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May 20, 2021

May 20, 2021

In Focus This Week

Stewards of Democracy
Pursuing diversity and representation among LEOs

Paul Gronke, Paul Manson, Jay Lee, and Heather Creek

With growing recognition of the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion, organizations across many economic and government sectors have been re-examining the makeup of their teams. Diversity has known benefits to decision making and innovation, and in the administration of a representative government, it is arguably essential to carrying out the values of, as well as building trust and engagement in, a diverse constituency. The representative bureaucracy model, for example, argues that with diversity in the workplace, the public is better represented in administrative decisions. As the American population becomes increasingly multiracial and multiethnic, a governmental discipline whose workforce does not reflect the country’s diversity may indicate that it is constrained for some reason in its appeal or its recruitment pipeline. Related, a lack of diversity in an area of public service raises ethical concerns about whether all Americans have genuine access to that office.

In this post, we present information on diversity in the local election community, focusing primarily on the demographic categories of gender and race/ethnicity. It will surprise few familiar with this community to learn that the average local election official is white and female and that this description has not changed in some time. We suggest some possible explanations for this enduring demographic profile and also spotlight some of the nuances of a complex election system that could challenge efforts to increase its diversity. To take just one example, over half of local election officials are elected to their positions, as are other local officials, so candidate recruitment and voter choice also shape these demographics. Some jurisdictions require that candidates for this role reside in the local area, further limiting the pool of potential candidates.

Finally, there is an important caveat to our findings. Our survey focuses on the single official in charge of election administration within each jurisdiction. We know nothing about the composition of their staffs, which may be more diverse and may, in medium and larger offices, be the public’s main point of contact. From other research, we know a bit more about the racial makeup of poll workers, and that having more poll workers of the same races as voters can improve voter confidence. Interactions with staff and volunteers in the election process who better reflect local diversity may reduce some concerns about representation and enhance legitimacy and confidence.

There is much more to learn. In the final section of this post, we identify some outstanding questions about staff, mobility, and recruitment as important research areas for the future.

A Little-Changing Demographic Makeup
Who are the professionals doing the day-to-day work of running American elections? As we touched on in a preceding post, local election officials are not a population that mirrors the American public. The average local election official is far more likely to be white, a woman, and over age 50 than the general public, or even the voting-eligible public, which skews whiter and older.

The 2020 Democracy Fund/Reed College Survey of Local Election Officials found that almost 75 percent of these officials are over age 50, 80 percent are women, and over 90 percent are white (and non-Hispanic). Almost half had a college degree or even further education, and 44 percent identified as Republican — compared to 33 percent who identified as Democrat and 22 percent who described themselves as Independent (among the 72 percent of respondents who shared any party identification). Only 45 percent make more than $50,000 a year, and 60 percent are elected to their positions.

Before diving into this post’s exploration of gender and race/ethnicity diversity in particular, it’s helpful to understand the demographic stability among local election officials over the past 15 years, as well as a few areas where we see changes.

To do this, we look to three years of our own survey data and that of three surveys from the mid-2000s conducted by the Congressional Research Service (CRS). While changes observed over time can provide important information about developments in the community of local election officials, we warn against overinterpreting small changes in consecutive surveys, which may be due to sampling variability rather than to actual demographic shifts.

With this in mind, we see notable patterns since 2004. First, there is almost no movement in the racial diversity of chief local election officials. With the exception of our survey in 2020, all other mentioned surveys found that about 95 percent of officials were white. There is also minimal change in the proportion who are elected to their position, female, and Republican (or conservative, in the CRS surveys).

The patterns of race and partisanship are in part explained by the decentralized and federalized nature of election administration and the jurisdictions where local election officials come from. While local election officials as a collective do not reflect the diversity of our nation as a whole, they do tend to be more representative of their jurisdictions.

Where we do see notable changes are in age, education levels, and pay rates. In 2020, 74 percent of local election officials are over age 50, compared to 62 percent in 2008. In 2020 dollars, over 60 percent of local election officials were earning more than $50,000 in 2008 compared to just 45 percent now; apparently their salaries have not kept pace with inflation. Finally, formal education is on the rise. Half of local election officials in our most recent survey reported having a college degree, compared to only 40 percent in 2004.


Women and Local Election Administration 
When we look across the entire U.S. political landscape, we find durable patterns of under-representation of women in public roles. Recent research shows that women currently hold 27 percent of U.S. Congressional seats, 31 percent of state legislature seats, and 30 percent of statewide elected offices, and only 32 of the 100 largest U.S. cities have women serving as mayor. According to 2019 Equal Employment Opportunity Commission data, only 42 percent of county or local officials and administrators are women.

Yet, among local election officials, over 80 percent are women. Why do we see such a different gender composition of local election officials, more than half of whom are elected to their posts, compared to other elected and appointed office holders? There are at least three possible explanations.

First, election work may be filtered by gender in ways similar to other offices in government. For example, a national survey of municipal clerks found an even higher proportion of female clerks (90 percent) than we found in our survey of local election officials. Meanwhile, women make up only 1 percent of sheriffs in the U.S. Even district school boards, which are often perceived as more aligned with women’s interests, have just 44 percent of their seats held by women. Election administration has increasingly become a complex administrative occupation with a diverse skill set. But elections work may have been traditionally viewed as a more clerical role, particularly the registration component. Women may have been directed toward or been more willing to accept positions in election administration. We also note that, historically, some of the more important roles in the conduct and adjudication of elections has been assigned to roles dominated by men, such as sheriff or judge. These patterns may account for the historical and current gender balance of the profession.

A second possibility is a gatekeeping effect among local party leaders combined with the structures that help candidates win elections. In this scenario, women would be differentially allowed “through the gate” to run as local election officials, possibly because elections work is unlikely to translate into higher office. As a potentially related point of reference, our survey asked local election officials if they have an interest in running for elected office (different from their current role, if elected). Overall, only 11 percent indicated they were interested, a number that drops to 9 percent among only female respondents. We lack good comparative data on other local elected offices to conclude that these totals are high or low and whether gatekeeping is going on.

Third, elections work may be sought out by women and less so by men for some reason. It could be that elections administration, especially in smaller offices, offers flexibility that supports a better balance between work and responsibilities at home, which other studies report still fall disproportionally to women in American society. While this may seem to be a surprising notion to local election officials who have just completed an incredibly time-consuming election year, women who responded to our survey were somewhat more likely than men to say that they can balance work and home priorities. Of note, women in larger offices were more likely to tell us that work-life balance was a problem than were women in smaller offices. What we are seeing in these findings may not be a preference among women, but rather a signal that they are more often forced to balance priorities because of fewer career options or cultural norms and expectations.


Gender Differences By Jurisdiction Size
The responsibilities of a local election official vary greatly by the size of the jurisdiction, and not surprisingly, so does the “average” local election official. Those in larger jurisdictions are significantly more likely to be men, non-white, college educated, paid more than $50,000 a year, Democrats or Independents, and appointed to their positions than those in smaller jurisdictions.

Being the chief elections officer in a larger jurisdiction often has more prestige. It often requires more steps up the ladder or winning what is likely a more competitive and expensive election — all of which may influence the gender of those chosen or self-selecting for such a position. Large-jurisdiction positions are also more likely to involve stresses that challenge work-life balance. Indeed, local officials serving in larger jurisdictions were less positive on the question of balancing work and home priorities.

We see that female local election officials also, on average, earn less than their male counterparts, but these averages may be driven at least in part by jurisdiction characteristics. That is to say, the observed pay differences between men and women may be a function of differential pay by jurisdiction size combined with men’s greater likelihood to serve in larger, better-paying jurisdictions.

Despite this disparity, a majority of local election officials, male and female, told us that they were satisfied with their pay. Women were slightly more likely to raise concerns about pay, but not markedly so.

Women are over-represented overall in our data — and in any survey of local election officials — primarily because of the number of small jurisdictions. It may be that women find the role attractive in these smaller jurisdictions because it is more likely to be part time, supporting work-life balance. It may also be that the nature of the work in a small jurisdiction is perceived to be more appropriate for women through the lens of traditional gender roles, as misguided and outdated as these perceptions may be. Perceptions that operate within thousands of counties and municipalities nationwide would have a powerful effect.

This brings us to a concern: If work-life balance is a key factor in women’s participation as local election officials, threats to that balance could cause a shift in gender composition. The 2020 election created some cracks in the veneer of job satisfaction. If this continues, the cost/benefit calculation could shift, and so could the demographics of the local election community.

