In Focus This Week
Site helps voters and administrators know what’s healthy
Healthy Voting and Center for Civic Design, Voter-centered content
When it comes to the 2020 General Election, healthy has two meanings. There’s the physical health of voters in the midst of a global pandemic. Equally important is the democratic health of our country as measured by access to the vote. HealthyVoting.org is designed to bolster both.
Created by We Can Vote in partnership with American Public Health Association (APHA), National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL), and Center for Civic Design (CCD), HealthyVoting.org features detailed guidance for all 50 states, DC, and voting territories, as well as Americans Abroad. Each page lays out all available voting methods in the state, paired with positive, proactive steps that voters can take to keep themselves and others safe, no matter how they choose to vote.
Voters will appreciate the concise, easy to skim, mobile-friendly layout. Lower-risk options, such as mail voting when available, appear at the top of the page, but voters can also explore in person voting options during the early voting period and on Election Day. In recent weeks, voters who may have been confident about their plan to vote by mail may be rethinking that in light of growing concerns about the U.S. Postal Service. For those voters, as well as those who are new to voting, this site lays out everything they need to make an informed decision in one mobile-friendly place. In user testing, one voter from Georgia described it as “easy to understand… the information was right there I didn’t have to read through a ton to find what I needed.”
HealthyVoting.org was also designed with election administrators in mind. We interviewed independent public health experts at universities and former federal officials, ensuring that best practices such as masks, physical distancing, handwashing are presented as positive, proactive steps that keep voters (and poll workers) safe at all stages of their voting process. We Can Vote staff and volunteer lawyers monitor evolving state election policies, and update the guidelines when policies change. (Several states are still finalizing their rules for the general election, while others are still completing their primaries.) The site makes it easy for voters to contact local election officials with questions by providing multiple links back to the state or local boards of elections websites to ensure that voters can reach trusted info with ease.
Here’s how you can use and adapt the site:
Each state’s page includes a downloadable pocket guide, which is regenerated if there are changes to the voting process in your state. These can be printed on a single sheet of paper, and then a few folds transforms it into a pocket-sized booklet that includes relevant deadlines, available voting options, and healthy tips vetted by public health experts. These booklets can be printed en mass and placed in public spaces such as hospital waiting rooms, food distribution sites, or senior-living centers for potential voters to pick up and carry away, or made available online for voters to print at home.
If your state already has its own pocket guide, the healthy tips can be quickly adapted into a one page supplement.
Partner with local trusted messengers
A recent survey from the California Center for Inclusive Democracy found that people who see messages that lay out all of their voting options report that they are more likely to vote than those that do not. That effect is compounded when there is a safety and health component of the message and it is delivered by a trusted messenger.
HealthyVoting.org makes it easy to replicate that success in the real world. Both the pocket guide and the website include multiple reminders to check with local elections offices for the most up to date policies. Advocacy groups and other trusted messengers are able to share it, and the site then encourages voters to contact local election officials with questions.
Each state page includes links to Twitter and Facebook with prewritten posts that you can adapt as needed. The downloadable pocket guide also makes for easily sharable social media content. Simply export the guide as an image, crop the page you’d like to use, then share it.
Borrow the text
Election officials looking to send out accurate, practical health advice vetted by public health officials can take the text and use it in social media posts, email blasts, and even websites to help instill confidence in voters as they weigh which voting method is right for them.
The 2020 General Election promises to be an election like no other. Election administrators across the country have risen to the challenge, adapting messaging and processes in real time to instill trust, confidence, and a sense of efficacy in their voters. HealthyVoting.org is designed to be one more tool in the election administrator’s arsenal. As former Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson (R) described it in our launch press conference, “In America, we have adapted our elections over the years, going back to the Civil War. We need to adapt right now, and tools like this will help administrators do that.”
A few ways to avoid falling off an electoral cliff
By Conny McCormack
With the upcoming tsunami-like deluge of voters choosing to vote by mail, election officials across the U.S. are facing added stress on the capacity of their systems and staff to respond during this pandemic. As a former local election official with 35-years of experience processing hundreds of thousands of absentee/mail ballots, highlighting a few issues could assist with expected consequences resulting from an unprecedented number of mail ballots:
Any voter throughout the U.S is entitled to vote a provisional ballot at the polls if s/he did not receive the mail ballot, or if s/he is worried that the voted mail ballot may not reach the elections office in time to be counted. The importance of emphasizing in poll worker training that all voters in such circumstances have the right to a provisional ballot (per federal HAVA law) is crucial, including to deflect potential accusations of disenfranchisement. Consider providing extra provisional ballot supplies and envelopes at the polls to accommodate the anticipated higher number of voters expressing such concerns. And it could be helpful to provide poll workers with an information sheet to explain the provisional ballot process to voters, including how and when provisional ballots are counted.
Another unintended consequence of an exponentially higher number of mail ballots is an explosion in the number of those mail ballots that will NOT be able to be counted, for a number of reasons including voters forgetting to sign the envelope. In the 2016 General Election, the EAC reported 1% of absentee/mail ballots lacked signatures and could not be counted. With a major increase in the number of voters choosing to vote by mail – often for the first time – an unprecedented number of such inadvertent mistakes are likely to occur. For ex, in the recent KY primary election, voting by mail far outpaced in-person voting, for the first time ever. An unfortunate consequence was the percentage of mail ballots that were unable to be counted exceeded 4% in the two largest counties. The huge increase of mail voters occurred in many other State primary elections as well, leading to much greater numbers of uncounted mail ballots compared with previous elections.
Among the practical ways for election officials to consider reducing the number/percentage of uncounted mail ballots is using a contrasting color, like red, to highlight the box(es) where the voter must sign. Such a design has proven effective in making a difference in many jurisdictions. Although election officials have undoubtedly completed their initial purchase of mail ballot materials and envelopes, it might be possible to use a hand-stamp in red or a contrasting color to point to where the voter needs to sign as an alternate approach. And if/when jurisdictions order supplemental supplies, more prominently highlighting the signature box could be incorporated into a re-design.
Election officials are girding for the outcry about slower election results as a surge of mail ballots will inevitably arrive at the deadline and remain to be counted in the days, and weeks, following election night. Anxiety is heightened when there is a cliffhanger election in any of the electoral contests. Pre-election preparation of press releases and concise information guides helps to explain the laborious, time-consuming processes that are legally required, such as signature verification and/or other protocols, prior to opening and counting mail ballots. Election officials always emphasize that accuracy beats speed, but noisy complaints will likely reach a crescendo in many jurisdictions and the potential for lawsuits looms. Informing stakeholders that election processes are open to observation by candidates, media and the general public de-mystifies the multiple processes involved to move from unofficial election results to official certification.
(Conny McCormack previously served as the county election official in Dallas, Texas, San Diego, California and Los Angeles, California. She welcomes your thoughts and questions and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Election SOS Training
Deadline approaching for final training
The registration deadline for the final Election SOS training is this Friday, Aug. 21st! Election SOS is a free training series for journalists — led by Hearken and supported by Trusting News — dedicated to supporting U.S. journalists in responding to critical 2020 election information needs. Through these trainings, participants are connected to best practices, resources, and support around election coverage. This initiative is non-partisan and is not advocating for any policy or electoral outcome. The goal of the initiative is to equip journalists and newsrooms with the most useful information and strategy around reporting on a variety of election-related topics, and methods for meaningfully listening and responding to the communities they serve and aim to serve. The registration link can be found here. Additionally, recordings and supporting materials for past sessions can be found here—with elections and journalism experts including Center for Tech & Civic Life’s Josh Goldman, Propublica Electionland Project’s Rachel Glickhouse, Democracy Fund’s Tammy Patrick, and NYU School of Journalism Professor Jay Rosen. Election officials are also encouraged to share with their media networks, to further supplement informed coverage and understanding of election administration in an unprecedented presidential election year. Follow @wearehearken and https://electionsos.com/ for further information and access to an archive of free resources.
