In Focus This Week
Exit Interview: Georgia’s Chris Harvey
Harvey hangs up election hat to return to his roots
By M. Mindy Moretti
Most people in the elections world don’t necessarily start out working in the elections field. They work in a variety of industries before the siren song of election administration comes calling.
For Chris Harvey, it was a career in law enforcement, including working in both the DeKalb County and Fulton County, Georgia District Attorneys’ offices that lead him to work in the secretary of state’s office, first as an investigator and since 2015 as the director of elections.
Now, after the implementation of a new voting system, a global pandemic and, well, 2020, Harvey is leaving the secretary of state’s office to return to his roots in law enforcement.
“Chris Harvey has been a pillar of the Elections Division since day one, and has been there in the trenches as we defended the integrity of our elections, first from baseless accusations of voter suppression, then baseless accusations of voter fraud,” Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said in a statement. “Harvey helped Georgia get a new elections system with a paper-ballot backup for the first time in nearly 20 years, was key to helping the counties successfully transition into COVID-19 era election administration, and ushered in 2 minute election lines statewide on Election Day. His hard work and dedication to this office and the people of Georgia will be missed.”
As director of elections Harvey worked with the counties constantly to prepare them for Georgia’s new printed paper-ballot system, the first update to Georgia’s election equipment in nearly 20 years. Together with the election team, Harvey worked to ensure county elections officials had the information available to work with the new system and execute effective elections. As COVID-19 spread through Georgia, Harvey was instrumental in working with GEMA/HS to provide personal protective equipment to elections officials across the state so they could safely open the polls.
And it wasn’t just Georgia where Harvey made his mark in the elections world. He was an active participant in national organizations like the National Association of State Election Directors.
“NASED has been fortunate to call Chris one of our own over the last six years. We’re grateful for his willingness to share his knowledge and perspective with his colleagues across the country and will especially miss his dry sense of humor. NASED is incredibly proud of Chris’s integrity and commitment to service in the face of so many challenges, and Georgia’s voters should be, too,” said Michelle Tassinari, NASED President and Director & Legal Counsel, Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
We’d like to wish Chris the best of luck in all his future endeavors.
Why have you decided to leave at this time?
I was offered the opportunity to return to my previous long-term career in public safety as the deputy director of the Georgia Peace Officer’s Standards and Training Council where I will have the opportunity to further the professional standards and support the dedicated men and women who serve their communities as police officers, sheriff deputies, and similar roles. While the job of elections director has been extremely challenging and satisfying, it’s the only job I never sought, applied for, asked to have or ever thought I would do. I wouldn’t take anything for the experiences I’ve had in the years I’ve had the privilege to work in elections, but I’m excited to get back into service closer to my professional roots.
What are you most proud of during your time in the secretary of state’s office?
I am unquestionably most proud of the way the 159 county election offices handled everything that was thrown at them for the last six years and worked with our office. Our previous DRE voting system faced intense legal and public opinion challenges, and everyone handled those challenges and necessary changes like the professionals they are. Then, in 2019, they adopted a new BMD paper system that got put in place in very short order, right before COVID 19 slammed our state. These local officials stayed at their posts when most others were working from home, and became experts at “on the fly” poll worker recruiting, polling place hunting, and keeping their voters safe and updated on necessary changes. I cannot say enough about the heroism of Georgia’s county election officials. I am also very proud of the resolve that everyone in the Secretary of State’s Office showed, starting with Sec. Raffensperger, as Georgia was put under the spotlights in late 2020 and early 2021.
What was the most difficult challenge you faced while working in elections?
Besides the easy answer, “COVID 19”, I think it was the incredibly complex everyday challenge of balancing of the sometimes competing concepts of election security and voter access. Not having spent years in elections work prior to this, I was not expecting the legal and public relations challenges that went into almost every decision we had to make. Decisions we made seemed to be immediately branded from the outside with a political motive in pretty cynical and disingenuous ways. In the course of the time I was in this role, I managed to be labeled a suppressor from one side, and a fraud-enabler from another, seemingly depending on the outcome of different elections.
If you could change one thing about how elections in this country are run what would it be?
