In Focus This Week
Like a Trapper Keeper for Civic Holidays
Website brings together several major democratic engagement organizations
By M. Mindy Moretti
Nearly a decade ago, National Voter Registration Day became one of the nation’s first Civic Holidays. In recent years, it’s been joined by National Voter Education Week, Vote Early Day, and Election Hero Day.
That can be a lot of holidays for a busy, civic-minded college student (or anyone really) to keep track of, so enter what we like to call the virtual Trapper Keeper — CivicHolidays.org.
CivicHolidays.org is a one-stop website that allows users interested in celebrating any of the four fall Civic Holidays to learn about and participate in each of the events, and to find the resources they need to plan celebrations in their communities.
The new site is the work of the Students Learn Students Vote Coalition (SLSV) in partnership with the national organizations running the individual holidays. SLSV is a national hub and largest nonpartisan network in the country dedicated to increasing student voter participation. The SLSV Coalition is essentially the central nervous system that helps coordinate hundreds of national and local/on-campus organizations working to empower college students to participate in elections and be more civically engaged.
“The goal was always for each Civic Holiday to complement one another and build off and lead into each holiday,” explained Marissa Corrente, deputy director of SLSV. “Following 2020 we realized that our intent wasn’t always perfectly clear to our partners, and the feedback we gathered from partners following the 2020 Election Cycle supported that. There was clear value in streamlining things to make them even more collaborative.”
According to Corrente, the idea – and opportunity – for CivicHolidays.org really came about during the SLSV Coalition’s Annual Post Election Gathering.
“During the event we pulled together all the holiday leads and did an intentional ideation session with partners from across the Coalition about the civic holiday space,” Corrente explained. “We asked broad questions and holiday-specific questions and one of the biggest takeaways was that we needed to create a resource where folks could easily learn about and get plugged into all the different voter-focused civic holiday opportunities at once. The group began convening regularly in January and the website was one of the first pieces we tackled.”
According to Eddy Zerbe, special projects director with SLSV, college students have consistently high political and civic engagement but that didn’t always translate to voting rates until the last few years. One reason for that Zerbe said is because students tend to face several unique challenges as first-time voters.
From figuring out voter registration requirements, to learning what and who is on your ballot, to figuring out how to actually vote and what documentation you may need, voting can be a difficult process for those who have never done it.
The new site walks students through the voter engagement cycle, registering them to vote, teaching them what’s on their ballot, and helping them cast their vote – and it does so in a very fun and celebratory way across the entire nation, said Zerbe.
“Young and college-aged voters are new to the process. Eighteen is often a time of significant change for young people from graduating high school, starting work or attending college, to moving to a new home,” said Debi Lombardi, program director, National Voter Registration Day. “On top of that, how to register and vote varies greatly from state to state and is not always addressed in high school. The Civic Holidays and the site we run jointly can provide support for new and young voters at every step of the voting process while celebrating that they are likely voting for the first time!”
Although the site launched this year, during election low season, Lombardi was quick to point out that every election matters.
“The pandemic highlighted the critical role that local elected officials play in our day-to-day lives and the health of our communities. More than ever, people were tuned into what their local and state elected officials were doing and how that would impact their lives from wearing masks to ensuring effective vaccine rollout,” Lombardi said. “We launched the site this year to make it easier for partners to engage voters in their city and statewide elections taking place across the country this year addressing the needs of their community.”
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Chain of custody is essential to a transparent and trustworthy election
EAC releases best practices
The U.S. Election Assistance Commission has released a Chain of Custody Best Practices.
Chain of custody is essential to a transparent and trustworthy election. Every election office should have written chain of custody procedures available for public inspection prior to every election. Once a chain of custody process is initiated, it must be followed with every step documented. Upon completion, the process should be reviewed and updated based on any lessons learned. This report outlines items election officials should consider when developing or revising their chain of custody procedures for physical election materials, voting systems, and the use of third-party auditors for conducting audits and electronic discovery.
Chain of Custody refers to the processes, or paper trail, that documents the transfer of materials from one person (or place) to the next. Every state and local jurisdiction has its own controls for ensuring the chain of custody of election materials is properly maintained. These controls may include locks, seals, audit logs, witness signatures, or other security measures. This document is intended to provide best practices, checklists, and sample forms for maintaining a proper chain of custody related to the successful operation of an election but is not meant to be comprehensive of every election process. Jurisdictions are reminded to implement these voluntary best practices only after reviewing federal, state, and local laws and regulations.
While the chain of custody process varies by jurisdiction, here are few key questions to keep in mind when developing your chain of custody materials:
- Where is the item that is going to be transferred?
- Are adequate safeguards in place?
- Who currently has access to this item?
- What makes this item unique (description, serial number, physical condition, etc.…)?
- When and where is this item being transferred (time, date, location)?
- Where is this item being transferred to?
- Who is transferring this item?
- What is the condition of the item to be delivered?
- Who witnessed this transfer?
- When and where did the item arrive?
- What is the condition of the item upon receipt?
The chain of custody of ballots, voting equipment, and associated data is essential to ensure the election system remains trustworthy. Documentation of the chain of custody also provides evidence that all voting procedures were followed. It is a best practice for chain of custody procedures to be clearly defined in advance of every election, well documented and followed consistently throughout the entire election lifecycle or process.