2018 Elections Performance Index
How Effective Is Election Administration in the US?
The MIT Election Data + Science Lab releases the 2018 Elections Performance Index
The MIT Election Lab has just launched the 2018 Elections Performance Index, along with a brand new website for the EPI. The new website allows users to navigate the state and indicator data more easily and intuitively; it also features a section for ongoing discussion, commentary, and analysis. The newest post, by Election Lab director Charles Stewart III, discusses what the 2018 EPI can tell us about the upcoming 2020 election.
The EPI, an objective measure of election performance in the United States, is an important, nonpartisan source of information on how—and how well—elections are managed in the US. It provides data on each national election since 2008, allowing us to compare states with their own past performance, as well as with other states across the country. The newly released 2018 data show that, across the board, U.S. election management has continued to improve—to learn more and explore the data, visit elections.mit.edu.
2020 Election Updates
Alaska: The 2020 primary season came to an end in The Frontier State on Tuesday with a similar storyline to other August primaries. Most voters cast their ballots by mail, but a few did show up at the polls and those that did found few issues. “This year we sent out 53,970 mail ballots,” said Division of Elections Public Relations Manager Tiffany Montemayor told KTUU about the increase in absentee voting. She compared that to the 8,715 sent out during the 2016 state primary. For those that chose to vote in-person, polling places were quiet throughout the day. “Our experience voting here is, there’s no congestion, there’s no lines,” voter Tim Polasky told the Juneau Empire. While there was a mix of mail-in and in-person voting throughout most of the state, a poll worker shortage forced the state to close polling places in a half-dozen small towns. A spokesperson said despite raising the hourly rate for the temporary workers, the division was unable to overcome fears about the spread of coronavirus. Elections officials made the announcement late Monday, a little more than 12 hours before polls opened, that there would only be absentee in-person voting in the communities of Arctic Village, Port Lions, Kake, Takotna, Cold Bay and Nunam Iqua.
Florida: With more than 28% of Florida voters casting ballots, Tuesday’s elections drew the biggest state primary turnout in 18 years. Over all elections officials from many counties reported few primary day problems although some counties did report issues with ballot counting including: Flagler County, Palm Beach County, Taylor County, and Volusia County. In Broward County, a jump drive at a Coconut Creek polling place failed and staff had to drive about 300 ballots to the voting center to be counted. In Bay County, some voters were confused about the status of their mail ballot when it did show up as counted on the county’s website. Supervisor of Elections Mark Andersen says votes were counted Tuesday, but the update to their status wouldn’t be reflected until later. While most voters cast their ballots by mail, those that did show up in-person found relatively quiet and definitely clean polls. “There was no one in there,” Orlando voter Matthew Bauer, said. “Of course, I felt safe in there. I always vote. I thought it would be fine here. I think it’s important to keep up the protection against COVID. And they’re wiping everything down.” Leon County brought our first report of a naked person at the polls in 2020. According to the Tallahasse Democrat, A man wearing a mask and nothing else showed up at one point near polling place Supervisor of Elections Mark Earley told the paper. “He did not attempt to vote, but he briefly greeted voters,” Earley said. Poll workers called the police and the man fled. “Last I heard they were looking for him,” Earley said. “Other than a few shaking heads and giggles no voters were inconvenienced there.” It just wouldn’t be a Florida election without a recount. A number of county supervisors of elections were on the ballot as well as running things on Tuesday. Although there are still a few races to be settled completely, here’s what we know. Polk County Supervisor of Elections Lori Edwards breezed to another term with almost 78% of the votes. In Palm Beach County, Supervisor of Elections Wendy Sartory Link won her first election after she was appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis almost two years ago. In Citrus County Maureen “Mo” Baird will be the county’s new supervisor of elections. The Broward County Canvassing Board will meet Thursday in Lauderhill to consider a recount in the county race for Supervisor of Elections. According to the county website, Joe Scott currently leads Chad Klitzman by 607 votes out of a total of 207,595. State law requires a recount if the results are within a half a percent.
Puerto Rico: What a difference a week makes. Puerto Ricans headed back to the polls on the island territory this week to complete a primary election that had begun the week before and was halted after vote centers ran out of ballots. Voting centers in nearly 50 of the island’s 78 municipalities opened following a recent Supreme Court decision that stated a second round of voting would take place at centers that never opened on Aug. 9 or did not remain open the required eight hours. According to the Associated Press, over 60 of the island’s 110 electoral precincts opened to voters on Aug 16. Officials from the island’s main parties said that ballots had arrived on time at voting centers and reported no major delays. The majority of polling places closed at 4 p.m. on Sunday. The opening of at least one voting center in the north coastal town of Loíza was delayed by more than one hour as dozens of voters grumbled about having to stand in the heat with masks over their faces. Although things went much more smoothly on the 16th, officials are looking to November and how to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
Wyoming: Polling places were open throughout the Cowboy State, but many voters opted to vote by mail instead of in-person and mail-in and early voting numbers surpassed in-person voting numbers on primary day. Laramie County saw a 60 percent voter turnout and Park County saw a higher primary turnout than in 2018. For the most part, those that voted in-person experienced relatively few issues. “They couldn’t have done a better job,” said voter Becky Benenate, told the Jackson Hole News and Guide of the elections officials in Teton County. “I think I was really the only person in there at the moment voting, but there was place for three people.” Of course the day wasn’t flawless. Some voters in Laramie County reported issues with the county’s new voting system. It seems that some people were walking out with their paper ballots. “They have to hit cast vote and that paper ballot then drops in the ballot bin,” County Clerk Debra Lee told KGAB. “We don’t want people taking the paper ballot home because that means they haven’t voted.” And in a situation that just seems tailormade for 2020, the police were called to one Laramie County polling place and the county clerk fielded dozens of complaints about signature-gatherers for independent presidential candidate Kanye West being overly aggressive and too close to polling places. “They didn’t take too kindly to us informing them of the Wyoming statute and the need to remove themselves,” Lee told the Casper Star Tribune.
Election News This Week
U.S. Postal Service News: While much of America was rightly focused on the letter the U.S. Postal Service sent to 46 states and the District about the impacts changes to the mail system may have on the November general election, the Postal Service was another change that while not as headline-grabbing could have an equally devastating effect on the election. In a story we first saw reported in the Anchorage Daily News, in a nationwide rule change that went unnoticed this summer, the U.S. Postal Service has forbidden employees from signing absentee ballots as witnesses while on duty. In Alaska and several other states, absentee ballots must be signed by a witness who can verify that a ballot was legitimately filled out by a particular voter. Without a signature, the ballot will not be counted. Alaska’s ballot instructions say to “have your signature witnessed by an authorized official or, if no official is reasonably available, by someone 18 years of age or older.” In response to the complaints from voters, Alaska Division of Elections Director Gail Fenumiai sent a letter to the Postal Service. “They have been told by the postal official that they are not authorized to serve as a witness in their official capacity. This came as surprise to the state because we know in past elections postal officials have served as witnesses. Rural Alaska relies heavily on postal officials as they are often sometimes the only option for a witness. … Can you provide me with an explanation and a copy of the official postal regulation stating this mandate?” her letter said. Daniel Bentley, a product management specialist for the Postal Service in Washington, D.C., responded to Fenumiai. “Postal Employees are prohibited from serving as witnesses in their official capacity while on duty, due in part to the potential operational impacts. The Postal Service does not prohibit an employee from serving as a witness in their personal capacity off-duty, if they so choose,” he wrote. James Boxrud, a spokesman for the Postal Service in the western United States, provided a copy of a training slide presented to clerks in July to the Anchorage Daily News. The slide states in part, “Some state laws specifically authorize Postal Service employees to provide a witness signature on ballot envelopes. However, performing this function is not within the scope of a postal employee’s duties and is not required by the Postal Service’s regulations.” Boxrud told the ADN at least one supervisor in Alaska has pushed back against the rule, but as far as he knows it remains in place.
