, and includes a live election day tabletop simulation to test classroom concepts in real-time. Mindful of “video call fatigue,” we have developed an agenda that emphasizes active participation and minimizes the amount of time spent in listening mode alone. After the training, all participants will receive existing and new D3P playbooks, other printable deliverables, and an invitation to engage D3P on your post-training action plan or for other support requests.

Several states and election teams have signed up for training blocks within the next few weeks. We encourage any interested officials to reach out soon so we can reserve a week for your county or state. D3P aims to deliver this training to as many officials as possible, so there is no cap on the number of participants in any given session – and we hope to work with as many states and jurisdictions as possible. Just as you continue your work to serve the American people, we continue our work to serve you.

Interested officials can sign up for a training session or request more information via D3P’s website or the training signup form here.

(D3P’s is a grantee of the Democracy Fund. D3P is grateful for the Democracy Fund’s support in being able to realize this training tour effort.)

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2020 Election Updates

California: According to a report posted to the Los Angeles County website, the problems that caused hours-long waits during the March primary stemmed from the county’s e-poll books. According to Politico, The report concludes that these devices and not the county’s new $300 million voting machines were the source of those delays. Although the voting machines also had problems, the report faults inadequate planning, testing and programming of the poll books that workers used to check in voters and verify that they’re registered. Because Los Angeles County did not have backup paper copies of the voter list, poll workers were not able to check in voters when the devices failed, leading to long lines.

 

Colorado: Colorado: Colorado: Gov. Jared Polis (D) recently signed an executive order activating the Colorado National Guard to assist with election cybersecurity defense efforts during the 2020 state primary election on June 30.   Cybersecurity support for the election had been requested by the Colorado Secretary of State. The order states that because Colorado uses online voter registration systems that allow eligible citizens to access and update their voter registration information, those systems, while protected by various security features that maintain confidentiality and prevent data tampering or interference with data, “could provide an avenue for cyber actors to gain unlawful access to voter registration databases.” The order notes that voter registration databases outside of the state have been compromised by cyber actors hacking into various systems. And while cyber actors are unable to modify voter records, breaches could result in the release of voters’ personal information.

Georgia: As ballot counting from the June 9th primary continued several steps were being taken to assure (hopefully) that what happened in the June primary does not repeat itself in November. In Fulton County, Commission Chairman Robb Pitts announced the formation of a 19-person task force that will be analyzing the election to determine what went wrong and how to fix it. The task force will dig into six areas: facilities, equipment, personnel, logistics, communications and absentee ballots. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) announced a series of proposals to make the November election run more smoothly including legislation to give the State Election Board, the power to intervene in county elections management. He also plans to provide far more tech support in voting places to avoid the kind of difficulties with the state’s $104 million voting system that delayed some poll openings last week. Raffensperger said the state will not mail absentee ballot applications to every voter, but it will create a website so residents can request a ballot. Additionally, the secretary of state’s office gave voters more time to cure their ballot signatures. Voters will have three business days after they’re notified of issues with their absentee ballots to fix problems, according to a bulletin from the secretary of state’s office. Voters can submit photo ID or other documentation to validate their identities.

Maryland: Maryland election officials faced criticism  from lawmakers who questioned them about problems with the state’s mostly mail-in primary, at a hearing to explore ways to make mail-in voting trouble free in November if it’s required again by the virus outbreak. Michael Cogan, chairman of the state elections board, said the coronavirus pandemic forced elections officials to focus on safety at a time when there was a scarcity of personal protection equipment amid scary predictions of dire illnesses and death. Lawmakers said they understood the challenges, but they also expressed serious concerns about the depth of the problems. State election administrator Linda Lamone Lamone said elections officials are working to build more accountability for vendors into the process. But Sen. Cory McCray, a Baltimore Democrat, said he hasn’t heard anyone in senior leadership on the elections board accept responsibility. “At what point does the senior leadership team of the State Board of Elections bear some point of responsibility in the delayed ballots?” McCray asked.

Pennsylvania: Activists are demanding the Lehigh County Board of Elections take action on a complaint filed by a candidate in a close contest for a state House seat in the Lehigh Valley. Enid Santiago is alleging voter suppression, intimidation, and election tampering. Unofficial results from the June 2 Democratic primary show her 57 votes behind incumbent Peter Schweyer with 100% of the vote counted. At statement from Lehigh County’s chief clerk of elections said the election board has received Santiago’s complaint and information is being gathered. The board will then determine “if the information warrants additional action.”