The key to an effective chain of custody is to have a set of procedures which are followed in practice. The procedures should be in writing with all steps documented. Chain of custody should be thought about as a wholistic process that takes all required pieces (e.g., data collection, transparency, processing, review, etc.) into account.
Election News This Week
Dearborn, Michigan has one of the largest Arab American populations in the country, if not the largest. Despite that, city does not meet the criteria for a Section 203 designation and therefore, until recently, voting materials had not been provided in Arabic. Advocates in the city are calling on the city clerk to add voting information in Arabic. And while the city did recently add an absentee ballot request form in Arabic to its website, advocates would like to see more. Abed Ayoub, legal and policy director for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee told the Detroit Free Press that the city still doesn’t have Arabic-language ballots, Arabic-language options on its website to alert non-English speakers to the forms, and there is no drop-off box or satellite location in the eastern part of the city, which has sizable numbers of Arab Americans. Dearborn is about 47% Arab American, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. But voting turnout in areas where Arab Americans make up a large percentage, such as the eastern and southeastern sections, is much lower, according to voting data. “With the largest concentration of Arab Americans, the city clerk should on his own initiative make sure that all voting information is available in Arabic, including on the web,” Ayoub said. “It’s skewing voter participation and it’s a method of voter suppression.” While Dearborn Clerk George Darany did not respond to the Detroit Free Press, he did respond to an email from Ayoub about the issue: “Many Arabic-Only speaking voters come to the Clerk’s Office daily to vote absentee,” Darany wrote. “They usually bring a relative to help them with the translation. If they do not have someone to help them, we have Arabic speaking employees to help.” Darany said in his email: “I want to make clear that accessibility to voting is provided to EVERY REGISTERED VOTER regardless of what primary language they speak. We are currently working on having sample ballots in Arabic available on the City of Dearborn website and at the polls on Election day. Arabic speaking poll workers are currently being assigned where needed. We also hope to have sample Absentee Ballot Applications in Arabic available soon. Also, a Voter Registration Form is currently available in Arabic on the City of Dearborn website.”
Vote Local: The New York Assembly held a hearing this week to unpack what worked, and what didn’t in the recent New York City primary where ranked choice voting was used for the first time. One of the biggest complaints at the hearing was the lack of voter education about the new ranking system. Civil rights attorney Esmerelda Simmons said when you look at places where ranked choice voting has worked, they did a lot to get people ready. “They had a very long educational period. They did things in school … parent teacher night. Six months, nine month education — not two months,” said Simmons. However, others pointed to the city’s board of elections as the main issue with the primary. “I know there has been criticism by some that there was not enough education, that this happened too quickly. Not true at all,” said Kate Doran of the League of Women Voters. “The problem with June’s primary election was not ranked choice voting. It was the incompetency of the Board of Elections,” said Assembly member Robert Carole. Despite issues at the board of elections and concerns about ranked choice voting, an analysis released by good government group Citizens Union concluded that RCV did what it was designed to do when voters approved the system in a 2019 ballot referendum: increase voter interest and participation; reduce “wasted votes;” eliminate costly and sparsely-attended runoffs; and pave the way for a city government that better represents the Five Boroughs’ demographics.
GIS in Elections: How does a state modernize elections administration when staff and funding for new technology may be in limited supply? One way to access technology that can save work effort and reduce the risk of errors is to enshrine the use of GIS in elections in state statute. At least eight states around the country have already taken this step, and The National States Geographic Information Council’s GIS and elections experts used their enacted statute to create model statutory language that is now available to election administrators, secretaries of state, geographic information officers, and elected representatives around the country. The model statutory language, which can be accessed here, is intended to serve as a starting point for creating and enacting statute, with each state encouraged to adapt the language to best serve its needs.
In Other Audit News: The U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) released its Fiscal Year 2021 OIG Audit Work Plan including audits of eight states’ HAVA grant funds. The audits will cover state expenditures of 2018 and 2020 Election Security grants, 2020 Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act grants, and any state expenditures from grant funding issued prior to FY 2011. These audits encompass $1.23 billion which make up 17% of total HAVA funds. The OIG identified Arizona, California, Delaware, Indiana, Georgia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Washington to be audited. The states were selected by the OIG based on an audit risk analysis that considered neutral factors, applied to all 56 of the grant recipients. The analysis considered elements such as award amount, expenditures, and results of the OIG’s previous audits of HAVA funds in each state or territory. The public accounting firm, McBride, Lock & Associates, LLC from Kansas City, MO will be conducting the audits on behalf of the OIG. The firm has previously performed HAVA grant fund audits for the EAC.
Personnel News: Longtime D.C. Board of Elections Executive Director Alice Miller is stepping down to become a policy advisor at the agency. Monica Evans will be the new DCBOE executive director. Cliff Myers has stepped down from the Annapolis, Maryland elections board. Alisha Beeler is the new director of the Greene County, Ohio board of elections. Longtime Glynn County, Georgia Board of Elections and Registration member Patty Gibson has stepped down. Angela Caudillo is the new Sedgwick County, Kansas election commissioner. Paula Ludtke is the new Henderson County, Texas elections administrator. Loutricia Cain has been sworn in as a new member of the Rowan County, North Carolina board of elections. Randy Benton has been sworn in as a new member of the Richmond County, North Carolina board of elections. Lauren Kunis is the new executive director/chief executive officer for VoteRiders.