Plans for November: The Indiana Election Commission has refused to expand absentee voting for the November general election meaning that most Hoosiers will be required to vote in-person on the Nov. 3. Indiana law allows voting absentee by mail for a number of reasons, such as having a disability, being over 65 or at work the entire time the polls are open. The list does not make an exception for pandemics. Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate will provide PPE and $2 million to counties to help keep poll workers safe during the November 3 election. Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear and Secretary of State Michael Adams have negotiated a compromise over the November 3 election. Under the plan, while an excuse will still be required to vote absentee, anyone may vote absentee if they have concerns about the coronavirus. The state will have a portal running within a week to request absentee ballots. It will close in October. After that, voters can still request ballots through county clerks’ offices. All ballots must be postmarked by Nov. 3 and received by county clerks by Nov. 6. County clerks will have drop-off boxes for those concerned about sending in their ballots by mail. Following Montana Gov. Steve Bullock’s decision to leave voting by mail up to the counties, councils in Butte-Silver Bow, Cascade, Lewis and Clark, Gallatin, and Missoula quickly approved al-mail voting in their counties for the November election. At press time, several other counties are deciding what to do and in a split decision, commissioner in Hill County voted against an entirely by mail election. The Nebraska secretary of state’s office will send an absentee ballot application to all eligible voters. In New Jersey Gov. Philip Murphy announced late last week that all 6.3 million registered voters will receive a mail ballot that they can then return via mail or in secure drop boxes. A limited number—but more than for the primary—of in-person voting sites will be open in Election Day. Although they will rely heavily on mail voting, all North Dakota counties will provide in-person voting as well on November 3. Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose is asking the state Controlling Board for $3 million to cover the cost of return postage on absentee ballots for the November general election. The Oklahoma Election Board announced this week that will print new green absentee ballot return envelopes to help postal workers more easily identify mail-in ballots. In Bexar County, Texas, the county commission unanimously approved several plans for November including: Drive-thru voting, sending mail-in ballot applications to all voters over 65, a 24-hour polling site at least one day per week during early voting, alternative delivery options for mail ballots and mega vote centers. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced this week that he is proposing language that would explicitly allow localities to set up drop off systems for absentee ballots — either boxes or staffed locations — and require the Virginia Department of Elections to create security standards for the process.
COVID-19 News: U.S. Virgin Islands Supervisor of Elections Caroline F. Fawkes announced that amid the territory-wide “safer at home” order the elections office would close from Monday, August 17 until further notice. However, the USVI board of elections admonished Fawkes and called on her to reverse her decision and reopen the offices. The board argued that elections officials are essential workers. “We should not be closing, especially now while we’re in the height of preparing for the general election,” said Board Chairman Raymond Williams.“I didn’t see any true reason for the [Elections] System to shut down.” Fawkes said her decision was based solely on the health and welfare of Elections staff, particularly on St. Thomas, where COVID-19 cases are surging. “This is not a concern to be playing with — it’s life or death,” she said. The Patch has an article about the number of elections offices in Illinois that have had to deal with a COVID-19 outbreak and the impact that may have preparations for November.
Suffrage Celebrations: Although they were muted due to the pandemic, there were still plenty of celebrations and educational events surrounding the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment and in our humble opinion, the best one had to be in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. The Leffel Roots Orchard designed a corn maze to celebrate the anniversary and simply put, it’s awesome. “It’s always good to celebrate something that’s positive in our history, and so we are definitely excited to have people out to see this and I think, hopefully, it will encourage people to vote. No matter who you’re voting for it’s just good to get your voice heard,” owner Laura Leffel told WQOW. The 10-acre corn maze features the word VOTE and a picture of a suffragette. This year, Leffel says the maze has a bonus feature for those who go through it. “We thought we would come up to times and we now have QR codes and you can click on those QR codes and there is a little voting question for you,” Leffel told WEAU. “They are non-controversial, they are just things like, ‘do you think you’re going to be able to finish the maze?’” It opens September 2 and will remain open through October.
Personnel News: Thad Hall is the new Mercer County, Pennsylvania elections director. Kyle Whitney has been named the new Marquette City, Michigan clerk. Jackie Tillett has been named Dare County, North Carolina director of elections. Loretta Mason is the new Panola County, Texas elections administrator. JoAnn Sebastiani is the new director of the Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania elections bureau. Michele Carew is the new Hood County, Texas elections administrator. John Mead is the new deputy director of the Ashtabula County, Ohio board of elections.
In Memoriam: Chattooga County, Alabama Probate Judge Jon Payne has died 23 days after contracting the coronavirus. According to AllOnGeorgia, Payne who had served as the county’s probate judge for 45 years, positive for the virus on July 26th and succumbed to complications from the virus this week. In February of 1975 Jon Payne won a special election to fill the office of Probate Judge. He was 25 years old when he was sworn in. Casie Bryant with AllOnGeorgia has this story to tell about Judge Payne from the June 9th primary when a precinct card issue forced the ballot count to wait till the next morning: “I was standing beside Judge Payne who was sitting at his desk. A young man walked into the Judge Payne’s office, I did not immediately notice the fellow, there were a dozen or more people crammed into the office, but the Judge noticed him. Casually, while still chatting with me, he opened his desk drawer and removed a revolver the size of my arm and sat it on top of his desk. In a stare only a Marine can deliver, he watched the visitor as he approached the desk, the gentleman identified himself as a technician from Atlanta there to assist with the ballot counting machine, showed his identification, and lived to see another day. Judge Payne looked at me, I looked at the 44 Magnum on the desk, he smiled and said, ‘my job is to keep these ballots safe, I did not know who he was.’”
Research and Report Summaries
The U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released the final report of its investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections this week. The report, Russian Active Measures Campaigns and Interference in the 2016 U.S. Election Volume 5: Counterintelligence Threats and Vulnerabilities, documents the committee’s counterintelligence findings and outlines a wide range of Russian efforts to influence the Trump campaign and the 2016 election. The report includes discussion of the FBI’s approach to cyber incident victim notification and such notification activities in 2016, as well as recommendations on improving victim notification and information sharing, and protecting campaigns and government employees from foreign influence.
The Stanford-MIT Healthy Elections Project released a memo on online voting last week. The memo, Online Voting: An Equity Balance for the 2020 Election, provides a brief history of online voting in the U.S., evaluates recent attempts to implement online voting, and highlights the potential benefits and risks. The memo recommends against the use of online voting in the November general elections.
The National Task Force on Election Crises released a report on the 2020 primaries last week. The report, Lessons Learned from the Primaries: Recommendations for Avoiding a Crisis in November, offers analyses on absentee or mail-in voting, early and Election Day in-person voting, communications and media coverage, accepting the outcome, and other challenges and opportunities. The report includes recommendations for election officials and the media.
The Brennan Center and the Infectious Diseases Society of America released a report on election COVID-19 response measures last week. The report, Guidelines for Healthy In-Person Voting, includes guidance on voting location siting and configuration, supplies to prevent COVID-19 transmission, and poll worker precautions.
The Atlantic Council release a report on the Department of Homeland Security last week. The report, Future of DHS Project: Key Findings and Recommendations, includes discussion of DHS’s role in election security, cybersecurity, and protecting critical infrastructure.
Public Health Law Watch released a report on legal responses to COVID-19 this week. The report, Assessing Legal Responses to COVID-19, includes a chapter on conducting elections during a pandemic. The chapter discusses lessons learned from the 2020 primaries, resource challenges faced by election officials, partisan positioning on election rule changes, the role of the courts and election litigation, and recommendations for the November elections.
Election Security Updates
Speaking at an online seminar hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, William Evanina, director of the U.S. National Counterintelligence and Security Center, said this week that the country is in for a “rocky” several weeks before the Nov. 3 vote. Yet he said his biggest concern is the likely influence campaigns expected after the election, when the race may be deadlocked and results trickle in due to mail-in ballots. “We need to prepare as a nation that the election will not be decided on November 3,” Evanina said “I’m worried about the interference perspective come November 3, 4 and all the way through November,” Evanina added. “I’m worried about ransomware attacks. I’m worried about cyberattacks. I’m worried about the inability of people to vote because of cyber penetrations and ransomware.”