I think elections are run pretty well for the most part. I was recently asked, “Are elections in Georgia secure?” I responded that they are secure, but that they are not perfect because none of us are perfect. I would like to see citizens get more involved as poll workers and election professionals. I told our local election officials that when they get calls and complaints from concerned citizens about what they see and hear about the election, that they should ask those people to serve as poll workers and see for themselves how the systems work and what safeguards are already in place to keep errors of ill-intent from happening. In Georgia, we have taken a lot of very positive steps such as automatic voter registration and have seen record breaking voter registration and turnout. We have added audits and all of our processes are open to public inspection and scrutiny.
I would like to see government officials who say things like, “Voting is our most sacred right,” back that up by devoting the resources needed to recruit and retain the best workers and allow their local election officials to do their jobs with enough staff, material, and support.
There are some people who refuse to believe that the 2020 election was conducted freely and fairly, what would you say to them to hopefully change their minds?
I would say to find and stick to the facts for yourself and get involved in the process. Sadly, I don’t know that many people care about much except their side winning. Many people see “scorched earth” as a reasonable response to any loss.
What advice would you give to someone considering getting a start in the elections field today?
I would say that unless your integrity and determination are securely formed, go do something else. For me, it’s all about service. Unless you are willing to serve everyone as fairly as possible, you’re not going to be successful or satisfied.
What will you miss most about working in elections?
I’ll mostly miss the many relationships I established with people across so many different contexts (local election officials, other state election directors, and many interested and concerned individuals.)
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Election News This Week
Voting rights: During an event marking the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa, Oklahoma race massacre, President Joseph R. Biden (D) promised to “fight like heck” against Republican efforts to restrict voting. Biden announced that he was tapping Vice President Kamala Harris to marshal an effort against the increasing array of Republican-led state laws that restrict voting in various ways, a campaign Biden condemned as “un-American.” “This sacred right is under assault with incredible intensity like I’ve never seen,” Biden said, adding that June should be a “month of action” on Capitol Hill. In a statement released from The White House, Harris said, “President Joe Biden asked me to help lead our Administration’s effort to protect the fundamental right to vote for all Americans. In the days and weeks ahead, I will engage the American people, and I will work with voting rights organizations, community organizations, and the private sector to help strengthen and uplift efforts on voting rights nationwide. And we will also work with members of Congress to help advance these bills.” On the same day, a group of university professors and scholars signed onto a statement calling for increased federal voting protections, warning that U.S. democracy is “now at risk” with the wave of recent GOP-led legislative proposals across the country seeking to implement sweeping voting overhauls. The dozens of academics, which included political science and government professors at schools like Stanford, Harvard and Cornell, in the letter called themselves “scholars of democracy who have watched the recent deterioration of U.S. elections and liberal democracy with growing alarm.”
Audit Update: Harri Hursti, one of the independent auditors tasked with examining the 2020 state representative election in Windham said there was no evidence of fraud. Hursti said the exhaustive investigation revealed no indication of malfeasance or manipulation of the voting machines in Windham. “Nothing today is showing evidence of fraud. Nothing today is showing evidence of digital manipulation of the machines,” Hursti said according to WMUR. “Right now, this seems to be a case of a perfect storm where so many things happened in order to have this discrepancy.” Hursti added that he is amazed by the influx of doctored videos that have been generated around the work of the auditors. “It’s amazing how much disinformation and dishonest reporting has been spreading, especially last night,” Hursti said. “I need to have a second beer when watching those.” The auditors did find fixable problems, but no fraud. In addition to problems caused by folds in ballots, auditors also found that paper dust buildup in the machines made it much easier for the optical scanners to misread the fold as a vote. Hursti recommended the machines be cleaned regularly.
