In Focus This Week
Election Day 2020
Unprecedented year does not lead to unprecedented Election Day
By M. Mindy Moretti
By the time Election Day 2020 rolled around this week, more than 100 million people had already cast their ballot—by mail or in-person early voting—in the election.
Hundreds of lawsuits had been filed. Millions of dollars were spent to improve election security and voting safety in light of potential foreign interference and the coronavirus. Thousands of new poll workers were recruited. Police forces around the country were on high-alert for issues at the polls.
And by the times the last polls closed on Tuesday, more or less when they were scheduled with a few exceptions, the end result was a 100-year high turnout but an Election Day that was really rather boring and in the world of election administration, boring is good.
You can find all of our Election Day Dispatches here and we’ll be back next with a more in-depth, state-by-state look at how things went, but here are some of the highlights of Election Day 2020.
When all is said and done, the 2020 election will have the highest turnout in 120 years and while that high turnout lead to many lines during early voting, the lines on Election Day weren’t a major issue. Of course there were lines and some were far too long in some places like Alabama and Mississippi which have more limited opportunities to vote early, but we could not find any reports of voters standing in line after the polls closed, even in places were the polls were forced to stay open due to issues earlier in the day.
Two of the biggest impacts the pandemic had on Election Day—other than the monumental changes it forced leading up to Nov. 3—were issues with polling place precautions. For instance in Des Moines, Iowa, hand sanitizer made paper ballots wet and those wet ballots then temporarily jammed scanning machines. In many places, the lines that did form were the result of social distancing not a technology break down or other issue. The pandemic also changed some of the more quaint things about Election Day like some places didn’t hand out “I Voted” stickers, some poll workers didn’t participate in the usual potluck lunches that they had in the past.
Poll Workers/Polling Places
Thousands of first-time poll workers manned the front lines on Tuesday and it does not appear that there were any real issues with newly trained workers. Here’s hoping they step up again in the coming years. Also on Tuesday with many polling places relocated or consolidated there were some initial fears about voter confusion. But so far, and we’re still weeding through a lot of news, so far it doesn’t seem like that was too much of an issue for voters.
Concerns about an “army” of poll watchers never materialized. While there were certainly some isolated cases of people standing outside polling places — in some spots as many people watching the poll watchers as there were poll watchers — the pre-election fears were fortunately unfounded. “Fortunately this hasn’t been a systematic or widespread issue,” Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law told USA Today. “We certainly were prepared for this being a bigger problem than it proved to be today.”
It would not be an Election Day in America without equipment malfunctions. In Franklin County, Ohio, poll workers had to resort to using paper voter rolls after it was discovered late Monday night that the early voting files were essentially too large to load into the poll books. Several counties in Upstate New York saw problems with voting equipment including in one county were the wrong polling machines were delivered to sites. Georgia did not face many of the problems it did for the primary although Spalding County was forced to keep all its polling places open later after problems plagued the county’s voting system in the morning.
Secretary of State Races
All the incumbent secretaries of state appear on their way to re-election including Jay Ashcroft in Missouri, Jim Condos in Vermont, Kim Wyman in Washington and Mac Warner in West Virginia. New secretaries of state/chief state elections officials are Christi Jacobsen in Montana, Shemia Fagan in Oregon and Deirdre Henderson in Utah.