Federal Legislation: U.S. House of Representatives Democrats on Wednesday unveiled legislation that would require same-day processing for mail-in ballots and give the cash-strapped Postal Service a $25 billion infusion. The Democratic-led House is scheduled to vote on the legislation on Saturday, though there is little chance for passage in the Republican-led Senate. The bill would prevent the Postal Service from implementing policies to alter service levels that were in effect at the beginning of this year.
New Hampshire Rep. Chris Pappas is the lead sponsor of the Protect the Youth Vote Act of 2020, a piece of voting rights legislation meant to prevent age discrimination in voting. The bill is co-sponsored by Colorado Rep. Joe Neguse, Arizona Rep. Ruben Gallego, New York Rep. Grace Meng, and Florida Rep. Stephanie Murphy. The bill addresses and lays out legal violations to the 26th Amendment — which gave 18-year-olds the right to vote — in an attempt to help improve transparency around voter suppression tactics. Across the country, young voters face a number of barriers at the state level, including strict same-day voter registration and voter ID laws. Additionally, polling sites have been left off certain college campuses and universities.
Louisiana: Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin released his emergency plan for November this week and it rolls mail ballot options that were available during the primary season. Ardoin’s new plan will only allow a COVID-19 exemption for someone who tests positive for the infection during and after early voting but before election day. That will fall under the existing “hospitalization” excuse for an absentee ballot. On Wednesday, after five hours of debate, House and Governmental Affairs voted to approve the plan in an 8-6 vote. The plan will now move to the full House. Gov. John Bel Edwards has expressed disapproval with the plan.
Nevada: Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske submitted a statement of emergency and request to approve an emergency regulation to Governor Steve Sisolak today. According to the Cegavske’s office, under NRS 233B.0613, if a state agency determines an emergency exists, the agency may ask the Governor to approve an emergency regulation. An approved emergency regulation takes effect immediately and remains in place for a period of no longer than 120 days. Cegavske’s state of emergency reads, in part, The proposed emergency regulation would not reinstate the ban on ballot harvesting because it is not the Secretary of State’s role to create new laws. Instead, the proposed emergency regulation would require any individual engaged in ballot harvesting (defined in the regulation as a person who returns 10 or more completed ballots at the direction of any other voters) to report to the Secretary of State their name, the names of the individuals they returned ballots on behalf of, and the location(s) where the ballots were returned. The regulation would also require these individuals, known as ballot harvesters, to list any corporate, political, or advocacy entity with which the individual is associated. By having this information, the Secretary of State will be able to properly investigate any illegal activity associated with the practice of ballot harvesting.
New Jersey: Two more counties have supported disapproval resolutions against an entirely vote-by-mail general election. Morris and Warren counties join the growing list. In Morris County, the resolution specifically states that predominate use of mail-in ballots during the recent primaries “caused concerns for voter fraud, voter disenfranchisement, postal delivery delays, significant increase in election costs, and reliance on a flawed statewide voter/DMV computer registration database and resulted in significant delays in the counting of ballots.” [Ed. Note: While there were delivery delays, there were absolutely no reported instances of voter fraud using mail ballots during the primaries.] Warren County’s resolution focused less on fraud and more on enfranchisement. “I realize people’s concern as we’ve been fighting coronavirus in the county,” Warren County Freeholder Jason J. Sarnoski said, adding, “This does not mean that people will not have the option to vote by mail.” But the resolution unanimously adopted opposes running an election with all mail-in ballots, he said.
New York: Rep. Sean Ryan is introducing legislation that would authorize county Boards of Elections to establish one or more secure ballot drop boxes in every county.
South Carolina: The South Carolina Senate is being called back into session to deal with possible changes for the elections that will be happening in November in light of the ongoing pandemic. Senate President Harvey Peeler announced Monday that the session will convene on September 2 at 12 p.m. Peeler wrote that the Senate will consider updates to state election laws that will protect the voter and the vote this November. “We addressed these issues for the primary elections by working together in a bipartisan manner. My hope is that we can do this again September 2nd.” As for the South Carolina House of Representatives, House Speaker Jay Lucas says the House will return on September 15th, when lawmakers return for the COVID-19 funding session. “I anticipate the House will be able to quickly address the issue in our chamber,” says Speaker Lucas. “I understand if the Senate feels it needs additional time to debate this matter. I’m confident that, working together, both chambers will make changes that will protect voters throughout the state.”
Utah: House Bill 6009, sponsored by Rep. Stephen Handy, R-Layton, and Sen. Wayne Harper, R-Taylorsville, would expand voter access during the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill keeps existing voter options in place, including in-person balloting and same-day voter registration. But it has a provision that allows for the Lt. Governor’s office to suspend in-person voting in an area if there’s a state of emergency. In that case, there must still be other options including “drive-thru” voting or an “outdoor voting” location. The bill also expands the ability for county clerks to add “drive-thru” voting in addition to vote-by-mail and in-person voting. It also allows for additional drop boxes across the state for people to deposit their ballot. The bill also increased the penalty for “ballot harvesting” from an infraction to a class A misdemeanor. Ballot harvesting, which is the practice of collecting someone else’s ballot, is largely illegal in Utah (with some exceptions for same households or those with disabilities). While not opposed to the legislation, county elections officials said they would rather have it focus on their ability to accept mail ballots that may be delayed by the Postal Service. “In several parts of the state, including Salt Lake County, there are some sections of the county and of the state where it takes one week for the mail to get to or from the voters,” Weber County Clerk Ricky Hatch told lawmakers during a briefing on the bill at Tuesday’s Government Operations Interim Committee meeting according to the Salt Lake Tribune. Hatch said the state’s county clerks would like this year to mail out ballots 28 days before an election rather than 21, which is the standard time frame. An extra week would help clerks get ballots to those who have moved or haven’t updated their voter registration, he said. The Weber County clerk said his fellow election officials also want the state to add an additional seven days to the two week canvassing period.
Postal Service: Common Cause, the League of Women Voters and the National Urban League filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday night, accusing Postmaster General Louis DeJoy of unconstitutionally attempting to sabotage mail-in ballots ahead of the Nov. 3 election. In a call with reporters Wednesday, the groups said DeJoy’s reversal Tuesday did not sufficiently address their concerns. “DeJoy’s statement rings hollow in the absence of remedial actions taken to address the damage that he has caused,” said Kristen Clarke, the president of the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which is representing the groups in the lawsuit. “We seek remedial relief that will bring the United States Postal Service back to the status quo and that can help guarantee that for every day between now and the election, DeJoy will not take any action that will impair the ability of our Postal Service to do its job to timely deliver mail to Americans across the country,” she added.
Alabama: U.S. District Judge Abdul Kallon of the Northern District of Alabama ruled this week that a lawsuit intended to allow Alabama counties to offer curbside voting to make voting safer and easier for people who are disabled or at risk of serious illness from COVID-19 can proceed. The plaintiffs claim a state ban on curbside voting violates federal law as applied to voters with disabilities or those at risk of serious illness from COVID-19 because of age or medical condition. The plaintiffs also challenged the Alabama law requiring absentee ballots to be signed by two witnesses or notarized and the requirement that absentee voters submit a photo ID, which has some exceptions. Kallon dismissed claims against some of the defendants. Merrill is no longer a defendant on the challenges to the witness and photo ID requirement. The lawsuit was filed in May. In June, Kallon ruled the state could not enforce the ban on curbside voting for the July 14 runoff. Kallon’s ruling also blocked enforcement of the witness and photo ID requirements for absentee voters, although that only applied to Jefferson, Lee, and Mobile counties. On July 2, the U.S. Supreme Court granted the state’s request for a stay on Kallon’s ruling, so the ruling was not in effect for the runoff. But the issues remain pending for the Nov. 3 general election. A trial in the case is scheduled for September.