“I would recommend [becoming a local election official to others] … I think as long as you have a good understanding of what you’re heading, and what you’re in for, and you have a plan for that, you can have a life balance with family and friends and work. You need to have a plan for that. Then yeah, I would still recommend it.”–LOCAL ELECTION OFFICIAL, OCTOBER 2020

Race, Ethnicity, and Representative Bureaucracy
Next we explore racial and ethnic under-representation. Approximately 90 percent of local election officials are white and non-Hispanic. That is substantially more than the proportion of white, non-Hispanic people within the U.S. citizen voting age population, according to data from the 2020 Congressional Election Survey (CES). This difference persists even when we compare local election officials to other state and local officials and administrators. Just under 78 percent of state and local officials and administrators across the country are white according to 2019 U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission data.

Drawing any conclusions about the reasons for these patterns is a challenge for our study because there are so few non-white respondents in our survey. In the subsequent figures, we have pooled the three years of the Democracy Fund/Reed College Survey of Local Election Officials so as to make some comparisons. We also use “white” to refer to the white and non-Hispanic population.

As a first cut, it’s important to recognize that a vast majority (70 percent) of local election jurisdictions have a citizen voting-age population that is over 90 percent white, according to the most recent American Community Survey. Three-quarters of the smallest jurisdictions have voting age populations that are 93 percent or more white, while 50 percent of the largest jurisdiction have populations that are 65 percent or less white. As a point of comparison, the citizen voting age population in the United States overall is 68 percent white.

The reason these numbers come out the way they do is that non-white voters in the United States are relatively concentrated in metropolitan areas and certain states and regions. To illustrate how this works, we randomly selected one voter from each jurisdiction to be a local election official. The result was that our hypothetical workforce of local election officials was still 88 percent white — nearly the same as the 90 percent that we observed in our survey.

The federalized and decentralized nature of election administration (and many other governmental functions) combined with some jurisdictions’ requirements that election official candidates be local residents creates a structural barrier to a more diverse and nationally representative population of local election officials. Efforts to diversify this field may require extra emphasis on recruiting job applicants for staff positions, leadership positions, and candidates from outside the jurisdiction. What we don’t know — and where we think more research is necessary — is how these structural barriers impact local government more generally, and whether and how some local governmental agencies have overcome these barriers.

 If we flip our lens and look from the perspective of voters, the situation appears a bit different. Our survey, combined with Census data, shows that non-white voters are somewhat more likely to be served by non-white local election officials.

The majority of white local election officials serve predominantly white jurisdictions. Black local election officials serve a much more racially and ethnically diverse population. Because of small numbers, we combined local election officials in other racial categories (including Native American, Asian American, and Hawaiian or Pacific Islander) and find they too serve a more diverse population. The starkest under-representation in our data is among Hispanic local election officials: We find so few that we are unable to compare these officials with jurisdiction populations.

The size of the jurisdiction once again appears to drive much of these dynamics. Smaller jurisdictions are less likely to have significant populations of non-white voters — and are also more likely to be served by white local election officials.

The overall population of local election officials is significantly more racially homogenous than the voting age population, but local election officials who are not white do serve more diverse populations. Here our survey sheds further light: When we asked if election officials “should work to reduce demographic disparities in voter turnout,” 80 percent to 90 percent of non-white local election officials responded in the affirmative — almost twice as high as white local election officials asked the same question.

For Further Research
As we have described, understanding diversity and enhancing representation among local election officials and their staffs is a complex undertaking. There are many potential reasons for the findings we report here, and further research is needed to reveal complexities and patterns more completely, to understand the reasons behind them, and identify productive steps. We look forward to engaging the practitioner and research community on these questions in the months and years ahead.

We are limited in our ability to investigate some of the potential reasons for the gender and racial disparities we found due to the limited number of officials who are non-white overall and across jurisdiction size categories, but more broadly, due to the inherent limits of survey sampling for a population of 8,000 officials spread across states, counties, and townships and municipalities. Qualitative research involving focus groups and in-depth interviews may be necessary to probe how current officials, those who appoint them, and even those who vote for them, think about the role of a local election official as compared to other local offices. 

One complexity we confront in this post is whether or not the overrepresentation of women in local election administration is a good thing, given the traditional underrepresentation of women in positions of power, especially in elective offices, or whether it indicates that women are being channeled to an area of local governmental work that has been historically undervalued and underfunded. Our suspicions, based on our data and other patterns of gender representation in local government more broadly, is that both are somewhat true. There is some evidence that job mobility is lower for women than for men in the election community. Among the local election officials we surveyed who serve in jurisdictions with greater than 100,000 registered voters, 45 percent of men said they have worked in another election jurisdiction, while only 20 percent of women answer similarly. Overall, 18 percent of men say they have worked in more than one jurisdiction versus 13 percent of women. It remains important for further research to explore if these differences result from barriers to upward mobility, filtering by gender, or other factors.

Also with respect to gender, we believe future research should focus on understanding the personal experiences and pathways for local election officials across their careers. While our study is informed by various theories on why women are over-represented in this field, interviews and discussions with local election officials could better explore the dynamics that result in a role overwhelmingly served by women. Turning to race and ethnicity, as noted, our research is focused on the person holding the chief local election official position. While the individual in this role can be influential, we also know that the race and ethnicity of the rest of a local government office staff matter. Further research on the composition of local election office staff and volunteers could better detail the diversity and inclusion of these offices, as well as voter experience.

We were able to show that non-white officials are more likely to be serving in communities with higher percentages of non-white voters, but the still-high level of homogeneity indicates that the elections community, especially in smaller jurisdictions, has too narrow of a recruitment pipeline. Describing the career pipeline, highlighting successful efforts that have been made in expanding recruitment pools, and understanding who constitutes the pool of staff and elections officials of the future are all fertile areas for research.

If the elections community seeks strategies for encouraging diversity in its ranks, it will need to wrestle with the multiple paths that people take to assuming this role. A heavy reliance on elections as a selection method in the smallest jurisdictions puts a damper on hiring-based methods for promoting diversity in a profession, and efforts to bolster diversity may require coordination with former elected positions and political parties (if the races are partisan).

Efforts to expand and diversify the pipeline for service in local election administration will need to take into account substantial structural barriers due to the federalized and decentralized nature of American election administration and the significant gaps in pay, prestige, budgets, and administrative powers between small and large jurisdictions. We know from conversations with officials that state recruitment rules or residency requirements may be one barrier. But we do not know the steps local election offices take to broaden their recruitment for all positions, and if diversity and inclusion is something they focus on in these hiring practices. Related, larger jurisdictions are well positioned to hire an internal candidate like a deputy director who has been “training up” through the department for several years, or to run nationwide recruitment searches for new officials. Still, the vast majority of jurisdictions are not running national-scale job searches for an open position.

In a previous post we more deeply discussed the age of local election officials, which is another important aspect of their demographic makeup. These professionals are older as a group than they were even 15 years ago, while at the same time being better educated yet earning comparatively less. Age and pay satisfaction are two things that can cause local election officials to leave the profession. How do decreases in compensation, especially in combination with the increase in qualifications that we also see, affect who sticks with the job or moves on? What is, in fact, the “normal” rate of retirement of officials after a presidential election, and how does the rate of retirement in 2020 compare? Further research pursuing these questions will fuel a robust dialogue about what the future of local election administration should look like in the United States.

There is much yet to learn about how recruitment and advancement in election administration helps or hinders diversity. Our 2020 survey findings point to challenges here, as well as potential opportunities. This is just the beginning of the data-driven story, and we hope to see future research engage these questions.


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In Their Own Words

Real Audits Build Trust

By David Levine and Steve Daitch

Due to the ongoing faux audit of some ballots in Arizona’s 2020 presidential election, much of the public’s attention on ensuring trust in elections has understandably centered around audits. Many voters say that they trust a hand count audit. Hand counting paper ballots and comparing them to the results provided by an electronic voting machine can reinforce the accuracy and security of voting systems used during an election. And one new type of post-election audit – risk-limiting audits – can even provide strong statistical assurance that the winner is the winner (and the loser is the loser) of a given race. Such audits help secure elections from interference by malign actors and could have a critical role in helping restore public confidence in elections.

David Levine

However, the events in Arizona should serve as a strong reminder that confirming a well-run election also requires following correct processes and procedures. There, auditors likely failed to ensure the physical security of ballots by keeping doors unlocked and allowing unauthorized persons to access the ballot storage facility. The auditors are also using materials and technologies that can cause the ballot papers and marks to deteriorate, and are restricting access to nonpartisan observers, election administrators and voting machine experts, which precludes the audit from being fully transparent. It shouldn’t be that way and it doesn’t need to be.

