In Focus This Week
Class is in session
VOTE Certification offered for Utah election officials
By M. Mindy Moretti
Ten years ago, Weber County, Utah Elections Directory Ryan Cowley received his CERA certification. For Cowley, it serves as the foundation of who he is as an elections administrator. But he worried about his colleagues who didn’t have the time or money to pursue a certification program so he began dreaming and planning.
“I began thinking about how we could bring this level of training to Utah and tailor it to our needs. I began making a list of potential courses and shared the idea with a few professors at local universities and they all thought it was a great idea, but it never went anywhere,” Cowley explained.
However, not long ago Professor Leah Murray at Weber State University who had been assigned to serve as the Academic Director of the Olene S. Walker Institute of Politics & Public Service gave Cowley a call to see if there was anything they could work on together.
“I shared my idea and she was enthusiastic from day one and said, ‘We are going to make this happen!’ and here we are,’ Cowley said.
Here is the Olene Walker VOTE Certification Program. An elections certification program designed by Utah academics and election administrators specifically for Utah election officials.
Courses, which are taught in 2-3 course blocks with a cumulative seven hours allocated for each course, are offered in everything from process design & workflow management to data analytics to stress management and conflict resolution. Courses are offered mostly in-person, although there is a virtual option and will generally be held in January and March every year and in June in odd years and August in even years.
The program welcomed its first cohort of 36 officials from 14 Utah counties in June. According to Devin A. Wiser, executive director of Government Relations at the Olene S. Walker Institute at Weber State, the initial response from students has been overwhelmingly positive.
“We did a survey immediately after the courses wrapped up and the participants were very pleased with the subject matter, the professors, and are looking forward to continuing the certification in January of next year,” Wiser said.
As previously mentioned, the idea of a program had been stewing in the mind of some local county elections officials, but they were never able to find a successful partner that was willing to do the on-the-ground work. That changed last year when the Walker Institute of Politics and Public Service at Weber State University got new leadership.
“We created a small committee that has become known as the Jedi Council. The group includes Shelly Jackson (Lt. Governor’s Office), Rozan Mitchell (Utah County), and myself along with the Walker Center,” Cowley said. “The Jedi Council has been instrumental in creating the program and its content.”
Wiser said the team of election officials met (at least) weekly to come up with the curriculum and courses they wanted to pursue.
“It was incredibly helpful to have the team that works in elections on a day to day basis giving us ideas, feedback, and guidance. We also want to make the course adaptable, so we will solicit feedback from participants in an on-going basis to find out what topics they want to have covered,” Wiser said.
And the program isn’t just about the coursework—although that’s a huge part of it—it’s also about making connections with other elections officials.
“We wanted to create a program where they would not only get informative coursework done, but also a place where they could build a network, share best practices, and just generally feel supported,” Wiser said. “I’ve never worked directly in elections like our participants have, but just being involved in creating this work, I can see what a huge lift it is to make a smoothly-run election happen and I’m sure it can be isolating at times. So having the academic side is important, but building that support system is also at the heart of what we are doing.”
According to Cowley the three key things needed to make the program a success were:
- Input from local election officials that can determine the course content and needs of election officials.
- A partner that can find quality instructors and manage the program, logistics, registration, and all of the other little details.
- Funding. Someone has to pay the bill.
“The Lieutenant Governor’s office of Utah was hugely supportive and funded the program for the first year, but we (in collaboration with the LG’s office) wanted the participants to have some buy-in, so they pay $100 per session,” Wiser said.
While there are other election certification programs available, for Cowley and those involved, what makes the VOTE Certification program unique is it designed specifically for Utah elections officials.
“Two main differences are that it is tailored to the needs of election officials in Utah and the other is that it is a low-cost, high-value alternative that is designed so that employees of every sized county (from 700-650,000 registered voters) can afford to get professional training,” Cowley said.
Wiser encouraged his colleagues at universities in other states to reach out to some of their local election officials and gauge their interest in not only participating, but in helping develop the program. And to local elections officials who would like to get something started he had some advice as well.
“To elections officials out there, I would suggest that they not be shy about finding a partner in higher education, especially those with political institutes,” Wiser said. “They have the expertise to know how to get something like this across the finish line and combine that with the knowledge base that the local election officials bring, a very strong program can be created.”
Why it Matters
Weber County Clerk Auditor Ricky Hatch and his entire staff are participating in the VOTE Certification program.
“I’m so glad our entire office is participating. This training helps election staff of all levels, regardless of their specific duties,” Hatch said. “It’s a total bargain. This is world-class education at fast food prices. You’ll learn not just about elections-specific principles, but also non-election topics that will make you a better administrator, public servant, and frankly, a better human being. Plus you get a certification that means something.”