In Memoriam: Violet Linda “Lin” Dyess Stewart, the Rapides Parish, Louisiana registrar of voters has died. She was 72. Stewart served as the Rapides Parish Registrar of Voters for six years and Chief Deputy for nine years. While serving as the Registrar, she was appointed to multiple committees with the Louisiana Registrar of Voters Association, including the Legislative Board, Professional Review Board (Chair), and Constitution and Bylaws (Chair). She served as the past president of the Louisiana Registrar of Voters Association and current ex officio. Stewarts father had also served at the president of the association in the past. “She never turned down anyone who sought her assistance on anything and she was a person who could move mountains, and she would, to help someone else,” said Deborah Randolph, President of the Central Louisiana Chamber of Commerce and one of Lin’s close friends. “She was just a delightful person to work with, she was always so helpful. She really enjoyed helping people, and that’s what was so special about Lin. She’s going to be sorely missed in this parish,” said current District 29 State Senator Jay Luneau.
Research and Report Summaries
The U.S. Government Accountability Office released a report on voting accessibility this week. The report, Voters with Disabilities: State and Local Actions and Federal Resources to Address Accessibility of Early Voting, describes the steps that selected jurisdictions to support accessible early in-person and mail-in voting, and assesses the extent to which the Department of Justice and Election Assistance Commission have taken steps to assist jurisdictions in ensuring the accessibility of early in-person and mail-in voting.
The Council of State Government’s Overseas Voting Initiative released a paper on electronic ballot return for military and overseas voters last week. The paper, Electronic Ballot Return for Military and Overseas Voters: Considerations for Achieving Balance Between Security and Ballot Access, identifies circumstances in which a military or overseas voter would have no access to return their ballot except by returning it electronically, and offers recommendations to reduce the risk presented by electronic ballot return.
Election Security News
Tabletop The Vote: The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), in coordination with the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) and the National Association of State Election Directors (NASED), hosted the nation’s annual election security exercise last week, bringing together federal, state, local, and private sector partners for the fourth annual Tabletop the Vote. More than 1,000 participants ran through hypothetical scenarios affecting election operations to share practices around cyber and physical incident planning, preparedness, identification, response, and recovery.
Following the exercise, CISA Director Jen Easterly, and members of the Election Infrastructure Government Coordinating Council Executive Committee including: Director of the National Risk Management Center at CISA Bob Kolasky; U.S. Election Assistance Commission Chairman Donald Palmer; NASS President Maggie Toulouse Oliver; NASED President Michelle Tassinari; and Escambia County (Florida) Supervisor of Elections David Stafford issued the following joint statement:
“Election security is achieved through proactive planning and preparedness across the election community. Tabletop the Vote 2021 gave election professionals, federal and state security partners, and private sector representatives from around the country the opportunity to discuss and share protocols and communications to ensure a coordinated effort to strengthen and protect voting processes in the United States. We remain committed to this effort and to supporting election officials, federal partners, and others who serve on the front lines of our nation’s elections.”
This year’s Tabletop the Vote included representatives from across the federal government, including CISA, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, Department of Defense, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Department of Justice, U.S. Cyber Command, U.S. Northern Command, National Security Agency, National Guard Bureau, Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Postal Service, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology. State and local officials from 45 states, two territories, and the District of Columbia participated, as well as over a dozen election security industry partners.
Congratulations: Congratulations to Jeff Franklin, the chief cyber officer for the Iowa secretary of state’s office for receiving the National Association of Secretaries of State Medallion Award. Franklin was honored by Secretary of State Paul Pate for his service to state government and efforts to enhance Iowa’s election security. Franklin served as the State of Iowa’s Chief Information Security Officer for 10 years prior to joining the Secretary of State’s Office in February 2020. During Franklin’s tenure with the Secretary of State’s Office, he assisted counties with transitioning their websites to the more secure dot-gov domain, helped launch partnerships with private sector security researchers, and played a large role in bolstering Iowa’s election cyber maturity. “Jeff has provided excellent advice and direction gained from many years of experience in leading roles for the State of Iowa’s cybersecurity,” Secretary Pate said. “He brought a methodical approach to our election cybersecurity and created a framework from which we can build into the future. I’m very appreciative of all his efforts.”
Federal Legislation: Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar who chairs the Senate Rules Committee, said in an interview that while the priority continues to be passing the legislation known as the For the People Act, which would usher in minimum voting standards in the U.S. such as automatic and same-day voter registration, early voting and no-excuse absentee voting that Democrats could also use the process known as reconciliation to advance financial incentives for states to adopt certain reforms. Election systems have been designated critical infrastructure on par with the nation’s power plants, banks and dams. “You can do election infrastructure in there because that is part of infrastructure,” Klobuchar said according to The Associated Press. “It’s no substitute for the For the People Act, but it is something we can start working on immediately and are working on right now.” Under the congressional budget process, certain measures regarding revenues, spending and the debt can be approved with a 51-vote threshold, which is why Democrats are pursuing it. The process allows them to bypass a near-certain filibuster from Republicans. But there’s a catch: The Senate’s nonpartisan parliamentarian can rule for the removal of any provision not directly related to the budget, or items whose budget impact is “merely incidental” to their intended policy changes.