Take the state of Michigan. In response to legislation passed in 2012, the Michigan Bureau of Elections published, and now updates as needed, a comprehensive procedural audit manual that assesses the pre-election, Election Day and post-Election Day tasks that state and local election officials must complete. In addition to verifying the accuracy of the voting equipment used, it includes many checks to ensure, for example, that city and township clerks followed the law when they were administering the election. The audit is, in essence, a check on the human processes involved in carrying out the election.

Currently, Michigan law does not require that these procedural audits be open to the public. But as Ottawa County began its audit of the November 2020 election, it realized that affording the public an opportunity to view its processes could educate more voters and increase trust in the results.

Steve Daitch

It invited its community to safely observe the process in a large room to account for social distancing and broadcast the audit live on YouTube as well. It highlighted and explained aspects of the process on Facebook Live, answering questions in real-time and afterwards on social media.

The end result was a clear, transparent, honest assessment of Ottawa County’s performance administering the November 2020 election.

In some respects, the County performed flawlessly. For example, in the 19 precincts where county clerk staff performed a hand count of voted ballots for the offices of President and U.S. Senate, the hand count matched the ballot tabulator totals that were certified in the post-election canvass.

And in other respects, Ottawa County showed it has room for improvement. For example, among the 19 precincts it reviewed, the County noted that 16 precincts properly stored their ballot applications.  For the other three precincts that did not follow proper procedures, the County outlined the impact noncompliance could have (including why these mistakes didn’t affect the outcome of the election) and stated what would be done going forward to reduce the likelihood of these mistakes occurring again.

As Ottawa County Clerk Justin Roebuck noted in a recent op-ed, “As election officials work to build trust in our communities, we must recognize that it begins with an honest assessment, an acknowledgment of mistakes, and then a record of improvement in those areas so that our citizens can see the progress over time.”

As opposed to the farce being carried out in Arizona, it would be wise to heed both Ottawa County’s words and deeds.  The public deserves election audits that are consistent, professional, and transparent, with results that are clear and easily understood. They should have confidence in the state of their electoral system, and audits should help to build trust in that system, not legitimize baseless conspiracies.

David Levine is the Elections Integrity Fellow at the Alliance for Securing Democracy, a nonpartisan initiative housed at the German Marshall Fund of the United States. He previously served in a range of positions administering elections. Follow him on Twitter @davidalanlevine.

Steve Daitch is the former Elections Coordinator for Ottawa County, Michigan, and he holds a Master of Public Administration degree in Election Administration from Auburn University. Follow him on Twitter @sdaitch.


Election News This Week

New Hampshire Audit: According to the Concord Monitor, initial results from a Forensic Election Audit investigating discrepancies in Windham voting showed that four Republican candidates for the Statehouse were, indeed, shortchanged by more than 200 votes each last November. While a discrepancy in vote totals was found, the overall results remained the same. The team of three overseers and volunteers continued their second week of work at the Edward Cross Training Center in Pembroke, a New Hampshire National Guard facility chosen for its secure environment. Their job is to find an explanation why Democrats were credited with more votes in an early machine-tallied vote than they received in a hand recount, while Republicans were shortchanged. The audit, set in motion by a new state law, included a thorough examination of the four AccuVote Machines, the automated vote counters that have been simultaneously praised for their ability to neutralize hackers, and criticized for being outdated. Volunteers doing the hand-counted audit are focusing on folds in the ballots that may have caused scanning machines to mis-read ballots. Deputy Secretary of State David Scanlan said his office is taking a wait-and-see approach to the possibility that fold lines in absentee ballots may have caused scanning machines to misread the vote totals. Scanlan told WMUR that about 200 polling places in the state – approximately two-thirds of the total number of polling places — use AccuVote scanners to count ballots, while about 100 polling places use paper ballots. “At this point, we’re just reserved in what we have to say until they get further into this and make some concrete findings,” Scanlan said.

Arizona Audit: While the actual recount/audit of the 2020 presidential race is on hold this week to accommodate high school graduations [Editor’s Note: Full disclosure on what a small world it is, one of our oldest friend’s daughter graduated this week at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum.] the war of words raged on. After Senate Republicans and the former president made false claims that a database had been deleted, newly elected Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer, a Republican, tweeted that claims made by the former president were “unhinged”. The Maricopa County board of supervisors— mostly all Republican— sent a letter to the Senate president calling on her to end the audit. “You, Senate President Fann, are the only one with the power to immediately end it,” they wrote in the letter. “We implore you to recognize the obvious truth: Your auditors are in way over their heads … It is time to end this. For the good of the Senate, for the good of the Country, and for the good for the Democratic institutions that define us as Americans.”  Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D) has called the audit unprecedented. Senate President Karen Fann said lawmakers may have to take new steps — including new subpoenas and possibly going back to court — to get information Maricopa County election officials are refusing to provide about their ballots and equipment. According to KJZZ, the audit could last at least another month. And when it’s over, the county may be forced to replace it’s $6 million voting system because the Senate gave contractors unfettered and unmonitored access to the vote-counting machines raising the question of whether the equipment is safe to use for future elections. It could take a lot of time and money to determine that, due to strict federal and state laws along with local rules for certifying and protecting election equipment. For now, county officials are promising voters they will use only certified equipment for elections and not equipment “that could pose a risk to free and fair elections,” said Megan Gilbertson, spokesperson for the county’s Elections Department.

Vote Local: Voters went to the polls in Pennsylvania this week and while there were some issues, as there almost always are in an election, by and large things went smoothly this week. A coding error caused issues with voting machines in Luzerne County. In Fayette County some scanners weren’t accepting ballots. A small group of voters in Snyder County got the wrong ballots. Officials reported minor errors at two polling places in Erie County. In Schuylkill County, vote counting hit a snag. In Lancaster County a printing error on mail-in ballots caused an issue with scanning. About 20 precincts in Northumberland County had issues with closing out at the end of the night, thus delaying countywide results. Voters in York County and Lebanon County faced ballot shortage. Technical issues, ballot reviews caused reporting delays in Westmoreland County. And the police had to be called to a polling place in Lawrence County after an argument broke out between campaigners and voters.


Personnel News: Amber McReynolds appointment to the U.S. Postal Service board of governors has been confirmed by the U.S. Senate on a 59-38 vote. Additionally, former Deputy Postmaster General Ronald Stroman was also confirmed to serve on the USPS board of governors with bipartisan support. The North Carolina Board of Elections voted to rehire Karen Brinson Bell as executive director. Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose has announced that he will seek re-election. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has announced that he will seek re-election. Austin Hopkins has been hired to run IT for the Belmont County, Ohio board of elections. Jimmy Eldridge has been appointed to the Tennessee State Election. Commission. Tim Mitchell is no longer the executive director of the Bloomington, Illinois election commission. Kelly McCabe is retiring as the Belmont County, Ohio board of elections director effective July 30. Jeni Harris is resigning as the Lee County, North Carolina director of elections. Joshua Price is stepping down from the Pulaski County, Arkansas election commission. Eve Furse is the new Summit County, Utah clerk following the retirement of Kent Jones. Evan Raub is the new Williams County, Ohio board of elections director.


Legislative Updates

Federal Legislation: The House Oversight and Reform Committee unanimously approved the 2021 Postal Reform Act after Republicans offered their support. Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., co-authored the bill and emphasized at the markup it represented a compromise. Virtually all Republicans who spoke on the measure said they were supporting it despite their significant reservations. The core of the bill will shift more postal retirees to Medicare for their health care and require most postal workers to select postal-specific health care plans. It would take onerous payments toward health care benefits for future retirees off the agency’s balance sheets.

The committee passed another bill to boost tracking ballots sent through USPS and to provide all postal employees with paid parental leave, but did so without Republican support. Congress passed legislation last year to provide such leave to all civil servants, but it excluded postal workers. Republicans said the provision would add too heavy a financial burden to the mailing agency. Democrats also led the approval of amendments to block service standard changes and to provide $8 billion to USPS to electrify its fleet.

Sens. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) are urging congressional leaders to advance a reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act that could garner bipartisan support. Manchin and Murkowski, sent a letter on Monday to Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California.), House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) saying that they “must not allow” voting to become a partisan issue. “Inaction is not an option. Congress must come together – just as we have done time and again – to reaffirm our longstanding bipartisan commitment to free, accessible, and secure elections for all. We urge you to join us in calling for the bipartisan reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act through regular order. We can do this. We must do this,” they wrote in the letter. Congress last reauthorized the 1965 Voting Rights Act in 2006. But the Supreme Court, in 2013, gutted the law when it struck down the formula for determining if state and local governments were required to get Justice Department preclearance for voting and election changes, arguing that it was outdated. According to The Hill, while previous reauthorizations of the Voting Rights Act have gotten bipartisan support, the bill would likely face challenges getting the votes needed to defeat a filibuster in the Senate. Murkowski was the only GOP co-sponsor for the bill during the previous Congress. Manchin and Murkowski, in their letter, don’t specifically throw their support behind one bill in particular. “We reflect not just on the positive impact this legislation has had on individual Americans’ ability to exercise their most fundamental right – the right to vote – and the strength of our democracy writ large, but on the important work we still have to do to realize that promise of ensuring the right of all to vote,” they wrote.