Hatch said he has been impressed with Masters-level quality education from experts who know their topic and know how to teach effectively. He said that he’s really looking forward to the “Nerd Alert: Data Analytics” class
“I often think to myself I wish I knew the stats for [insert election statistic here]! I want to gather and analyze so many different data points, but our team is so busy doing their day job, I don’t want to place additional burdens on them,” Hatch said. “Hopefully this class will help me understand better ways to efficiently gather data, as well as analyze it and effectively present the resulting information.”
Hatch, who hasn’t been able to complete his CERA yet largely due to the high costs, said he would participate in this even if he had his CERA because of its mix of Utah-specific election topics and other high-quality topics that are not normally found in other election certification programs, such as Process Design & Workflow Management.
“Plus,” Hatch said. “I love learning with other amazing Utah election officials. There’s a special energy when election officials get together. Combine that with relevant topics and top-notch instructors, and it’s a home run.”
Cowley who is looking forward to the course on stress management echoed his boss’ thoughts about how a state-based certification system is so helpful.
“Literally no one starts their career thinking they will be running elections. In our office we have degrees in business information systems, geography, and library science,” Cowley said. “There are few places to go for training so we all learn on the fly. I hope this program can accelerate the learning process and build an incredibly deep pool of talent running elections in the state of Utah.”
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Election News This Week
Threats to Democracy: Several local elections officials testified before Congress this week about the threats they received for doing their jobs during the 2020 election cycle and beyond. Those testifying included former Maricopa County, Arizona Recorder Adrian Fontes—who is now running for secretary of state and Detroit Clerk Janice Winfrey. Winfrey, in testimony before the House Administration Committee, compared her experience to what happened to members of Congress when pro-Trump rioters breached the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. “If it weren’t for the work of local election officials, none of you would be here in this room. We just want to uphold democracy. We just want to ensure that every one votes. It is unfair. It’s unfair that we’re attacked for doing our job. I feel afraid,” Winfrey testified. Fontes urged Congress to take legislative action to protect state and local elections officials. “I strongly support legislative efforts to protect election officials in Arizona and across the country from harassment, intimidation, threats and political interference, so that they can safely perform their duties to serve voters and protect election integrity,” Fontes testifed.
Rage Against the Machines: After more than a year, the Shelby County, Tennessee council and the Shelby County election commission remain at odds over new voting equipment for county voters. In the latest round, the county commission rejected a resolution to purchase voting machines for a second time, sending a resounding message to the election commission that they still favor hand-marked paper ballots, not ballot marking devices. Commissioners later approved a resolution requesting that the county’s purchasing department assist with the procurement process for the purchase of voting machines and related software that support hand-marked paper ballots. “I can understand their position tonight,” Election Commission Chairman Brent Taylor told the Commercial Appeal. “Unfortunately, (the County Commission) is not charged with the responsibility of conducting elections. The Shelby County Election Commission is by statute charged with conducting elections by statute and we have said in order to conduct the elections in a free, fair, honest, open way we need these machines and it is the County Commission’s responsibility to fund them.” The machines in the contract voted down Monday would have been for ballot marking devices, which permit voters to cast their ballots using a screen and producing a printout with a bar code. The county’s current machines don’t produce a paper trail to allow voters to review their decisions. Taylor said he will take the decision back to his body to assess what their options are, which could be anything from rebidding the request for proposal or going to Chancery Court to force the commission to fund ballot marking devices. The issue has long stalled before the Shelby County Commission, with commissioners backing voter marked paper ballots and the Election Commission saying ballot marking devices are the best way forward. This is the second time the contract has come before the county commission. Last year, they voted down a contract that would have been for a hybrid system that allowed for both ballot marking devices and hand-marked paper ballots.
Takeover: According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, several Republican Georgia legislators are building a case for the state government to take over Fulton County elections. Under the new voting law that the Republican-controlled General Assembly passed this year, the State Election Board could replace a county’s election board after a performance review, audit or investigation, giving a temporary superintendent full authority over vote counting, polling places and staffing. Lawmakers are demanding answers from Fulton, with the possibility that unsatisfactory responses could start the takeover process. State Senate President Pro Tem Butch Miller, (R-Gainesville) running for lieutenant governor, is considering calling for a performance review based on questions about ballot scanning and audit tally sheet totals. State Sen. Burt Jones (R), wants legislative hearings. While legislators could start the takeover process, the decision about whether to do so rests with the State Election Board, made up of three Republicans and one Democrat. The head of Fulton’s Senate delegation, Democratic state Sen. Jen Jordan, said a takeover appears likely. “They’re absolutely trying to build this record so that when and if the State Election Board wants to come in and take over Fulton County, they’ll have enough of a paper trail to do it,” said Jordan, who is running for attorney general. Matt Mashburn, a Republican member of the State Election Board, said Georgia’s voting law includes safeguards that ensure performance reviews and public hearings before a county election board could be replaced. A replacement superintendent could serve up to nine months before being eligible for removal by the county government. “At some point, things have to get so bad that the state has to reassert itself,” Mashburn said. “The critics who are saying this is just a Republican plot to take over Democratic counties, that’s not an accurate description of the board or the law.” On Thursday the paper reported that they had taken the first steps to take over Fulton County.
