In Focus This Week
At your service
4 ways U.S. Digital Response is helping election offices save precious time
By Robin Carnahan and Erika Reinhardt
Time is every election official’s most precious resource right now. Fortunately, many officials are finding that even at this late date, they can still create significant efficiencies in their operations with quick technology fixes, allowing them to focus on their most pressing challenges.
U.S. Digital Response (USDR) provides vetted, pro bono technologists who can handle the heavy-lifting of designing and implementing low-risk solutions in a matter of days or weeks, for free. USDR’s Elections Team has already partnered with dozens of election officials to solve their needs, big and small, finding time-saving, sustainable, low-cost solutions.
Eric Fey, the Democratic Director of Elections for St. Louis County Election Board shared that “during an incredibly hectic time in election administration, it is helpful to have a partner like USDR who can bring additional capacity to election offices that are stretched to the limit.”
Here are some of the problems and solutions USDR and election officials have partnered on to reduce election office workloads.
Automating Vote-By-Mail Application Intake
With an unprecedented number of vote-by-mail ballot requests this year, many local elections offices are burdened by the heavily-manual processing of ballot applications, adding to an already-heavy workload. Fortunately, many of the steps required to process each application can be rapidly automated.
USDR has built systems for multiple counties that automatically collect all of the applications sent in as email attachments, extract voter IDs from each document or look them up from other information on the form, and generate a daily summary report that can be easily reviewed and imported into the state voter registration system, saving each office multiple hours per day… and ensuring none get lost or misplaced in email systems. USDR can design and integrate systems to fit your jurisdiction’s needs within days, since we leverage software tools that your office already uses. If your office has capacity to take this on independently and is on the Microsoft Suite, you can look into doing so yourself using Power Automate, a workflow automation tool that can connect between applications like Excel, OneDrive, and Outlook.
In addition, USDR is working with local jurisdictions to provide voters easy ways to generate their VBM application form online. Counties and states can take advantage of a full toolkit of resources from the Center for Civic Design for scaling up VBM operations, including ballot request forms, envelope designs, voter information and instructions, all based on best practices from across the country.
Answering Voter Questions Efficiently
With all the changes this year, many counties are receiving especially high volumes of voter questions ahead of the election. Meanwhile, elections offices all want to answer voter questions quickly, with less work, but frequently have only basic tools (e.g. a shared inbox) at their disposal to do so. Setting up support tools like Zendesk, Freshdesk or Front can enable your office to clearly assign different emails to different people, and ensure that every email gets answered as quickly, easily, and accurately as possible. Better still, a large portion of the incoming support volume can be eliminated altogether by making small, strategic updates to your webpage—highlighting answers in the contact flow that relate to the topic that a voter would otherwise write in about. The USDR team can help you solve both sides of this equation within days.
Managing Poll Workers
Election officials are looking for ways to effectively recruit, train, and manage new poll workers, since health concerns have reduced the availability of experienced poll workers. The USDR team is collaborating with counties to develop easy-to-use, lightweight digital tools for online, automated poll worker applications, communication, and management. These tools can help reduce the work required for election office staff to intake applications, assign poll workers to different locations and shifts, and communicate with poll workers.
Communicating with Voters
USDR partnered with the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL) to launch a new local elections website template addressing many elections offices’ website wishlist: enabling them to manage all of their own content in WordPress, while using a clean design that’s easy for voters to navigate, and reducing the rate at which voters contact them with questions that should be answerable online. Inyo County, California just launched their new elections website using the template within a week of contacting USDR.
How USDR Can Help You
While there are many shared challenges across elections offices, the needs of each jurisdiction are unique. The USDR team is available to partner with any elections office (or non-partisan NGO supporting them) on any needs, and is working on a wide range of areas in addition to those described above. USDR’s elections program is led by a former Secretary of State and former Co-chair of both the Elections and Securities Committees of the National Association of Secretaries of State.
2018 Elections Performance Index
The 2018 Elections Performance Index
What can it contribute to our conversations on 2020?
By Claire DeSoi, communications assistant
MIT Election Data & Science Lab
Last week, the MIT Election Data + Science Lab relaunched the website for the Elections Performance Index (EPI). Along with new data from 2018, the website has an updated look: now, users can dive seamlessly into data from each state and indicator, comparing across years and selecting the indicators they’d like to focus on in particular.
The new website also features a section for ongoing discussion, commentary, and analysis—which allows us to respond to and engage in ongoing conversations about election administration in the U.S., rather than waiting for two long years between elections before updating the site and its data. This new section will feature articles about the past and current iterations of the EPI, of course, but it also allows us to look ahead: at what changes the EPI might require now that we’re a decade on from its development, and of course, at what it can tell us about the next election.
This feels especially pertinent now, with the 2020 election just around the corner: what can past performance data tell us about what to expect in November?
Each time a federal election rolls around, a core question about some aspect of elections and how elections are managed arises. While we won’t know what to expect exactly until after Election Day rolls around, as Charles Stewart laid out in his recent post on the EPI site, the circumstances around this year’s election indicate that we can focus on four main topics out of the 17 total indicators the index uses:
Historically high turnout rates in 2018 are likely to continue in 2020.
Election administrators face a significant challenge this year in handling demand for voting in a healthy fashion. The 2018 data show us that turnout significantly outpaced the previous midterm in 2014 in 49 states and D.C. In fact, turnout was the highest it’s been (as a percent of voting-eligible population) in a century. It’s not a stretch to imagine that 2020 could also see historically high turnout levels; enthusiasm for voting this year is high. If turnout is up from previous years, then the challenges election officials face are even greater.
Because of historic turnout, and the challenges COVID-19 presents to maintain in-person voting sites, wait times threaten to balloon in 2020.
Lines, wherever they form, are fundamentally caused by one of three things: high service times, high arrival rates, and a small number of service stations. With the surge in turnout in 2018, arrival rates at polling places went up. Without compensating increases in poll workers or speeding up check-in processes, this had to lead to longer wait times—and it did. A lot. In 2016, wait times had declined dramatically—but even if the number of voters voting in person in 2020 is half of what it was in 2016, the wait times may not necessarily decline as election officials struggle in the face of COVID-19 to maintain the same space and human resources they can usually count on.
