In Focus This Week
Chain of custody
DOJ, CISA and EAC have new guidance to help elections officials
By M. Mindy Moretti
While most (all) elections officials have a variety of chain of custody procedures in place, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) have all recently released guidelines/best practices/insights to help local elections officials ensure the integrity of their voting systems and provide transparency.
The EAC’s best practices outline 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.
The DOJ guidance document provides information on how states must comply with federal law when preserving and retaining election records and the criminal penalties associated with the willful failure to comply with those requirements. This guidance document also details the statutes that prohibit the intimidation of voters and the department’s commitment to act if any person engages in actions that violate the law.
Combined, these are three valuable new tools in the fight for election security and transparency. They can also play a key role in restoring and reassuring the public’s faith in voting systems.
“CISA regularly provides information to critical infrastructure partners across all sectors to help them manage risks to their systems. The guidance on safeguarding the chain of custody of critical systems is part of this mission,” said Geoff Hale, director of the Election Security Initiative at CISA. “While it may be particularly relevant to election officials at the moment, this risk management guidance reflects the leading practices that secure vital systems and data across critical infrastructure.”
Hale was quick to point out that this new guidance is not an indication of assessed poor practices, rather, it serves to reinforce leading practices across critical infrastructure.
“State and local elections officials are doing incredible work preparing for and administering elections amid the complex challenges of staffing shortages, cyber risks, threats of violence, and pervasive disinformation,” Hale said. “Securing the chain of custody of critical systems safeguards against unauthorized or unknown access and reduces the chances of damage and manipulation. Chain of custody documentation provides a foundation to either support or debunk claims about their elections. This guidance we issued is another tool local election officials can use to build trust through secure practices.”
Every election jurisdiction has its own controls for ensuring the chain of custody. Controls may include locks, seals, audit logs, witness signatures, or other security measures. The EAC Chain of Custody Best Practices 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.
“Audits have come under national scrutiny after the 2020 election, but most states have conducted post-election audits for decades,” said EAC Chairman Don Palmer. “What the 2020 election cycle demonstrated, is the need to have thorough written procedures and chain of custody forms that can demonstrate to the public that all of the measures election officials take to ensure the integrity of elections are followed in practice.”
According to Palmer, drawing from the EAC staff expertise, the new best practices document gives examples of checklists, forms, and other recommendations in one concise reference for officials to improve the systems already in place or think of these processes in a new way.
In addition to pressure from legislators and others for “audits” of the 2020 election, the number of tenured elections officials resigning in the past year also has the potential to leave a vacuum of information. Having strong chain of custody procedures can help alleviate some of that stress when there is staff turnover.
“With increased scrutiny of election administration, it is more important than ever for election officials to re-evaluate their existing chain of custody procedures to ensure their current process adequately demonstrates the trustworthiness of elections,” Palmer said. “One of the core missions of the EAC is to serve as a national clearinghouse and resource of information regarding election administration. We hope that by providing this guidance now, between national elections, it will be a helpful resource to aid election officials with drafting updated written chain of custody policies. With increasing scrutiny of elections, a solid foundation of chain of custody procedures will allow election offices to be successful when the inevitable close election results in a recount or audit.”
And ultimately, chain of custody forms provide documentation that can be used to authenticate election results, corroborate post-election tabulation audits, and demonstrate that election outcomes can be trusted.
“Transparency and openness are critical for public confidence. Confidence in the credibility of election results starts with the ability to provide strong evidence that election results are an accurate reflection of voters’ intent. Visualization of the steps administrators take to maintain chain of custody of ballots and equipment increases confidence in the electoral process,” Palmer said. “The physical evidence of an election, including voted ballots and/or a voter verifiable paper audit trail, and voting equipment are the core elements of any election”
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Election News This Week
Election Official and Campus Engagement National Survey: The ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge (ALL IN Challenge) and the Students Learn Students Vote (SLSV) Coalition are developing a report to better understand the extent to which colleges and universities and local election officials work with and have relationships with each other, promising and best practices within these relationships, opportunities to improve relationships and coordination between campuses and local election officials, and challenges encountered by both campuses and local election officials to better coordinate collective efforts. This report will be compiled through two separate surveys sent to local election officials and to campus contacts and will include one-on-one interviews with both groups. This survey is meant for Local Election Officials that have College Campuses within their jurisdiction. Please have only one representative from your office fill out this survey by 5 PM ET on Monday, August 16th.