 

South Carolina: A hearing has been scheduled for three of four candidates protesting the June 9 primary election results. Clerk of Court candidate Angie Altman-Robbins, Horry County Council District 6 candidate Jeremy Halpin, and Horry County Council District 3 candidate Karon Mitchell will all present their cases before the Executive Committee of the Horry County GOP on Thursday, June 18. According to WPDE, Last week, Sandy Martin, the director of Horry County Voter Registration and Elections, said that “some voters were given the wrong ballot.” She added that “It stems from the workers not selecting the correct ballot on the machine.” Several of the protesting candidates say they heard from voters in their districts that their names weren’t even on their ballots.

West Virginia: Ballot counting in last week’s primary in Mineral County was plagued with problems. First, the county’s optical scan machine had difficulty dealing with absentee ballots that had been folded. Then, at 4:15 in the morning with only seven precincts left to count a sensor on the machines stopped working and a tech had to come the next day to fix it. Results were finally posted around 9 a.m. on Wednesday. However, County Clerk Lauren Ellifritz, discovered an error in the totals Thursday afternoon as she reviewed paperwork from the election. “On Election Night, the early and absentee ballots were processed first, and the results were downloaded to generate a report to distribute to those in the audience,” she explained. “In the process, the Election Night Management program was not reset to zero before the next report was generated. This resulted in a duplication of those votes only,” Ellifritz said before apologizing to candidates and their families. The new vote totals did not alter any race outcomes.

Election Security Updates

The U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) announced its partnership with the Center for Internet Security, Inc. (CIS®) to pilot a technology verification program focused on non-voting election technology including electronic poll books, election night reporting websites, and electronic ballot delivery systems. The proposed program is entitled “Rapid Architecture-Based Election Technology Verification,” or RABET-V, and it relies on a risk-based approach that allows rapid verification of manufacturers’ security claims.

“Congress created the EAC to serve as a national leader on election technology issues. This pilot program is an important part of a broader effort by the EAC to expand our technical program in a direction that will better serve election officials across the country,” said EAC Chairman Ben Hovland. “We are excited to play an integral role in the development of the CIS RABET-V pilot program and contribute our expertise toward its success.”

As the sole federal agency dedicated to the administration of U.S. elections, the EAC is uniquely qualified to assist states and organizations such as CIS in the development of innovative evaluation techniques and processes outside of and separate from federal certification and the Voluntary Voting System Guidelines.

“The EAC joined the project’s steering committee from the start as we see a need for jurisdictions across the U.S. to have a consistent way to evaluate the capabilities and security of manufacturers’ non-voting election technology. This program will inform the EAC on ways to complement the existing testing and certification of voting systems,” remarked EAC Vice-Chairman Don Palmer. “The current ecosystem of non-voting election technology vendors is healthy, diverse, and represents the innovative spirit of small business across our nation,” continued Vice-Chairman Palmer. “Our hope is that this pilot program will identify methods to better reduce vulnerabilities of non-voting technology, and will be a service to state and local election officials as we provide and disclose the results.”

The RABET-V pilot program supports agile software development with a verification process that anticipates and supports rapid product changes. Goals of the pilot program include incentivizing high-quality, modern design of IT systems updated in smaller, more manageable cycles at reduced cost of verification and re-verification with more reliable and consistent outcomes for purchasers of these systems.

“CIS is looking forward to working with the EAC, alongside our state, local, and industry colleagues on this pilot,” said Aaron Wilson, CIS Senior Director of Election Security. “RABET-V is a unique approach that relies on each system’s architecture and each provider’s processes to inform risks and verify security. It is consistent with modern software development, testing, and deployment practices and will allow for changes to be verified rapidly without sacrificing security assurances.”

In addition to the EAC, state election leaders from Maryland, Ohio, Wisconsin, Texas, Pennsylvania, Indiana, and the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) will participate in the pilot program. The program is supported by technical expertise from Carnegie Mellon University, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP). Four non-voting election system manufacturers have already signed up for the pilot: Scytl, VR Systems, KNOWiNK, and Voting Works. The project forecasts being able to provide a preliminary report to stakeholders this fall.