Absentee ballot rejection rates, while they have remained low in the past, threaten to spike in 2020.
The expansion of mail balloting has been advocated as one of the most important strategies for ensuring that Americans can vote safely amid the pandemic. It has become the election issue of the year. We know that the number of mail-ballot applications is likely to double or triple in 2020; the number of unreturned ballots will probably likewise increase as well. Why? Several reasons, among them:
- Some states have decided to mail ballots to all registered voters, but many of these voters will decide to vote in person, and others will not vote at all.
- Some voters will request a ballot too late for it to arrive in time.
This will have the dual effect of pushing up the number of unreturned ballots and the number of provisional ballots, as large numbers of people appear at polling places with a notation on the poll book that they have an outstanding absentee ballot.
Election officials have consistently increased their reliance on the Internet to communicate with voters; this will be even more critical in 2020.
When the EPI was inaugurated a decade ago, election officials were transitioning in how they communicated with voters. The Internet has given officials new opportunities to communicate with voters, and conversely, given voters an opportunity to receive accurate, updated information directly from election officials. The explosion of information available to voters on the Internet has been one of the most significant improvements in election performance over the last ten years. In the 2010 election, only 10 states had all five tools tracked in the EPI. In 2018, the number had risen to 18, and a further 37 states offered at least four of the tools.
Communication via the Internet will be even more critical in 2020. Two pieces of information will be especially important:
- Communications about the location of in-person polling places, especially as the locations change at the last minute due to the challenges of recruiting poll workers. In 2018, every state had a polling place locator on their website, which bodes well for 2020.
- Absentee ballot status. We are increasingly hearing of the challenges that will face voters as they attempt to request, mark, and return their mail ballots. In 2018, only 39 states and D.C. had an absentee status feature on their website. It is too early to tell how many of the remaining 11 states will add this feature in 2020, but with the number of mail ballots growing, having access to this information will be critical to more voters. States without such a tool risk being inundated with phone calls from anxious voters, asking whether their ballot had been received on time.
The Elections Performance Index was originally launched with the goal of illuminating the election administration issues in an objective and nonpartisan way. It summarizes all 17 tracked indicator measures with a single score—and every single state has a better score in 2018 than it did in 2010. Most have improved with each election, illustrating a truth that’s often lost in the heat and noise of campaigning: election administration in the U.S. is improving.
Improvement is not inevitable, however. The ways in which states respond to the pandemic’s challenges will be picked up in the next EPI. Whatever happens, the EPI will be back to provide further understanding of how the 2020 election was administered.
National Poll Worker Recruitment Day
National Poll Worker Recruitment Day
Day aims to inspire Americans to become election workers
With election officials across the country reporting critical shortages of poll workers amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) today announced the designation of September 1st, 2020 as National Poll Worker Recruitment Day to encourage more people to sign up to become election workers for the November election. National Poll Worker Recruitment Day aims to raise awareness about the benefits and importance of poll working and inspire more Americans to volunteer.
“Poll workers are the unsung heroes of the democratic process, and right now we’re facing a critical shortage of these dedicated volunteers,” said EAC Chairman Ben Hovland. “Recruiting poll workers is a challenge for many election officials across the country and the COVID-19 pandemic has made this need even more critical. We encourage Americans, who are able and willing to serve, to sign up to help America vote and work the polls on Election Day.”
While their specific duties and compensation vary depending on location, most jurisdictions task election workers with setting up and preparing the polling location, welcoming voters, verifying voter registrations, and issuing ballots. Poll workers also help ensure voters understand the voting process by demonstrating how to use voting equipment and explaining voting procedures. Election staff and volunteers are overseen by local election authorities, which also provide training in advance of Election Day.
“Working the polls on Election Day is a meaningful, rewarding way to strengthen our democracy – right in your community,” said EAC Vice Chair Don Palmer. “Across the country, we are seeing unprecedented levels of civic engagement in helping fellow citizens, but not enough people know about poll working as a volunteer opportunity – or being paid. National Poll Worker Recruitment Day aims to help fill that awareness gap and encourage more people to become poll workers and help ensure a safe and secure election for our democracy in November.”
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, America is facing a critical shortage of poll workers. Even as many states expand access to vote-by-mail and absentee voting options, millions of Americans – especially voters with disabilities and those who lack reliable mail service – will continue to rely on in-person voting options to cast a ballot.
Most poll workers have traditionally been over the age of 61, making them especially vulnerable to complications if they contract COVID-19. This has resulted in a critical need for poll workers who are willing and able to assist with the administration of in-person voting.
By encouraging more people to become poll workers in their communities, National Poll Worker Recruitment Day aims to address the critical shortage of poll workers, strengthen our democracy, inspire greater civic engagement and volunteerism, and help ensure free and fair elections in November and beyond.
More about poll working and National Poll Worker Recruitment Day is available at HelpAmericaVote.gov
Other Poll Worker News
This week, the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) and the National Association of State Election Directors (NASED) announced a partnership with the American Bar Association (ABA) to promote the need for ABA members to serve as poll workers for the upcoming 2020 General Election. The recruitment effort is titled “Poll Worker, Esq.”, and the hashtag #PollWorkerEsq will be used on each organization’s social media and materials.
“States across the country are thinking creatively to recruit election workers who are in lower risk populations,” said Lori Augino, NASED President and Director of Elections for the Washington Secretary of State. “Even in states, like Washington, where most voting takes place by mail, election workers are an integral part of our democracy. This partnership with the American Bar Association will help state and local election officials by filling a critical staffing need and will help voters cast their ballots.”
As part of the initiative, NASED, NASS, and ABA members have also come together to create an informative video encouraging lawyers and law students to become poll workers.