Support for Election Officials: The California Voter Foundation (CVF) it is beginning a new project to develop a nonpartisan, nationwide collaborative initiative of election community leaders to work together to support and defend U.S. election officials and election administration. The project is supported by a $157,000 grant awarded to CVF from Craig Newmark Philanthropies. “Election officials are the frontline workers of democracy, and they are under attack across the country,” said CVF president and founder Kim Alexander. “We are grateful to Craig Newmark Philanthropies for support at this critical time in U.S. elections.” Last month CVF released a report, “Documenting and Addressing Harassment of Election Officials”, resulting from interviews with eleven election officials from six states. Ten of the eleven election officials interviewed reported enduring death threats, other threats, or abusive language resulting from the 2020 Presidential election. One of the primary recommendations of the report is to develop a cross-sector network of support for election officials. A nationwide Brennan Center survey of 233 local election officials found that one in three endured threats and nearly one in five listed threats to their lives as a job-related concern. “Leaders in the election community across multiple sectors are already working hard to support election officials and improve election administration,” said Cathy Darling Allen, CVF Board Chair and County Clerk and Registrar of Voters for Shasta County, CA. “CVF’s project will amplify those efforts with a focus on increasing election administration funding, improving legal and law enforcement protections and curtailing harmful election disinformation.”
Chain of Custody: Back in the 1950s, Odessa, Florida resident Linda Martin’s father rescued two old ballot boxes—one wooden, one metal—from the trash at the county courthouse. Since then they’ve been serving as home décor. Martin recently opened the ballot boxes for the first time and the wooden box had ballots in it from 1906. “They tell a story,” Martin told the Tampa Bay Times. “They tell us how far our elections have come.” According to the paper, The boxes and the ballots represent when Hillsborough’s boundaries extended to the other side of the bridge, when white supremacy was on the verge of denying Black residents the right to vote, and when elections were easily corruptible. The metal barrel-shaped box, possibly from Ybor City, might have a direct link to an alleged crooked election. “The hot districts were always Ybor and West Tampa,” Andy Huse, a librarian with the University of South Florida’s Special Collections Department, said. “You never know what could happen there.” The year 1906 also hosted the second to last election before Jim Crow laws suppressed the Black vote in municipal polls. It must have been easy to fix elections when boxes with locks were all that were used for security,” Martin said. Laughed Huse, “What security.” Hillsborough elections back then, he said, were “dirty.” In 1928, according to news archives, two masked gunmen stormed into a Hyde Park polling station and stole the ballot box. Beginning in 1937, new lever-operated voting machines were used in Hillsborough elections because they were more difficult to manipulate. Martin wants to donate the boxes to a museum. The Tampa Bay History Center is interested.
Personnel News: Becky Galliher is retiring as the long-time Iredell County, North Carolina board of elections director. Fred Piercy is retiring as the Caldwell County, North Carolina board of elections. Blaine County, Idaho Clerk JoLynn Drage is retiring on Sept. 1 after nearly 15 years on the job. Jolene Holcombe is retiring as the St. Mary Parish, Louisiana registrar of voters. Hinds County, Mississippi Election Commissioner Toni Johnson resigned as the board’s chair. George Shafer and Shannon Smith have joined the Wilkes County, North Carolina board of elections. Sheila Perry Evans has joined the Chowan County, North Carolina board of elections. Sandra Watson and Wendy Warwick have joined the Transylvania County, North Carolina board of elections. Roxzine Stinson is the new Lubbock County, Texas elections administrator after serving 16 years as chief deputy. Debra Francica has been named as the interim Bergen County, New Jersey superintendent of elections and Jamie Sheehan-Willis as the deputy.