COVID-19 Updates

District of Columbia: The D.C. Board of Elections announced this week that it plans to mail a ballot to each of the city’s 500,000 registered voters ahead of the November election, as well as expand in-person voting opportunities and take other steps to prepare for what officials say could be twin challenges of “record-shattering turnout” and a possible second wave of COVID-19 cases. For the November election, election officials say they plan on doubling the number of vote centers across the city for early and day-of voting. They say they will also revamp the app, hire additional IT experts, increase staffing in a call center to field voter calls, and launch a wider communications campaign on voting by mail. They’ve also starting talking to the U.S. Postal Service, to determine whether mail-delivery problems may have contributed to some absentee ballots and other election materials never being delivered.

Florida: This week, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) granted limited flexibility under state law to elections supervisors. In an emergency order that fell short of granting supervisors the leeway they’d requested months ago, DeSantis gave the state’s 67 local elections officials the ability to begin processing mail ballots earlier than otherwise allowed under Florida law. He also established administrative policies encouraging state employees to work as poll workers in their home counties — potentially alleviating concerns about Election Day staffing shortages — and encouraged officials to create protocols for keeping polling places sanitized and voters socially distanced. According to The Tampa Bay Times, the emergency order is too little, too late for many of the state’s elections officials.  “It comes at a point when many of the state’s Supervisors of Elections have already solidified their plans for the August primary election,” stated a news release issued by a spokeswoman for the Florida Supervisors of Elections association president, Hillsborough County Supervisor Craig Latimer. The association also noted that DeSantis’ executive order was “substantially different” from its request to DeSantis in early April. Supervisors had also hoped that the governor would allow for extra days of early voting and allow them to establish regional early voting centers on Election Day to alleviate concerns about staffing and skittish landlords unwilling to act as polling places.

Ohio: Secretary of State Frank LaRose announced this week that funding has been approved to send an absentee ballot request to every registered voter. According to the announcement, absentee ballot requests will be mailed around Labor Day.

Wisconsin: The Wisconsin Elections Commission, which consists of three Republicans and three Democrats, unanimously agreed to send 2.7 million registered voters forms they can use to have absentee ballots sent to them for the Nov. 3 presidential election. No one will be sent an actual absentee ballot unless they specifically ask for one. The letters that accompany the form will also include instructions about how to request absentee ballots in person or with the state’s online portal. The mailing will be sent by Sept. 1.

Election News This Week

Not my job! The Leon County supervisor of elections office is stuck in a “not my job” tug-o-war between the county’s public works department and the company that owns the building that houses the county’s elections office. Since about 2012, the building has been leaking due to issues with the HVAC. According the Tallahassee Democrat, things are so bad elections employees have brought in large fans to blow-dry drenched drywall and they’ve wrapped equipment with plastic tarps. Elections staff only uses 45,000 square feet of the building, Supervisor of Elections Mark Earley said. But that space is constrained even further because of water damage to the building. That makes it difficult for workers to adhere to social distancing guidelines during the coronavirus pandemic, he added. County Commission Chairman Bryan Desloge recently took a tour of the elections office and said the county would make fixing the building a priority. “We take that stuff pretty seriously,” Desloge said. “On the eve of elections … our take is, we’ll fix it and work out the (financial) details later.”

NBA All-Star LeBron James and a group of other prominent Black athletes and entertainers are starting a new group aimed at protecting African-Americans’ voting rights, seizing on the widespread fury against racial injustice that has fueled worldwide protests to amplify their voices in this fall’s presidential election. “Because of everything that’s going on, people are finally starting to listen to us — we feel like we’re finally getting a foot in the door,” James said in an interview with The New York Times. “How long is up to us. We don’t know. But we feel like we’re getting some ears and some attention, and this is the time for us to finally make a difference.” The organization, called More Than a Vote, will partly be aimed at inspiring African-Americans to register and to cast a ballot in November. According to The Times, James said he would use his high-profile platform on social media to combat voter suppression and would be vocal about drawing attention to any attempts to restrict the franchise of racial minorities.

Last week following Georgia’s primary, Chef Jose Andres, who in addition to numerous famous eateries also runs World Central Kitchen, announced on Twitter that on November 3 he would set up food, water and restrooms to help people standing in lines at voting locations.