“During this unprecedented time, states are conducting massive poll worker recruitment efforts to reach Americans who are not part of the high-risk population. This is why the partnership with the American Bar Association is crucial. Their members’ service as poll workers will unequivocally help communities, election officials and our democracy,” stated Maggie Toulouse Oliver, NASS President and New Mexico Secretary of State.
ABA is the largest voluntary association of lawyers in the world and has an extensive communications network. Further, poll worker training for lawyers who work as poll workers may be eligible for Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credit according to state law and procedures.
“Serving as a poll worker is integral to assuring a free and fair election this November, and lawyers are especially suited to help” said Patricia Lee Refo, president of the ABA. “With the added obstacle of a pandemic this year, finding people who are at lower risk to assist as poll workers is even more important. This is an opportunity for lawyers, and soon-to-be lawyers, to step up and serve.”
Election News This Week
Plans for November: The Kentucky State Board of Elections voted 7-1 to approve 24 pages of emergency regulations detailing how the November election would be administered amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Under the new voting rules, any registered voter concerned about contracting COVID-19 by casting a ballot in person can request an absentee ballot through the state’s online portal and submit it through the mail or in designated drop-off boxes in their home county. Voters may also vote early and in-person in the three weeks leading up to Election Day on Nov. 3, including on Saturdays. Missouri Secretary of Jay Ashcrof says he’s holding back on distributing dozens of ballot drop-off boxes he was going to send around the state this fall out of concern they’ll breed confusion among voters. Nearly 40 Montana counties have now decided to conduct the November general election by mail. Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak has rejected a request by Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske to more closely track individuals who collect and turn in mail ballots on behalf of other voters during the 2020 election, saying she has “attempted to use the emergency regulation process for what appears to be political reasons.” New Hampshire Attorney General Gordon MacDonald and Secretary of State Bill Gardner have said that communities can require both voters and poll workers wear face coverings on Election Day to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman issued an emergency rule that requires county officials to use first-class mail at least 15 days before Election Day when sending ballots to voters in October.
The Michigan Board of State Canvassers is requiring Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson to exercise her oversight powers this November in Detroit after widespread problems counting ballots in the city’s primary and ahead of a pivotal presidential election. The board discussed the Wayne County Board of Canvassers’ recent request for state oversight of how election workers in Detroit are trained at an Aug. 24 meeting where it certified the results of Michigan’s primary election. The board was alarmed to find out 72% of the absentee voting precincts in Detroit weren’t balanced and 46% of all Detroit’s precincts, both absentee and in-person, weren’t balanced. “I can speak for all of us when I say we were really appalled by what happened in Detroit,” said Democrat Julie Matuzak, a board of canvassers member. “We want to know what’s going to be done to help the folks running the elections in Detroit.”
You’re gonna need a bigger boat: Suffolk County, New York voters will have plenty of option to cast an early ballot for the November general election, unless they live on Shelter Island. According to WSHU, each of Suffolk County’s nine towns have an early voting except for Shelter Island, a town detached from the mainland between Long Island’s twin forks. “You would literally have to get on a boat and either travel to Southampton or East Hampton or Southold town to be able to do early voting. This is just another form of another attempt to really repress turnout,” state Assemblyman Fred Thiele told WSHU. Thiele wants the Suffolk County Board of Elections to reinstate the site for the fewer than 2,000 mostly older voters who live there. He said it will give them peace of mind amid the pandemic. “People would would view it as safer is an option that every resident of New York State should have, and Shelter Island simply by virtue of its geography shouldn’t be denied that right,” Thiele said.
Annie White Baxter, the first county clerk in the nation, has been inducted into the Hall of Famous Missourians. Baxter became the first elected woman for public office in 1890 and oversaw elections for Jasper County—before she could even vote in them herself. “We are stronger when we can see ourselves in the lives and legacies of those that came before us including those trailblazing women like Annie. We know that recognizing the historical contributions that women have made in the past is an important part of empowering and inspiring women of all generations today,” said Wendy Doyle, president and CEO of The Women’s Foundation. A statue of Baxter has been unveiled in the Missouri capitol.
While the state of New Hampshire is not mandating masks in the polling places for the upcoming Sept. 8 primary, in the Town of Dublin, Town Moderator Tim Clark is working on a plan to protect poll workers and voters from voters who choose not to wear a mask. According to the Leader Transcript, Nobody would be turned away from voting in-person at Town Hall, Clark said, but voters without face coverings will need to vote in an alternate location in order to protect poll workers. An alternate voting site could be outside polling place under a tent, or a room in the basement of the building, Clark said. “We’ve discussed all sorts of alternative ways,” he said, and began discussing procedure for any contingency with the Select Board last Tuesday: bad weather, too many people in line, or voters refusing to comply with COVID-19 prevention protocol. If too many people show up at once, Clark said he intends to distribute numbers to voters so they can wait in their cars until a spot is available for them in the polls. In case of bad weather, he said he’d consider having voters refusing to wear masks fill out ballots in their cars.
Voting merch is the new concert tee. At least according to Elle Magazine and we’re not going to lie, we’re all for it. From $695 knee-high black leather boots to a snazzy $10 VOTE face mask, Elle provides voters with a number of fashionable options to encourage others to get out and vote. Some of it is certainly political, but much of the featured stuff simply encourages people to vote. HuffPost got in on the action too with some voting merch to recommend including everything from an “I can’t vote but you can” onsie for $22 to a Levi’s Vote tee for $30. Given how stressful these times are for everyone, but especially elections administrators, perhaps it’s time for a little retail therapy. But here’s something to think, while it’s super uncool to wear the concert tee to the actual concert, is it OK to wear voting swag (not aligned with a candidate or campaign of course) to the polls? Our vote is for yes.