Louisiana: Louisiana Republicans have narrowly failed to override any of Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards’ vetoes in the legislature’s first-ever override session since the adoption of Louisiana’s current constitution in 1974. Republicans had been trying to undo Edwards’ vetoes of bills addressing several topics, including two that would have added voter ID requirements for absentee voting and banned private grants from philanthropic groups seeking to remedy the underfunding of election administration. Thanks in large part to their existing gerrymanders, Republicans nominally hold a veto-proof majority in the state Senate and are just two seats shy of the two-thirds mark in the state House, where a trio of independent members hold the balance of power. However, not only did GOP leaders fail to convince a sufficient number of Democrats or independents in the House to side with them, they were unable to even get their whole caucus to show up to override the vetoes in the upper chamber. (Overrides in Louisiana require a two-thirds vote of all members, not just those present.)
Maine: Maine residents soon will be able to register to vote via a secure online portal. Gov. Janet Mills (D), has signed a proposal passed by the Maine Legislature that proponents said will expand voting access. Democratic Rep. Teresa Pierce proposed the law, which goes into effect in November 2023. Pierce said Friday that the new law will “modernize our voter registration system while prioritizing accessibility and security.” The Maine Department of the Secretary of State will implement the new law.
Massachusetts: Boston city councilors on approved two home rule petitions that, if supported by state lawmakers, will allow eligible voters to register on Election Day and continue early voting and vote-by-mail options for city elections. Councilor Ricardo Arroyo, who sponsored both proposals, has said the measures would help remove barriers for residents who have been historically disenfranchised. Councilors unanimously supported the petition to make permanent the popular early voting and vote-by-mail options voters used during last year’s elections amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The second petition, which would allow voters to register and vote on the same day, passed 11-1, with Councilor Frank Baker voting in opposition.
New York: Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today signed legislation (S.1277A/A.4257A) that provides a more flexible approach to election worker training, permitting both online and in-person instruction and examination of election inspectors, poll clerks and election coordinators. In-person training may still be required for specialized issues, such as the use of voting machines. Additionally, this legislation removes the requirement that the course of instruction be taken every year. Election inspectors, poll clerks and election coordinators will still be required to pass the annual examination, but they will only need to take the training course once. “Zoom and virtual meetings are not going away in a post-pandemic world and its important that our laws continue to be modernized to fit current and future needs of New Yorkers,” Governor Cuomo said. “Elections are a key component to our democracy and expanding laws to allow for online training will help ensure election workers receive the training they need without antiquated barriers getting in the way.”
Ohio: Rep. Bride Rose Sweeney (D-Cleveland) has introduced a repeal of one new law to prevent collaboration between elections officials and private groups that educate, motivate or advocate for voters. She also wants to repeal the budget’s ban on legal settlements between public officials and third parties that could lead to costly lawsuits. She says both provisions were passed hastily, as part of the state budget, without proper testimony and debate. “That’s not how the process should work. That’s not what the state budget should be about, making vast policy changes in the dead of night,” Sweeney says. Sweeney says she doubts either bill would have passed on their own merits.
Texas: According to Texas Monthly, lawmakers, apparently without most of them realizing it, included a new provision in the election bill that has implications for as many as 1.9 million Texas voters, about 11 percent of the state’s voting population. Why? Because it would beef up ID requirements for absentee ballot applications, requiring voters to provide either a partial Social Security number or a driver’s license number. The county then compares that number to the identification number on file in the voter registration system. But those nearly 2 million Texans only have one of those two numbers in the system, not both. So, if they guess wrong when they apply — easily possible if they registered to vote years before — their application would be immediately rejected with no clear way to appeal. Texas lawmakers were made aware of this problem. Chris Davis, the elections director in Williamson County, testified before the House committee and urged them to address it. “I challenge any person on the committee: Do you remember what you filled out when you got your voter registration?” he asked. “I certainly don’t. And I’m in the business of this. And if they don’t match, we’re rejecting.”
U.S. Department of Justice: The Justice Department has issued a pair of new guidance documents to states and voters to remind them of their responsibilities — and their rights. The first document makes clear that states are required to preserve election materials, such as ballots, without damage or destruction, for 22 months following a federal election. That’s a heightened concern for U.S. authorities after Arizona lawmakers hired a private contractor with no election-related experience to perform a review. In other guidance, authorities also want to make clear that states that reverse changes they made to accommodate voters during the pandemic will get no “safe harbor” from the Justice Department if the backsliding is motivated by discrimination or has a discriminatory effect. “We are keeping a close eye on what’s going on around the country,” said a Justice Department official, who requested anonymity to brief reporters. “If they’re going to conduct these so-called audits, they have to comply with federal law.”