Sticker News! Three cheers for the three winners of Ann Arbor, Michigan’s “I Voted” sticker contest. Winners were chosen in three categories—K-6; 7-12 and citywide. Winners were chosen by public voting after contest judges selected finalists. Judges included Mayor Christopher Taylor and representatives from the clerk’s office, the city’s citizens academy, Public Art Commission, Ann Arbor Public Schools and the University of Michigan’s Stamps School of Art and Design. While physical stickers will be available to those who head to the polls in November, City Clerk Jackie Beaudry said digital versions will be shared with absentee voters via email. Those then can be shared on social media. The city is considering other opportunities for distributing stickers via mail, such as including a sticker with an outgoing ballot, if the COVID-19 pandemic leads to a primarily vote-by-mail election, Beaudry said.

Personnel News: Frannie Brennan, director of the Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania Election Bureau has retired after more than 40 years in county government. Courtney Canfield-Green will be the new Orange County, New York Republican elections commissioner. After a week on the job, Augusta, Maine City Clerk Patti Dubois has resigned saying the job is not a good fit for her. Debbie Newcomb is resigning as the Ashtabula County, Ohio board of elections deputy director.

Legislative Updates

California: The California Senate last week approved a measure that would guarantee all registered voters get a ballot in the mail before the November election. The bill would also extend the deadline for those ballots to make it back into the elections office to 20 days after the general election. The Senate passed the bill with a 31-7 vote. It still must be approved by the state Assembly before it can become law.

The San Diego city’s Rules Committee voted 3-2 to send a proposal to the full council to consider whether or not to put a measure on the ballot that would move city elections to ranked choice voting system. The city would be required to also hold a voter awareness campaign to familiarize voters with the change.

Georgia: Rep. Josh McLaurin (D-Sandy Springs), has introduced two pieces of election reform legislation that he hopes will address some of the problems encountered during the June 9 primary. According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, under on proposal, the Fulton Board of Registration and Elections would be reborn on Aug. 1 — which would be during early voting for the Aug. 11 runoff. The board and the county’s elections department work together to plan the election, doing things as granular as select polling sites. McLaurin proposes evaluating the elections board chair every year, staggering the other four board member term limits, appointment power going back to the Fulton delegation instead of the Fulton Board of Commissioners.

Illinois: Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Tuesday signed SB 1863 and HB 2238 into law to provide vote by mail applications to all recent voters in Illinois. The legislation also expands early voting hours at permanent polling places, improves the signature verification process and makes election day a state holiday.

Iowa: Republicans in the legislature voted to cut the state budget for conducting elections by a quarter of a million dollars and to force the state’s top election official to get permission from legislative leaders if he intends to send absentee ballot request forms to voters. GOP lawmakers also voted to create new voter verification steps for casting an absentee ballot. Senator Roby Smith, a Republican from Davenport, said if a ballot request form has the wrong voter ID number on it, a county auditor cannot use voter registration data to correct it and send a ballot out, but must contact the voter by phone, email or letter to verify the person is a qualified voter.

With bipartisan support the House amended an elections bill remove language that would prevent elections officials from sending mail-in ballot request forms to all registered voters. Instead, the Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate is allowed to take such action, as he did this most recent primary amid the pandemic, if he gets approval from a cohort of lawmakers in both parties. The bill now says the secretary of state can make changes to the procedure of an election with approval from the Legislative Council and the proposal allows the council to proposal its own alternative or take no action.

The Senate adjourned without passing HJR14, a proposed amendment to restore felon voting rights in the state. According to the Des Moines Register, Senate Republicans declined to pass the measure, citing the belief Governor Kim Reynolds (R-IA) may sign an executive order immediately restoring voting eligibility for people with felony convictions after serving their sentence.

Massachusetts: The Senate passed expanded vote-by-mail legislation this week that would allow voters to avoid the polls, but still participate, during the upcoming primaries and general election if they feel unsafe due to the ongoing pandemic. S. 2755  would offer registered voters three options to cast a ballot: during extended early voting periods, voting in-person on election day, or voting-by-mail. Between early voting and vote-by-mail, the reforms could substantially reduce lines on Nov. 3 and increase interest in sometimes lower-turnout primary contests, supporters said.

 

Minnesota: The Minnetonka City Council on June 8 adopted an ordinance to amend the city charter requiring the use of ranked-choice voting for municipal elections and removes all references to primaries from the charter. The Charter Commission has now been tasked with further study of the ranked-choice voting amendment, which begins the process under state law. The commission needs at least 60 days, or until Aug. 7, to review a proposed amendment, though it could potentially take up to 150 days, or until Nov. 5, if more information is requested. After the study is completed, the council will decide if, when and how to put the issue on the ballot for voters to decide if they want the ranked-choice voting method.