Reps. Claudia Tenney (R-New York) and Elise Stefanik (R-New York) have introduced the “End Zuckerbucks Act” would prohibit tax-exempt non-profit organizations from donating money directly to election administrators or risk losing that preferential status.
Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Arizona) has introduced a bill, Securing America’s Elections Act of 2021, that would require states to ensure all voting machines leave a paper trail that can be double checked. Additionally, bill would nudge states toward using voting machines based on public, open-source technology, in order to make vote tallies more transparent and less reliant on programming privately owned by the companies that make the voting machines.
Colorado: Broomfield City Council voted unanimously to refer a ranked-choice voting ballot measure to voters. They’ll be asked this November to weigh in on whether the city should use ranked-choice voting to elect its mayor and council, starting in 2023. Ranked-choice voting “would provide opportunities for more candidates to freely run for office while encouraging positive yet competitive campaigns where the winner is chosen by a majority of the voters,” Councilmember Deven Shaff said in a Wednesday statement from the advocacy group Ranked Choice Voting for Colorado. If voters approve the ballot measure, Broomfield would follow the lead of Boulder, where in 2020, citizens decided to elect their mayor by ranked-choice voting in 2023.
Massachusetts: Voters in cities and towns with municipal elections this summer and fall, including Boston, would be able to cast their ballots by mail without an excuse or in person during early voting days under a compromise bill lawmakers filed Friday. After allowing pandemic-era election policies to lapse on June 30, House and Senate negotiators reached a deal on a fiscal 2021 spending bill that effectively revives and extends the voting provisions until Dec. 15. A six-person conference committee filed the proposed agreement on competing supplemental budgets (H 3871 / S 2845) with the House clerk’s office Friday afternoon, 15 days after legislative leaders formed the panel. The bill could be sent to Gov. Charlie Baker next week. In its version of the supplemental budget, the House voted to make mail-in voting and expanded early voting permanent but only in even-year state primaries, general elections and municipal elections that fall on the same day. The solution that legislative negotiators reached flips the expired pandemic voting law temporarily back into effect with a new end date of Dec. 15, punting the long-term debate to another time. The bill is now headed to Gov. Charlie Baker’s desk.
Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania Republicans plan to reintroduce their election overhaul legislation — which Gov. Tom Wolf vetoed last month — now that Wolf has changed his public position to say he’s open to new voter ID requirements. Wolf told the Philadelphia Inquirer last week that he is open to new voter ID rules. In announcing his plan to reintroduce his bill, state Rep. Seth Grove (R., York), the chair of the House State Government Committee, cited Wolf’s comments to The Inquirer. It’s unclear whether Wolf will be open to negotiating the reintroduced bill. He told The Inquirer that he had prejudged the original voter ID proposal as suppressive before seeing it — and that he believes he was right — and that he didn’t negotiate because he didn’t believe Republicans were acting in good faith. But he also signaled that he is open to some stricter measures, including requiring ID for mail voting. Grove’s original bill would have changed nearly every aspect of elections, including registration, voting by mail, in-person voting, vote counting, and post-election audits. Some provisions would likely have expanded access to the ballot, such as the establishment of in-person early voting, while others may have restricted access, especially in the state’s largest counties. For example, standards on the use of mail-ballot drop boxes would have limited Philadelphia to a lower number per resident than other counties. Grove said in his memo that the bill would be updated to include changes sought by State Reps. Jared Solomon (D., Philadelphia) and Mark Longietti (D., Mercer). The updated bill would also include $3.1 million in state funding to create and operate a Bureau of Election Audits within the Department of the Auditor General.
New York: Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a package of election reforms into law, which will affect voters, election boards and candidates. Cuomo says the goal was to make it easier for voters to vote and to streamline some processes for boards of elections. Here are the changes: Eliminating signed absentee ballot applications and allowing absentee ballots postmarked by Election Day to be considered timely. Allowing voters to request absentee ballots through electronic means. Requiring boards of elections to post information about changes in polling places. Conforming deadlines for the mailing of applications for absentee ballots to USPS guidelines. Allowing candidates who have lost primaries to be removed from ballots as candidates for different parties. Increasing election district registrant enrollment from 1,150 to 2,000. “This sweeping, comprehensive package of legislation will make it easier for voters, candidates and boards of elections to perform their critical functions and keep our democracy running,” said Cuomo. “Elections have enormous consequences for New Yorkers across the state, and these reforms will bolster their ability to use their voices at the ballot box.”