California: Caesar Peter Abutin, 55, of Norwalk is facing voter fraud charges after prosecutors say he cast ballots in several elections using the name of his mother, who had died years earlier. Abutin pretended to be his mother in three elections between October 2012 and November 2014, the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office said. In each of the elections, Abutin claimed to be his 67-year-old mother, who had died in July 2006 and also cast votes using his own identity. The deceptive practice was discovered after an investigation by the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder and the district attorney’s office.
Delaware: The Delaware Republican Party filed a lawsuit Wednesday claiming that a new law allowing universal voting by mail in this year’s general election is unconstitutional. The complaint filed in Chancery Court seeks a permanent injunction barring the state Department of Elections from distributing vote-by-mail ballots or otherwise informing voters that they can cast absentee ballots in the November election except for specific reasons outlined in Delaware’s constitution. The complaint also asks the court to declare that state lawmakers exceeded their constitutional authority in passing a universal vote-by-mail bill in June. The bill cleared the Democrat-led Senate on an 18-to-3 vote after passing the Democrat-controlled House on a strict party line vote. It was signed into law by Democratic Gov. John Carney on July 1.
Florida: a 10-member panel of the 11th Circuit heard arguments Tuesday over whether felons who cannot pay fines or fees have the right to vote. The hearing, held via Zoom due to the Covid-19 pandemic, follows a year of litigation after the passage of SB 7066, a law requiring felons to pay all restitution, fines and fees before they are eligible to vote. During Tuesday’s oral arguments, the en banc panel focused on whether fines and fees can be categorized as a tax, and thus violate the 24th Amendment, or if they are simply part of the sentence. “Are the felons who wish to be re-enfranchised really paying a fee to vote or are they paying fines and other financial penalties as a result of their debt to society?” U.S. Circuit Judge Britt Grant asked Julie Ebenstein, one of the attorneys for the 17 plaintiffs with felony convictions. “Your honor, if we look at two people similarly situated – one that can afford to pay and one that cannot – only for the person who cannot afford to pay is the disenfranchisement ongoing,” said Ebenstein of the ACLU. “Disenfranchisement is not just a single momentary penalty. It’s an ongoing punishment as the individual misses election after election.”
Indiana: Indiana voting rights advocates are asking a federal judge to issue an injunction ordering state election officials to accept absentee ballots that are postmarked by Election Day and received up to 10 days later. The motion came this week in the July 30 lawsuit filed by Common Cause Indiana and the state chapter of the NAACP in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana over election rules that require absentee ballots to be received by noon on Election Day to be counted. The lawsuit argues the requirement will disenfranchise voters in the November general election and that the noon deadline serves no purpose other than enabling county clerks to reject late ballots. In asking for a preliminary injunction, the civil rights firms representing the parties to the lawsuit are seeking a quick ruling because the issue is urgent and they have an expectation of prevailing in the long run. “This early receipt deadline is unjustified in any election, but it is particularly burdensome and unjustified in this election year, when mail delivery is unreliable and the risk of infection from COVID-19 makes voting by mail the only safe option for many voters,” the motion for the injunction says.
Iowa: Add Woodbury County Auditor Pat Gill to the list of “rogue” auditors that are being sued by the president’s re-election campaign and the Republican Party. Gill, along with auditors in Lin and Johnson counties are being sued because they are sending out absentee ballot request forms that have been pre-populated with information such as names, dates of birth and voting pin. Voters just have to review, sign and return the forms to get ballots mailed to them beginning Oct. 5. More than 70,000 people have requested ballots in the three counties.
Maine: Secretary of state Matthew Dunlap has reaffirmed his decision that a petition drive backed by the Maine Republican Party to put a ranked-choice voting referendum question on the Nov. 3 ballot failed to gain enough valid voter signatures. Dunlap issued an “amended determination” that summarized his review of a ruling he made in July that the petition came up short of the 63,067 valid signatures needed to gain a spot on the statewide ballot. The affirmation will now be considered by a Cumberland County Superior Court judge, who ordered Dunlap to review his earlier decision in response to a lawsuit filed by the state GOP. During the review, Dunlap considered sworn affidavits and other documents submitted as part of the lawsuit. He accepted some voter signatures that had previously been rejected, but he also invalidated some that had previously been accepted.
U.S. District Court Judge Lance E. Walker denied a request by opponents of Maine’s ranked-choice voting law for an order to prohibit the system from being used in the U.S. Senate race in November. “My limited charge is to determine only whether the RCV (ranked-choice voting) Act is contrary to the text of the United States Constitution. It is not,” Walker wrote in his decision. “As I stated following my first encounter with RCV litigation: The remedy in a democracy, when no constitutional infirmity appears likely, is to exercise the protected rights of speech and association granted by the First Amendment to persuade one’s fellow citizens of the correctness of one’s position and to petition the political branch to change the law.”
Massachusetts: Becky Grossman, a candidate for Congress, is suing the state to extend the window for counting mail-in ballots in the Sept. 1 state primary amid fears of U.S. Postal Service delays. Under current state law, voters have until Aug. 26 to submit requests for mail-in ballots. But in order to be counted, voters have to return their ballots to local election offices by Sept. 1 — just six days later. The lawsuit Grossman’s campaign filed Wednesday with the state Supreme Judicial Court calls for counting ballots for up to 10 days after Sept. 1, as long as they’re postmarked by primary day.
Michigan: The League of Women Voters asked the Michigan Supreme Court on Monday to reconsider an appeal to allow local clerks more time to count ballots postmarked by or on election day. The League, which initially filed a lawsuit over absentee ballot counting rules in May, points in its Aug. 17 filing to August primary election data released by the Secretary of State, which says 6,400 absentee ballots were rejected because they were delivered after Election Day.
Minnesota: The Minnesota Supreme Court has agreed to speed up consideration of a legal challenge around absentee ballot rules for the November general election. In an order issued Wednesday, Chief Justice Lorie Gildea informed the parties that the case will go before the Supreme Court. On Thursday, Gildea moved the arguments to Sept. 4. Written arguments are due beginning next week. The president’s re-election campaign and the Republican Party are appealing an agreement between the secretary of state and litigants that waived the witness requirement for absentee ballots. A Ramsey County judge signed off on the agreement as well as one making ballots postmarked by Election Day eligible for counting in the days after. The Republican lawyers urged a ruling by Sept. 9 because absentee ballots will start going out nine days later.
New Jersey: The president’s reelection campaign is suing Gov. Phil Murphy in federal court alleging New Jersey’s largely all-mail election plan for November is an unconstitutional “recipe for disaster.” Murphy’s executive order directing the November race to be conducted mostly via mail-in ballots improperly appropriates power that belongs to the state Legislature and violates the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution, the campaign says in its lawsuit, filed Tuesday. “In his haste, the governor created a system that will violate eligible citizens’ right to vote,” the lawsuit reads. “By ordering universal vote-by-mail, he has created a recipe for disaster. Fraudulent and invalid votes dilute the votes of honest citizens and deprive them of their right to vote in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment.”
Also in New Jersey Superior Court Judge Ernest Caposela ordered a new election for Paterson’s Third Ward for Tuesday November 3, said Scott Salmon, an elections attorney representing Third Ward Councilman William McKoy. The election will have voters once again decide which of five candidates will fill the single post for the city’s Third Ward. In June, Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced voting fraud charges against 1st Ward Councilman Michael Jackson, 3rd Ward Council-Elect Alex Mendez and two other men. On behalf of McKoy, Salmon filed a successful injunction to stop Mendez from being sworn into office late June. The judge’s decision comes after a May election beset by allegations of voter fraud almost immediately. Hundreds of city ballots were found scattered across different municipalities in New Jersey. Ultimately, the Passaic County Board of Elections decided not to count 800 city ballots.