There were nine statewide election reform ballot measures this year as well as a handful of local elections-related measures as well. In Alabama, Amendment 1 to clarify that only U.S. citizens may vote in election was approved with 77% of the vote. In Alaska, while vote counting is still in the early stages, it appears that Ballot Measure 2 which would have reformed the state’s elections including adding ranked choice voting has failed with 57% voting no. In California, Proposition 17, which would allow people with felonies on parole to vote was approved with 59% of the vote whereas Proposition 18, which would have allowed 17-year-olds that turn 18 by the time of the general to vote in the primary failed by only getting 45% of the vote. Colorado Amendment 76 that clarifies that only a U.S. citizen may vote in election was approved with 68% of the vote. Additionally, voters approved Proposition 113 that would have Colorado enter the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact by 60%. In Florida, voters approved (79%) Amendment 1 which amends the state constitution to say only a citizen may vote and failed to approve Amendment 3 which would have moved the state to a top-two primary system. Massachusetts Question 2 that would have implemented ranked choice voting in the commonwealth appears on its way to defeat with only 45% support. In Mississippi, voters overwhelmingly (78%) approved Ballot Measure 2 that would remove the requirement that a candidate for governor or state office receive the highest number of votes in a majority of the state’s 122 House districts (the electoral vote requirement) and provides that if a candidate does not receive a majority vote of the people, they will proceed to a runoff election (instead of being chosen by a vote of the Mississippi House of Representatives). While they are still counting ballots in Nevada, it appears that Question 4 has been approved with 63% of the vote. Question 4 would take voter rights currently set in state statute and enshrine them in the state constitution, including the right to vote on Election Day or during early voting and guarantees to equal access to elections without discrimination, intimidation or coercion. It also guarantees voters can have their ballots recorded accurately based on a uniform, statewide standard, among other rights. And in New Mexico, Amendment 2 that would adjust some election dates and office terms has been approved with 64% of the vote.
The Unknown Unknowns
This year’s unkown, unknown was the devasting news that former Delaware Elections Commissioner Elaine Manlove and her husband of 51 years had been killed on November 2 in a car crash. As the news spread throughout the elections community on Nov. 3, it cast a pall over what was an otherwise decent day. Before Elaine retired in 2019, we had her do one of our Exit Interviews. We’ve republished that here.
“They lived and laughed and loved and left and life will never be the same.”
Former Delaware Elections Commissioner Elaine Manlove and her husband of 51 years were killed in a car crash on Nov. 2. Elaine retired in 2019 and while she may not have been one of the longest serving elections officials, her impact will be long lasting.
We published an Exit Interview with Elaine back in June of 2019 when she was looking forward to spending more time with her grandchildren and at the beach. We’re republishing that here and including some quotes from those who worked with Elaine and the impact she had on them and the elections world.
“Elaine was always generous with her time. She was always willing to share her experiences and help others learn from her experiences in Delaware, whether you were brand new or had been in the field for years. She loved talking about the work she did with her DMV and the partnership they forged during her time as Commissioner. If you ever listened to her talk about Delaware’s E-sig, it was impossible not to get excited about it just from how passionate she was. Outside of elections, she loved going on cruises, seeing Celine Dion in concert, the beach, and, above all, her family. When Elaine retired, she was so excited to spend more time with her grandchildren and at her beach house, which the election calendar meant she didn’t get to enjoy as much as she wanted. My heart is broken for Elaine’s family and especially for the Delaware elections team. She would be so proud of the work they did on Tuesday.”
Amy Cohen, executive director, National Association of State Election Directors
Exit Interview: Elaine Manlove
Life’s a beach for outgoing Delaware elections commissioner
First Published June 19, 2019
For two decades, Elaine Manlove has worked in elections in Delaware. She started out as director of the Department of Elections in New Castle County for eight years and for the past 12 years she’s been The First State’s Election Commissioner.
“On behalf of the EAC, I want to congratulate Elaine Manlove on her retirement and thank her for her leadership and dedication to running excellent elections in Delaware,” said U.S. Election Assistance Commission Chairwoman Christy McCormick. “I also want to extend special thanks and appreciation for her service to the EAC Standards Board over many years. She will be missed and we wish her all the best in her next adventure!”
It was while Manlove was in office that Delaware set the wheels in motion for what many now call automatic voter registration. The state created a system that allows voters to have registration information transmitted in real-time from the Division of Motor Vehicles to each county elections office.
“Elaine and I have spent many years together in the wonderful world of election administration,” said Maryland Election Administrator Linda Lamone. “Throughout that time she has been a valued ally and neighbor. Elaine graciously worked with the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration to help it move towards electronic transmission of voter registration data to the Maryland State Board of Elections.