Rep Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12) introduced the Filer Voter Act to make it easier to register to vote. The bill would allow voters to register to vote when they file their taxes. Much like the “Motor Voter Law” of the 1990s that allowed voters to register to vote with their local motor vehicle department the “Filer Voter Act” will require tax preparers to provide individuals the option to receive voter registration materials. Whether you do your taxes in person, online, or through a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program, the tax preparers will make sure you have the option of receiving a voter registration application form.

Alabama: Alabama lawmakers approved a ban on curbside voting, a balloting method Republicans portrayed as fundamentally unsecure, but Democrats argued would make voting easier for the elderly and others.  The Alabama Senate voted 25-6 for the bill by Republican Rep. Wes Allen of Troy that would forbid election workers from setting up curbside areas for people to vote as well as forbid the setting up of voting machines outside a polling place. The bill now goes to Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey.  The debate in the closing hours of the legislative session mirrored partisan debate across the country as Democrats urged expanded voting access and Republicans sought restrictions in the name of ballot security. The GOP-dominated Legislature approved the bill while a Democratic-sponsored bill that would expand absentee voting did not get out of committee.

The end of the legislative session meant the end to a number of bill including one that would have restored voting rights for some formerly incarcerated resident. Faith in Action Alabama supported the bill from its origin, and group leaders report they will continue the fight to restore voting rights. “People who leave prison are expected to leave, get a job in the community, pay taxes, and not vote,” Community Organizer JaiGregory Clarke said. “We feel there is something fundamentally wrong with that. If they are contributing to that community then they should have a voice.”

Alaska: The Palmer City Council approved a feasibility study for $3,000 in CARES act funds to hire Resource Data Inc., to conduct a feasibility study on voting by mail. Using $3,000 in appropriated CARES act funding, Action Memorandum 21-034 passed the council 4-3 to pay Resource Data Inc., to conduct a feasibility study for voting by mail. The council held committee on the whole discussions twice last year and again in March of 2021 concerning election processes and Councilwomen Julie Berberich and Dr. Jill Valerius sponsored the measure to conduct the study. Resource Data Inc., assisted Juneau and Anchorage with vote-by-mail studies and implementation and assisted the Kenai Peninsula Borough in a feasibility study. The letter written to the council by RDI Anchorage Branch Manager Diane Thompson said the study would include examining needs such as physical space, site and cyber security, pricing of equipment, staffing costs and supply needs.

Arizona: Candidate filing and voter registration deadlines could not be moved by state or local officials under a bill passed by the Arizona Senate on Monday. House Bill 2794 allows deadlines to be moved only by a judge. Opponents said they do not see a need for the proposal. In October, a judge extended the voter registration deadline after groups said the COVID-19 pandemic prevented them from registering people to vote. That deadline extension was quickly ended with the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals struck the change down.  Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, D, and Attorney General Mark Brnovich, R, both argued against the extension.


Delaware: The Delaware House passed “motor voter” registration and a measure that moves primary elections from September to April. House Bill 30 would move Delaware’s state primary elections to coincide with its presidential primary elections in April. Currently, Delaware holds its presidential primaries for both major parties on the fourth Tuesday in April. The primaries for statewide and local political offices are held on the second Tuesday after the first Monday in September. The House also passed Senate Bill 5, which would create an automatic “motor voter” registration system at the Delaware Division of Motor Vehicles. Interestingly enough, the motor voter bill passed with only one no vote in the House but was approved on a party-line vote in the Senate. Republicans typically are not in favor of bills that make voting easier, usually citing election security concerns. Currently, Delawareans are asked if they would like to register or re-register as voters whenever they engage in a transaction at their local DMV. They then must provide detailed information to complete the voter registration process. SB 5 would permit all driver’s license applications to also serve as voter registration applications and allow Delaware DMV to share the information collected on those forms with the Delaware Department of Elections for that purpose whenever an applicant shows proof of U.S. citizenship. Anyone who does not provide proof of U.S. citizenship will not be registered to vote and will not have their information forwarded to the Department of Elections.

Louisiana: Three bills related to voting and elections passed through the House and Senate Governmental Affairs Committees on Wednesday. Two of the bills – one by Rep. Frederick Jones, D-Bastrop, and the other by Sen. Louie Bernard, R-Natchitoches – would extend the early voting period and create additional provisions for a noncampaigning zone during the early voting periods. The third, by Sen. Sharon Hewitt, R-Slidell, would mandate the secretary of state to examine voting machines if requested as well as creating certification standards for new voting systems. Kyle Ardoin, the Louisiana secretary of state, testified on behalf of all three bills. Hewitt’s bill, Senate Bill 221, also would create the Voting System Commission – a group of 13 members that would research possible voting systems and give a report to Ardoin to guide him on which type of voting system to seek. Members of the commission would include members appointed by the secretary of state and the governor as well as hired election experts. SB221 also would create the Voting System Proposal Evaluation Committee that would test the recommended voting systems. Rep. Jones’ bill, House Bill 286, would increase the early voting period in presidential elections by four days, making the total early voting period 11 days. Sen. Bernard’s bill, Senate Bill 64, would emphasize the state’s interest in protecting the right for citizens to vote freely. A campaign-free zone is already established in present law, but the bill would prohibit actions including voter intimidation, election, fraud, confusion and general disorder. All three bills were reported favorably. Senate Bill 221 and Senate Bill 64 will now move to the House floor for debate. House Bill 286 will move to the Senate floor for debate.

Maine: Bills to make Election Day an official state holiday and to allow for early voting were rejected by the Senate and House, respectively, meaning they have little chance of moving forward in 2021. While Maine has early absentee voting, those ballots are not counted by voting machines until Election Day. The proposed change, which required a two-thirds vote from the Legislature to put the question to voters, would have allowed ballots to be cast in voting machines or ballot boxes before Election Day. It gained only 83 votes in the 151-seat House. Those opposed to creating a state holiday for Election Day included town and city clerks from across the state who argued Maine voters already have unprecedented access with Maine’s expansive absentee voting laws. “I would contend that polling places are already accessible to voters,” Lewiston City Clerk Kathy Montejo wrote to the Legislature’s State and Local Government Committee in opposition to the bill. “In Lewiston, polls are open for 13 hours on election day and the average time a voter is in the building is less than 30 minutes, (many times far less than 30 minutes). This is not uncommon for other communities around the state.” Montejo said making Election Day a holiday would require municipalities to provide holiday pay to workers who set up, man and dismantle the polling stations, adding to the expense of elections.

Massachusetts: A major hearing took place in the legislature, causing a little bit of tension on Beacon Hill. Lawmakers took testimony on a package of bills that would give residents more options when it comes to casting their vote, but several organizations in Massachusetts think this debate is a complete waste of time. Members of the election laws committee took testimony on the VOTES Act for over four hours. Supporters of the plan want to see mail-in voting offered in all elections moving forward because they say it worked so well during the pandemic. On top of that, advocates also want to see same-day voter registration put in place and they want to extend the early voting period. Opponents of the Votes act say there is no need for these permanent changes because the Commonwealth is on its way to fully re-opening.

Michigan: Rep. Phil Green (R-Millington  introduced a bill that would prohibit election officials from connecting ballot counting machines to the internet on Election Day. They would have to remain offline from 7 a.m., when the polls open, until results are tabulated after the polls close at 8 p.m. Green believes the bill is a logical step to maintain public confidence in Michigan’s elections. “There’s nothing more important to our democracy than the security and integrity of our elections process,” he said. “Ensuring that voting machines are not connected to the internet until all votes have been counted reduces the possibility of hacking and altering vote counts.” House Bill 4838 was referred to the House Elections and Ethics Committee.

A pair of bills in a Republican package to reform Michigan elections would allow observers to record and broadcast vote counting, drawing concerns about privacy and intimidation from municipal clerks. One bill, SB276 would allow election inspectors, challengers and poll watchers to record and photograph the counting of the votes. Another, SB275, would allow video recording and live broadcasting of elections audits.