On the Move: Elections offices around the country are moving to new digs or beefing up their existing ones during 2021. The Ulster County, New York board of elections is hoping to move from its current location to a former newspaper building. The Union County, North Carolina board of elections broke ground this week on a construction project for a new addition to the office. In Washington County, Tennessee the county election commission is considering relocation options. In Harris County, Texas, the election administrator’s office has opened up eight new branch offices. The Dutchess County, New York board of elections has moved to a new location. The New Hanover County, North Carolina board of elections has moved to a new location. In Washington County, Maryland, the board of elections office has moved into the location of a former grocery store. The Cherokee County, Georgia board of commissioners is considering relocating the elections office. In Dauphin County, Pennsylvania the new elections office brings with a host of upgrades. The move of the Frederick County, Virginia office of elections is seen as a “win-win”. The Pottawatomie County, Kansas elections board has moved to a former bank space. In Fayette County, West Virginia it’s not a new location, but a new name as the Voter Registration Office now the Elections Office. The Mercer County, Pennsylvania elections department has left its courthouse location for a new space with more room to work. New equipment and ADA compliance are in the works for the Portage County, Ohio board of elections. Improvements are being made to the new Missoula County, Montana elections center which was used for the first time in 2020. Officials in Effingham County, Georgia are considering an expansion to the county’s elections office. The Jackson County, Florida supervisor of elections has recently upgraded operations. The Pittsylvania County, Virginia registrar of voters has moved to a new location. The Blair County, Pennsylvania Elections and Voter Registration Office has moved out of the courthouse. The Leon County, Florida county commission approved $5.4M to purchase the property for the supervisor of elections voting operation center which it has previously been leasing. The Weld County, Colorado clerk and recorder’s office is on the move in 2021. The Glynn County, North Carolina board of elections has asked the county for more space. The Ashley County, Arkansas quorum court approved a $285K purchase of a former hardware store to use as voting equipment storage. The Jefferson County, Kentucky elections center has moved to a new location.
Buone notizie! For the upcoming New York City primary, the New York City Civic Engagement Commission will provide translation services in an additional 11 languages at polling sites for next month’s primary election—including Italian at one polling place in Astoria! In addition to Spanish translation services, which will be offered at all polling places, Arabic, Bengali, Cantonese, Mandarin, French, Haitian Creole, Italian, Korean, Polish, Russian, Urdu or Yiddish will be offered at certain individual polling places. The need for specific language translation services was calculated by the commission using the most recent U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey and data from the city’s Board of Elections, according to the CEC. In addition to the city’s translation services, all voters in New York have the right to bring an interpreter with them to polling sites.
Personnel News: Greg Campbell is retiring at the Republican election commissioner in Clinton County, New York. Josh Daniels has been appointed the new Utah County, Utah clerk/auditor. Former Smith County, Texas Elections Administrator Denise Hernandez has been arrested and charged for assault causes bodily injury, which is a Class A Misdemeanor. Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D) has announced her candidacy for governor. John Eaves, former Fulton County chairman has announced his candidacy for Georgia secretary of state. The Wilcox County, Mississippi election commission has voted to terminate Election Supervisor April Graham.
Arizona: Gov. Doug Ducey has signed into law a measure that prevents government officials from changing election deadlines established by statutes. HB2794, sponsored by Rep. Jake Hoffman, R-Gilbert, was created to address changes in voter registration deadlines that occurred during the November 2020 general election. “This is something that we saw in an unprecedented election,” Hoffman said. “We saw all across the country, including here in Arizona, the attempt to change statutorily prescribed deadlines. This is a bill that says that in Arizona, the legislature as granted by the Constitution of the United States, has the authority for the management and administration of elections; that those deadlines should not be changed, and that if they are there is a penalty for doing so.” Hoffman’s bill, which passed both the House and Senate by narrow margins of two and three votes respectively, received unanimous support from Republicans but was largely shunned by Democrats, who claimed that it violates separation of powers and gratuitously punishes election officials. Sen. Christine Marsh, D-Phoenix, was the only member of her party who did not vote against the bill, instead opting to refrain from voting altogether.
Connecticut: The State Senate passed House Joint Resolution 59, which would put a constitutional amendment to allow early in-person voting on the 2022 General Election ballot for Connecticut voters to decide to add it to the state Constitution. The amendment passed the House of Representatives on May 6 and was approved in 2019 by a majority in both chambers of the Connecticut General Assembly. Secretary of the State Denise Merrill released a statement following the joint resolution passing the Senate, praising the state for working to expand voting laws in Connecticut. “On Election Day 2022, Connecticut voters will get to decide if they want the option of voting in person before Election day – just like the voters in 44 other states,” said Merrill. “As Florida, Texas, Georgia, and other states are moving to restrict voting rights, I’m proud that Connecticut is doing the opposite, addressing our burdensome and restrictive laws, and making voting more accessible to every eligible Connecticut citizen. The question that voters will see on the 2022 ballot will be: “Shall the Constitution of the State be amended to permit the General Assembly to provide for early voting?”