North Carolina: Gov. Roy Cooper signed into law on Friday legislation providing money to help run North Carolina elections during the COVID-19 pandemic and making it easier to cast mail-in absentee ballots this fall. The House and Senate gave final legislative approval on Thursday to the bipartisan measure and sent it to Cooper’s desk. The measure is designed to prepare for a spike in demand for absentee ballots from people at higher risk of developing complications from the coronavirus. Voters would need only one witness signature on the envelope holding a completed ballot, not two.

 

Legal Updates

Alaska: In a unanimous decision published Friday, the Alaska Supreme Court upheld a lower-court decision and confirmed the legality of a proposed multipart ballot measure including all three topics. The state of Alaska had argued that the measure violated a constitutional requirement that ballot measures be limited to one subject. Backers of the initiative sued the state after the measure was rejected, and in October, Superior Court Judge Yvonne Lamoureaux ruled that all three components fall under the single subject of “election reform.”

 

Alabama: In a 77-page opinion, U.S. District Judge Abdul Kallon waived some of the requirements to vote absentee in Alabama ahead of the Republican runoff primary. “Because the plaintiffs have shown that the challenged laws will likely dissuade some citizens from voting … the court finds that the burdens imposed by the challenged election laws on voters at high risk of severe complications or death from Covid-19 are not justified by the state’s interests in enforcing the laws,” Kallon wrote. In the opinion, Kallon issued a preliminary injunction waiving the requirements that an Alabama voter seeking to cast a ballot by mail must submit a copy of their photo ID and have a notary or two witnesses sign the ballot. The injunction also prevents the state from shutting down attempts by county election officials to allow voters to drive up to a polling location and cast a ballot via “curbside voting” in next month’s runoff race. Secretary of State John Merrill has said he will appeal the ruling.

California: District Court Judge Perry Parker put a hold on an executive order inked by the governor last week that specified how county registrars should conduct the coming presidential election. Parker agreed that Newsom’s directive may be an “impermissible use of legislative powers in violation of the California Constitution.”  The temporary hold on the gubernatorial order will last until the case can go to trial.

Also in California, former Contra Costa County elections chief Joe Canciamilla has been charged with 34 felony crimes of illegally spending campaign funds. The Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office has charged Canciamilla with 30 counts of perjury involving campaign disclosure statements and four counts of personal grand theft of campaign funds spent on a vacation in Asia, airfare, restaurants and other personal expenses. According to the complaint, Canciamilla illegally spent $261,800.68 of his campaign funds in all. The charges stem from conduct starting in 2010

Florida: A federal appellate court has agreed to fast track the state’s appeal of a ruling that paved the way for hundreds of thousands of Florida felons to register and vote in the November elections. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday granted Gov. Ron DeSantis’ request to expedite the appeal. The Atlanta-based court also scheduled oral arguments in the case during the week of Aug. 10. The order agreeing to expedite the appeal did not address the DeSantis’ administration’s request for the full circuit to hear the appeal.

Georgia: The Democratic Party of Georgia filed an emergency motion to give voters more time to correct problems with rejected absentee or provisional ballots. The motion said many voters won’t be notified whether their ballots were rejected until it’s too late. Counties are still counting tens of thousands of absentee ballots. The normal deadline to verify ballot discrepancies, such as signature mismatches or missing photo ID, is three days after Tuesday’s election. “Voters deserve to know that their vote is counted and have the chance to correct any errors,” said Democratic Party of Georgia Chairwoman Nikema Williams. “Georgians still don’t know whether their vote was counted in this primary.”

Indiana: Indiana Vote by Mail, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization which advocates for accessible, secure, auditable and fiscally responsible voting practices, and a dozen named plaintiffs filed a motion for a preliminary injunction last week against the state in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana seeking to extend no-excuse absentee voting for the 2020 general election. They filed a lawsuit April 29, 2020 to remove the state’s restrictions on absentee voting, and with the motion for preliminary injunction, the plaintiffs are imploring the court to require officials to begin the process to expand absentee voting.

Michigan: Sherikia Hawkins, a clerk in Southfield, was bound over this week to Oakland County Circuit Court, the Michigan Attorney General’s office said. According to the Associated Press, Hawkins is charged with election law-falsifying records, forgery of a public record, misconduct in office and using a computer to commit a crime. The attorney general’s office said a computer was used to fraudulently alter or modify a qualified voter file after the Nov. 6, 2018 general election to falsely reflect that previously logged absentee ballots were void due to arriving in envelopes that were not signed by the voter.