Colorado: A pair of lawyers scolded by a federal magistrate over their lack of evidence of a stolen presidential election asked for and were denied another hearing. “To be blunt, that train left the station last Friday,” U.S. Magistrate Judge N. Reid Neureiter said in his order denying the request. “The sanctions motions have been argued and submitted.” A class-action lawsuit filed in December by Denver lawyers Gary D. Fielder and Ernest J. Walker sought $1,000 a voter for more about 160 million voters, a total of roughly $160 billion, against Denver-based Dominion Voting Systems, Facebook and elected officials in four states, as well as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, on the list of 18 defendants plus “Does 1 to 10,000,” meaning yet unnamed defendants. The lawsuit accuses the defendants of conspiring to cost President Donald Trump last November’s election. Neureiter dismissed the original lawsuit in April, less than 24 hours after hearing arguments, citing the same procedural problem as dozens of similar failed voting integrity lawsuits: none of the plaintiffs could demonstrate how they were harmed, a dilemma lawyers call standing. During Friday’s hearing, Neureiter pressed Fielder if he did any independent research on allegations, including that Dominion rigged its voting equipment to throw voters from then-President Donald Trump to Joe Biden.
Connecticut: Michael DeFilippo, 35, a member of the Bridgeport City Council is facing federal election crime charges after he allegedly falsified voter registration applications and forged signatures on absentee ballots to vote him onto the council in 2017 and 2018. DeFilippo is facing one count of conspiracy against rights, four counts of identity theft and 11 counts of fraudulent registration. An indictment said that DeFilippo “conspired to interfere with and obstruct Bridgeport citizens’ right to vote by falsifying his tenants’ voter registration applications and absentee ballots applications, then stealing tenants’ absentee ballots and forging their signatures in order to fraudulently vote for DeFilippo,” a news release from the U.S. Department of Justice said. DeFilippo entered a not guilty plea to the charges, and is free on a $250,000 bond. If found guilty, DeFilippo could face up to 10 years in prison for the conspiracy offense, alongside five years per count of identity theft and fraudulent registration.
Florida: The fight to allow felons who are too poor to pay their court-ordered fines and fees continued in an Atlanta appellate court. Last September, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Florida’s requirement that felons must pay all fines, fees and restitution before their voting rights are restored. The court ruled the financial obligations were a punishment for a crime, not a tax. The Southern Poverty Law Center argues that Florida’s financial requirements disproportionately impact women of color and therefore violate the 19th Amendment. The argument provides a rare opportunity for the courts to weigh in on the scope of the 19th Amendment, which has only gone before the U.S. Supreme Court on two previous occasions. Earlier in the case though, a federal judge rejected the 19th Amendment claims made by the Southern Poverty Law Center. In the ruling, the judge argued the law has a greater impact on men, who are incarcerated at much higher rates.
Georgia: Attorney General Chris Carr (R) asked a judge to throw out a federal lawsuit against the state’s new voting law, saying the case by the U.S. Department of Justice is based on “political posturing rather than a serious legal challenge.” The motion to dismiss said Georgia’s voting laws are nondiscriminatory and ensure greater voter access than several Democratic-run states. “DOJ fills its complaint with innuendo and hyperbole. But such rhetoric does not make up for the lack of any factual allegations demonstrating that the General Assembly acted with a discriminatory purpose when it passed SB 202″ during this year’s legislative session, according to the motion. The Department of Justice contends that Georgia’s voting law violated the Voting Rights Act, the landmark civil rights law protecting racial minorities from discrimination. Carr’s filing argued that the federal government didn’t take aim at several Democratic states with less voting access, including Delaware, Maryland, New York, Rhode Island and Wisconsin. The motion cites the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling in an Arizona case that upheld its voting laws despite a challenge alleging they had a disproportionate impact on minority voters. The court decided that “usual burdens of voting” and “mere inconvenience” don’t violate laws barring discrimination.
Kansas: Shawnee County District Judge Teresa Watson is considering whether Kansas’ Republican secretary of state ran afoul of the state’s open records law by ordering the removal of an election database function that generates a statewide report showing which provisional ballots were not counted — a decision civil rights advocates say will have far-reaching implications for government transparency. Watson heard arguments last week in a lawsuit filed by voting rights activist Davis Hammet, who is the president of Loud Light, a nonprofit that strives to increase voter turnout. The group helps voters fix any issues that led them to cast provisional ballots so that their votes are counted. Hammet won a lawsuit last year against Secretary of State Scott Schwab that forced him to turn over to him the names of voters who cast provisional ballots in the 2018 general election, including whether their votes were counted. Schwab complied with the court’s order for the 2018 data, then instructed the outside firm that manages the database the end the secretary of state’s access to the statewide provisional ballot detail report. The state’s 105 counties can still run those reports, but only for their own local data. When Hammet tried to get the same information for the 2020 primary election, the secretary of state’s office informed him that it no longer had the ability to provide the statewide report. Court filings show he was told the technology firm that manages the database could manually pull the data for $522, but could not guarantee he would get it in time for the general election. The American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas again sued Schwab on behalf of Hammet.