During her tenure Delaware became second state to join ERIC and Manlove also served on the ERIC board.
In addition, Delaware recently implemented iVOTE.DE.GOV, a voter portal allowing citizens to complete voter registration applications online, update their voter registration information, request an absentee ballot, track that ballot once it has been returned and find who represents them as well as their polling place.
“We’ve all benefitted from the work Elaine did in Delaware and we’ve all enjoyed Elaine’s sharp sense of humor and joie de vivre,” said Keith Ingram, president of the National Association of State Election Directors and director of elections for the Texas secretary of state. “The voters of Delaware – and NASED – have been lucky to have her!”
Thanks for everything Elaine! We’ll miss you. Enjoy the beach!
Why have you decided to retire at this time?
First of all, I’m old and it’s time for someone else to take over. My term ends in 2020, but I don’t think it’s fair to the next person to be on the learning curve in a Presidential Election year. In addition, I have grandchildren and I would like to spend more time with them. Also, I live at the beach and never get to sit on the beach during the week!
What are you most proud of during your tenure as Delaware Election Commissioner?
I have a great IT team and because of them, we were able to solve a problem that I thought was unique to Delaware – not getting everything from DMV. We developed what we call e-signature so that all voter registrations and declinations would come electronically from DMV to the Elections office in real time. We saw it only as a solution to our problem and we never envisioned that it would morph into Automatic Voter Registration. I still think e-signature is better because voters have completed everything when they leave DMV. We don’t have to send out follow up information which is an added expense and not always effective. On the e-signature platform, we built online voter registration and also eliminated all paper applications that come to our offices by scanning in the signed application and electronically linking it to the application in the system. These changes dramatically improved the way we do business.
More recently, there was a huge task on my to-do list that had been on my radar for some time and was finally completed on my way out the door! We purchased a new voting system, electronic poll books, a new absentee system and are moving our voter registration system from the state’s aging mainframe. Delaware is no longer one of five states without a paper trail!!
“Elaine loved elections. It was her life’s passion. She could handle the juicy policy stuff and could get in to the weedy nuts and bolts of elections administration with the best of them. She was dedicated to her team. I always admired that she invested in her team members and they often accompanied her to events. She made sure they had opportunities for training and leadership within the elections community. That always impressed me about her. She was always working hard to make improvements to elections administration. When she made the tough decision to retire, she made sure she was leaving Delaware in the capable hands of Anthony Albence. I’m heartbroken for her family, her grandkids that she was so excited to spend time with, and her former elections team.”
Lori Aguino, Washington director of elections and president of the National Association of State Election Directors
With all due respect to Oregon, Delaware under your leadership really lead the way for automatic voter registration. What are your thoughts on how far we’ve come on AVR and how far we still have to go?
As I said, I believe Delaware was the frontrunner in AVR even if we don’t automatically register everyone. Motor voter is federal law but we need to make it easy for everyone and that starts with DMV. DMV is the touch point for most citizens and it often seems like they are the point of contact for anything and everything that government needs to get to citizens. I know e-signature makes it easier for the staff at DMV. It’s just a win-win: a cost saver, a time-saver, and a simple and efficient way to register citizens to vote. I would love to sit down with every DMV director in the country and explain that this makes it easier for their agencies. The amazing DMV Director that worked with us saw that right away!
“Elaine was an innovator who always put voters first. She was optimistic and approached every challenge with a can-do attitude. Elaine exemplified the very best in public service. Within ERIC, she’ll always be remembered for her leadership in ensuring Delaware was a founding member of our organization.”
Shane Hamlin, executive director, ERIC
How would you recommend getting elections officials in smaller or more remote jurisdictions to get involved in the conversation of where modernization is going nationally?
I believe organizations like The Election Center are critical to smaller jurisdictions. When I started in Elections 20 years ago, I knew absolutely nothing about how the election system worked. I had been a political volunteer and my only involvement was getting “my team” to the polling place. I never thought about who hired those poll workers or how those machines got to the polling place. I learned first from the team in my office, but then also from other election officials around the country. For instance, I copied Student Poll Workers from Connie Schmidt. I learned as much during lunchtime discussions at events as I did during the formal sessions. Election officials are happy to share what works for them and I was happy to take what would work in Delaware.