Congratulations: The National Association of State Election Directors (NASED) announced that the Office of the Ohio Secretary of State is the recipient of the 2021 NASED Innovators Award for their Precinct Election Official Recruitment program for the 2020 election. Ohio was selected out of 14 submissions from 10 states. NASED President Michelle Tassinari said: “On behalf of NASED, I am proud to present the 2021 NASED Innovators Award to the Ohio Secretary of State’s office. Ohio was the first state to allow attorneys statewide to earn CLE credit for serving as poll workers, and their idea spread quickly to other states. It also led to a national partnership between NASED, our colleagues at the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS), and the American Bar Association in advance of the November 2020 election. This is exactly the kind of innovation and creativity in election administration that made the 2020 election a success under such difficult circumstances.” Electionline Weekly wrote about the program back in February of 2020.
Back to School: Rock the Vote is teaming with Atlanta Public Schools, the New Georgia Project and the parent company of the Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United to launch Democracy Class Atlanta. The initiative will try to leverage the allure of professional sports teams to help educate students on the civic process. “This is just the beginning,” said Carolyn DeWitt, the head of Rock the Vote. “We hope to build on this work here in Atlanta and take this model nationwide to empower young people across the country.” The program, which launches as Atlanta Public Schools students return to classes, offers lesson plans on the history of voting and the importance of local government. The goal is to reach 2,000 students in 11th and 12th grades across 10 Atlanta high schools. It will culminate with the major event at Mercedes-Benz Stadium with professional athletes, musicians and other famous figures. Students will be encouraged to register or pre-register to vote, sign up to be a poll worker and get involved in other ways. Arthur Blank, the owner of the sports teams, said the goal is to send the message that “every voice and every vote matters – and the right to vote is simply sacred.”
Suffrage News: Wyoming’s first “National Votes for Women Trail” historic marker was dedicated at the site of the former home of Esther Hobart Morris in Cheyenne. Morris was the first female justice of the peace in the United States. She was appointed in February 1870 on South Pass City. “Morris was a prominent supporter of Wyoming Legislative Council President William Bright’s 1869 suffrage bill that not only allowed women the right to vote, but to also hold office,” the Secretary of State’s Office said. The historic marker is located at 2114 Warren Avenue in Cheyenne. The public can view the marker and are “encouraged to use the visit as an opportunity to learn about the life and contributions of one of Wyoming’s most prominent historical figures.” The National Votes for Women Trail is an initiative that launched in 2020 and is sponsored by the National Collaborative for Women’s History Sites (NCWHS) and the William G. Pomeroy Foundation. The trail aims to commemorate the history of women’s suffrage across the country. The “We Stand on Their Shoulders” exhibit celebrates the history of Wisconsin women and voting is finally making its way to the Three Lakes Historical Society and Museum after being delayed by COVID. “This year, we wanted to get that in as soon as we possibly could. We just think it’s a really important issue. Something that’s still very much relevant today, in terms of voting rights and protecting voting rights and access. So we wanted to make sure this history was brought forward and shown off a little bit,” said Interim Director Jill Roth. The eight panels detail the process women’s rights activists went through in the US and here in Wisconsin to be able to vote.
Personnel News: Jose Salvador Tellez is resigning as the Webb County, Texas elections administrator. Travis Doss Jr. has been promoted to serve as the director of the Richmond County, Georgia board of elections. Lyman Duncan has been appointed the interim clerk/auditor for San Juan County, Utah.