Illinois: Lawmakers passed an omnibus elections bill that would push back the date of the 2022 primary elections amid other major changes to the state’s election code. The 156-page omnibus bill, an amendment to Senate Bill 825 filed by Rep. Maurice West, D-Rockford, would also strengthen the state’s cybersecurity surrounding elections and make Election Day a holiday among other provisions. The bill was filed Sunday night, passed the House 72-46 at about 6 p.m. Monday, then passed on a partisan 41-18 split in the Senate at about 10 p.m. It will need only a signature from the governor to become law. Under the legislation, in 2022, early voting for primary elections would start May 19 and Election Day would be moved to June 28. State primaries are typically held in March. The dates for nominating petitions for primaries would also change, with those seeking office being able to circulate petitions starting Jan. 13. Congressional and judicial candidates must have petitions filed by March 14. The provision changing these dates is set to expire at the start of 2023. The bill would also make the date of the general election, November 8, a state holiday in 2022. It will be considered a legal school holiday, and any schools closing due to the holiday would “be made available to an election authority as a polling place for 2022 General Election Day.” This provision would also expire at the start of 2023. The legislation would have voters who apply to be on the list remain on it until they request to be removed, change their registration or register to vote in another county. A witness representing the Kane County Clerk told the committee that county clerks receive death certificates and notice of address changes and would remove voters from the rolls in those instances as well. The bill also tasks the Illinois State Board of Elections with looking into the possibility of electronic vote-by-mail for voters with disabilities. By the end of 2021, ISBE must submit legislation to the General Assembly creating a method for disabled voters to independently and privately mark a ballot using assistive technology. Before submitting the legislation, ISBE must hold at least two public hearings on the subject. he bill would also require election authorities to beef up cybersecurity measures including monthly vulnerability scans, risk assessment every two years and use protection from the Department of Innovation and Technology or a third-party vendor within one year of its passage. The bill also allows election authorities to create temporary polling places in the jails of smaller counties. Under current law, a county with 3 million or more residents – which applies exclusively to Cook County – is required to make a temporary branch polling place in the county jail, allowing residents of that county who are in custody but have not been convicted of the arresting offense to vote. The election omnibus allows sheriffs in all other Illinois counties the option of establishing a temporary polling place in their county jail.
Louisiana: Governor Edwards on Tuesday signed into law a round of bills from the 2021 Legislative Session, one of which would increase the amount of time a voter may remain in a voting machine during elections. Act 22 (HB 285) states voters shall not remain in a voting machine longer than six minutes. If a voter fails to leave a voting machine after a commissioner notifies him that six minutes have elapsed, the commissioners shall order the voter to complete voting and leave the voting machine. Even so, if a ballot is lengthy or if it contains complex propositions or constitutional amendments, the commissioners may allocate additional time in an equitable manner, the act states. Previously, voters were given three minutes to remain in voting machines.
Michigan: The Senate Elections Committee approved three bills that according to Republican legislators including former secretary of state Ruth Johnson would fix vulnerabilities in the 2018 election changes that voters approved. Senate Bill 285 would require anyone applying for an absentee ballot in Michigan to provide their driver’s license number, state ID card number or the last four digits of their Social Security number. They also could show their ID to their local clerk or send a photocopy of their license or ID card. Michigan voters already are asked to present a photo ID at the polls, but anyone who doesn’t have one can fill out an affidavit instead and cast their ballot as normal. Senate Bill 303 would require voters to present a valid ID at the polls and Senate Bill 304 would set up a process of casting a provisional ballot if they don’t have ID. All three bills now go to the full Senate for consideration. They would have to pass there and in the House before Gov. Gretchen Whitmer would decide whether to sign them into law.