New Hampshire: According to WMUR, House Republicans are readying an attempt to counter what they view as a federal takeover of the state’s elections if the For the People Act passes the U.S. Senate and is signed into law. The chair of the state House Election Law Committee – state Rep. Barbara Griffin, R-Goffstown — is sponsoring an amendment asserting that if the federal bill becomes law, the state will maintain the “full force and effect” of its authority over elections for state offices, such as governor, the Legislature and the Executive Council. If both measures become law, a situation could arise in which New Hampshire would have one set of federal rules for elections for the U.S. Senate and U.S. House seats and another for state and county offices. Presidential elections are also conducted on a state-by-state basis. Under the amendment, the state would keep its authority over “procedures and requirements relating to voter eligibility, voter registration, absentee voting, conducting the vote and counting of votes” in state elections.

The state Senate earlier this year passed a provision to make pre-processing absentee ballots permanent as part of an omnibus bill on election procedures.  But the House Election Law Committee reversed the Senate.  On an 11-8 party line vote, with Republicans in the majority, the committee voted to recommend that the full House remove the pro-processing provision from the Senate-passed bill. The bill will now move to the full House for a vote on June 3 or 4.

North Carolina: New legislation would give cities and towns across the state the option of delaying this year’s council elections if they need to draw new districts and can’t get the job done in time because of census delays. Senate Bill 722 rolled out Wednesday. It acknowledges the delay in once-a-decade census data that cities and others need to draw new election districts based on the latest population counts. Since that data isn’t expected in full until September, and municipal elections are currently scheduled for September, October and November, depending on whether a city holds partisan primary elections, many localities won’t be able to get their new districts done in time. The bill lets them put elections off until spring 2022. Current elected officials would have their terms extended.

Pennsylvania: Sen. Dan Laughlin (R-Erie County) has introduced a bill that would create an open primary system of sorts in the commonwealth. Laughlin’s bill would allow independent voters to choose a political party when they go to the polling place on a primary election, and cast a ballot for the candidates of their choosing running for that party’s nomination. Currently more than 1.3 million independent voters in Pennsylvania cannot take part in the primary, though all registered voters may vote on ballot questions.


Texas: The Texas House gave initial approval to a bill that would send the names of noncitizens who opted out of jury service to the attorney general for potential investigation of voter fraud. Senate Bill 155 would require the secretary of state to compare voter rolls with the list of individuals who opted out of jury service for reasons of being a noncitizen or non-resident of a county and provide that list to the attorney general. The legislation passed on second reading in the Texas House after already clearing the upper chamber. Another vote is needed in the House before the bill heads back to the Senate or a conference committee to work out differences made by House members to the initial proposal.

An East Texas state representative’s legislation to expedite the process by which dead Texans are purged from voter registration rolls has been approved in the Texas Senate. HB 1264, authored by Rep. Keith Bell (R-Forney) was considered by the Senate on Wednesday. They passed the bill on a 30-1 vote. Sen. Nathan Johnson (D-Dallas) cast the lone nay vote. Under current law, there is no specified amount of time between a person’s death and when a registrar is required to remove their name from voter rolls.

Vermont: The Senate passed a bill that would make universal mail-in voting a permanent fixture in November elections.  The bill would also allow voters to fix or ‘cure’ a ballot if it has been deemed defective.  “When we make voting more accessible, more people vote. When we make voting more accessible, democracy better reflects the will of the people. Voting is one of the most sacred rights and responsibilities that we have,” said Senate President Pro Tem Becca Balint.  “The passage of our bill sends a clear signal that we believe our democracy is stronger when we make it more accessible and open to all Vermonters,” said House Speaker Jill Krowinski. “S.15 counters the prevailing trend across the U.S. where state legislatures are curtailing voter access with more restrictive election laws.” Governor Phil Scott said he will likely sign the bill into law after reading the latest version passed by the Senate. He had previously shown support for the move, even suggesting the Legislature should consider mail-in voting for other local elections like Town Meeting Day.

Legal Updates

Federal Courts: Fox News has asked a Delaware court to dismiss a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit brought against it by Dominion Voting Systems over the network’s coverage of the 2020 vote count, arguing it “threatens to stifle the media’s free-speech right to inform the public about newsworthy allegations of paramount public concern.” Dominion filed its suit in March saying that Fox News personalities spread lies on air about its voting machines and software that “recklessly disregarded the truth” and resulted in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. In its filing to dismiss the suit on Tuesday, Fox News said it was within the bounds of the First Amendment to air the claims about Dominion and that the company has failed to back up its allegations of “actual malice.” “The news media has the right in a democracy to inform citizens by reporting and commenting on a President’s allegations challenging the security of our elections,” court documents state.  The conservative cable news outlet also alleges it “truthfully” sought to present the public with both sides of the legal dispute led by former President Donald Trump and his legal team, as it contested the outcome of the election. “Fox hosts responsibly covered the controversy, repeatedly pressing the President’s attorneys, Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, for evidence substantiating their allegations,” the network stated, noting that Dominion agreed to appear on air to dispute the claims.

Florida: Alleging discrimination against Black and Latino voters, a coalition of groups has filed yet another federal lawsuit challenging a new Florida elections law that includes additional restrictions on voting by mail. The lawsuit filed in U.S. district court in Tallahassee is at least the third challenge to the law, passed last month by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis during an appearance on Fox News. But the lawsuit filed Monday on behalf of the groups Florida Rising Together, Faith in Florida, UnidosUS, the Equal Ground Education Fund, the Hispanic Federation and Poder Latinx, contends that the changes dealing with issues such as voting by mail could curtail voting by Black and Latino residents. “While SB 90 imposes unjustified burdens on all voters, it places disproportionate burdens on Black voters, Latino voters, disabled voters, and voters who face greater challenges in exercising the right to vote, even in the best of circumstances,” the 91-page lawsuit said. “SB 90 imposes specific obstacles on voters’ ability to cast ballots through in-person voting, mail voting, and the use of secure drop-boxes for early voting.” The lawsuit alleges violations of the federal Voting Rights Act and the U.S. Constitution.

Georgia: The Coalition for Good Governance, five county election board members and several voters have filed suit over Georgia’s new voting law, challenging provisions that allow state takeovers of local elections, shorten absentee ballot deadlines and change absentee ID requirements. The lawsuit opposes allowing the State Election Board to replace county election boards after performance reviews. A temporary county election superintendent appointed by the majority-Republican board would have broad authority to certify elections, fire staff, decide on voting locations, spend tax money and set policy. “The takeover provisions are so egregious and dangerous to every concept of free and fair elections that they must be stricken from the law before they undermine Georgia’s elections,” said Marilyn Marks, executive director for the Coalition for Good Governance. The litigation also takes issue with “impractical” absentee ballot deadlines that require voters to request a ballot at least 11 days before an election, leaving little time to vote by mail in runoffs. The voting law shortened the period between general elections and runoffs from nine weeks to four weeks. Other parts of the 152-page complaint oppose making it a felony to intentionally observe votes on a large touchscreen, limiting photography within polling places and prohibiting election observers from reporting issues to anyone besides election officials. The suit alleges Georgia’s law violates protections for freedom of speech, the right to vote and separation of powers.

Illinois: Judge Craig R. Belford has ordered a full recount of the November race for DuPage County auditor, ruling there are enough ballots in question to potentially overturn the results. “Any in-precinct ballot that is not initialed shall be deemed defective and not counted,” Belford wrote in his ruling. According to the initial count, incumbent Republican Bob Grogan lost to Democratic challenger William “Bill” White by 75 votes, 233,121 to 233.046. Grogan sought a recount, claiming in court filings that an election judge at a Downers Grove Township polling place failed to initial all ballots as required by Illinois law. In Downers Grove Township precincts 76, 118, and 130, a total of 436 uninitialed ballots were cast, 259 for White and 177 for Grogan, documents state Grogan contends that if the uninitialed ballots are declared invalid and not counted, he would beat White by seven votes. In his ruling, Belford wrote that the Illinois Supreme Court is clear that “statutes requiring election judges to initial ballots are mandatory” and “uninitialed ballots may not be counted.” This is true, he wrote, “even where the parties agree that there is no knowledge of fraud or corruption” and “even where election judges fail by mistake to initial any of the ballots cast in their polling place.”