Also in Kansas, Douglas County District Attorney Suzanne Valdez says she won’t prosecute anyone under a new state law that caused nonprofits to halt voter registration efforts at the start of July. The legislation includes a provision that makes it illegal for individuals to engage in conduct that would cause someone to believe they are an election official. Valdez said the law is vague and subjective, and that it is already illegal to impersonate an election official. “This is not a partisan issue,” Valdez said. “This law criminalizes essential efforts by trusted nonpartisan groups like the League of Women Voters to engage Kansans on participation in accessible, accountable and fair elections. It is too vague and too broad and threatens to create felons out of dedicated defenders of democracy.” Jill Jess, a spokeswoman for Valdez, said the district attorney’s office would refuse to prosecute anybody under any other provision of the new law, which also deals with signature matching, tampering with mail-in ballots and obstructing election workers.
Maryland: A hearing is set for next month in a lawsuit brought by two Republican political candidates who are suing to stop Annapolis from mailing ballots to all registered voters in its upcoming primary and general elections. Herb McMillan, a candidate for County Executive, and George Gallagher, a Ward 6 candidate in the city, filed the complaint in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court Thursday seeking to prevent the city from implementing the vote-by-mail system. In an emergency hearing Friday afternoon, Circuit Court Associate Judge William C. Mulford denied a motion by the plaintiffs’ attorney Charles Muskin for a temporary restraining order. A hearing is set for Aug. 2 to consider the legal arguments in the case, Muskin said. At that hearing, the court will hear arguments from Muskin, as well as attorneys for the city and county board of elections, on two legal questions posed in the lawsuit. The first will be over the legality of mailing ballots directly to voters; the second is whether the city is allowed to pay for the postage on the ballots that are returned, Muskin said. The lawsuit claims the system approved by the Annapolis Board of Supervisors of Elections in May, which includes paying for postage of all returned mail-in ballots, violates City Code and is unconstitutional.
Massachusetts: The Lowell City Council voted unanimously at a special meeting to seek a change to the voting consent decree to allow the city’s new election districts to be subdistricted and provide relief from any state laws pertaining to precincts for the upcoming municipal election. The joint motion must now be reviewed by the voting rights lawsuit plaintiffs’ attorneys before being entered in U.S. District Court, where it must be approved by a federal judge to take effect. Once approved, the amendment will allow the Election Commission to create subdistricts as it deems in the best interest of the city for the 2021 election. It will also relieve the city of any state laws relating to the size of precincts, reporting election results by precinct, and “any other provision of the general laws that cannot be reasonably applied because of the delay of the 2020 federal census.”
Michigan: In a consent decree quickly reached after a lawsuit last month, the city of Hamtramck has agreed to provide Bengali-language ballots and other assistance for the city’s Bangladeshi-American voters. The move comes just weeks before the Aug. 3 primary as the Bangladeshi-American community and other immigrant groups strive for political power. Some candidates who are Bengali speakers are among the candidates, including one running for mayor. U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith of the Eastern District of Michigan approved the consent decree on July 13 that requires the city of Hamtramck for four years to accurately translate all election materials and ballots into Bengali; assign bilingual Bengali speakers as poll workers and interpreters at all of the precincts and poll sites; hire a Bengali elections program coordinator; and form a Bengali language advisory group.
Matthew Smith pleaded not guilty in 67th District Court in Genesee County. He is charged with malicious use of a telecommunications device, a six-month misdemeanor. Smith allegedly made a threatening late-night phone call to Houghton County Clerk Jennifer Kelly on behalf of her then-opponent in March 2020. Smith allegedly threatened to “poison (Kelly’s) dogs, kill them and throw them in a dumpster.” He also allegedly directed slurs at her and made derogatory comments about the state of her house. Kelly’s then-opponent, Justin Kasieta, admitted he had been listening to the call, which he said was Smith’s idea, he said in a statement relayed to the Houghton County Sheriff’s Office. However, he did not recall any threats being made. Kelly went on to defeat Kasieta and win re-election in November.