Nevada: In the final hours of the 2021 legislative session, the Assembly approved AB321 measure meant to cement much of what was supposed to be a temporary, pandemic-era switch to a vote-by-mail system — will see all registered, active Nevada voters automatically receive a mail-in ballot before future elections. They will also be able to request that someone else fill out and hand in that ballot — a practice known as “ballot harvesting” and one of several reasons GOP lawmakers loudly protested AB 321’s predecessor, Assembly Bill 4, before it became law in August 2020. AB 321 moved out of both chambers on a strict party-line vote, with all Republicans opposed. Gov. Steve Sisolak has now signed the bill into law. “At a time when state legislatures across the country are attempting to roll back access to the polls, I am so proud that Nevada continues to push forward with proven strategies that make voting more accessible and secure,” Sisolak said in a statement. “Nevada has always been widely recognized as a leader in election administration and with this legislation, we will continue to build on that legacy.”
New Hampshire: The Senate passed along party lines a bill requiring the attorney general to analyze requests for absentee ballots in future presidential primary and general elections with an eye toward trying to identify instances of election fraud. Under an amended House Bill 291, “The attorney general shall analyze the requests for absentee ballot information for state general elections and presidential primary elections contained in the statewide centralized voter registration database for evidence of misuse.” The bill requires the attorney general to analyze and report absentee ballots mailed to a common address and “significant differences in the number of ballots that were requested from a city or town.” The attorney general would be required to report the results of the analysis and any additional actions that were taken to the Senate Election Law and Municipal Affairs Committee and the House Election Law Committee. The bill was passed on a 14-10 roll call vote, with all Republicans in favor and all Democrats opposed. The bill has the same goal as the version that passed the House earlier in the session, but with different details and wording. The differences between the two versions will presumably eventually be addressed by a committee of conference.
New York: State lawmakers in the Assembly approved a bill that would create a trackable system for absentee voting, similar to a program already in place in New York City. The online system would track applications for absentee ballots, when it has been received by elections officials, whether it has been approved and when the ballot has been mailed to the voter as well as whether the ballot, once cast, has been accepted or rejected. It would also provide a reason to the voter as to why the ballot was rejected. “We have continued to take steps to make it as easy as possible for New Yorkers to vote in our elections, and in a few short months voters will have the opportunity to enshrine permanent no-excuse absentee balloting in our state constitution,” said Democratic Assemblyman Jeff Dinowitz. “It is imperative that we make sure voters maintain confidence in our electoral systems, regardless of the method by which they choose to vote.”
Pennsylvania: House Speaker Bryan Cutler, R-Lancaster, has introduced legislation that would establish a Pennsylvania Bureau of Election Audits under the office of the state’s Auditor General. House Bill 1482 was referred to the House State Government Committee this week for consideration. The bureau would be required to conduct result-confirming audits of each election in the Commonwealth by the third Friday following the election. The audits would examine processes and results, including equipment, absentee and mail-in ballots, performance audits of election systems at least every five years, and any other audit deemed necessary by the bureau to ensure public trust in election outcomes. Previous elections would not be reviewed by the bureau. Approximately $3.1 million of the state’s budget would be appropriated to fund the bureau, according to a news release from Cutler’s office.
Texas: On Sunday, with an hour left for the Legislature to give final approval to the sweeping overhaul of Texas elections and voter access, Democrat stage a walkout preventing the legislation from moving forward. Senate Bill 7, a Republican priority bill, is an expansive piece of legislation that would alter nearly the entire voting process. It would create new limitations to early voting hours, ratchet up voting-by-mail restrictions and curb local voting options like drive-thru voting. Democrats had argued the bill would make it harder for people of color to vote in Texas. Republicans called the bill an “election integrity” measure — necessary to safeguard Texas elections from fraudulent votes, even though there is virtually no evidence of widespread fraud. SB 7 was one step away from the governor’s desk. It was negotiated behind closed doors over the last week after the House and Senate passed significantly different versions of the legislation and pulled from each chamber’s version of the bill. The bill also came back with a series of additional voting rule changes that weren’t part of previous debates on the bill, including new ID requirements for voting by mail, restrictions on Sunday early voting hours and a higher threshold for who can qualify to vote by mail based on a disability.