 

Minnesota: Ramsey County District Judge Sara Grewing issued a consent decree this week that, among other things, allows voters to skip the witness signature part of the mail-in ballot envelope. t will also allow ballots that arrive up to two days after Election Day to be counted as long as they are postmarked on or before Aug. 11.  Under current law absentee ballots can be counted after the day of the election, but only if they’re received on or before Election Day. “The constitution says you can’t unduly interfere with the right to vote,” Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon told KARE. And the conclusion here is that, under the present circumstances with COVID-19 that might happen unless there is some modification of the rules just for this primary election.”

Missouri: This week, Sophia Lakin, deputy director of the voting rights project for the American Civil Liberties Union, asked the Missouri Supreme Court to reverse a Cole County judge’s dismissal of a lawsuit filed by the civil rights group seeking unrestricted absentee voting. Senate Bill 631, passed last month by Missouri’s GOP-dominated Legislature, expanded mail-in voting options and narrowed the legal grounds for the ACLU’s case. But Lakin argued it fell short of giving all Missourians concerned about Covid-19 to ability to submit an absentee ballot.

New Jersey: The League of Women Voters announced this week that it had come to an agreement with the state in a lawsuit over ballot signatures. The LWV and the state agreed to a “notice and cure” process for mail-in ballots for the July 7 primary. Voters who cast their ballot by mail will be notified of any issues and offered the option to fix the problem. The agreement only applies to the July 7 primary, not subsequent elections. Last month, Gov. Murphy announced that mail-in ballots would be sent to all registered voters in the Garden State. As a result, a surge in mail-in ballots is expected for the delayed primary, which means that a surge of ballots would be subject to a signature match. The agreement must still be accepted by the district court judge in Newark.

 

North Dakota: U.S. District Judge Peter Welte says he will not waive North Dakota’s ban on electronic signature gathering for a group attempting to get a wide-ranging measure on the November ballot.  North Dakota Voters First asked to allow online signature gathering because of the coronavirus pandemic. The group argued that the COVID-19 outbreak “creates an environment that is impossible to comply” with the laws. In denying a motion for a preliminary injunction, Welte noted that the state did not issue a stay-at-home order and Gov. Doug Burgum on May 1 “revoked nearly all the previously imposed pandemic-related restrictions.”

Ohio: Ballot campaigns in Ohio asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday to weigh in on whether they have the legal right to see signature-gathering rules relaxed during the coronavirus pandemic. The move came after the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals declined Tuesday to reconsider its decision to block the campaigns from proceeding under less restrictive signature-gathering rules they’d been granted by a lower court. U.S. District Court Judge Edmund Sargus Jr. set guidelines that would have allowed campaigns promoting minimum wage, voting rights and marijuana issues to collect signatures electronically. Sargus had also extended the deadline for submitting signatures by about a month, to July 31. But he stopped short of reducing the overall number of signatures Ohio requires.

Tennessee: Davidson County Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle ordered changes to the state absentee form but stopped short of ordering sanctions against the state for not complying, citing tough budget times for the state during the pandemic. But she warned “there always is the specter of criminal contempt if after today’s orders there’s still noncompliance and there’s disobedience.” “Shame on you for not following that procedure and just taking matters into your own hands,” Lyle said at a hearing last week. “So, I’m calling the state out on that, for not adhering to the standards of legal process, and not adhering to the order.” In addition, the attorney general’s office has filed a motion seeking to fast-track the appeal of Hobbs Lyle’s original ruling.

Texas: The Texas Democratic Party this week asked the U.S. Supreme Court to immediately lift the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ block on a sweeping ruling that would allow all Texas voters who are seeking to avoid becoming infected at in-person polling places to instead vote by mail. Early voting for the July 14 primary runoff election begins June 29. Earlier this month, a panel of the 5th Circuit extended its block on a preliminary injunction by U.S. District Judge Fred Biery ordering that all state voters, regardless of age, qualify for mail-in ballots during the pandemic. Biery agreed with plaintiffs, including the Texas Democratic Party, that voters would face irreparable harm if existing age eligibility rules for voting by mail remain in place for elections held while the coronavirus remains in wide circulation. Under his order, voters under the age of 65 who would ordinarily not qualify for mail-in ballots would now be eligible. But after Attorney General Ken Paxton appealed that ruling, the 5th Circuit put it on hold

West Virginia: The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals has settled a yearlong debate over four provisional ballots in Harpers Ferry.  The state’s highest court voted unanimously on Monday for the Harpers Ferry Town Council to count four provisional ballots from last June’s municipal election. The council had thrown out those ballots over typographical errors. Secretary of State Mac Warner said he’s pleased the Supreme Court upheld state code that says technical errors shall be disregarded and the votes would be required to be counted.