Texas: Rep. Steve Toth (R-The Woodlands) has introduced legislation calling for an audit of the 2020 general election in some of the state’s largest counties, most of which were won by Joe Biden in the presidential race. The proposal did not specify which results would be checked. The audit would apply to counties with populations over 415,000. The bill calls on the governor, lieutenant governor and House speaker to appoint a third party to perform a forensic audit starting Nov. 1 and to be completed by Feb. 1, 2022. “Not later than March 1, 2022, the independent third party conducting the audit under this section shall submit a report to the governor, lieutenant governor, speaker of the house of representatives, and each member of the legislature detailing any anomalies or discrepancies in voter data, ballot data, or tabulation,” the bill reads. The legislation was filed on July 12, the same day Texas House Democrats fled to Washington. House Republicans in Austin can’t hear bills in committee or on the floor as long as there’s not a quorum of two-thirds of representatives present.
Alaska: In a 4 to 1 decision, the Alaska Supreme Court prioritized voter discretion and potentially limited the governor’s veto authority in a decision last week that allows a recall effort against Gov. Mike Dunleavy to proceed. The recall process began in 2019 and the legal fight started after the state elections director refused to certify the recall application, asserting it wasn’t legally or factually sufficient. The Alaska Supreme Court in May 2020 upheld a lower court ruling that said the Alaska Division of Elections had improperly rejected the petition seeking Dunleavy’s removal. But the decision outlining the ruling wasn’t published and publicly available until last week. The 58-page opinion written by Justice Peter Maassen finds that if the petition meets legal grounds, then voters, not state elections officials or judges, should decide what justifies a recall. The state had argued the Division of Elections and the courts “should act as gatekeepers to determine which allegations are serious enough to be presented to the voters” and called some of the accusations “harmless” and without long-term effect, Maassen wrote.
Arizona: Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Michael Kemp rejected claims by Senate President Karen Fann that documents in the hands of Cyber Ninjas, including who is financing the review, are not public records and need not be disclosed. Kemp rejected arguments that only documents in the Senate’s actual possession are subject to the state’s public records law. “Nothing in the statute absolves Senate defendants’ responsibilities to keep and maintain records for authorities supported by public monies by merely retaining a third-party contractor who in turns hires subvendors,’’ Kemp wrote. He noted that Fann herself made statements that the audit is a public function. Allowing those documents to now be shielded, the judge said, “would be an absurd result and undermine Arizona’s strong public policy in favor of permitting access to records reflecting governmental activity.’’ Significantly, the information the judge said should be released to the public includes who is financing the audit. The $150,000 the Senate agreed to pay Cyber Ninjas “appears to be far short of paying the full cost,’’ Kemp said.
Florida: An appeals court dismissed eight county elections supervisors from a lawsuit seeking to require preservation of digital ballot images generated in elections. The Florida Democratic Party, Democratic lawmakers and other plaintiffs filed the lawsuit last year in Leon County circuit court against Secretary of State Laurel Lee, state Division of Elections Director Maria Matthews and elections supervisors in Broward, Orange, Lee, Duval, Hillsborough, Palm Beach, Pinellas and Miami-Dade counties. The public-records lawsuit focused on ballot images that are created when ballots are scanned. It contended that some county supervisors of elections do not preserve the images, which could be needed to verify the accuracy of vote counts. Then-Leon County Circuit Judge Charles Dodson in August dismissed Matthews from the case but let it move forward against Lee and the county supervisors. The supervisors went to the 1st District Court of Appeal, arguing that they should have been sued in their home counties, instead of in Leon County. The appeals court agreed Monday in a six-page opinion and dismissed the supervisors from the case. “In this case, the appellees (the Democratic Party and other plaintiffs) have alleged that the supervisors have put their First Amendment rights at risk, but they have not explained how,” said the opinion, written by Judge Thomas Winokur and joined by Judges Stepanie Ray and Robert Long. “They also argue that equal-protection rights may be violated if digital ballot copies are destroyed because paper ballots lost before a recount would not be tallied and some voters’ voices would not be heard. But this possible danger does not show that the supervisors are invading the appellees’ constitutional rights in Leon County, and certainly does not satisfy the requirements of (a type of legal exception) allowing them to be sued in Leon County.”
Georgia: Superior Court Judge Brian Amero has dismissed a lawsuit that sought to overturn the runoff elections that gave Democrats control of the U.S. Senate. The lawsuit aimed to void the election of Georgia’s Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff to the U.S. Senate. The latest lawsuit contested the Senate election results and sought a new election to be conducted on paper ballots. The plaintiff, Fulton County resident Michael Daugherty, said the senate election was marred by misconduct, raising doubts that Warnock and Ossoff were the true winners. He cited allegations of improper ballot counting at State Farm Arena in Atlanta on election night in November. Those allegations were investigated and debunked by the Secretary of State’s Office. The defendants in the lawsuit included Warnock and Ossoff, as well as Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, the State Election Board, and election boards in Fulton, DeKalb and Coffee counties. In court briefs and arguments, they said Daugherty’s arguments have already been rejected by judges in other lawsuits. They said the problems he cited occurred in November, not during the January runoff. They argued the election challenge was filed too late and that the lawsuit was not properly served on Warnock and Ossoff. Amero agreed the challenge was not filed in time and that the senators were not properly served.