Louisiana: A lawsuit that resulted in a federal judge expanding early voting and mail balloting during last year’s presidential election in Louisiana was formally dismissed Thursday by a federal judge in Baton Rouge. But it remained alive in a federal appeals court, where Republican state officials want to keep the battle alive. Voting rights advocates got what they wanted last fall when U.S. District Judge Shelly Dick ordered the expanded voting opportunities during the coronavirus pandemic. Republican Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin, the state’s top election official, did not try to block the Sept. 16 order as the November election neared. But, he and Republican state Attorney General Jeff Landry are appealing, hoping the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will rule that Dick’s order was wrong. The plaintiffs, including the Louisiana State Conference of the NAACP and the Power Coalition for Equity and Justice, say the issue is moot. They argue that their lawsuit dealt only with the November and December Louisiana elections, and they have a right to have it dismissed. They filed a letter with the 5th Circuit Thursday noting Dick’s dismissal of the lawsuit. Appellate arguments were still set for the afternoon of June 7 at the appeals court.

Michigan: Judge Kevin A. Elsenheimer of the 13th Circuit Court dismissed one of the last, high-profile court cases questioning the results of the 2020 presidential election, a case former President Donald J. Trump cited to claim fraud after unofficial results in one county initially assigned some votes for him to President Biden. The plaintiff, William Bailey, a local resident, and his lawyer, Matthew S. DePerno, had sought to use the case to cast doubt on the vote nationwide, suggesting that a flawed count by Dominion Voting System machines in Antrim County, Mich., meant that all such machines were open to manipulation and deliberate fraud. The suit was also an attempt to force another statewide audit. Although DePerno and the various experts he tapped to analyze the vote repeatedly said that various flaws with the voting machines left them open to hacking, they did not cite any specific evidence that it had occurred. A computer expert hired by the state also noted some security weaknesses, but said there was no indication that they had been exploited. In a statement, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said that the dismissal of the “last of the lawsuits” seeking to further the “big lie” confirmed that the election was fair and secure. Dana Nessel, the Michigan attorney general, said in a statement that she hoped the ruling would be a “nail in the coffin” for any remaining conspiracy theories surrounding the outcome of the presidential election.

Montana: The American Civil Liberties Union and the Native American Rights Fund filed a lawsuit challenging two new election laws in Montana as unconstitutional infringements on Native Americans’ right to vote. Montana legislators enacted the laws — H.B. 176, which eliminated same-day voter registration, and H.B. 530, which restricted ballot collection — this spring, amid a national Republican push to tighten voting regulations in connection with President Donald J. Trump’s false claims of election fraud. The lawsuit argues that the measures in Montana, where an estimated 6.5 percent of the population is Native American and district courts struck down another ballot collection restriction last year, are “part of a broader scheme” to disenfranchise Native voters. It argues that the laws violate the right to vote, freedom of speech and equal protection under the Montana Constitution. “The legislature knows that Native Americans are very distant from registration opportunities,” said Jacqueline De León, a staff attorney at the Native American Rights Fund. “They know that they have a very limited window to register and vote on the reservation, and they know that so many homes don’t receive residential mail delivery, and so they are again, I think, taking advantage of those barriers and amplifying them.”

Ohio: Look Ahead America, founded by former Trump campaign staffers, has filed a lawsuit against Stark County Board of Elections, alleging the board held an illegal private discussion before voting to buy Dominion voting machines. The groups is asking a Stark County Common Pleas court judge to invalidate the board’s Dec. 9 vote to approve the purchase of 1,450 Dominion ImageCast X voting machines and other voting equipment. The other plaintiff in the case is listed as Merry Lynne Rini of Jackson Township. Look Ahead America is based in Washington, D.C. Look Ahead America’s 19-page complaint filed Tuesday alleges the Board of Elections’ minutes show the four-member body met in closed-door executive sessions to discuss the purchase of public property four times. The complaint lists the board meetings for Dec. 9, Jan. 6, Feb. 9 and March 15. State law allows public bodies to privately discuss in executive session the purchase of public property. But only “if premature disclosure of information would give an unfair competitive or bargaining advantage to a person whose personal, private interest is adverse to the general public interest,” the complaint said. The Board of Elections gave no indication that it was meeting in executive session to avoid revealing information to give someone an unfair competitive or bargaining advantage, Look Ahead America argues. Therefore, it says the executive sessions are illegal and by law any actions based on discussions in illegal executive sessions are invalid.

Opinions This Week

National Opinions: Democracy | Election legislation | Voting rights, II; | Voter suppression, II | 26th Amendment | 2024, II | HR1, II, III | Poll workers, II | The Big Lie, II | Courts

Alabama: Voting rights;

Arizona: Audit, II, III, IV | The Big Lie | Voter suppression | Election reform | War on voting

California: Election security | San Luis Obispo County

Delaware: Absentee voting

Florida: Voting laws, II

Kentucky: The Big Lie

Minnesota: Voter ID

Mississippi: HR1

New York: Election legislation

North Carolina: State Board of Elections

Ohio: Election legislation, II, III, IV, V

Pennsylvania: Election reform | Election fraud

Texas: College voters | Dallas County | Election legislation | Voting laws

Vermont: Election security

Virginia: Ranked choice voting, II

Wisconsin: Poll workers; Election legislation

Wyoming: HR1


Upcoming Events

Communication Strategies & Promoting Trusted Election Information: The National Association of Secretaries of State, with support from The Democracy Fund is presenting a three part webinar series on cybersecurity, media literacy and strategies for communicating #TrustedInfo—all topics we’ve heard that you’d like to hear more on! Webinar 3’s goal is how election officials can effectively communicate to the media and the public about trusted election information. By using specific communications tools, leveraging media and having a robust communications strategy built on #TrustedInfo’s foundation, election officials can promote credible, accurate election information as well as build confidence in the process. 2pm to 4pm Eastern. When: June 9. Where: Online.

State Certification Testing of Voting Systems National Conference:  Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and after extensive discussion among members of the Conference Steering Committee, a decision was made to offer this year’s conference virtually. We are pleased to announce that VSTOP, with the assistance of at the Center for Internet Security (CIS), will be hosting the virtual conference sessions. The purpose of the conference is to share ideas and solutions for ensuring voting and election system reliability, transparency and integrity through better testing of systems. The primary goal of the conference is to provide a forum for practitioners and academics to share best practices for voting system testing and management, to explore more efficient and effective methods for testing and implementing voting and election systems, and to identify common challenges and potential mitigations to those challenges. Additionally, the conference is meant to be a vehicle to improve the flow of information between the federal, state, county, and municipality testing entities. When: June 16-18. Where: Online.

NCSL Redistricting Seminar: Salt Lake City will host the last installment of NCSL’s Get Ready to Redistrict: Seminars for Practitioners and Others. If you are a legislator, legislative staffer, commissioner, commission staffer, an outside advocate or just an interested member of the public, these seminars are for you. In two days, NCSL will deliver knowledge and practical instruction that you can customize for your state and your role in the process. If you’ve come to an earlier serminar, expect to: Focus on practicalities—anything you need to know to get the job done; A chance to visit with your vendors to ensure that you know what your state’s capabilities are; We’ll review what going to court entails (because almost all states will be in court!); and The census is the hottest question in town, and we’ll have answers. You can meet the experts who you might want to bring to your state (I was going to say consult, but some are free and some are not—but all faculty will make themselves available). Where: Salt Lake City. When: July 14-16.

IGO 4th Annual Conference: The IGO 4th Annual Conference is scheduled for July 15-21 at the Sheraton New York Times Square in New York City. Check please visit the IGO website for more information about agendas and registration. When: July 15-21. Where: New York City.

NCSL Base Camp: In a dynamic online setting, NCSL Base Camp brings together policy experts on a wide range of topic areas to educate policymakers and legislative staff. When: Aug. 3-5. Where: Online

NASED Summer Conference: Twice a year, NASED members gather to discuss the latest developments in election administration. Members of the public are welcome to attend at the non-member registration rate. The Summer 2021 conference is scheduled for August 9-10 and will once again be held virtually. Check please visit the NASED website for more information about agendas and registration. When: Aug. 9-12. Where: Online.

NASS Summer Conference: The National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) will con­vene in person for the 2021 Summer Conference. It will be held August 13-16 in in Des Moines, Iowa. The conference will feature committee meetings, discussions and various workshop ses­sions on election administration, cybersecurity, business services, state heritage and more. A preliminary conference agenda is available online here. In addition, an expo area will have a limited number of NASS Corporate Affiliates on-site showcasing their products and services. Please note, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention health recommendations will be observed throughout the conference. Learn more about the venue’s COVID-19 safety requirements here.  There will also be a limited virtual component for those unable to attend in person. Registration for the conference will open in late-May. When: Aug. 13-16. Where: Des Moines, Iowa.