Vermont: Gov. Phil Scott on vetoed a pair of bills that would have granted local voting rights to noncitizen residents of Winooski and Montpelier, asserting that the topic needed “further consideration and debate.” Scott based his rejection on the argument that the two charter change proposals lacked clarity on who exactly would be able to vote and would lead to inconsistent election policies across the state. He urged the legislature to develop a statewide policy or “uniform template” for municipalities seeking to expand voting rights. “I understand these charter changes are well-intentioned,” Scott wrote in a letter to lawmakers Tuesday evening. “But I ask the Legislature to revisit the issue of non-citizen voting in a more comprehensive manner.” The decision will come as a blow to the two cities, where voters overwhelmingly supported the proposals.
West Virginia: The Morgantown city council has unanimously approved the first reading of a resolution endorsing the For the People Act. “I just wanted to note that I think that it’s important for us as municipalities to indicate our support for laws that support and protect voter rights,” said Morgantown Deputy Mayor Rachel Fetty. For members of council, national standards on voting rights, campaign financing, gerrymandering are what prompted the resolution of support, with the hopes of raising voter turnout in Morgantown’s elections. “I’d favor opportunities to expand voter participation and I believe that this will do that in a fair and equitable way,” said Morgantown Mayor Ron Dulaney voting in favor of the measure. The next step for the resolution is to be formally approved on second reading, which is expected to take place during Morgantown City Council’s next meeting.
Florida: Secretary of State Laurel Lee is asking a federal judge to toss out a challenge to a new elections law. Lee last week filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed in May by the Florida State Conference of the NAACP, Disability Rights Florida and Common Cause, one of three challenges to the elections law, which has drawn national attention. The motion describes the lawsuit as a “shotgun” complaint that does not properly spell out allegations and contends that Lee should not be a defendant. Unlike the other two challenges, Lee is the only defendant in the first lawsuit. “Because enmity and hyperbole are no substitute for well-pled facts, this court should dismiss the plaintiffs’ complaint,” said the motion, filed Friday in federal court in Tallahassee. The lawsuit was filed May 6, shortly after Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the elections law during an appearance on Fox News. The measure was one of the most controversial issues of the 2021 legislative session, with Republicans saying it was needed to ensure secure election security and Democrats contending it was aimed at voter suppression. In the motion to dismiss, Lee’s attorneys cited a ruling last year by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that concluded the secretary of state was not a proper defendant in a case involving the order in which candidates are placed on Florida ballots. Lee’s attorneys said the 2020 ruling requires the plaintiffs in the challenge to the new elections law to “link the secretary to the injuries they allege and the relief they seek. This the plaintiffs do not do in their complaint.”
Kansas: The League of Women Voters of Kansas, Kansas Appleseed and Loud Light have sued elections officials over two new voting laws. The suit, filed in Shawnee County district court argues that provisions of two bills altering election laws violate the state and U.S. constitution by suppressing speech and disenfranchising voters. The groups further contend that the changes were made in the absence of any evidence that the state’s elections are insecure. “In most instances, the Legislature relied on little more than vague references to concerns about elections integrity or fraud that was rumored to have occurred in other states,” the lawsuit said. “Yet, no legislator pointed to even a single instance of fraud precipitating the need for these drastic changes.” The two bills were approved over Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s veto. They were part of a nationwide push by Republican state legislators to use unfounded claims of voter fraud during the 2020 election as grounds for revising election rules. Secretary of State Scott Schwab, a defendant in the suit, who has said that Kansas had “free and fair” elections in 2020, declined to comment on pending litigation before his office had been formally served.