“Elaine Manlove epitomized the best of modern election officials—she cared about modernizing her system, cared about improving how government provided services, but most of all, tried to view elections from the perspective of “what makes it easier for a voter.” Her leadership on making voter registration simple and accessible was nothing short of transformative, and it crushes me that we have lost this public servant way too soon.”
Adam Ambrogi, program director, Elections at Democracy Fund
Is there anything that you weren’t able to accomplish during your years of service that you wish you had?
I wish I had been able to upgrade more of the staff members in our offices. Unfortunately, the world thinks we work only 2 days every other year. Our staffers no longer file papers – everything is electronic so a different skill-set is required. I have worked on many upgrades but there are many more that need to be done.
If you could design the perfect elections system, what would it look like?
I think it would look like what Delaware just purchased. We have always voted on a full-face ballot – first the old lever machines, then a full-faced DRE. Our new system has a full-faced ballot as well as a paper trail. It’s the best of both worlds – no culture shock of handing a Delaware voter a piece of paper and telling them to fill in the circle!! Also, electronic poll books have been on my wish list since the initial HAVA funding. We now have them!
Any words of advice for someone just getting started in the elections business?
Learn from those around you – first in your own office. I was fortunate to start with a great team in New Castle County who were already ahead of the curve. Also, interact with your peers. I learned so much from people who are doing my job in other states. It’s invaluable – no need to make mistakes that someone else already has! And be open and honest with the press.
“Elaine was a happy professional. By this I mean she was always optimistic and approached challenges with enthusiasm and a can do attitude. She told me that she wanted to retire so she could spend more time with her family. It is so sad that this has been cut short far too early.”
Linda Lamone, Maryland State Board of Elections Director
What’s next for you, other than sleep in in on Election Day?
It will be a little scary not to have firm deadlines! I plan to spend much more time with my family, do more traveling and be able to sit on the beach and read a book whenever I want! I do hope to keep in touch with my “Elections” friends. It’s been a way of life for me for 20 years and one I know I will miss!
Election News This Week
The Georgia State Elections Board on Friday approved a negotiated consent order with Fulton County, requiring the county to enact improvements in the way it runs elections or face a $50,000 fine. Many of the improvements outlined in the order were already instituted by county elections officials, after a disastrous June primary that saw voters waiting in line for hours. The order laid out several of the failures: 12 polling sites didn’t open on time; one precinct each in Hapeville and Fairburn didn’t have correct voting equipment, causing “substantial delay” on Election Day; two Fulton polling sites didn’t have proper equipment for voters with disabilities; and the county didn’t provide the required forms to ensure a proper count of the votes. To avoid the fine, Fulton must maintain verifiable levels of operational competence by properly processing absentee ballots; keeping a force of 2,200 properly trained poll workers; providing at least 24 early voting sites; striving to process 100 voters per hour at any site; having a technical support staff member at every site; and creating a post-election audit. According to The Atlanta Journal Constitution, issue in the consent order requiring the most negotiation was over an independent elections monitor. They agreed on Carter Jones, who spent time in Africa helping countries improve their elections. Carter will monitor Fulton elections and provide a weekly written report to the Board until any January runoff is certified.
Every Vote Matters: One of the great things about the 2020 election cycle has been all the historical voting news that publications have provided. This week, The Washington Post has a piece about how in 1864 375 ballots from Maryland soldiers made the difference in adopting a new state constitution that freed tens of thousands of slaves. Soldiers — the vast majority serving in Virginia — voted at the quarters of the commanding officer from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. for five days, according to historian Charles Wagandt. Commissioned officers acted as election judges. Many of the absentee ballots were slips of paper that said simply “For the Constitution“ or “Against the Constitution.” The final tally: 30,174 for, 29,799 against. “We believe we can assure our readers that the new Constitution is at last safe, beyond all danger of rejection,” said the Washington Evening Star, “and that they can rejoice over Maryland as Free State, finally and forever redeemed from the curse of slavery.”