National Conference of State Legislators Legislative Summit: The Legislative Summit is NCSL’s premier annual event and provides a platform for legislators, staff and other public policy professionals to learn from the nation’s foremost experts, as well as each other, about solutions to the country’s most pressing issues. Watch for registration and hotel details in early June 2021. When: November 3-5. Where: Tampa, Florida

Job Postings This Week

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

Administrative Specialist II (Language Services), King County, Washington— This is an amazing opportunity to be engaged in the election process! The Department of Elections is searching for Language translation professionals to support the following languages: Spanish, Korean, Chinese and Vietnamese. This job posting will be used to fill multiple short term temporary positions to support the Language Services Program. These individuals must be able to read, write and understand at the language proficiency testing level used by the Department. These positions will translate and proof documents and web materials in Spanish, Korean, Chinese and Vietnamese; conduct research, and provide administrative support to other election work groups as needed during elections. These positions are expected to begin on June 1, 2021 and last approximately one month. In this role you will have the opportunity to: Translate or proof election-related documents and web materials to Spanish, Korean, Chinese or Vietnamese including but not limited to: voter registration information, letters and other correspondence to Limited English Proficiency (LEP) voters including, notice of elections, ballot titles and voters’ pamphlet information, candidate statements, ballot measures, resolutions and related materials; and Review, edit and proofread all translated documents produced by translation service providers and others for accuracy, clarity and consistency. Salary: $22.57 – $28.75 Hourly. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Administrative Specialist III (Ballot Collection Lead), King County, Washington— This is an amazing opportunity to be engaged in the election process! The Department of Elections is recruiting a Ballot Collection Lead for the Elections Services Division. Under the direction of the Ballot Collection & Logistics Supervisor, this position will provide logistical support for ballot collection, fleet, and warehouse tasks and lead processes, projects and temporary staff. With over 70 ballot drop box locations throughout King County, this is a work group that continues to grow and evolve. This is a great opportunity for a detail oriented person with warehouse/receiving, data entry and strong interpersonal skills. King County Elections (KCE) manages voter registrations and elections for more than 1.4 million voters in King County, the largest vote-by-mail county in the United States. KCE’s mission is to conduct fair, open and accurate elections. As a leader in providing inclusive elections, KCE is focused on three key priorities – (1) actively identifying and working to remove barriers to voting at both the individual and community level, (2) strengthening relationships with community and governmental partners, and (3) creating a culture of professional growth and development, openness and inclusion. The Department of Elections is searching for an energetic and resourceful professional who likes to “get stuff done”. The Ballot Collection Lead position in the Elections Department combines an exciting, fast-paced environment with the opportunity to cultivate talents and apply a variety of skills. The ideal candidate will thrive in an innovative, fast-paced environment and will not hesitate to roll up both sleeves, work hard, have fun, and get the job done. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Assistant IT Chief, Dallas County, Texas— Manages, oversees and performs technical and administrative work of information technology for the Elections Office. Provides technology vision and leadership in the development and implementation of the elections technology program while assisting the Elections Administrator in strategic, tactical and elections related compliance. Oversees the design, implementation and evaluation of systems to support end users in productive use of computer hardware and software; collaborates with the County’s Information Security Officer, IT operations, IT applications to ensure best-in-class recording and elections security, infrastructure and client services. Directs and oversees IT projects and systems to ensure security, quality control and efficiency; facilitates the development of each project to meet customer needs. Plans and implements enterprise information systems to support elections operations. Manages and directs IT personnel to establish workload priorities; coordinates projects and reporting of activities while maintaining workflow estimates. Facilitates communication between staff, management, vendors, and other technology resources within the organization and with outside stakeholders. Provides project management oversight for key initiatives and division-level responsibilities. Manages the division budget expenditures and related administrative tasks. Plans, directs, and monitors the development, installation and maintenance of computer programs and associated computer operations necessary to achieve functional departmental systems. Develops the design specifications of computer systems, programs and operating systems, with the following core competencies: Security Analysis, Design, Business Process Improvement, Data, Modeling, Development, Planning, Implementation, Test Script Development, Monitoring/Controls, Troubleshooting/Problem Solving, Documentation and Service Motivation. Collaborates with the Information Security Officer, IT Operations, IT Applications and PMO to ensure best-in-class procedures and security standards for the security of all elections information and established IT programs. Directs and/or assists in the resolution of highly complex or unusual business problems that cross various IT disciplines and agency boundaries. Develops and establishes department standards and procedures, including application development, quality assurance, incident management, documentation and project management. Evaluates, plans, reviews, and recommends long-range enhancements for computer hardware, software and data communications equipment. Performs other duties as assigned. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Bilingual Coordinator/Clerk, York County, Pennsylvania— Assist in the voter registration and election process. Coordinates all bilingual activities of the Election/Voter Registration Office. Assemble and pack supplies for local election boards. Answer telephone. Assist in the voter registration and election process including scanning signatures. Assist at the front counter. File as required. Assist Spanish-speaking voters, candidates and other members of the public through interpretation and service. Coordinate all bilingual activities of the Election/Voter Registration Office. Speak before various community groups concerning the election/voter registration process. Other reasonable duties as assigned by Supervisor. Salary: $11.50/hr. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Campaign Finance Director, North Carolina State Board of Elections— The primary purpose of this position is to oversee the agency’s administration of campaign finance disclosure, auditing, and the non-compliance process, supervise the program analysts and disclosure specialists, and develop processes, procedures, policies, and training for the laws and regulations for state and county campaign finance administration and for committee treasurers, candidates, and other regulated entities. This position works collaboratively with other agency divisions including Election Administration, Training & Outreach, Business Operations, Legal, and Investigations. The position works closely with the Associate General Counsel focused on campaign finance to ensure policies and procedures are legally compliant. This position works with legal and investigations to provide input on campaign finance investigations. It also provides recommendations on policies, advisory opinions, and investigations to the agency’s executive director and board members as needed. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

CEO, Verified Voting — Verified Voting is seeking its next CEO for its 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) entities. In the course of completing its strategic plan, Validating 2020, Verified Voting has significantly expanded its team and programmatic capacity to address the urgent need for greater accuracy, security, and verifiability in elections. The organization is now looking for a dynamic and experienced executive to lead the Board and staff through its next strategic planning, implementation and evaluation process as it continues to fulfill its mission. Reporting to the Board of Directors, the CEO will manage a team of seventeen. Key responsibilities include, but are not limited to: Organizational Strategy and Vision; Fundraising and Resource Development; Financial Management and Operations; Outreach and Communication; Human Resources / Staff Management; and Board Relations. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Certification Program Manager, Hart InterCivic— The Certification Program Manager performs high level management of multiple state and federal certification activities. The Certification Program Manager assists with developing the state certification roadmap in conjunction with internal stakeholders, communicates the roadmap to other departments, and provides direction for Certification Project Managers for individual certification campaigns. Additionally, the Certification Program Manager is responsible for ensuring that equipment inventory is appropriately utilized and tracked. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Customer Support Consultant, Hart InterCivic— The Customer Support Consultant is responsible for providing application and hardware support to Hart InterCivic customers via telephone and email for all Hart InterCivic products. The Customer Support Consultant is also responsible for monitoring all requests to ensure efficient, effective resolution. The successful Customer Support Consultant will work directly with customers and other staff members. The position is responsible for responding to customer contacts, dealing with issues in a professional manner, providing technical direction to customers in a manner they can understand and being a customer advocate. The Customer Support Consultant must have outstanding written and verbal communication skills. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Deputy Elections Administrator, Dallas County, Texas— Assists with the direction and oversight of absentee mail voting, early voting, and election day voting for 1.1 million registered voters; ensures the voter registration rolls are accurate and complete; and assists in the oversight of the campaign finance files for candidates and office holders. Coordinates with the County IT Department in managing the department’s purchased software solutions and developing internal software solutions; coordinates employee usage of software. Negotiates, drafts, finalizes and manages comprehensive election contracts with the Elections Administrator; ensures compliance of contracts for thirty (30) contracted elections per year; and presents briefings and orders for Commissioners Court, the Election Board and the Citizen Election Advisory Committee. Assists the Elections Administrator in managing the budget, monitoring purchases and developing strategic, operational, and budgetary plans. Manages daily activities of staff; reviews and approves delegated personnel functions with the Elections Administrator regarding hiring, evaluating, disciplining, training and terminating of early voting election judges and staff, the utilization of equipment, and the reporting of counted ballots and election results; provides direction and guidance to supervisory staff on personnel issues. Monitors, reviews and analyzes statutes, regulations, and election legislation to determine impact on election operations and to ensure compliance. Performs all functions of the Elections Administrator in his or her absence. Interacts with judiciary, department heads, elected officials, other County staff and the general public to resolve problems, provide information and communicate ideas. Performs other duties as assigned. Salary Range: $8,077-$10,081/month. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Director of Elections, Denver, Colorado — Do you have a passion for democracy and working in elections administration? If so, we want to hear from you! The City and County of Denver has an exciting opportunity for an appointed Director of Elections to serve in the Office of the Clerk & Recorder Paul D. López. Join our team of dedicated public servants in supporting residents while upholding public trust and integrity in our elections process. The Denver Office of the Clerk and Recorder serves Denver residents through two primary divisions: Elections and Recording/Public Trustee. By making more than 11 million records available online and providing electronic recording, the Office of the Clerk and Recorder allows people to do business more efficiently 24 hours a day. It is responsible for managing technology to collect, preserve and disseminate records that reflect and verify ownership, transfer, encumbrance, and foreclosure rights of all real property in the City and County of Denver. It issues and records marriage and domestic partnership licenses; administers records for elections and lobbyist information, has executive authorization to formally execute all contractual agreements with the City, and has executive and legislative authorization to formally implement and publish all policies, ordinances and appointments in the City and County of Denver. The Elections Division within the Office of the Clerk and Recorder provides comprehensive elections services for the City and County of Denver, including voter records, voter services, ballot operations, technical and logistical support, and election administration. The Denver Elections Division is a national leader and vanguard of elections administration, with a reputation for innovative and voter-centric service. Salary Range: $99,649 – $159,438. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Election Processing Supervisor, San Diego County, California— Election Processing Supervisors organize, direct, and supervise the activities of sections within the Registrar of Voters’ – Voters Services Divisions. Position responsibilities include but are not limited to: planning, scheduling and coordinating activities related to vote-by-mail ballots, sample ballots, election mail pick-up, voter records and registration, training, election equipment and warehouse; providing lead work in special projects and assignments; providing interpretations and ensuring proper implementation of Federal, State and local laws regulating elections. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Election Superintendent, Mason County, Washington— The Election Superintendent is responsible for the overall management, supervision and implementation of all facets of voter registration and of all federal, state and local elections. This includes the preparation, distribution, process and tabulation of ballots, ballot and election security and secrecy of each voter’s ballot. All of these tasks must be performed while maintaining accuracy, efficiency and transparency. This position must utilize county and grant funds in the most effective way to implement short and long-term goals, organize personnel, facilities, and time to assure optimum services to Mason county. This position requires a high level of complex computer skills and the ability to be the public face of the department. Salary: $5,175-$6140/month. Application: Mason County Human Resource 411 North 5th Street, Shelton, WA 98584.