They don’t call him King James for nothing! The collective of athletes lead by LeBron James called More Than a Vote is announcing a multi-million dollar initiative to recruit poll workers for the November election, especially in majority Black jurisdictions. According to The New York Times, the project, a collaboration with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, aims to recruit young people to serve at polling locations in Black communities in swing states, including Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin, Florida and Ohio. The effort will involve poll worker recruitment, a paid advertising campaign and a corporate partnership program that will encourage employees to volunteer as poll workers. “I felt like I needed to do something in my community,” Ms. Montgomery said. “We can’t just protest. We have a responsibility to take those protests and take that energy and march all the way to the polls.” “I live in Atlanta, so this issue is right on my front door,” she added. “We have the long lines, it’s condensed and Covid is being used as a way to have voter suppression.” [Ed. Note: To all you elections geeks who are Lakers haters (raises hand), I know this is a bitter pill to swallow, but sometimes the enemy is your friend too.]
Well this is amazing! Etched into 8 acres of corn for this year’s Mike’s Maze at Warner Farm on South Main Street in Greenfield, Massachusetts is the word “VOTE,” inscribed in a lettering style reminiscent of the women’s suffrage era. The maze is scheduled to open Sept. 11. “Every year, we try to come up with something that’s going to be timely and is going to have some larger cultural meaning for people,” Jess Wissemann, a member of the creative team at Mike’s Maze, told the Greenfield Recorder of their recently announced maze design. “And this year, we decided pretty early on that we wanted to do something about voting.” She said she hopes the message of this year’s corn maze inspires people to exercise their right to vote. “We want people to feel hopeful about the future, and that’s what voting is all about,” she explained. “You can feel hopeful about the future that you want.” The election theme extends into the activities that will be available to guests of the maze. In addition to the maze “campaign trails,” activities will include an “election landslide” (the children’s slide), pedal cart races on the “presidential election racetrack,” and the “pundit potato cannon range.”
Personnel News: Erin Wilkinson is the new Saugatuck, Michigan clerk. Following a recount, Joe Scott is the new Broward County, Florida supervisor of elections. Michele Carew has resigned as the Aransas County, Texas elections administrator she has accepted a similar position in Hood County. Boh Mabe has resigned from the Stokes County, North Carolina board of elections.
In Memoriam: Stephanie Hicks McMath, Roosevelt County, New Mexico clerk died on August 23, she was 52. According to The Eastern New Mexico News, Hicks McMath had been clerk since 2018. “She was so focused on her job, and always so willing to learn,” County Manager Amber Hamilton said. “She would go to a class, make sure she was involved in every meeting. Nothing slips through the cracks, and she brings her entire team with her.” Hicks had also worked in other elections offices in the state including in Curry County. In all she had been working in elections for 31 years. “She cherished me,” Gene McMath, Hicks McMath’s husband told the paper. “She was the same at her job as the county clerk. She cherished people. Voting ballots to her were precious, because they represented people. It did not matter to her if the name had a ‘D’ or an ‘R’ beside it because it represented a person. She cherished people. Portales, Roosevelt County, New Mexico and I lost a miracle. A person who cherished. She was my miracle.” Other New Mexico counties have offered to step in and help Roosevelt conduct the November election. “We know how overwhelming it can be when everything goes as planned,” said Curry County Clerk Annie Hogland, who was the deputy clerk when Jo Lynn Queener died less than a month into her term in 2017. “But something like this is devastating. I’m confident their office is fully prepared and will carry on as smooth as ever. She had an exceptional staff.”
Research and Report Summaries
The Bipartisan Policy Center released a report on results processing in the 2020 elections this week. The report, Counting the Vote During the 2020 Election, assesses that the vote counting process in 2020 will take longer than previous presidential elections due to the increase in mail-in ballot usage, and offers recommendations for election administrators and policymakers to mitigate the length and consequences of a slower-than-normal vote count. Recommendations include removing excess absentee ballot verification measures, instituting a cure process for mail-in voters, allowing mail-in ballot processing at least seven days before Election Day, using USPS resources for mail-in ballot design, integrating USPS official mail ballot logos, barcodes, and tags into election mailings, implementing ballot tracking tools, and offering voters a variety of options to return their ballots.
The Center for Election Innovation and Research released a report on voter registration database security earlier this month. The report provides an anonymized summary of findings from its second biannual survey of state election offices on practices used to protect against, detect, and recover from cybersecurity incidents affecting voter registration databases. Identifying improvements made by state election offices since its 2018 survey, the report covers a variety of cybersecurity practices, including multi-factor authentication, password strength, system audits, IT support, training, email security, monitoring systems, and backup and contingency plans.
The CATO Institute released a legal bulletin on election regulation during the COVID-19 pandemic this week. The brief discusses the impact of the pandemic on voters and election officials, as well as integrity concerns and mitigations measures related to mail-in or absentee voting.
Verified Voting released a report on mail-in voting in 2020 earlier this month. The report, COVID-19 and the Surge of Mail Ballots: Managing an Unprecedented Volume in the November 2020 Election, uses data from the Election Administration and Voting Survey to investigate the need for election offices to upgrade their mail-in ballot processing equipment to handle the expected increased volume of mail-in ballots. The report concludes that most jurisdictions would be able to manage the increased volume of mail-in ballots without upgrading their tabulation equipment provided they have the additional staff, extended canvassing time, and ability to reallocate hand-fed scanners to process the ballots.
Election Security Updates
Security Briefing: At an election security briefing for reporters this week, the FBI said it has no evidence of any coordinated fraud schemes related to voting by mail this year, undercutting repeated claims by President Trump and his camp about what they’ve called security problems. But national security officials rejected those theories in the Wednesday briefing, saying they have not seen a coordinated fraud effort and noting how difficult such an effort would be, considering the decentralized nature of U.S. elections. During the same briefing officials did warn of ongoing efforts by foreign adversaries to sway elections including through scanning for vulnerabilities in election infrastructure. The officials, however, also emphasized the strong measures that will be put in place to thwart these efforts. “What we know is that targeting of election infrastructure is in the playbook … it’s an option now,” a senior official at the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) told reporters during a press briefing Wednesday. “We continue to receive reports of scanning of election infrastructure as a whole.” The senior CISA official noted that federal agencies had been working with election officials to help them manage and respond to this type of activity, including through training on how to spot and prevent attempted email phishing or ransomware attacks that could negatively impact election infrastructure on Election Day.