Sticker News: It wouldn’t be an edition of electionline Weekly without some “I Voted” sticker news. While mail balloting and the coronavirus meant that some folks didn’t get “I Voted” stickers this year, CNN put together a nice piece showing voters from all 50 states and the District of Columbia showing off their “I Voted” stickers. Not all of them are custom stickers of course, but it’s a fun piece. The New York Times also ran a piece about the enduring popularity of “I Voted” stickers, even during a pandemic. “It’s a way for people to show off their civic pride, that communal feeling,” U.S. Election Assistance Chair Ben Hovland told the paper. “Surprisingly, people just like stickers.” And NPR’s Marketplace poses of the question if “I Voted” stickers are worth the cost. Or answer, um YES!
Personnel News: Isabel Longoria has been tapped to serve as the first election administrator for Harris County, Texas. Judge Brent Shore resigned as the chair of the Duval County, Florida Canvassing Board.
Litigation News: We’ve done our best here at electionline to keep up with all the lawsuits that have been filed this year, especially with regard to conducting the general election, but we’ve most likely missed some court proceedings. Thankfully, USA Today has a look at some of the lawsuits from this record-breaking year.
Illinois: Champaign County Judge John Kennedy has ordered Democratic county Clerk Aaron Ammons to make election information sought by local Republicans available and accessible to the public. Kennedy gave Ammons a 10 a.m. Nov. 2 deadline. The clerk’s office has been closed to walk-in traffic throughout the pandemic, and Judge John Kennedy said “a locked office does not meet this requirement.” Kennedy’s ruling applied to two items: The judge ruled that Ammons must make a list of addresses where vote-by-mail applications and ballots were sent available in an accessible place for the public to view; and He also ruled that Ammons must provide equal representation of Democrats and Republicans at the counting table on election night.
Iowa: Judge William Kelly has kept in place guidance from Iowa’s secretary of state that county elections commissioners can only set up absentee ballot drop boxes at or outside their offices. Kelly rejected a request from The League of United Latin American Citizens of Iowa and Majority Forward to block Secretary of State Paul Pate’s guidance and allow for drop boxes in locations such as grocery stores. Kelly said that requiring voters or their designees to return ballots to a location where the county auditor conducts business is “not a severe burden” on the right to vote. He noted that voters can also put them in the mail or vote in person, either early or on Election Day. Kelly said that it appears a change to state law would be required to allow drop boxes to be located off of county property. He said Linn County Auditor Joel Miller was correct to scrap his plan to have three drop boxes at grocery stores. While that option would have been more convenient for citizens who didn’t want to mail their ballots, it might not have been legal, Kelly said.
Maryland: Circuit Court Administrative Judge Angela M. Eaves dismissed a lawsuit filed by a Maryland voter who argued that his rights were violated when he was arrested after refusing to wear a face mask at the polls. Daniel Swain, 52, a retired correctional officer, sued the county board of elections and the local sheriff’s office after he and his son were barred from voting at a local volunteer fire station on the first day of early voting in Maryland. Swain accused local officials of “suppressing” his right to vote; he was charged with trespassing and failing to comply with a health emergency. Eaves also rejected Swain’s request for damages and to require the defendants — who included the acting head of the board of elections and the county sheriff — to pay for and receive “constitutional voting rights training.”
Michigan: Jacob Wohl, 22 and Jack Burkman, 54 both of Arlington Virginia were charged in Ohio and Michigan with election fraud for sending out tens of thousands of robocalls intended to deter people from voting. U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero, in the Southern District of New York has order Wohl and Burkman to call those voters back and inform them that the original call “contained false information.” According Marrero’s ruling, the pair must make calls to everyone who received the robocall and deliver this message: “At the direction of a United States district court, this call is intended to inform you that a federal court has found that the message you previously received regarding mail-in voting from Project 1599, a political organization founded by Jack Burkman and Jacob Wohl, contained false information that has had the effect of intimidating voters, and thus interfering with the upcoming presidential election, in violation of federal voting-rights laws.” The pair were charged in Michigan and indicted by a grand jury in Ohio. In addition to the mandated calls, the pair face up to seven years in prison for the Michigan charges, which include violations of election law and using a computer to commit voter intimidation.