Indiana: A federal appeals court upheld a decision blocking enforcement of an Indiana law that voter rights advocates say illegally purges voters from the rolls without adhering to federally mandated election law safeguards. Legal fights over how Indiana removes the registrations of voters who may have moved have carried out since 2017, with voter rights groups mostly winning protections against voter purges in court. On Monday, these groups added U.S. Circuit Judge Diane Wood’s 31-page decision to that list of victories. The groups say two laws in recent years — SB 422 and the more recent SEA 334, or Act 334 — circumvent rules put in place by the National Voter Registration Act, or NVRA, meant to govern the fair and safe maintenance of voter registrations and target minority voters in particular. The Indiana government and proponents of the laws say they are meant to promptly correct discrepancies in the state’s voter registrations in the name of defending against election fraud.
Michigan: Matthew DePerno, an attorney for a local man who accused Antrim County of voter fraud is appealing a judge’s dismissal of an election-related lawsuit, records filed in 13th Circuit Court show. DePerno filed the claim of appeal Wednesday on behalf of Bill Bailey, of Central Lake Township. Bailey filed suit Nov. 23, accusing the county of voter fraud and of violating his constitutional rights, after initial results of the 2020 Presidential election showed about 2,000 votes cast for then-President Donald Trump had mistakenly been assigned to then-challenger Joe Biden. Bailey also accused the county of diluting his vote, after a marijuana proposal, allowing a single dispensary in the Village of Central Lake passed by a single vote. On May 18, 13th Circuit Court Judge Kevin Elsenheimer dismissed the lawsuit, ruling the court had already provided Bailey with all the relief available to him. That relief included signing a court order in early December allowing Bailey’s forensic team access to the county’s election equipment and placing the equipment under a protective seal. Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, an intervening defendant, then sent Bureau of Elections staff to the Kearney Township Hall on Dec. 17, to train local volunteer poll workers for a hand recount of the county’s presidential election and later conducted statewide audits. Elsenheimer noted both these events in his dismissal.
New York: Bard College and several other petitioners including college President Leon Botstein, are suing the Dutchess County Board of Elections (BOE) in another attempt to have the Bertelsmann Campus Center designated as a polling place for District 5 in Red Hook. A 2020 lawsuit over the polling place resulted in Dutchess County Supreme Court Justice Maria Rosa designating the college as a polling place after it was learned that BOE Republican Election Commissioner Erik Haight was “untrue” when he testified to the judge about logistics. Voters in District 5 were able to cast their 2020 ballots at the campus center after Judge Rosa ordered it. Bard sent letters to the BOE in February and March of this year seeking to be designated as a place for votes to be cast. The BOE was supposed to designate the polling places by March 15 but failed to do it. “The inability of the BOE to reach a different result on or before March 15, 2021, cannot turn back the clock to some point in time before Judge Rosa’s orders,” said the attorneys. A postcard mailed to voters from the BOE in April was “confusing,” according to the latest lawsuit. Sent to voters in the district, it lists the church as the official polling place. However, it also says “you may continue to vote at the accessible polling place on this card.” Lawyers say that because the church is not “accessible” pursuant to the ADA, the card is misleading.
North Dakota: North Dakota is on the hook for nearly half a million dollars in plaintiffs’ attorney fees and costs stemming from tribal lawsuits over state voter identification requirements. An 8th U.S. Circuit of Appeals panel upheld a federal judge’s May 2020 order that the state pay $452,983. Secretary of State Al Jaeger told the Tribune in a statement that “The decision is being reviewed and all options are being considered.” He did not elaborate or say where the money would come from to pay the bill. The state in February 2020 agreed to settle longstanding legal disputes with Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa members as well as the Spirit Lake and Standing Rock Sioux tribes. The crux of the tribal claims was that North Dakota’s requirement that voters have identification with a provable street address creates a voting barrier for Native Americans who live on reservations where street addresses are hard to come by. The dispute at one point reached the U.S. Supreme Court. U.S. District Judge Dan Hovland in April 2020 approved the agreement, which included provisions that aimed to ensure Native American voters have valid IDs and can meet the address requirement. The deal also called for the state to reimburse each tribe up to $5,000 for the cost of issuing addresses and identification for that year’s election cycle, and to pay the cost of a mediator the two sides used. Jaeger at the time estimated the amount to be about $9,000. Plaintiffs’ attorneys also sought more than $1.1 million in attorney fees and expenses. The state found the claim unreasonable and objected. Hovland later sided with the tribes but reduced the amount by 60%, saying some claimed expenses were excessive. The state appealed, saying the request had been filed too late. The appellate judges agreed but said the gaffe was “excusable.” “There is no evidence that the plaintiffs acted in bad faith,” the panel wrote in its decision upholding Hovland’s order.
Wisconsin: A Wisconsin man who cast absentee ballots in St. Croix and Rock counties for the 2020 presidential election has been charged with four felonies, making him the second person in the battleground state to face charges stemming from the election. 64-year-old Michael Ray Overall claims that his voting twice was unintentional, according to the criminal complaint filed June 16. Overall, reached by phone on Monday, said he has not hired an attorney and reiterated that his voting twice was a mistake. The latest charges, filed in June, come in one of 27 cases referred by Wisconsin election officials to prosecutors out of more than 3 million ballots cast. No other charges have been brought from that group, and district attorneys have said they are not pursuing charges in 18 of those cases. The other eight are either still under review, or the district attorney did not provide an update Monday.