Typosquatting: In an Aug. 11 bulletin to election officials, the Department of Homeland security told them to be wary of suspicious websites that impersonate federal and state election domains and could be used for phishing or influence operations. These suspicious typosquatting domains may be used for advertising, credential harvesting and other malicious purposes, such as phishing and influence operations,” the advisory says. “Users should pay close attention to the spelling of web addresses or websites that look trustworthy but may be close imitations of legitimate U.S. election websites.” According to Cyberscoop, Ttyposquatting is an issue that litters the internet and affects every sector because it is cheap and easy for anyone to set up a website that mimics the spelling of a legitimate one.
California: California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order that extends the deadline for county elections officials to count and verify signatures submitted for initiative petitions seeking to qualify for the November 2022 ballot, giving the elections officials needed flexibility to focus on preparations for the General Election this November. The order extends the deadline to Jan. 15, 2021.
Guam: Lawmakers Thursday afternoon voted 12-3 to cancel Saturday’s primary election after the Guam Election Commission, which isn’t confident it can conduct a safe election during the pandemic, asked that it be canceled or at least postponed. Speaker Tina Muña-Barnes’ Bill 391, if signed into law, would cancel the primary election and allow all candidates to advance to the Nov. 3 general election. The attorney general on Thursday issued an opinion, stating lawmakers have the authority to cancel the primary election. Sen. Mary Torres noted lawmakers have canceled primaries before, in 1994 and 2006.
Idaho: Idaho’s General Assembly met in a special session this week to consider legislation around the coronavirus pandemic including elections-related bills. The Senate approved SB1002 that would have allowed counties to, just for November 2020, use vote centers. However the House State Affairs Committee killed the bill on 10-5 vote citing security concerns. By a 68-1 vote the House approved a resolution calling on governor to use CARES Act funding to provide extra stipends for poll workers. Under S 1001a, clerks would get 15 extra days to send absentee ballots as well as more time to count the ballots once they are returned.
Tennessee: Gov. Bill Lee (R) signed legislation into law this week that could put protestors in jail and deny them their voting rights. The new law, which went into effect immediately, makes it a felony to camp out on state property such as the capitol grounds. Activists who have demonstrated for months outside the state Capitol against racial injustice, could now face felony charges punishable by up to six years in prison. Convicted felons are automatically stripped of their voting rights in Tennessee. Although there was no ceremony for the signing, Lee told The Associated Press, “We saw lawlessness that needed to be addressed immediately. And that was done so.” Advocates vocally opposed the new law. “To criminalize protest activity and disenfranchise voters on top of it defies principles that lie at the heart of our Constitution,” Kristen Clarke, president of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law tol The Washington Post. “It’s pouring fuel on the fire when communities are seeking justice, change and reform.”
New York: Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed an executive order requiring the following: Send a mailing outlining all deadlines for voters by Tuesday, September 8; Send staffing plans and needs to the New York State Board of Elections by September 20 so BOE can assist in ensuring adequate coverage; Adopt a uniform clarified envelope for absentee ballots and require counties to use it; Count votes faster: require all objections to be made by the county board in real time, make sure that boards are ready to count votes and reconcile affidavit and absentee ballots by 48 hours after elections; and Provide an option for New Yorkers to vote absentee in village, town and special district elections.
Ohio: State lawmakers on the Ohio Controlling Board have asked for additional time to study Secretary of State Frank LaRose’s proposal to provide postage for mail ballots. It would cost up to $3 million. ohn Fortney, a spokesman for Senate president Larry Obhof, a Medina Republican, said Monday their concerns include whether the plan would be carried out equally in all 88 counties. “I think the lawmakers want to have a broader, more in-depth conversation about how that program will be applied,” Fortney told the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Pennsylvania: Leaders of the Pennsylvania state Senate’s Republican majority offered an election aid proposal Monday that would, among other things, reset deadlines for voters to request a mail-in ballot to 15 days before Election Day, but also give said voters more options – including drop-off sites at polling places – to return them. The bill, offered by Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, R-Jefferson County, and Majority Leader Jake Corman, R-Centre County, is not agreed to by House leaders or Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration. But, one source close to current discussions told Penn Live, there is a generally shared goal among all three parties to try to complete updates to the current law that will expedite accurate vote counting in the upcoming presidential election in which Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral college votes could prove decisive.
Utah: The Legislature has approved a bill that requires counties to hold in-person voting this November, which could include outdoor polling locations. The bill requires the lieutenant governor to conduct a publicity campaign to inform voters about changes made by the bill and encourage them to vote by mail. Senators removed a section of the legislation that would have given the lieutenant governor the ability to eliminate in-person voting to protect public health. That decision now rests with the counties. Sen. Jani Iwamoto, D-Salt Lake City, tried unsuccessfully to allow counties to send out mail-in ballots one week earlier than usual. Currently, counties can’t send out ballots until three weeks before the election. But senators voted down that suggestion, arguing changing deadlines this late in the election cycle would be unfair to candidates. The bill expires in January 2021 and would likely only apply to the November election. It now heads to the governor’s desk.
Virginia: The Virginia General Assembly is moving forward with a plan to provide prepaid postage to absentee voters and authorize ballot drop-off boxes to reassure voters they won’t have to cast their vote in person during a pandemic or gamble on uncertain mail delivery. The House and Senate budget-writing committees backed legislation that would spend $2 million on postage and require registrars to set up drop-off boxes for the November election. Gov. Ralph Northam is backing this initiative. “No one should have to risk his or her life in order to exercise their franchise,” said Sen. Janet Howell, D-Fairfax, the patron of one of the bills, Senate Bill 5120, and chairwoman of the Senate Finance Committee.
Arizona: Several Navajo Nation citizens with concerns about the U. S. Postal Service are asking a court to ensure their ballots will still be counted in Arizona even if delivered late. The group filed a lawsuit in federal court Wednesday challenging the state’s current law, which says election officials cannot count mail-in ballots received after election night. The lawsuit contends that mail service is so much slower and less accessible for many Arizonans living on reservations that the existing deadline will disenfranchise some voters even as they put their ballots in the mail well in advance of the state’s deadline. The group wants a federal judge to require Arizona election officials to count ballots delivered up to 10 days after Election Day as long as the ballots come from tribal members living on reservations and are postmarked on or before the day of the election.