Tech Thursday

Delaware: According to Delaware Public Radio, the state is no longer piloting a  new internet-based voting system balled OmniBallot voting system. Delaware election officials decided to drop the OmniBallot pilot days after the MIT report was released over concerns about trust in the system.  “We have had no problems with the system,” said  State Election Commissioner Anthony Albence. “We have confidence in the system, but we want everyone to be fully confident in anything that we do.” Albence says the Department of Elections is now using an in-house system to send out absentee ballots electronically to voters who request that option.

Oklahoma: The State Election Board’s new voter registration “wizard” makes it easier than ever to complete a voter registration application. Applicants who use the “wizard” will also receive a transaction code they can use to check the status of the application with their County Election Board. “The new voter registration wizard allows you to complete your application online, then print, sign and mail the application to your County Election Board. By using the State Election Board’s website to fill out your application, you can be certain your personal information is safe and secure,” Paul Ziriax said. Voters can access the voter registration “wizard” through the OK Voter Portal.

Opinions This Week

National Opinion: Voting lines | Absentee voting | LeBron James | Voting system | General election, II, III, IV | Voter suppression, II, III, IV | Vote by mail, II, III, IV | Facebook | Secretaries of state | Student voters | Voting rights | Election reform

Alaska: Election system

California: Vote by mail, II | Los Angeles County

Connecticut: Voting rights

Florida: Voting mess | Vote by mail | Amendment 4, II | Lessons from 2000

Georgia: Fulton County | General election | Equipment; Primary, II, III, IV | Secretary of state

Idaho: Voter suppression

Illinois: Vote by mail

Indiana: Absentee voting

Iowa: Absentee legislation

Kentucky: Voter suppression

Maine: Primary

Maryland: Vote by mail

Massachusetts; Vote by mail

North Carolina: Absentee voting

North Dakota: Ballot measure

Ohio: Postage | Voting safety

Oklahoma: Absentee voting

Pennsylvania: General election

South Carolina: Runoffs

Texas: Vote by mail | Colorado County

Utah: Weber County

Upcoming Events

D3P National Training Tour: The Defending Digital Democracy Project (D3P) is launching a national training tour effort for local election officials as they prepare for the 2020 election. Given the many changes of the past months, this tour will be conducted digitally and is designed to give officials the best of D3P live training sessions in a new format. In addition to supporting local election officials through customized training, the tour may also host some special sessions for state election officials. Local jurisdictions can sign up for a block of virtual training sessions from June to August 2020, with the timing, content, and outputs customizable based on election officials’ schedules and priority needs. D3P’s work is committed to supporting officials in protecting the elections process. Just as you continue your work to serve the American people, we continue our work to serve you. This is a free, virtual resource that will involve discussion groups, live table top simulations, and state-specific content. Key training topics include operations management, crisis communications, disinformation, and Covid-19 support. When: June 22-August 28. Where: Online.

Science-Based Strategies for Safer In-person Voting: In the context of the current pandemic, the rapidly evolving challenges of administering elections places new emphasis on the safety of in-person voting for citizens, the general public, election office staff, and many other election system stakeholders. Despite calls around the country for a transition to mail-only elections, a mail-only election is logistically impossible. The reality is that in 2020 millions of voters will be casting ballots in person at precinct polling places and vote centers. Join Kathleen Hale and Mitchell Brown of Auburn University for a moderated discussion about science-based strategies for safer in-person voting with Ed Smith, an election technology veteran now with Smartmatic, a global leader in election technology. Where: Online. When: June 24, 2pm Eastern.

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.

Job Postings This Week

electionlineWeekly publishes election administration job postings each week as a free service to our readers. To have your job listed in the newsletter, please send a copy of the job description, including a web link to mmoretti@electionline.org.  Job postings must be received by 5pm on Wednesday in order to appear in the Thursday newsletter. Listings will run for three weeks or till the deadline listed in the posting.