North Carolina: A coalition of groups, including the state NAACP, has filed a lawsuit to try to overturn the law that prevents people who have been found guilty of a felony in North Carolina from voting until their sentence is completed, including paying all fines and fees. Plaintiffs said this keeps about 60,000 people statewide from casting ballots even though they have finished serving their time. The groups also have launched the Unlock Our Vote campaign to raise awareness of the problem and generate pressure on state lawmakers. Daryl Atkinson, one of the attorneys in the case, was formerly incarcerated. He said the law withholding the vote from people for not paying fines and court fee is a classic example of taxation without representation.
A North Carolina appeals court has dismissed New Hanover County Board of Elections former director Marvin McFadyen’s appeal of his termination. McFadyen sued the county, the county Board of Elections, the North Carolina State Board of Elections, and its members after he was fired in 2015. A state appeals court vacated and dismissed his appeal of that decision this week. The court ruled that since McFadyen was terminated by the State Board of Elections, the lawsuit needed to be filed in Wake County. By filing the lawsuit in New Hanover County, which had no jurisdiction, it rendered his appeal moot. The appeals court dismissed without prejudice his ability to refile in Wake County so McFadyen can refile his case there.
Ohio: The Ohio Supreme Court on Wednesday threw out a lawsuit questioning the decision of four of its justices that upheld a state health order shutting down all polling places just before the March 17 primary election was to begin. State Rep. Tom Brinkman (R., Cincinnati) had sued the four justices for not issuing an opinion that spelled out their reasoning for rejecting an effort in the early hours of Election Day to put in-person voting back on track. He argued that the justices had shirked their responsibility by failing to do so. The high court on Wednesday, as with its original decision early in the morning of March 17, did not spell out its reasons for approving the motion to dismiss.
Pennsylvania: District Judge J. Nicholas Ranjan old the president’s re-election campaign and the Republican Party that they must produce evidence they have of vote-by-mail fraud in the state by Friday. “The Court finds that instances of voter fraud are relevant to the claims and defenses in this case,” District Judge J. Nicholas Ranjan wrote on Thursday, telling Republicans that they need to provide evidence of fraud to the Democratic Party and the Sierra Club, which are part of the lawsuit.
Citing a warning by the U.S. Postal Service about delivery times, Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration is asking the state Supreme Court to extend deadlines for mail-in ballots to be received in the November election when Pennsylvania will be a premier presidential battleground. The filing, submitted cited a letter dated July 29 by the general counsel of the U.S. Postal Service, Thomas Marshall. In it, Marshall warns that Pennsylvania’s mail-in ballot deadlines are “incongruous” with the postal service’s delivery standards and he recommended that voters mail in their ballots a week before the deadline for it to be received and counted. The deadline, under current law, is the close of polls on Election Day, Nov. 3, at 8 p.m. The suit is asking the state Supreme Court to order that ballots postmarked by 8 p.m. on Nov. 3 be counted if they are valid and received during the three days following the election. Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar, asked the high court for “extraordinary” help to end confusion and various ongoing court cases that have put elections officials, interest groups and campaigns at odds largely about how to conduct mail-in voting in the swing state that’s key to both parties. If court cases continue before trial judges through August, they’ll “sow confusion” with voters and election workers, lawyers Boockvar wrote. “There is simply insufficient time to litigate these novel constitutional and statutory issues of statewide importance twice,” Boockvar’s unusual court filing said, citing multiple court cases where Democratic groups and the Trump campaign have separately sued to set balloting procedures. “Both voters and election officials need clarity on these critical election issues as soon as possible.”
Rhode Island: The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected a request from Republicans to block a trial judge’s ruling making it easier for voters in Rhode Island to cast absentee ballots during the coronavirus pandemic. The judge’s ruling suspended a requirement that voters using mailed ballots fill them out in the presence of two witnesses or a notary. The Supreme Court’s unsigned order included an explanation, which is unusual when its acts on emergency applications. The case differed from similar ones in which state officials had opposed changes to state laws ordered by federal judges, the order said. “Here the state election officials support the challenged decree,” the order said, “and no state official has expressed opposition.” The order added that Rhode Island’s last election was conducted without the witness requirement, meaning that instituting a change now could confuse voters. Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr. and Neil M. Gorsuch dissented.
Texas: Panola County Elections Administrator Cheyenne Lampley has been charge of theft of a property between $2,500 and $30,000. She is accused of writing checks from a 4-H account for personal use. Lampley has resigned from her position.
Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales on Wednesday requested a legal opinion from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on whether he can prosecute federal officials who intentionally deprive residents the right to vote. According to a news release, the request from the Democrat specifically asks Paxton, a Republican, to clarify the scope of the authority of a criminal district attorney to prosecute a federal official who knowingly violates the Texas Election Code by preventing Texas voters – especially those age 65 or older – from voting by mail.
District of Columbia: According to DCist, in a move that wasn’t widely publicized, the D.C. Board of Elections recently discontinued the long-troubled app, killing the only means for residents to register online to vote in the process. Election officials say the app was notoriously buggy and no longer reliable. And they concede it isn’t likely that the elections board will be able to roll out a new app before the Nov. 3 election, potentially making it more difficult for new residents to register to vote or for existing voters to change their information. “We are working to identify a new possible vendor, but significant testing would need to be done prior to launch, and we’re not sure this will be doable before the general [election],” said Rachel Coll, a spokeswoman for the elections board, in an email. “We’re actively looking, though.”
Maine: Wowzers! In the first 24-hours the state’s new online absentee ballot request portal was live, it received more than 20,000 applications. Although that’s a huge 24-hour number, according to the Bangor Daily News, it only represents about 3 percent of Secretary of State Matt Dunlap’s projection that 600,000 Maine residents may vote absentee for the general election. A record 185,000 voters returned absentee ballots for the July 14 primary following urging by state and local officials to vote absentee in order to reduce crowding at the polls.
New Hampshire: The New Hampshire secretary of state’s office has a new website at sos.nh.gov. The new site features a streamlined, updated design with improved functionality and clear, easy navigation to important information related to New Hampshire elections, corporations, vital records, securities regulation and the uniform commercial code. The new website also includes a page dedicated to voting during COVID-19, with helpful guidance and information for voters as the 2020 elections approach.
Opinions This Week
National Opinions: General election, II, III | Suffrage, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII | Stacey Abrams; Voter suppression | Ranked choice voting, II | Vote by mail, II, III, IV | Election integrity | U.S. Postal Service, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII | In-person voting, II | Youth vote | Disinformation | Poll workers, II, III | Voter disenfranchisement
Arizona: Vote by mail
Georgia: Election issues
Hawaii: Vote by mail
Louisiana: Emergency plan
Mississippi: Vote by mail
New Jersey: Vote by mail
New York: Vote by mail
North Carolina: Ex-felon voter registration
Pennsylvania: Vote by mail
Puerto Rico: Primary
South Carolina: Voting adjustments
Tennessee: Voting rights
Texas: Harris County
Utah: Vote by mail
CISA Election Security Initiative Virtual Training – Election Security Risk in Focus: Ransomware: Ransomware is an ongoing risk to the election infrastructure. This presentation describes what ransomware is, attack vectors used, how it impacts state, local, tribal, and territorial government entities, and specifically how it can impact election infrastructure. The session provides an overview of resources, services, and best practices to protect, detect, respond, and recover from a ransomware attack. August 25 and September 1.
Timing is Everything: Absentee Ballot Processing: The National Conference of State Legislatures will address the technical aspects of the process, and what states that expect to see an increase in absentee voting this year can do now to efficiently manage the flow of ballots in November (and maybe—just maybe—avoid delaying the release of election results). When: Aug. 26, 1pm Eastern. Where: Online
CISA Election Security Initiative Virtual Training – Managing Risk in a Dynamic Election Environment: This presentation covers various risk management challenges faced by election infrastructure stakeholders in the current dynamic environment, including continuous cybersecurity risks, evolving mis- and disinformation campaigns, and risks associated with responding to the COVID-19 pandemic (e.g., implementing new systems and processes for in-person and mail-in voting, adopting new technology, and supporting a remote workforce). The session offers recommendations, resources, and best practices for managing such risks. August 27 and September 2.