Mississippi: In May, the state Supreme Court ruled 6-3 to nullify the state’s ballot initiative process that allowed voters to amend the state constitution because of a flaw in the wording of the constitution. The flaw is a wording error from when the state had five U.S. Congressional districts instead of its current four. The Mississippi Constitution requires a certain percentage of signatures petitioning for an initiative to be on the ballot come from all five congressional districts. The error means the ballot initiative process “cannot work in a world where Mississippi has fewer than five congressional districts,” according to the majority opinion authored by Justice Josiah Coleman. Matt Steffey, a constitutional law professor at the Mississippi College School of Law told the Clarion Ledger the ruling represents a rigid, textual reading of the state’s constitution. It has set the state up for a potential challenge to its voter ID law of which was passed by voters as part of the ballot initiative process. Mississippi voters approved a voter ID law in 2011, with 62% of voters that cycle voting in favor of it. Secretary of State Michael Watson has called Gov. Tate Reeves to order a special session of the legislature to prevent any possible challenges to the state’s voter ID and eminent domain laws. Watson previously said his office will not challenge the Mississippi Supreme Court’s ruling. Most of the voter ID law is codified into state law, and not just the Constitution, Watson said, protecting it from legal challenge. However, the portion of it requiring Mississippi to provide free identification cards to voters has not been codified by the legislature and could be made null if challenged in a court of law.
Montana: A new lawsuit challenges legislation passed by Republican lawmakers in April argues the late shift in the bill’s function was unconstitutional. The lawsuit filed by the Lewis and Clark County attorney, a criminal defense association and several private lawyers seeks an injunction against Senate Bill 319, one of several bills re-engineered in the final phases of the legislative process in a conference committee without public comment. The filing in Lewis and Clark County District Court alleges the bill is unconstitutional because it violates the single-subject provision, as well as the article of the state Constitution that says no bill shall be amended so heavily that its original purpose has been changed. The bill, sponsored by Republican Sen. Greg Hertz, initially dealt with joint fundraising committees. In a late-session conference committee, however, lawmakers tacked on two other measures including that banned voter registration, signature collection, voter turnout and other activities by political groups in certain areas of university campuses.
New York: New York Attorney General Letitia James has filed a claim against Rensselear County over where the county locates early voting sites. In a 2019 law, the state required adequate and equitable access to poll sites. James’ complaint says Rensselear fails to do that. “Two years and several election cycles after the legislation’s enactment, the BOE in Rensselaer County, New York has continually violated this law, failing to designate early voting poll sites at locations that ensure adequate and equitable access for voters in Troy as it is legally required to do,” the 41-page complaint states. James says Rensselaer completely missed the point of the law in first selecting a pair of early-vote locations that “are wealthier, less diverse, less accessible by public transportation, and already enjoy higher rates of voter turnout.” “It is the government’s responsibility to ensure that every person with the right to vote is able to do so without hardship, and I will do everything in my power to ensure every New Yorker has fair access to the polls,” James said in a statement announcing the lawsuit filed Thursday in the Rensselaer County Supreme Court. The suit names Commissioners Jason Schofield, a Republican, and Edward McDonough, a Democrat, as co-defendants for failing to provide equal access required under the state’s early voting law.
Pennsylvania: According to the Observer-Reporter, two Donegal Township supervisors – and a third supervisor who barely won her party’s nomination – are suing their two colleagues and the municipality in a last-ditch attempt to cancel its general election in November. Two days after losing the Republican nominations to three write-in candidates, Richard Martin and Richard Fidler amended an earlier lawsuit that claimed they could be denied fulfilling their original terms in office after the township’s voters decided last November to downsize the board from five supervisors to three. An earlier lawsuit Martin, Fidler and Iams filed against the two other supervisors, along with the municipality and Washington County Board of Elections, demanded the Donegal Township supervisors race be removed from the May 18 primary, or the results not be counted. Washington County Judge Michael Lucas denied their request, and the Commonwealth Court upheld his ruling five days before the election. The new lawsuit asks that Filder, Martin and Shingle be permitted to continue in their roles as supervisors until their terms expire, which is slated to happen in 2024 for Martin and Shingle and 2026 for Fidler. The terms for Iams and Croft are scheduled to end this coming January.