In Memoriam: Melissa Church, a longtime elections worker in the Clay County, Florida supervisor of elections office has died of complications from COVID-19. Church had been with the elections office for 20 years. “She was much more than that,” said Chris Chambless, supervisor of elections. “Not only was she an accomplished election worker, rising through the ranks to clerk, but she was also the trainer and that’s where we take individuals who are highly skilled that will then pass along that knowledge and that history to new election workers.” Chambless said he was heartbroken, learning that Church died from COVID-19 complications. “Such a sweet spirit,” Chambless said. “She was always giving, always available. Really dedicated not only to this office, but to the community.”
Sara Jackson, the former Grayson County, Texas clerk has died. She was 83. Jackson served as the county clerk from 1992 to 2002. “She was a very good clerk by the way,” Former Grayson County Democratic Party Chair Bob Slagle said. “She did an excellent job both as a clerk and with elections.” Jackson was very involved locally in activities including the League of Women Voters. Slagle said they worked together to recruit election judges for every precinct in the county that didn’t have one. “She had to find locations for people to vote in like 60 locations in the county and she would find new places in the precincts to make it easier for people to vote,” he said. She was given the League of Women Voters citizen of the year award and the League of Women Voters Arlyss Middents Award as well as the United Way Award for Outstanding Community Service. She also received the Democratic Women of Grayson County’s first Ann Richards Award in 2008. Before becoming county clerk, Jackson taught at Sherman High School and served two terms on the SISD Board of Trustees.
Election Security News
Colorado: Mesa County’s election office is being investigated after passwords for its election equipment allegedly were posted on social media and a right-wing blog earlier this month. The Colorado secretary of state’s office and the Mesa County district attorney’s office have both announced investigations into what the secretary of state’s office is calling a “serious breach of voting system security protocols,” calling it an “extremely serious event” that could lead to criminal charges and force Mesa County to replace election equipment. According to The Denver Post, Secretary of State Jena Griswold elieves the alleged breach occurred May 25 during the installation of new Dominion Voting Systems software. On Aug. 2, images of the software were posted to the social media site Telegram and conservative blog The Gateway Pundit. The social media and blog posts do not mention Colorado or Mesa County but, according to Griswold’s order, the images include “passwords specific to the individual hardware stations of Mesa County’s voting system.”
Idaho: Idaho Gov. Brad Little (R) has created a new Cybersecurity Task Force that will provide recommendations to improve business, government and personal cybersecurity defenses and enhance the educational pipeline for cybersecurity workforce needs. It will identify cybersecurity assets, resources and public-private partnerships across Idaho, according to the release. Little said he directed the task force to ensure Idaho’s election infrastructure remains secure, transparent and resilient from new and evolving threats. He said because the Gem State is home to the Idaho National Laboratory, the state is well positioned to counter online attacks and cybersecurity challenges. “We’ll need increased resources, partnerships and active collaboration between a broad range of organizations to successfully protect from ever-growing cybersecurity threats, and I’m confident my Cybersecurity Task Force is up to the task,” Little said in the release. “I’m also asking the task force to find new ways to protect Idaho’s election infrastructure, because fair and free elections are a hallmark of Idaho’s proud representative democracy and the expectation of every Idahoan.”
Federal Legislation: A group of Democratic lawmakers led by Senate Rules Committee Chairwoman Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota.) unveiled legislation aiming to combat efforts to undermine election results and install new protections for election workers, who have received a rise in violent threats since the 2020 election. The bill, titled the Protecting Election Administration from Interference Act, would extend existing prohibitions on threats to election officials to include individuals involved in ballot-counting, canvassing and certifying election results. The legislation also calls for strengthened protections for federal election records and election systems to “stop election officials or others from endangering the preservation and security of cast ballots,” and allowing the Justice Department to bring lawsuits to enforce compliance with election records requirements. Across the country, we are seeing election administrators and officials face a barrage of threats and abusive behaviors by those seeking to overturn election results,” Klobuchar said in a statement. “We need to respond to these threats head on to protect those who are on the frontlines defending our democracy,” added Klobuchar, who has oversight over federal elections as head of the Rules Committee. Klobuchar argued that the “legislation is key to fighting back against attempts to undermine our elections and ensuring our democracy works for every American.”