Mississippi: Secretary of State Michael Watson filed suit in Madison County Circuit Court seeking a court order requiring the Canton Municipal Election Commission to certify the June 8 election results. The commission has refused to certify them, pointing to the fact Senior Status Judge Jeff Weill ruled that the committee overseeing the Democratic primary was invalid. Winners from the Democratic primary went on to the general election, and in most cases, were unchallenged. The secretary’s suit represents yet another legal challenge filed in response to the 2021 Canton elections. Three aldermen filed suit previously seeking the results of the Democratic primary to be thrown out. Candidates in two of those races have agreed to have new elections in August. Candidates in the third race, Colby Walker and Rodriquez Brown, are still going to court. Meanwhile, Republican mayoral candidate Chip Matthews is asking the judge to throw out the results of the general election, saying no Democratic candidate qualified to run. Matthews fell to incumbent Mayor William Truly, a Democrat by more than 200 votes. Watson argues he has requested the commission to certify the results multiple times, but to no avail. The secretary’s latest attempt was on July 15, when he sent a letter to the three-member commission “instructing them to certify the results as required by” Mississippi Code. The letter demanded a response by July 19.
Missouri: A three-judge panel of the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has ruled that Missouri must pay a more than $1 million legal bill in lawsuit the state settled in 2019 over its voter registration practices. The fees stem from a 2018 lawsuit filed against the state’s Department of Revenue and Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft by the Kansas City and St. Louis chapters of the League of Women Voters and the A. Phillip Randolph Institute, a Black trade unionists’ organization. A federal judge in Jefferson City ordered the state to send out thousands of registration forms ahead of the 2018 midterm elections. Missouri ultimately settled the suit in November 2019, agreeing to update the Department of Revenue’s website so that residents who change their address are automatically offered to be taken to the Secretary of State’s website to update their voter registration. The judge then awarded the plaintiffs more than $1.1 million in legal fees. Ashcroft and the state appealed, arguing they had been charged excessively and for too many attorneys.
North Carolina: N.C. Superior Court Judge Allen Baddour ruled that a nearly two-year-old lawsuit by a coalition of media organizations against state election officials over records connected to a secretive Trump administration voter fraud probe can continue — at least for now. The public origins of the case date back to the summer of 2018, when the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina dropped a set of sweeping subpoenas on state and county election boards demanding documents on every registered voter in the state going back years. Complying with the subpoenas would have required election officials to turn over millions of pages of records just days before the midterm election. Amid pushback, the U.S. Attorney’s Office quickly agreed to extend the deadline for production. But the demand also narrowed in scope with little explanation. Months later, the State Board of Elections quietly issued guidance to county boards to produce a much smaller trove of documents — this time focusing on about 800 specific voters.
Virginia: Rob Schilling a local radio host, filed the lawsuit last month in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia after he claimed he was briefly prevented from voting during the June 8 primary election in Albemarle County due to a face mask dispute. The lawsuit names as defendants county Registrar Jake Washburne, Election Officer Leo Mallek and two unnamed poll workers. “From the time Schilling entered the precinct until he was finally permitted to vote, approximately six minutes elapsed,” the lawsuit reads. “Had Mr. Schilling been permitted to vote without hindrance as described herein, he would have spent less time at the polling location.” Schilling further claims in the lawsuit that, because the poll workers were willing to make close bodily contact with him despite a dispute over COVID-19 safety precaution, it shows an intent to intimidate him. Schilling claims his right to vote was violated, he was the subject of voter intimidation and that he was the victim of assault, battery and false imprisonment at the hands of the two unnamed poll workers. The lawsuit requests an injunction preventing the defendants from hindering Schilling’s right to vote in future elections due to a refusal to wear a face mask, a judgment declaring that his constitutional rights were violated and compensatory damages and attorney fees.
Arizona: In an effort to dispel the mis/disinformation surrounding the 2020 election in Maricopa County, the county has created a website called JustTheFacts.Vote. “This is really meant to put to rest any of the wild conspiracy theories and well-intentioned misunderstandings,” Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer told KTAR News 92.3 FM. “If you’re still hearing things about Sharpies, which is something that the county has addressed time after time, you can find the true story on Sharpies and that Sharpies did not affect the tabulation of the 2020 ballots. “If you heard some unfounded allegation about 74,000 extra early ballots, you can learn why that is categorically false and that all of those ballots are accounted for,” Richer added. The website is also intended to lay out the processes and procedures that election department staff and bipartisan temporary workers follow each election as well as to explain why things are done a certain way. It’s divided into two main sections. One section focuses on the laws and guidelines that are in place to ensure there’s accuracy in each election, while the other section addresses what the elections department calls inaccurate claims about mail-in ballots, voter registration, election security and more.
Opinions This Week
National Opinions: Election reform | Voting rights, II, III, IV, V, VI | Native American voting rights | Voter suppression, II, III | Trust in elections | Noncitizen voting | Election officials | Election legislation
Arizona: Election laws
Florida: Voting rights
Colorado: Voting rights
Maryland: Voting rights
Mississippi: Voting laws
New York: Ranked choice voting | New York City board of elections, II
North Carolina: Election dates
North Dakota: Voter ID
Oregon: Voting system
Pennsylvania: Voting rights | Ballot review costs | Voting equipment | Stacey Abrams | Election integrity
South Carolina: Voting laws
South Dakota: Ranked choice voting
Texas: Youth vote
Utah: Ranked choice voting | Election fraud
Virginia: Voter suppression
Washington: Ranked choice voting | Voting rights
Wisconsin: Ballot review
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
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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.