Minnesota: A three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last week that Minnesota absentee ballots arriving after Election Day should be separated from other ballots in case they are later invalidated by a final court order. The ruling doesn’t block Minnesota’s seven-day extension for counting absentee ballots outright, but puts the grace period in danger. The ruling doesn’t impact ballots received by the time polls close on Election Day, but sets the stage for post-election litigation. The case was sent back to a lower court for more proceedings. “What the court left unsettled was the question of whether, once and for all and finally, ballots will or won’t be counted if received after Tuesday, Nov. 3,” Secretary of State Steve Simon said. “The decision, to be candid, is not a model of clarity and it leaves open a lot of unanswered questions.”
U.S. District Court Judge Nancy Brasel has barred Atlas Aegis from deploying armed agents at Minnesota polling locations. The court’s decision stems from a lawsuit filed by the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Minnesota and the League of Women Voters of Minnesota against Atlas Aegis, described as a private security company run by veterans and based in Tennessee. Brasel’s decision orders the company, it’s owner and other defendants not to deploy, or threaten to deploy, agents within 2,500 feet of Minnesota polling places during early in-person voting and on Election Day. The decision also orders the defendants from “intimidating, threatening, or coercing voters in connection with voting activities in Minnesota.” The order takes effect immediately.
Nevada: Carson City Judge James Wilson blocked a lawsuit brought by President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign that attempted to change how Clark County is processing mail-in ballots in the final days of the election. The Nevada Republican Party and Trump’s re-election campaign filed the lawsuit on Friday asking the the court to force Clark County to alter how it has been counting and verifying mail ballots, to allow “meaningful” observation of all stages of the process, including allowing a camera inside the room where ballots are stored at the county facility, and for a way to challenge mail ballots. They claimed that the county’s process was creating risk of voter fraud and was “diluting” the votes. Wilson disagreed. “There is no evidence of any debasement or dilution of any citizen’s vote,” wrote Wilson, who added that the Republicans’ attorneys failed to present evidence to back up any of their claims alleged in the lawsuit or in the hearing held last week.
New York: New York Civil Liberties Union sued the Rockland County to have early voting hours extended. Supreme Court Justice Rolph Thorsen extended early voting hours at all four Rockland County and that signage offering accommodations for voters who require them be added. Polls were open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. — an extra two and a half hours — both Saturday and Sunday.
North Carolina: Superior Court Judge Ed Wilson ordered Rockingham County to reopen a polling place it had closed due to COVID-19. The polling place, was after three poll workers tested positive for coronavirus. With other workers at the site ordered to remain quarantined, the county board of elections decided to keep it closed and direct voters to one of the county’s other three early voting sites But the N.C. Democratic Party filed suit seeking to have the Reidsville polling place reopened. Wilson agreed, telling the county that under state law if one early-voting site in the county is open, they all must remain open.
U.S. District Judge William Osteen, in a 19-page order, noted his “serious concerns” about the N.C. state elections board in an order issued Friday, Oct. 30. But the judge denied legislative leaders’ request to take action against the state board of election. The order addresses concerns about elections officials’ compliance with an earlier Osteen ruling. The judge had preserved state law’s witness requirement for mailed-in absentee ballots. He also set limits on the types of ballot mistakes that could be “cured” by elections officials. Osteen responded that his court could not address the issue. “Unfortunately, despite this court’s serious and substantial concerns that the cure procedure used by the SBE does not comply with the statutory requirements, Legislative Defendants’ motion for clarification is an inappropriate vehicle to address such concerns.” “Though it frustrates this court, … that the SBE seems to be permitting county boards to accept and process ballots for counting without ever obtaining the information required by statute, the basis of any injunction this court might issue here would not be grounded in a federal Due Process violation,” the judge wrote. Court precedent “appears to counsel that these issues are matters for the state and state courts to address,” Osteen concluded.