Opinions This Week
Illinois: Election laws
Iowa : Access to voting
North Carolina: Turnout
Oklahoma: Ballot review
Utah: Voting Rights Act
Washington: For the People Act
West Virginia: Joe Manchin
Wisconsin: Voting rights
Language Access For Voters: As we all eagerly await the release of census data, including the redistricting data file, another important data release by the Census Bureau is scheduled for December 2021 – the next set of Section 203 determinations. Section 203 has required the provision of language assistance for many Limited English Proficient (LEP) voters for more than four decades, and, when properly implemented, has increased civic participation by the covered language group. The Census Bureau is responsible for making the Section 203 determinations based on American Community Survey. Join us to review the previous determinations to assess which jurisdictions just missed coverage in 2016, and which may be covered during the next determinations, and hear from our guest election officials and voting rights advocates what can be done in preparation for the next set of determinations. When: July 22, 3:30pm Eastern. Where: Online.
For The People Act Unpacked: The FPA has received enormous media attention. The partisan battles have been well covered. Most Americans favor fair and just voting rights and laws. Most want voting to be accessible and simplified. Most want money influence on our campaigns and elected representatives eliminated or at least moderated. This NFRPP event will cover the issues in detail and offer a way to move this needle in the direction of a flourishing democracy. Speakers include: Daniel I. Weiner, deputy director of the Brennan Center’s Election Reform Program and Edward B. Foley the Ebersold Chair in Constitutional Law at The Ohio State University, When: July 22, 7:30pm Eastern. Where: Online.
Stewards of Democracy: A Conversation: Stewards of Democracy Initiative is a multi-pronged collaborative research effort of the EVIC at Reed College consisting of webinar conversations, a cross-sector book publication, and a research convening of election science academic researchers, local election official practitioners, and other election community stakeholders. Our first webinar, “Stewards of Democracy Initiative: A Conversation” will introduce the following SDI topics through lively and practical discussion between between academic researchers and local election officials: Diversity in Election Administration: Path to the Profession; The Voice of Local Election Officials in Election Reform; and Nonprofit Funding & Election Performance. When: July 27, 12pm Pacific. Where: Online.
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.
NISGIC Annual Conference: The 2021 NSGIC Annual Conference will be held September 20 – 24 as a hybrid event at the Renaissance Dallas Addison Hotel and leveraging technology to provide for virtual participation, as well. The safety and comfort of conference participants are paramount. We will be following all guidance in place at the time of the conference and working closely with venues to ensure full care is given. We understand that not all conference attendees will be able to join us in person. Those participating virtually can expect a rich experience with interactive plenary presentations, networking opportunities, and participatory workshops and other sessions. (We’re so sure you’re going to enjoy the experience, we urge you to consider participating from home or another space where you can give it your full attention.) Whether you attend in-person or virtually, the NSGIC Annual Conference is the hub of critical connections for state, local, tribal, and federal GIS policymakers and coordinators, private sector partners and solution-providers, and other leaders in the geospatial ecosystem. Like nowhere else, the NSGIC Annual Conference is a place where relationships are built, information is shared, and collaborations are born. When: September 20-24. Where: Hybrid—Dallas & Virtual.
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.
Campaign Manager, Bipartisan Policy Center— BPC is currently seeking candidates for a new role—Campaign Manager—to support the work of the Elections Project. The Elections Project explores and analyzes the entire election ecosystem, from voter registration to casting a ballot to the counting and finalizing of results. Its goal is to help policymakers enact sustainable bipartisan policy reforms, informed by election officials, that improve the voting experience for a diverse electorate. The Elections Project most recently launched the Business Alliance for Effective Democracy. BPC created the Business Alliance to provide an objective forum designed to facilitate proactive corporate engagement on polarizing election policy issues. The Alliance—comprised largely of Fortune 100 companies—focuses on concrete actions that corporate stakeholders can take to shore up our democracy in this fraught political moment. The Elections Project also runs BPC’s Task Force on Elections. This group of 28 state and local election administrators seeks achievable, bipartisan policy solutions that can be implemented well across the country. The Task Force forms the basis of the Elections Project’s focus on state-based policy reforms for voting. 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.
Chief Deputy County Clerk, Summit County, located in Utah, is seeking candidates with administrative professional experience for Chief Deputy Clerk. The Chief Deputy Clerk performs a variety of professional administrative and supervisory duties related to organizing, directing, and coordinating the various legally required functions of the office of the County Clerk. In the absence of the County Clerk, assumes all statutory authority and responsibility of the department. Works in close relationship with the Clerk. Appointments to this position are politically exempt from protection under county personnel policies and procedures; as such employee works at the will and pleasure of the clerk. May provide close to general supervision to Deputy Clerk(s) and Elections Clerk. We are a drug free workplace conducting pre-employment drug testing. We are an equal opportunity employer and encourage women, minorities, and the disabled to apply. Salary: $75,000. Application: For the 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.