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.
Senior Director of Election Security, CIS— CIS (Center for Internet Security) is the trusted guide to confidence in the connected world. CIS collaborates with the global security community to lead both government and private-sector entities to security solutions and resources. CIS is an independent, not-for-profit organization. The Senior Director of Elections Security works within the Operations and Security Services (OSS) Department at CIS and reports to the Vice President of Elections Operations. The Senior Director of Elections Security partners with key internal and external stakeholders and experts in the elections and standards communities to lead CIS efforts in developing best practices, processes, and tools to support the security of elections systems. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Vice President of Election Operations and Support, CIS— CIS (Center for Internet Security) is the trusted guide to confidence in the connected world. CIS collaborates with the global security community to lead both government and private-sector entities to security solutions and resources. CIS is an independent, not-for-profit organization. Reporting to the Executive Vice President for Operations and Security Services (OSS), the Vice President for Election Operations will oversee all elections-related efforts within CIS, most importantly the Elections Infrastructure Information Sharing and Analysis Center (EI-ISAC) and related elections community support sponsored by the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). This position will also manage election-related projects and activities that are funded by third parties or self-funded by CIS. The Vice President for Election Operations will lead an organization comprised of the CIS staff working on election-related efforts and will be responsible for outreach to U.S. state, local, tribal, and territorial election offices as well as private sector companies, researchers, and nonprofit organizations involved in supporting elections. This position may work remote in the US, with travel to our offices in Albany, NY and Washington, DC as needed. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
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Notice is hereby given that Yavapai County (“County”) will sell through sealed bids at Public Auction to the highest bidder (“Buyer”) the following property: BLUE CREST RELIA-VOTE OUTBOUND RIVAL INSERTING SYSTEM. (hereafter “Equipment”). Sealed bids will be received by the Board of Supervisors of Yavapai County, The Auction will take place in the office of the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors, Room 310, Yavapai County Administrative Services Building, 1015 Fair Street, Prescott, Arizona, at 1:30 p.m. Arizona time (by the official clock located in the office of the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors), on August 26th, 2021. No bids will be accepted after 1:30 p.m. The bids will be publicly opened and read aloud at 2:00 p.m. on Thursday, August 26th, 2021.
The Equipment is offered, purchased, and accepted by the Buyer “AS IS” and “WITH ALL FAULTS”. The County makes no warranties or guarantees whatsoever whether written, oral, or implied as to any matters, including but not limited to quality and condition. This equipment is six years old and has processed approximately 1.3 Million pieces of mail. A bid for less than $30,000 will not be considered.
Buyer will be responsible for the cost of breakdown, removal, and transportation of this equipment and must work within county dedicated business hours of Monday-Friday, 8AM – 5PM. Any other time frame must be agreed upon by the Buyer and the County. Equipment removal must be within 30 days of award. Potential bidders may view this equipment by appointment only by emailing email@example.com with the subject line BLUE CREST INSERTING SYSTEM, Attn: Laurin Custis. All information contained in the sale information was derived from sources believed to be correct, but there is no guarantee. Buyer acknowledges that it relied entirely on its own information, judgment and inspection of the property.
TERMS OF SALE
1. This is a cash sale.
2. Upon receipt of Notice of Acceptance of the successful bid, Buyer will arrange for delivery of a cashier’s check for the full amount bid and accepted payable to Yavapai County within 10 days.
The bidding will begin at the price of $30,000. Each bid submitted, either by hand, U.S. Postal Service, or other carrier, shall be sealed and plainly marked “BID TO PURCHASE BLUE CREST RELIA-VOTE INSERTING SYSTEM.” All bids shall be mailed or delivered to the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors, 1015 Fair Street, Room 310, Prescott, Arizona 86301. Yavapai County will not be responsible for those bids submitted that are not marked appropriately and/or sent to the wrong address.
Bidders are invited to be present at the auction opening of bids, but absence will not be considered cause for refusal.
If the successful bidder fails to complete the payment as required in the auction notice, the bid will be considered in forfeiture. In the event of forfeiture, the County may (1) declare that the next highest bid is accepted and that the bidder has five days after notification by the County to pay the bid amount by cashier’s check or (2) declare that the auction has been unsuccessful. The County may cancel this auction in whole or in part at any time prior to the acceptance of a final bid.