North Dakota: Anthony Raymond, 33 of Dickinson is accused of threating to blow up a voting location. According Valley News Live, Raymond send sent an anonymous e-mail to their local newspaper with a bomb threat targeting a voting location. The threat was received Wednesday afternoon, and police say detectives were able to identify Raymond as the alleged author. He was arrested Thursday night, and is the Dickinson jail on terrorizing charges.
Ohio: Jacob Wohl, 22 and Jack Burkman, 54 both of Arlington Virginia were charged in Ohio and Michigan with election fraud for sending out tens of thousands of robocalls intended to deter people from voting. U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero, in the Southern District of New York has order Wohl and Burkman to call those voters back and inform them that the original call “contained false information.” According Marrero’s ruling, the pair must make calls to everyone who received the robocall and deliver this message: “At the direction of a United States district court, this call is intended to inform you that a federal court has found that the message you previously received regarding mail-in voting from Project 1599, a political organization founded by Jack Burkman and Jacob Wohl, contained false information that has had the effect of intimidating voters, and thus interfering with the upcoming presidential election, in violation of federal voting-rights laws.” The pair were charged in Michigan and indicted by a grand jury in Ohio. In Ohio, Wohl and Burkman face charges of telecommunications fraud and bribery, which carry sentences of up to 18 years in prison.
South Dakota: Lawyers from both sides want a federal judge to give more time to State of South Dakota officials to respond in a voting-rights case. Attorneys for the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, the Oglala Sioux Tribe and Four Directions, a voting-rights organization, didn’t follow standard practice and failed to file their civil lawsuit against South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem and South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg. The case was filed September 16. It alleges South Dakota state government has violated several requirements of the 1993 National Voter Registration Act, specifically the “motor-voter” provision and agency-based voter registration requirements. The complaint and summons were served on South Dakota Secretary of State Steve Barnett, head of the state Board of Elections, and on several governor’s appointees: Social Services Secretary Laurie Gill, Labor and Regulation Secretary Marcia Hultman; and Public Safety Secretary Craig Price. The joint request for more time was filed last week by Terry Pechota, a Rapid City lawyer representing the tribal governments and Four Directions, and by Grant Flynn, a lawyer from the South Dakota Attorney General Office. Pechota and Flynn asked that U.S. District Judge Lawrence Piersol give state government three weeks, starting October 26, when the governor and the attorney general received the complaint and summons. As of Monday morning, there wasn’t a record of a decision by the judge in the file.
Tennessee: The Tennessee Democratic Party and the Marquita Bradshaw for U.S. Senate campaign filed a lawsuit against state election officials for refusing to release absentee ballot information, as required by state law, a press release says. Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett and Coordinator of Elections Mark Goings are named as defendants. Tennessee open records law requires the Secretary of State’s office to release, upon request, a list of voters who have not returned absentee ballots by the end of early voting.
Texas: The legal back-and-forth over drive-thru voting in Harris County continued right up until the bitter end. On Sunday, the Texas Supreme Court rejected a request by several conservative Republican activists and candidates to preemptively throw out early balloting from drive-thru polling sites in the state’s most populous, and largely Democratic, county. The all-Republican court denied the request without an order or opinion, as justices did last month in a similar lawsuit brought by some of the same plaintiffs. Litigants also filed a last-minute suit in federal court with Judge U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen hearing the case on Monday morning and In his ruling from the bench, Hanen said he rejected the case on narrow grounds because the plaintiffs did not show they would be harmed if the drive-thru ballots are counted. Within hours, a three-judge appellate panel denied the appeal, handing Harris County a victory.