CTCL Webinar on Engaging Voters on Facebook: The Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL) is partnering with Facebook to help election officials easily understand and incorporate best practices to strengthen their voter outreach on Facebook. This webinar will focus on both new and existing tools available to help election officials amplify voter education efforts and establish their Facebook pages as trusted sources of election information. When: August 27th from 1-2pm CT. Where: Online
CISA Election Security Initiative Virtual Training – Public Communications in a Dynamic Election Environment: Communication challenges faced by election officials in the post-2016 environment have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to providing trusted information in an environment of heightened concerns regarding cybersecurity threats to election infrastructure, foreign interference, and mis- and disinformation campaigns, election officials must also communicate accurate, up-to-date information on the new and rapidly changing election processes resulting from the pandemic. This presentation covers the types of content election officials may want to provide, people who may be able to assist with distributing accurate information, and communication methods. The session also provides resources, services, and best practices to manage public communications risks. August 28 and September 4.
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: Now through August 28. Where: Online.
Socially Distanced Voting: How We Can Vote at the Polls This November: More than 50 million Americans are expected to cast their November ballots in person this election. The debate over expanding by-mail voting options has overshadowed the fact that state and local election officials must also adapt to provide socially distant and safe voting opportunities at the polls. Please join the Bipartisan Policy Center and the MIT Election Data and Science Lab for a discussion of logistical issues, resource allocation, and ways to make in-person voting work in the midst of a pandemic. Featured Participants: Juan Gilbert, The Banks Family Preeminence Endowed Professor Department Chair, University of Florida; Gretchen Macht, Assistant Professor, University of Rhode Island; Charles Stewart, Kenan Sahin Distinguished Professor of Political Science, MIT; and Michael Vu, Registrar of Voters, San Diego County. Moderated by Matthew Weil, Director of the Elections Project, BPC. When: August 31, 2pm Eastern. Where: Online
Data accuracy and cybersecurity for the 2020 election: Cybersecurity issues? Or data inaccuracy problems? Hear from two states and one county that used GIS to remove inaccuracies from their voter information in advance of the November election. Also, Election Assistance Commission (EAC) Commissioner Benjamin Hovland addresses how data inaccuracy problems can be mistaken for cybersecurity issues – and strategies for telling the two apart. Three panelists from NSGIC’s Geo-Enabled Elections pilot projects discuss how GIS helped them remove potential errors from their election database. Learn key things you can do right now to ensure election accuracy in November. The goal: right ballot to the right voter. EAC Commissioner Hovland will share insights around how incorrect data (inaccurate precincting and districting) and cybersecurity issues can sometimes be confused. Join the Geo-Enabled Elections team as we work to heighten the general understanding of election data quality issues so that, if issues are experienced, the correct conclusions are drawn and appropriate remedies applied. Where: Online. When: September 2 at 1pm Eastern.
Lessons Learned From the 2020 Primaries: Now, before we’re in the thick of November’s election fever, is an excellent time to pause and reflect on this year’s primary season. What did we learn from the states, starting from Iowa’s caucuses in February all the way through September’s state primaries? We’ll discuss the timing for primaries, whether state and presidential primaries are best run jointly or as two separate events, how ranked-choice voting performed this year, independent voters’ role in political party decision-making and more. Expect to take away ideas for 2022 or 2024. Speakers include: Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate, Rob Richie, president and CEO of FairVote and Scott Saiki, Hawaii Speaker of the House and NSCL president-elect. When: Sept. 9, 2pm Eastern. Where: Online.
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Job Postings This Week
electionlineWeekly publishes election administration job postings each week as a free service to our readers. To have your job listed in the newsletter, please send a copy of the job description, including a web link to email@example.com. Job postings must be received by 5pm on Wednesday in order to appear in the Thursday newsletter. Listings will run for three weeks or till the deadline listed in the posting.
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.
Communications Associate, Center for Tech and Civic Life — When you think about elections, you might think about popular candidates, “I voted” stickers, and all sorts of paperwork and deadlines. But behind the scenes are thousands of election administrators in state and local governments who are working hard to make sure ballots are counted and voices are heard. To serve every community and make democracy work, election administrators need 21st-century tools and training. You can help them get it! As the CTCL Government Services Communications Associate, you will grow and engage our network of election administrators (what we call ELECTricity) and connect them with resources like CTCL training courses and ElectionTools.org. You’ll work with the Government Services team and report to the Impact and Learning Manager. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Director of Elections & Chief Registrar, Beaver County, Pennsylvania — This is administrative work managing and administrating the County voter registration and election processes, in accordance with the County Code, the policies of the Board of Commissioners and/or Board of Elections and Federal, State and Local laws and regulations. The employee is the Chief Registrar and reports to the Board of Commissioners who sit as the Board of Elections. This position supervises a staff of technical and clerical employees and establishes election and office policy and procedures consistent with Federal, State and local law. Performs related work as directed. The list of essential functions, as outlined herein, is intended to be representative of the tasks performed within this classification. It is not necessarily descriptive of any one position in the class. The omission of an essential function does not preclude management from assigning duties not listed herein if such functions are a logical assignment to the position. Develops procedures consistent with applicable law for the registration of eligible voters and the maintenance of all election records for the county and it’s municipalities and school districts. Assigns, reviews, plans and coordinates the work activities of others. Provides work instruction and employee training. Maintains work standards and evaluates employee work performance. Responds to employee issues and grievances. Recommends and/or approves the selection, transfer, promotion, salary increase, discipline and/or discharge of employees. Creates automated systems for the storage and retrieval of all voter registration data and creates various reports and analyses. Manages all elections including the selection of polling localities, ballot format and production, purchase and set up of all equipment and supplies, training of staff and election officers regarding absentee ballots, write-ins, recounts, tallying, posting of results and issuing certificates to successful candidates. Issues, receives and decides the sufficiency of nomination petitions certificates of candidates and petitions for change to election districts. Prepares office and election budgets. Oversees campaign expense laws, financial interest statements of candidates for office, elected county officials and supervisors. Conducts preliminary investigations of allegations of election fraud and/or other violations of the election code. Ability to develop a working knowledge of the principles and practices of Pennsylvania election laws and the operation and maintenance of voting machines. Knowledge of computer technology, such as data management, work and spreadsheet applications. Knowledge of computer applications sufficient to learn the specific programs and technology of election equipment. Salary: $55,000 – $67,000 a year. Application: For the complete job listing and apply, click here.
Elections Manager, City of Alexandria, Virginia— The City of Alexandria is looking for an Elections Manager to direct and coordinate the elections operation within the City. The Elections Manager’s primary responsibility is to direct the security, maintenance, repair and transportation of voting machines to and from voting precincts, and to ensure accurate recording and accounting of votes. Responsibilities also include overseeing the printing of ballots, the absentee voting process, and the hiring, placement and training of election officers. The work is performed under the general direction and guidance of the General Registrar. Salary: $62,657.92 – $102,994.90. Deadline: August 25. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Elections Specialist I-III, Douglas County, Colorado — This position is focused on routine customer service and general office/clerical support including data entry, communications, and processing mail. This is a support role capable of performing a variety of tasks, with problem solving abilities, managing multiple competing responsibilities and prioritizing to maintain a continuous flow of election office operations. This is a visible and crucial position requiring exceptional computer, customer service, and communication skills. This position may require technical work in a lead role capable of performing a variety of complex tasks, with solving problem abilities, managing multiple competing tasks and prioritizing to maintain a continuous flow of operations and temporary support. This position may be classified as an Elections Specialist I, II, or III dependent upon the skills of the candidate and the department’s business needs. Salary: $34,614 – 54,050. 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 and or 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, and or other county, state and federal representatives to resolve problems, answer questions, provide assistance and modify policies procedures. 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.