Florida: Elections supervisors in the eight counties have been fighting a lawsuit that contends that digital images generated when paper ballots are scanned into voting machines must be maintained as public records. The counties have asserted that paper ballots are the actual record, not the images that are briefly created when the paper ballots are scanned into the machines. In a deal that would delay a legal battle until after November’s general election the supervisors have agreed to preserve records of digital ballot images in case they’re needed to confirm the results of the 2020 presidential race if there’s a recount. In an agreement filed late Monday in Leon County Circuit Court, the two sides agreed to defer the continuation of the lawsuit until after the all-important November general election, with the stipulation that the counties would save the images if a machine recount is ordered for the presidential race.
Indiana: U.S. District Judge Tanya Pratt found that the voting law known as “Senate Enrolled Act 334,” an amendment to a previous law, violates the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 because it allows the removal of voters from the rolls without direct contact and before a required waiting period. The initial lawsuit was filed in 2017 on behalf of the Indiana State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the League of Women Voters of Indiana. The lawsuit claimed that original state law and the use of a voting program known as Crosscheck allowed the removal of voters in a way that violates federal law because the voters in question are not contacted. Pratt issued an initial injunction against the law in 2018, and a later ruling from the Seventh Circuit upheld that initial injunction in 2019. Because the original state law and its participation in the Crosscheck program have been superseded by the SEA 334, the state argued that the plaintiffs would have to file a new lawsuit challenging the current law. However, Pratt found that because of the new law’s similar effects, the matter was not moot and she could issue findings. “The gravamen of Plaintiffs’ Complaint is that Indiana’s election law violates the NVRA by allowing cancellation of voter registrations without direct contact from the voter or, alternatively, providing notice to the voter and then waiting two election cycles before cancelling the voter registration. This Court and the Seventh Circuit understood this to be the issue when granting and affirming injunctive relief,” Pratt wrote.
Also in Indiana, U.S. District Court Judge James Patrick Hanlon declined to order Indiana to allow no-excuse mail-in voting for the Nov. 3 General Election. Indiana Vote By Mail Inc. and a group of voters requested a preliminary injunction that would force the expansion of mail-in voting amid the coronavirus pandemic. They claimed restricting who can vote by mail is a violation of voters’ constitutional rights. According to the Indianapolis Star, in a ruling filed Friday Hanlon said that plaintiffs did not show the “likelihood of success in showing that the policy is unconstitutional.” “Some states have chosen ‘no-excuse’ voting by mail for all. Indiana has decided otherwise,” Hanlon wrote in the order. “The question here, however, is not whether the policy is wise, but whether it is unconstitutional.”
Maine: Superior Court Judge Thomas McKeon ruled Secretary of State Matt Dunlap improperly invalidated 988 signatures on a Republican-backed ballot measure to repeal the state’s new ranked choice voting law. Dunlap, a Democrat, said his office had not even begun to discuss how to address the ruling. It could appeal to Maine’s high court, but McKeon’s decision forces his office to put the measure on ballots that need to be printed by Friday. “We have no idea where we’re going to go from here,” he told the Bangor Daily News. The decision has the potential to change how Dunlap’s office validates petitions going forward, he said. It hinged on whether two petition circulators — those who sign and notarize forms — were registered voters in the towns they were collecting petitions in. The Maine Constitution requires circulators to be a resident of the state and registered to vote in their municipality.
Massachusetts: In a decision authored by Justice Scott Kafker, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court denied a petition that would have allowed mail-in ballots that were postmarked by Sept. 1 but didn’t arrive until after the state primary to be counted up to Sept. 11. Attorneys representing Grossman argued disruptions at the U.S. Postal Service prevented vote-by-mail applicants who met the state’s deadlines from getting their mail-in ballots counted in time, effectively disenfranchising them in a state election. The Supreme Judicial Court, however, sided with the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s office, whose attorneys argued voters still had a “menu of options” because of the historic vote-by-mail law enacted in July, including voting in-person if they worried their mail-in ballots would not be counted. “The new law does not significantly interfere with the constitutional right to vote in the September 1 primary election,” Kafker wrote, rejecting the petition for a 10-day extension. “Rather, the legislation enhances the right to vote in the primary, as well as the general, election, by providing multiple means of voting, including options to vote by mail that previously never existed.” The judges acknowledged the vote-by-mail law is not perfect, noting the deadline for requesting and returning a ballot may be “too close to the due date to encourage this option.” But it was a response to an unprecedented global public health crisis, the court’s ruling said.
Michigan: The Election Integrity Fund and One Nation have filed a state-level lawsuit against Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. They accuse Benson of not following state election laws through expanding voting by absentee ballot. “This effort is not against responsible behavior, but it is for the constitutional lawmaking process,” Attorney Phill Kline said according to WLNS. “A process that is transparent and invites all Americans to the table. This contrasts directly with one person making decisions behind closed doors, which thereby disenfranchises Michigan citizens and their elected legislature.”
Also in Michigan, activist Robert Davis has filed a new lawsuit asking the courts to require Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson’s office to provide training for Detroit election workers after widespread problems tracking ballots in the city’s primary. Filed this week, the lawsuit by Davis, Detroit resident Brenda Hill and Republican Wayne County prosecutor hopeful Shane Anders says state law requires Michigan’s elections director to conduct a training session for Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey and election inspectors who plan to work the Nov. 3. election. The Michigan Court of Appeals has granted a motion for immediate consideration in the lawsuit.