Wisconsin: The Wisconsin Supreme Court refused to give clerks in Outagamie and Calumet counties guidance on fixing or counting ballots that have a printing error. The printing error left a blemish on a timing mark on at least 24,600 ballots. The blemish is about the size of a fingernail but can cause counting machines to reject the ballot. State law doesn’t let a municipality count some ballots by machine and others by hand — it must use one process or the other — so the counties wanted to fill in the timing mark with a pen. “They ask us to assume original jurisdiction and issue what amounts to an advisory opinion explaining what election laws they are free to disregard. We will not do that,” Chief Justice Patience Roggensack writes in a concurring opinion. Roggensack said they’re essentially asking for permission to “disregard” election laws and ignore deadlines. She emphasized that the people of Wisconsin have a fundamental right to have their vote counted if it’s received before polls close on election day. “Election officials may have to make difficult decisions regarding how to proceed as they comply with what the law requires. Obtaining more election workers appears to be a necessity,” the chief justice offered.
Opinions This Week
National Opinions: U.S. Supreme Court, II | Voter suppression | Foreign interference | Voting system, II | Voter fraud, II | Early voting | Election security | Election Day | Blind voters | U.S. Supreme Court | Vote by mail | Ballot counting, II| Election fraud | Election Day | Poll workers |
Alabama: Voter fraud
Arizona: Election security
California: Ballot measure
Colorado: Secretary of state
Iowa: Ex-felon voting rights
Maryland: Election reform
Michigan: How to run an election
Missouri: Election reform
Nevada: Voter intimidation
New Mexico: Smooth election
New York: Early voting
Oklahoma: Election Day
What the Voters Said: A postelection briefing: There is a lot at play in state elections this year. Voters will decide on nearly 6,000 state legislative elections and 11 governors’ races, as well as 100 questions on state ballots. What will they say? And how will election results affect America’s state legislatures and the issues they’ll consider in 2021 and beyond? What You’ll Learn: 2020 State Ballot Measures | Hear a comprehensive overview on how voters reacted to measures on health, taxes, guns, elections, gambling, marijuana and more. 2020 State Election Analysis | Is major political change coming to the states? How will voters’ decisions affect America’s state legislatures and the issues they’ll consider in 2021 and beyond? And how will they affect the redistricting process? How State Election Laws Fared | Amid concerns about the voting process, state election laws were put under the microscope. Some states made changes in registration, mail-in voting and other areas, but what was the impact? When: Nov. 12, 1pm Eastern. Where: Online
Elections GeoSummit: Each year, the Elections GeoSummit brings together the nation’s leaders in elections management and geographic information systems (GIS) to share leading-edge findings and craft best practices to enhance election systems. When: Dec. 10, 1pm-5pm. Where: Online.
The 2020 Voting Experience and Goals for Reform: Following an unprecedented year of uncertainty, adaptation, and innovation in voting 2020, the Bipartisan Policy Center will host its fourth post-presidential election cycle event bringing together election administrators, policymakers, academics, advocates, and campaigns to examine the voting experience. We will discuss the impact of election administration reforms on improving the voting experience over four years ago as well as securing the voting process. Topics to be covered include: the shifts needed for voting during a pandemic; the rise of voting by mail, the use of technology in the election ecosystem, and how it can be secured; the future of funding elections in America; how changes in election laws and litigation impacted the election; how improved data collection and analysis can further improve the administration of elections. This event is sponsored by Democracy Fund and Carnegie Corporation of New York. More information will be forthcoming. When: Dec. 15, 11am-5pm 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.
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.
Customer Success Manager, Dominion Voting Systems, Denver— The Customer Success Manager role started on a simple promise of transforming customer engagement from ‘reactive’ to ‘proactive’. Our CSM’s know that when our elections customers purchase Dominion Voting products that this is only the start of a meaningful exchange between Dominion Voting and our customers. Our CSM’s build value over time by balancing customer benefits and company profits. As the CSM, you will be the first voice of the customer and you will be responsible for the customer’s overall success, as defined by the customer. You will be successful in this role if you have superb people leadership skills, customer empathy, elections knowledge and experience, Dominion Voting product knowledge, and excellent project management skills. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Elections Administrator— 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. 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.
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