General Registrar, Prince William County, Virginia— The General Registrar is an appointed state employee and sworn official with overall responsibility for administering the provisions of Virginia election laws under guidelines established by the State Board of Elections and the Prince William County Electoral Board, including the duties and powers of the General Registrar as stated in Title 24.2 of the Code of Virginia and in compliance with other federal, state and local laws and policies. With yearly and frequent elections, the General Registrar is responsible for the oversight of a large and complex voter registration and election administration agency with approximately 20 full-time employees and more than 1,000 election officers. The General Registrar consults with, advises and reports to the Prince William County Electoral Board on all issues relative to election administration and voter registration. The General Registrar, working with the Electoral Board identifies suitable polling places, acquires and test voting and other equipment, recruits and trains Officers of Election, and obtains technical support and financial resources. Learn more about us on a virtual tour by clicking here. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Policy Associate, National Conference of State Legislatures— The policy associate will work in NCSL’s Elections and Redistricting Program in NCSL’s Denver office. Broadly, this position includes research, analysis and program/meeting planning related to election administration. Primary duties will include collecting and maintaining data related to election legislation; responding to research requests; maintaining webpages and other internal and external resources; coordinating speakers, agendas and logistics for meetings; and developing connections with state legislators, legislative staff and subject-area experts. Public speaking will be minimal at the beginning but will expand with experience. The policy associate will work under the direction of supervisors and in collaboration with other Elections and Redistricting team members. The policy associate may also have responsibility for independent research projects, databases or webpages. All major work products will be reviewed by senior professionals or project managers. Travel several times a year will be expected. Salary: $4,199 /month. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Regional Service Technician, Hart InterCivic— A Regional Service Technician responds to all customer requests ranging from training requests, to phone support requests, to onsite repair of voting equipment requests. This individual is one of the local customer’s support routes. The position requires residency in Harris County, Texas. The Regional Service Technician handles all Return Material Authorization (RMA) requests for external customers for all Hart InterCivic Verity products within his/her region and provides on-site customer support and troubleshooting on an as-needed basis. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Registrar of Voters, San Diego County, California— The Registrar of Voters is an executive management position that leads the Department and provides eligible citizens of San Diego County with widespread and ongoing opportunities to register and vote in fair and accurate elections for all federal, state and local offices and measures; and provides access to the information needed to utilize the initiative, referendum, and recall petition processes. Qualified candidates will possess a bachelor’s degree and five years of management level experience that demonstrates the ability to perform the essential functions of the classification. The ideal candidate for this position will have executive level decision-making skills in the area of election administration, as well as organizational and political acumen in order to advise and provide direction for ROV programs and services. Candidates familiar with election administration principles, campaign finance, election technologies, voting procedures, and federal and state election laws, are preferred. This recruitment will remain open until the position is filled. Interested applicants are encouraged to apply as soon as possible for consideration. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Research Director, Center for Election Innovation and Research— The Research Director will report to the Executive Director and lead CEIR’s research initiatives. These initiatives include, but are not limited to, matters pertaining to voter registration, voter access, election integrity and security, and election policy, generally. The Research Director will set goals aligned with CEIR’s mission and provide the research team with strategic direction on how to reach those goals, all while ensuring the rigor, integrity, and quality of all research activities. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Senior Information Security Specialist, Oregon Secretary of State’s Office — The primary purpose of this position is to administer the information security program and serve as the technical security advisor for the Elections Division of the Oregon Secretary of State’s Office. This accomplished in part by, but is not limited to: Ensure the confidentiality, integrity and availability of agency information assets by providing guidance on security incidents, security features and/or risks in a given information systems environment. Work with Federal, State and County Election offices on cybersecurity best practices on Elections and voting systems. Provide system administration for information security hardware and software. Monitor, track compliance and document incident handling responses on existing systems. Conduct Information System Security Engineering activities at the subsystem and system level of design and provides security consultation on proposed designs. Enforce compliance with Configuration Management (CM) and Information Security governance to ensure IT policy, directives and guidance are followed on agency systems and Election systems. Complete Vulnerability scans, Information System Security audits, analysis, risk assessments, vulnerability assessments, intrusion detection/prevention and log monitoring of computing resources. Provide support for system engineering life cycle from the specification through the design or hardware or software, procurement and development integration, test, operations, and maintenance. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Training Coordinator, Hillsborough County, Florida— The Supervisor of Elections administers all federal, state, county, municipal and special district elections in Hillsborough County. It’s our responsibility to process all voter registration applications received from qualified Florida residents, and also to educate Hillsborough County residents about registering to vote. We issue Voter Information Cards to all newly registered voters, and reissue those cards when there are changes to a voter’s registration information or polling place. Maintaining our voter database is a huge undertaking and one we take great care with. We hold countywide elections, as well as municipal elections for the City of Tampa, Plant City and Temple Terrace, and work with the county and municipalities periodically on reapportionment, redistricting and drawing precinct boundaries. Candidates for county, district and special district offices file and qualify for candidacy with our office. We also receive the forms and financial reports that candidates, committees and political parties are required to file. And our office verifies and certifies all petition signatures for candidates and ballot initiatives. The Training Coordinator is responsible for leading training programs and other special projects within the department of Poll Worker Services and Training. These may include but are not limited to developing processes and writing procedures, training and coaching temporary staff, implementation of services, polling place and poll worker record maintenance, and back-up to management on daily tasks. Salary: Starting salary $36,000-$46,000 annually. Deadline: June 11. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Virtual Event Planner, Early Voting Information Center— The Early Voting Information Center (EVIC) at Reed College seeks out a virtual event planner and project manager with a strong understanding of United States politics, particularly as it relates to election policy, to help lead, coordinate, plan, and execute an applied research project focused on understanding and strengthening the capacity of local election administrators in the United States. EVIC seeks out an individual who can help to coordinate and engage academic teams, local and state elections officials, and other stakeholders engaged in the research efforts.  The lead project team is located in Portland, Oregon, but remote work is possible. Time demands are expected to be ten hours/week with some variation, beginning on or around May 1stand ending October 31, with a possibility of extension. Application: Interested candidates should send a short letter of interest, qualifications, and description of applicable experience; and a resume or curriculum vita to Karen Perkins at red@reed.edu.


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