Judge Cynthia Diane Stephen of the Michigan Court of Claims has ruled that Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson has the power to mail 7.7 million registered voters absentee ballot applications. Stephen dismissed three consolidated lawsuits against Benson claiming she acted outside the power given to her by Michigan law when mailing absentee ballot requests ahead of the August and November elections. The court of claims denied plaintiffs’ request for a preliminary injunction, which would have stopped the mailing, in June. Stephens noted Benson is the state’s chief election officer and can outrank “local election officials over whom she has supervisory control.” Stephens wrote the plaintiffs’ lawsuit was unpersuasive and that Benson provided direction for conducting “an election during an unprecedented global pandemic involving a highly contagious respiratory virus.”
North Dakota: In an online hearing the North Dakota Supreme Court heard arguments in the dispute over a controversial election reform measure slated to appear on November’s ballot. When Measure 3 was approved for the general election ballot by Secretary of State Al Jaeger earlier this month, it drew a legal challenge almost immediately. In a last-ditch attempt to bar the measure from appearing before voters, the conservative group Brighter Future Alliance argued Fargo-based North Dakota Voters First used illegal tactics during their petitioning process. While Brighter Future Alliance’s suit is directed at Jaeger, emails in the group’s case filings revealed a similar bias against the measure by the secretary of state. In one message to an oil industry lawyer, Jaeger said he was “very much opposed” to the Measure 3 petition and that he was “in a tough spot to speak out” about it because of his role as the umpire of November’s election. During the hearing, justices probed nuances of the Dyer case to establish whether its century-old precedent could apply to the present situation. Brighter Future Alliance’s attorney David Asp argued that Dyer established a “clear rule” that “people have a right to see the language that they’re going to put into the constitution,” otherwise they “don’t know what they’re agreeing to put on the constitution or agreeing to vote for.” Lawyers from the attorney general’s office representing Jaeger argued the secretary of state correctly carried out a “ministerial duty” by approving the measure after it reached the signature cut-off during the petitioning process.
Oklahoma: U.S. District Judge John Dowdell heard testimony this week in a lawsuit arguing that requiring mail ballots be notarized during the pandemic disenfranchises voters. The plaintiffs are seeking to throw out a state law that requires absentee ballots to be notarized as well as other requirements to cast a ballot by mail, claiming they are unconstitutional because they pose an undue burden on the right to vote. Meanwhile, attorneys for the state argued during the daylong hearing that the two groups did not have standing to bring the lawsuit and that the state’s ballot verification rules are necessary to prevent voter fraud. The Oklahoma Democratic Party and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee filed the lawsuit in May in Tulsa federal court. It seeks in part to have Dowdell declare that notarization, witness and photo identification requirements to cast a mailed-in ballot in Oklahoma “impose undue burdens on the right to vote in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments.”
Ohio: The Ohio Democratic Party is suing Secretary of State Frank LaRose over LaRose’s decision to allow only one dropbox per county for absentee ballots this November. The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas. It states there is no legal justification for LaRose’s order and asks a judge to rescind it. Dropbox voting means no lines, no interacting with poll workers and no waiting on the mail system, said Ohio Democratic Party Chair David Pepper. Adding more dropboxes is a simple, secure solution to make it easier for people to vote, he said.
Pennsylvania: Judge Nicholas Ranjan of the U.S. District Court in the Western District of Pennsylvania, ruled Sunday that the president’s lawsuit against the secretary of state and 67 county election boards should be put on hold while state court cases about voting move forward. “After carefully considering the arguments raised by the parties, the Court finds that the appropriate course is abstention, at least for the time being. In other words, the Court will apply the brakes to this lawsuit, and allow the Pennsylvania state courts to weigh in and interpret the state statutes that undergird Plaintiffs’ federal- constitutional claims,” Ranjan reportedly wrote Sunday. Ranjan had previously required the litigants to provide proof of voter fraud and according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the filing did not include specific evidence that suggests rampant and widespread fraud encouraged by a flawed and insecure mail-in system. Instead, evidence is presented as a series of specific examples of election malfeasance that the campaign says is enough to prove their point.
Tennessee: Davidson County Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle has issue a new order in the ongoing legal battle over the state’s voting access during the pandemic. In the order, Hobbs Lyle mandates next steps for elections officials and called out the state for continued lack of adherence to court instructions. Under her order, the Tennessee Secretary of State must update its absentee ballot application forms to clarify how people with special vulnerability to COVID-19 — and their caretakers — can request mail-in ballots. “‘Because the Defendant State Officials’ concession was a complete reversal of what they had previously told voters, new information has to now be provided,” Lyle wrote. Under her order, the state and local election administrators are required to include the following options on absentee voter applications: I am hospitalized, ill or physically disabled and unable to appear at my polling place to vote (this includes persons who have underlying medical or health conditions which in their determination render them more susceptible to contracting COVID-19 or at greater risk should they contract it) or I am a caretaker of a hospitalized, ill or physically disabled person (this includes caretakers for persons who have underlying medical or health conditions which in their determination render them more susceptible to contracting COVID-19 or at greater risk should they contract it).
Texas: Conservative leaders and two Republican candidates have filed suit to block Gov. Greg Abbott’s order that added six days of early voting for the November election as a pandemic-inspired safety measure. The extension, they argued, must be struck down as a violation of the Texas Constitution and state law. “This draconian order is contrary to the Texas spirit and invades the liberties the people of Texas protected in the constitution,” the lawsuit argued. “If the courts allow this invasion of liberty, today’s circumstances will set a precedent for the future, forever weakening the protections Texans sacrificed to protect.” The latest lawsuit, filed in Travis County state District Court, was joined by Republican candidates Bryan Slaton, running for the Texas House Sharon Hemphill, a candidate for district judge in Harris County. In late July, when Abbott extended the early voting period for the Nov. 3 election, he said he wanted to give Texas voters greater flexibility to cast ballots and protect themselves and others from COVID-19.
Virginia: Judge Norman K. Moon has approved a consent decree negotiated by the attorney general’s office that “…will promote public health and participation in elections by encouraging safe absentee voting by mail in the November election.” Under the terms of the approved consent decree, the Commonwealth will accept absentee ballots without the signature of a witness “for voters who believe they may not safely have a witness present while completing their ballot.” In approving the agreement, Moon found that “The same reasons that motivated the Court to approve the parties’ previous consent decree carry even more force today, as the pandemic has resurged.” Attorney General Herring previously reached an agreement, also approved by Moon, to promote safe voting by mail for the June 23rd primaries by allowing for the acceptance of absentee ballots without a witness signature “for voters who believe they may not safely have a witness present while completing their ballot.”