HAVA Administrator, Nevada Secretary of State— The Nevada secretary of state’s office is seeking a HAVA Administrator. The incumbent in this position will manage the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) grant and in this capacity will work with members of the State Elections Division, county registrar of voters, and other elections related positions in the federal, state, and county governments to manage the application of the HAVA grant and support the conduct of state and federal elections. This position will be a key member of the State elections team and will be primarily responsible for the analysis and interpretation of federal and state elections law. This position will supervise up to six other elections-related employees. State employee Benefits – Medical, dental, vision care, life and disability insurance programs are available; eleven paid holidays per year; three weeks of annual leave; three weeks of sick leave; state defined benefit retirement plan; tax-sheltered deferred compensation plan available. State employees do not contribute to Social Security; however, a small Medicare deduction is required. Salary: $66,628.08 – $100,161.36. The Secretary of State’s Office is located in downtown Carson City, near beautiful Lake Tahoe in Northern Nevada, which offers a destination location to live, work and play. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Legal Research Assistant, Nevada Secretary of State’s Office— Legal Research Assistants spend the majority of time providing the most difficult paralegal assistance/support to agency counsel, drawing upon their training and/or experience to analyze a specific set of facts; performing general legal research for a specific question of law; reaching a conclusion of law; presenting findings either orally or in writing for the attorney’s review; and composing briefs, pleadings, motions and other legal documents for the attorney’s review and signature. Incumbents possess a degree of knowledge and proficiency sufficient to perform work independently with little or no additional training. The position is an integral part of the Nevada Secretary of State’s Elections division located in Carson City. The incumbent would be responsible for numerous administrative and research functions supporting the entire electoral process as well as the drafting, review, and presentation of elections-related legislature. Applicants should have a basic familiarity with Nevada Revised Statute Title 24 – Elections, basic familiarity with Microsoft Office products, and a basic understanding of how state and federal elections are conducted. Deadline: Sept. 1. Salary: $47,188-$69.739. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Policy Associate, National Vote at Home Institute— Under the general direction of the National Policy Director, the Policy Associate is responsible for supporting the policy goals of the National Vote at Home Institute (NVAHI), including the design and implementation of mail ballot policies and procedures nationwide. The Policy Associate is responsible for internal data capture and interpretation in a shifting policy landscape and will also contribute heavily to data analysis and strategy decisions that the data informs. As an entrepreneurial and growing nonprofit, NVAHI seeks an energetic, flexible, and creative team member to help us grow our impact. The compensation range for this position is$45,000-$60,000/year depending on experience. This position is remote and requires a personal computer, phone, and access to the internet. Applications: For those interested in applying, please send a resume, cover letter, and references to National Policy Director Audrey Kline at firstname.lastname@example.org with subject line “Policy Associate”
Project Associate, Center for Tech and Civic Life — When you think about elections, you might think about popular candidates, “I voted” stickers, and all sorts of paperwork and deadlines. But behind the scenes are thousands of election administrators in state and local governments who are working hard to make sure ballots are counted and voices are heard. To serve every community and make democracy work, election administrators need practical, research-based approaches that can improve their operations. These include things like voter registration, resource allocation, and language access. As the CTCL Projects Associate, you will learn about the complex challenges that voters face and help election administrators address those challenges. You’ll work with the Government Services team and report to the Senior Project Manager. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Project Coordinator, Center for Election Innovation and Research— CEIR seeks a qualified, full-time Project Coordinator to join our team. The Project Coordinator will report to the Program Director and will be responsible for monitoring project progress, promoting communication, and ensuring key milestones are met. The Project Coordinator will partner with CEIR’s Research manager and other project staff to create project action plans and coordinate resources. This is an excellent opportunity for an experienced and highly motivated individual who wants to join a quickly growing nonprofit that seeks to make a substantial, positive, nonpartisan impact on elections and American democracy. CEIR’s office is in Washington, DC, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all CEIR staff are working remotely for the foreseeable future. Therefore, while we prefer applicants who live in the Washington, DC Metro Area, we will also consider qualified applicants who live elsewhere. 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.
QA Analyst I, Dominion Voting Systems, Denver, Colorado— Responsible for quality assurance of DVS products. Ensure that products and services comply with all regulations and required functionality; verifies that all products and services either meet or exceed the requirements specified by the customers and guaranteed by the company. Job Responsibilities: Set up, install and configure test equipment and testbeds; Assist with System Test plan and coverage based on release content; Design, write, maintain, and execute automated and manual test cases, test scenarios, and test scripts including regression tests, functional tests, and data tests; Design and perform load and performance testing through a combination of automated and manual tests; Create test processes for new and existing software products; Define and evaluate test automation strategies; Encourage adoption of automation best practices throughout the Scrum agile-based, software development life-cycle; Work with the development team to resolve software bugs/defects; and Generate and report on test metrics. 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.
Senior Deputy Board Clerk/Elections Assistant, Mono County, California— Under general supervision, to coordinate and perform a variety of complex, specialized support work for the County Board of Supervisors and the maintenance of official Board records; to serve as back-up, recording meetings and developing minutes for the County Board of Supervisors and the Assessment Appeals Board; to perform a variety of administrative and staff support work for County elections; to provide assistance and information to the public regarding the functions of County Boards and Commissions and County Elections; to assist other County staff with the understanding of assigned program and department/work unit procedures and requirements; to perform a variety of advanced technical and office support work such as web maintenance; process assessment; oversee management of process; research old records and laws; and to do related work as required. Salary: $60,626 annually. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
State Audit Expansion Specialist, Verified Voting— A critical component of election security is the ability to determine whether the computers that counted the votes counted them correctly. To do that, jurisdictions must have a system that incorporates paper ballots that are retained for recounts and audits. After the election, the paper ballots must be checked against the computer-reported results via a rigorous statistically sound audit, called a risk-limiting audit. Verified Voting is working with election officials to implement risk-limiting audits in as many jurisdictions as possible for the 2020 elections. The State Audit Expansion Specialist will report directly to the Director of Science and Technology Policy and will be primarily responsible for the education and outreach required to build trust with election officials in order to implement statewide RLAs of swing states. The State Audit Expansion Specialist will also support the design, development, implementation and reporting of audit pilots in a variety of jurisdictions, and will be able to contribute to the formulation of state and local audit policy. Salary Range $65,000-$75,000. Application: Please submit a resume and a short cover letter regarding your interest in the position and salary requirements to: email@example.com. commensurate with experience.
Systems Specialist, Denver, Colorado— The Operations, Integrated Solutions team assist our Tier 1 Operations teams in technical support while taking on operational projects that are extremely technical in nature, or scoped beyond the geographical boundaries of any one Tier 1 Operations team. The Operations, Integrated Solutions consists of 6 teams with specific focuses including Documentation & Training, Printer & Dealer Support, Advanced Field Support, Data Integration, Software Integration and Hardware Integration. This role will be responsible for implementing and ongoing support of multiple web applications reporting within Operations ISG. Dominion Voting has a family of web applications including imagecast remote (ICR), internet voting, ballot auditing & review, and election night reporting sites and in this position, you will manage the implementation and ongoing support of these applications, interfacing with both internal resources and customers. This position will require extensive customer facing training and support and process recommendations in addition to the web technology elements. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Technology Associate, Center for Tech and Civic Life— When you think about elections, you might think about popular candidates, “I voted” stickers, and all sorts of paperwork and deadlines. But behind the scenes are thousands of election administrators in state and local governments who are working hard to make sure ballots are counted and voices are heard. To serve every community and make democracy work, election administrators need 21st-century tools and training. You can help them get it! As the CTCL Government Services Technology Associate, you will implement streamlined, digital learning experiences that advance the tech and communication skills of America’s election administrators. You’ll work with the Government Services team and report to the Program Manager. Application: For the complete job 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.
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