Business Enablement Project Manager, Hart InterCivic— The Business Enablement Project Manager manages projects that further the advancement of business for the organization. These projects include the development of RFP responses, management of strategic regulatory activities, execution of market research activities, and internal projects to support the improvement of business processes to support the Proposals and Certification Teams.  The Business Enablement Project Manager must be able to function effectively on all levels of corporate structure in order to identify opportunities, analyze business needs, and identify and solve problems that present barriers to market entry. The Business Enablement Project Manager must be able to exercise sound judgment, interact with internal and external stakeholders, and complete projects professionally in high-pressure situations. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Election Administrator, Cass County, Minnesota— Responsible for the conduct of all state and county elections in Cass County in compliance with federal and state laws. Provides election budget oversight, and manages election equipment fleet acquisition, maintenance, and life cycle updates. Develops and executes training programs for permanent staff, temporary employees, local election officials, and election judges. Oversees counting center operations, coordinates polling place equipment delivery and supplies, mail ballot precinct administration, and absentee ballot administration. Salary: $30.07 – $39.25/hr DOQ. Deadline: June 19. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Elections Supervisor, Dallas County, Texas— Assists management by planning, organizing, delegating and overseeing the daily operations of one or more areas of responsibility associated with the election process.Oversees the election program area to ensure staffing coverage is adequate, and productivity standards are met and are effective develops and implements goals and objectives, performance measures and techniques to evaluate programmatic activities reviews correspondence and reports from local, state andor federal agencies analyzes statistical data and prepares and maintains related reports.Researches and maintains comprehensive knowledge and understanding of applicable laws, policies and procedures to effectively communicate with staff, and acts as liaison and departmental representative to elected officials, political representatives, candidates, judges, contracting customers, vendors, general public, andor other county, state and federal representatives to resolve problems, answer questions, provide assistance and modify policiesprocedures. Hires and trains supervisory and support staff, evaluates performance and initiates disciplinary actions coordinates and monitors scheduling, productivity and workloads.Assists in budget preparation and maintains related data and reports. Performs other duties as assigned. Salary Range: $49,765.92 – $62,100.24. 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.

Research Fellow, Democracy Works— The Research team collects and standardizes information on how voting works—how to register, how to vote, and when and where elections are happening. Streamlining democracy in this way requires quite a bit of knowledge: what form you use to register to vote in Wyoming, to whom you mail your absentee ballot application in Maine, and whether there’s an election taking place in Oklahoma RIGHT NOW (there probably is!). This information is used by various consumers, both internal and external. The Voting Information Project (VIP) coordinates with state election offices to publish nationally standardized information about where and how to vote—data that powers everything from Google’s polling place search to our text and email reminders to TurboVote users. As a part of the team, you will work with the Data Project Manager and Director of Election Research to conduct research outreach for the Voting Information Project, contacting thousands of state and local election officials. You will: Conduct phone and email outreach to local election administrators to get accurate, up-to-date information on elections; Compile the election information into a detailed spreadsheet; Perform quality assurance checks on the information to assure accuracy and completeness of the data; Research user-reported errors; and assist the election research team with other tasks, as they arise. Salary: $13,000 for 13 week fellowship (paid in semi-monthly installments). Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Senior Data Fellow, Voting Information Project— The Voting Information Project (VIP) coordinates with state election offices to publish nationally standardized information about where and how to vote—data that powers everything from Google’s polling place search, to our text and email reminders to TurboVote users. VIP’s dataset has served millions (and hundreds of millions) of voters since 2008. You will: Work with Democracy Works technical staff to write, run, and debug Python scripts to parse data; Assist with standardizing & sanitizing datasets; Perform quality assurance checks on the information to ensure accuracy and completeness of the data; Research and respond to user-reported errors; and Write and update technical documentation so that other members of the team can recreate processes. Application: For the complete listing and to apply, click here.

Vice President of Election Operations, Center for Internet Security— Reporting to the Executive Vice President for Operations and Security Services (OSS), the Vice President of Election Operations will oversee all elections-related efforts within CIS, most importantly the Elections Infrastructure Information Sharing and Analysis Center (EI-ISAC) and related elections community support sponsored by the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). This position will also manage election-related projects and activities that are funded by third parties or self-funded by CIS. The Vice President of Election Operations will lead an organization comprised of the CIS staff working on election-related efforts and will be responsible for outreach to U.S. state, local, tribal, and territorial election offices as well as private sector companies, researchers, and nonprofit organizations involved in supporting elections. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Marketplace

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