Election Data Specialist, Boulder County, Colorado— Boulder County Elections has an opening for an Elections Data Specialist position. Our team is committed to setting the state and nationwide gold standard for what an accurate, transparent, organized, and efficient election looks like, and this position is critical to our success in fulfilling that aim. Note: experience with elections is not required – we are looking for someone who has experience and a passion for data and will train the successful candidate on elections. The Elections Division is committed to continual improvement, and we are looking for a team member who can help strengthen our team and our work by overseeing mission-critical process areas that demonstrate accountability to the public while also assuring data integrity. As a member of the election team, this position will be expected to emulate behaviors that demonstrate a commitment to all Clerk and Recorder values, including and not limited to equity, inclusion, accountability, and integrity. Throughout the year, this position works closely with all division staff as well as other election partners; and the ability to form effective, collaborative, communicative working relationships with fellow teammates while under tight deadlines and requirements is a must. This is a crucial role on our 13-member team who must work closely with team members to demonstrate the integrity of our elections to the public while providing robust and inclusive service to the voters of Boulder County. Salary: $66,324.00 – $95,496. Deadline: July 28. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Elections Intern, Douglas County, Colorado— The Douglas County Elections Internship Program is a unique opportunity for students interested in public service, government, and elections administration to gain hands-on experience in the Colorado electoral process. This paid internship program provides students with professional experience while gaining foundational knowledge in the areas of: Federal and state election law and rule; The role of the County Clerk and Recorder as Chief Election Official; Voter registration, education, and outreach; Election coordination and administration; and the Colorado mail ballot process. The Douglas County Elections Internship Program prepares students to serve as informed and engaged citizens while gaining valuable experience for their future careers. DEFINITION OF WORK: This is a highly flexible position ranging from general/clerical support to field/warehouse work. Incumbent will utilize problem solving and adaptability to assist with various tasks and projects including, data entry, mail processing, voting equipment configuration, polling center setup and tear down, basic technical support, and other duties related to Elections operations. Salary: $13.50 – 21.00 per hour. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Executive Director, National Vote at Home Institute— NVAHI (“Vote at Home”) is now accepting applications to fill its top leadership position of Executive Director. Vote at Home’s Executive Director will serve in a chief executive role and report directly to the board of the National Vote at Home Institute (a non-partisan, 501 c (3) organization). National Vote at Home Institute is a nonpartisan organization dedicated to making sure every American can vote in secure, safe, accessible, and equitable elections by expanding and improving vote by mail, absentee and early voting processes and supporting election officials, Secretary of States, Commissioners, and boards. The Vote at Home Executive Director shall be responsible for managing all aspects of the organizations’ operations, including: Strategy. Recommending, implementing, and effectively executing all VAH policies and key strategies and programs as approved by the board. Budget. Fundraising and budget administration, to ensure Vote at Home’s financial sustainability and the effective and efficient expenditure of available funds. Management. The proper management and supervision of all staff, contractors, and contracts to promote diversity and equity, ensure a collaborative and productive workplace, and comply fully with all applicable federal, state, and local laws. Partnerships. The creation of collaborative partnership relationships with other key organizations and individuals to help promote and amplify VAH’s work. Communication. The effective communication, in a wide variety of public and private forums, of Vote at Home’s vision, mission, key strategies, and core messages. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Elections Technical Specialist, Buncombe County, North Carolina— This position is part of a team managing physical election equipment and associated software. Primary responsibilities include preventative maintenance of voting machines, logic and accuracy testing, supply management, leading the mock election process, preparing laptops for voting locations, security monitoring, and in-house technology troubleshooting. The primary purpose of this position is to provide specialized technical work supporting election-specific systems related to voting equipment, elections software, audits, and precinct compliance. The ideal candidate will have excellent communication and organizational skills as this position requires significant coordination with outside departments and vendors. Responsibilities include budgeting and leading a team of personnel during elections to support voting locations. Overtime, including some weekends, is required during election periods. Warehouse management experience and IT experience preferred. Salary: $22.50-$29.81. Deadline: Aug. 31. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
GIS Specialist, Polk County, Florida— This position consists primarily of technical work using geographic information system software to create and maintain maps and street index. Following reapportionment in early 2022, tasks will include drawing new precinct boundaries and updating associated tables. Applicant must have experience working with GIS software and various databases, and outstanding attention to detail. All work will be performed in Winter Haven, Florida. For more information, inquire Loriedwards@polkelections.com
Policy Analyst, Bipartisan Policty Center— BPC is currently seeking a Policy Analyst to support the work of the Elections Project. The Elections Project explores and analyzes the entire election ecosystem, from voter registration to casting a ballot to the counting and finalizing of results. Our goal is to help policymakers enact sustainable bipartisan policy reforms, informed by election officials, that improve the voting experience for a diverse electorate. The Policy Analyst will play a central role in the development and implementation of the Election Project’s research and advocacy priorities. This analyst role is new and will include all existing priorities of the Elections Project as well as build on newer efforts focused on federal voting reforms. The Policy Analyst must be well-versed in election administration, eager to promote free and fair elections through evidence-based policy research. The position will report to the Director of the Elections Project Matthew Weil and work closely with others on BPC’s elections team. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Registrar of Voters, San Diego County, California— The Registrar of Voters of the County of San Diego is an executive management position reporting to the Assistant Chief Administrative Officer. The Registrar 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 provide access to the information needed to utilize the initiative, referendum, and recall petition processes. Salary: $170,000 – $190,000. 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.
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