Opinions This Week
National Opinion: Election reform, II | Election officials | Attack on democracy | Democracy | Future elections | Voting rights, II | Voter fraud, II | 2024 | Ranked choice voting | Fight over elections | For the People Act
California: San Luis Obispo County
Georgia: Ballot review
Minnesota: Voter ID
New Jersey: Voting rights
North Carolina: Voting rights
Ohio: Voter access
Rhode Island: Election security
Utah: For the People Act
West Virginia: For the People Act
Wisconsin: Election investigation
The New Danger in Voting Legislation: Georgia, Texas and other states are pursuing legislation that will make it more difficult to vote, especially for voters of color. Less attention has been paid to a second threat: giving the legislature a greater hand in who counts votes and how they are counted. Will this reform improve or damage the integrity of elections and the confidence of voters in their results? An impressive panel joins us: Richard L. Hasen, Chancellor’s Professor of Law and Political Science, University of California, Irvine; Michael T. Morley, Associate Professor, Florida State University College of Law and Moderated by Tammy Patrick, Senior Advisor, Elections Program, Democracy Fund. When June 4, 12pm Central. Where: Online.
Documenting and Addressing Harassment of Election Officials: Register now for the California Voter Foundation’s webinar, “Documenting and Addressing Harassment of Election Officials” on Wednesday, June 9, 2021, 11 am- Noon Pacific time on Zoom. This free webinar will feature a presentation by Grace Gordon, UC Berkeley Master of Development Practice graduate and author of a new California Voter Foundation report to be released on June 8th, titled, “Documenting and Addressing Harassment of Election Officials Resulting from the 2020 Election”. This report has been six months in the making and was developed in consultation with CVF President Kim Alexander and CVF Board Chair & Shasta County Registrar of Voters Cathy Darling Allen. The report and webinar will provide an in-depth look at Ms. Gordon’s research findings on the nature and extent of harassment of election officials in numerous states and the reforms needed to protect democracy’s frontline workers. Guest panelists include: Matt Masterson, Stanford University; Tiana Epps-Johnson, Center for Technology and Civic Life; and Amber McReynolds, National Vote at Home Institute: When: June 9, 11am Pacific. Where: Online
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. 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 email@example.com. Job postings must be received by 5pm on Wednesday in order to appear in the Thursday newsletter. Listings will run for three weeks or till the deadline listed in the posting.
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.
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.
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.
Departmental Analyst, Michigan Department of State— This position serves as the Disclosure and Filings Analyst within the Disclosure, Filings and Compliance Division within the Bureau of Elections, Michigan Department of State. The Division is responsible for administering the Michigan Campaign Finance Act, Lobbyist Registration Act, Casino Registration Act and Michigan Election Law. The Analyst will support the Division’s functions through research and analysis of disclosure reports, campaign statements and ballot-access filings, with emphasis on working cooperatively to address deficiencies and correct noncompliant filings; developing and updating training materials and user manuals; and providing training to the regulated community. Salary: $21.66 – $33.95 Hourly. Deadline: June 8. Application: For a complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Election Audit Specialist, VotingWorks— VotingWorks is a non-partisan non-profit founded on the powerful idea that the operating system of our democracy should be publicly owned. Every citizen’s vote is sacred, and every citizen deserves evidence that our elections are free and fair. We’re using open-source software, off-the-shelf hardware, and modern product engineering to make elections dramatically safer, more accessible, and more affordable. Affordability may sound pedestrian, but it is key. The front line of America’s election security rests in the hands of the 50% of US counties that struggle to afford basic services, let alone upgrade aging voting equipment. About the Job: Your goal is to make election administrators successful when running Arlo, VotingWorks’ risk-limiting audit software, to conduct risk-limiting election audits. You succeed when these election administrators succeed in delighting audit board members, voters, and the public. You’ll need to become very skilled with the Arlo software, the VotingWorks voting machines and general risk-limiting audit procedures. You’ll support election administrators and audit board members with tier 1 support (basic software and procedure questions) that includes light training and troubleshooting in preparation for and during audit conduct remotely. Occasionally, you’ll be asked to provide the same support in-person. Your enthusiasm for the product, the process, the mission, and the team should be infectious, surpassed only by your organizational skills and ability to multitask. You know that no matter how robust a technology, at the end of the day it’s people who make other people successful and you feel personally responsible for ensuring that everyone who uses Arlo feels successful. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
General Registrar, Prince William County, Virginia— The Prince William County Electoral Board is seeking a General Registrar to provide leadership and management in the Office of Elections in Prince William County, Virginia. We are one of Virginia’s fastest-growing counties with a diverse population of 470,000 citizens and over 300,000 registered voters. 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. Deadline: June 16. 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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