California: This week, the California Secretary of State’s office launched a new ballot tracking site called “Where’s My Ballot?”. The secretary of state’s office sent out an email to voters announcing the new tool and shortly thereafter, heavy traffic to the site caused some issues. In response, the state secretary’s office said it was “aware that some voters are having intermittent issues reaching the site, likely due to heavy traffic” and that it was working with its vendor to address the problem. At 11:46 a.m., the office said it has increased site capacity and asked people to visit the website again.
U.S. Postal Service: Late last week, the U.S. Postal Service launched an Election Mail website to explain the vote by mail process to voters. “The American public can rely on the United States Postal Service to fulfill our role in the electoral process,” USPS said on the website. “We provide a secure, efficient and effective way for citizens to participate when policymakers decide to use mail as part of their elections. We have a robust and tested process for proper handling and timely delivery of Election Mail.”
Social Media: Twitter was once again forced to flag and hide a tweet from President Donald J. Trump “for making misleading health claims that could potentially dissuade people from participation in voting.” In the tweet on Monday, Trump said that mail (voter) drop boxes — used as an alternative to the US Postal Service (USPS) — are “not COVID sanitized ” and a “voter security disaster” that could allow fraud. According to Engadget, Twitter said the tweet violates its “suppression and intimidation” rules on voting by making “misleading claims about process procedures or techniques which could dissuade people from participating.”
Opinions This Week
National Opinions: Vote by mail, II, III, IV, V | General election | Poll workers, II, III | Election security | Early voting | Mandatory voting | Suffrage, II, III, IV, V | Voter suppression | In-person voting | U.S. Postal Service | Get out the vote | Native American voting rights | Illegitimate election | Voting Rights Act | Drop boxes
Alaska: Open primaries
California: Poll workers
Colorado: Vote by mail
District of Columbia: Ranked choice voting
Illinois: League of Women Voters;
Iowa: Rogue auditors
Louisiana: Emergency election plan
Maryland: Ex-felon voting rights
Michigan: Detroit city clerk
Montana: Secretary of state race
North Dakota: In-person voting
Oregon: Vote by mail
Utah: Vote by mail
Washington: Vote by mail
Wisconsin: General election
Wyoming: Sweetwater County
electionline Daily News Email
This week we celebrate one year of the electionline Daily News email! Inspired by Pasco County, Florida’s Brian Corley to create the daily email, we didn’t know what to expect, but a year and almost 1,100 subscribers later, we are having our own Sally Field moment!
Each morning you’ll receive the top headlines of the day, plus a listing of states featured in that day’s news round up.
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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.
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
Voting In Person In The 2020 Election: Vote-by-Mail is dominating news headlines but tens of millions of Americans will vote in person out of habit and to ensure that their ballot is counted. But in-person voting poses daunting challenges for election officials. The Coronavirus makes it harder to recruit poll workers and may require election officials to find alternatives to the familiar poll locations – senior facilities and schools. Matthew Weil moderates a distinguished panel of election officials: Adrian Fontes (County Recorder, Maricopa County, Arizona); Sherry Poland (Executive Director, Hamilton County Board of Elections, Ohio); Michael Winn (Director, Harris County Elections, Texas); and Moderator: Matthew Weil (Director, Elections Project, Bipartisan Policy Center). When: Sept. 1, 1pm Eastern. Where: Online.
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. When: September 1. 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. When: September 2. 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.
Job Postings This Week
electionlineWeekly publishes election administration job postings each week as a free service to our readers. To have your job listed in the newsletter, please send a copy of the job description, including a web link to firstname.lastname@example.org. Job postings must be received by 5pm on Wednesday in order to appear in the Thursday newsletter. Listings will run for three weeks or till the deadline listed in the posting.
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.
Clerk, Douglas County, Colorado— This position (4 openings) serves as office support for the Elections Division of the Clerk and Recorder’s Office. The Election Clerk provides customer service, assists with clerical functions, and performs data entry for voter registration. Other duties in support of the conduct of elections or mail ballot processing may be assigned. Must be detail oriented, well organized, productive, and able to adapt in a high change environment. This role requires both independent judgment and the ability to work well as a part of a team. Professional representation of the Clerk and Recorder’s Office to the public is required to include standards outlined in the Vision, Mission, and Core Values of the Office. Provides daily customer service; answers phones; greets and serves in person customers; Performs general scanning, typing, filing, and collating functions; Performs complex data entry for new, changed, and canceled voter registrations; Performs verification and tracking of data entry; Assists with election judge coordination; Assists with processing incoming and outgoing mail; Administers state election laws and rules, and federal election laws to provide successful voting experience to staff and public; Maintains confidentiality of information consistent with applicable federal, state and county rules, and regulations; Provides support to election coordination, including deployment of materials to coordinating entities and Voter Service and Polling Center. This task may require operation of a motor vehicle; Assists with various special projects; Lives out the Vision, Mission, and Core Values of the Clerk and Recorder’s Office, maintains a supportive environment conducive to teamwork. Salary: 13.50 – 16.90 per hour. 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 Administrator, Harris County, Texas– Harris County seeks an Elections Administrator to plan, coordinate, lead, and manage the newly established Office of the Elections Administrator under Chapter 31 of the Texas Election Code. The Elections Administrator will act as the county voter registrar, administer all local, state, and federal elections in Harris County, and oversee Harris County’s elections operations, including voter registration, public education and outreach, and recruitment and supervision of election judges and poll workers. The Elections Administrator will also work to modernize Harris County elections, expand access to registration and voting, and ensure voting is fair, easy, efficient, secure, and accessible for all eligible Harris County voters consistent with the Texas Election Code and Federal regulations. Deadline: Sept. 21. 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 email@example.com 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.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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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