The U.S. Senate adjourned for summer recess without taking up voting rights legislation, but according to The Hill, Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-New York) teed up a Senate vote for mid-September on taking up the election debate. He’ll need 10 GOP votes to start debate, assuming every member of his caucus votes yes, likely dooming the new effort absent a significant, unexpected, shift from moderate Democrats on changing the chamber’s rules. “Voting rights, voting rights, will be the first matter of legislative business when the Senate returns to session in September. Our democracy demands no less,” Schumer said.
Alaska: The Juneau Assembly is considering turning a city-owned warehouse into a more permanent ballot counting facility. The city will need about $700,000 to remodel its Thane warehouse, and purchase ballot-counting equipment. Juneau implemented a temporary vote by mail system for the 2020 election due to concerns over COVID-19. Currently, that requires city officials to use an Anchorage facility for ballot-counting. That’s what will happen again in 2021, but if this new proposal doesn’t hit any snags, Juneau would have its own facility next fall. The proposal will be introduced at the Aug. 23 assembly meeting.
Colorado: A committee of the Denver city council unanimously forwarded a ballot measure to the full City Council to shift the date of the city’s municipal elections from May to April. The elections choose the mayor, city council members, auditor, and clerk and recorder. Moving the election up a month was proposed by Denver Clerk and Recorder Paul López after nearly a year of planning. López suggested this option will help his office, which oversees elections, better prepare for runoff elections Moving the election a month ahead would provide more time to prepare for a run-off by changing the city’s law requiring it to take place roughly 30 days after the municipal election. The run-offs would still take place in June under the new proposal. It will be up to the full City Council to decide whether to send the proposal to voters to decide this fall.
Guam: A number of reforms to Guam’s election laws are being offered by a bipartisan pair of legislators: Sen. Jim Moylan and Sen. Joe San Agustin. The proposals from the senators are found in two separate pieces of legislation.
Bill 173-36 would make seven amendments to local statutes, including allowing for the cancellation of certain primary elections. According to the measure, a vote during a primary election for governor and lieutenant governor, senators, mayors or vice mayors won’t need to be conducted “if fewer than the maximum number of partisan candidates who can advance to the general election are running for both political parties.”
Bill 174-36, adjusts multiple deadlines associated with elections. For instance, the legislation proposes to shift the timeframe for candidates to submit their nominating petitions – going from between 130 and 60 days before a primary election to between 160 and 90 days. The change would give residents more time to consider for whom they will vote.The legislation also gives residents less time to register to vote, suggesting that the GEC’s registration period end 21 days before an election, instead of the current 10-day cutoff. Bill 174 would additionally move up the primary to the first, instead of the last, Saturday of August. Other reforms proposed in the bills include: clarifying the GEC is responsible for designating a 100-foot marker from a polling site where electioneering is prohibited; changing the name of a voting precinct to a “voting district;” specifying the “name” of a candidate to be what appears on a birth certificate, passport, or other government document; giving more flexibility for the GEC to count provisional ballots; mandating a special election for a vacancy in the delegate position; and allowing for the electronic registration of electors.
New Hampshire: Gov. Chris Sununu signed 30 bills into law this week including elections-related legislation. House Bill 326 requires town and city clerks to make electronic lists of persons who applied for absentee ballots available to candidates.
Texas: The Texas Senate State Affairs committee approved Senate Bill 1 — a bill that disability rights groups say contains measures that would hurt voters who have disabilities. SB 1 is the latest sweeping voting bill before lawmakers, each a point of contention between Republicans and Democrats in the Texas Legislature. During the hearing before the vote, Jeff Miller with Disability Rights Texas said this latest bill does address some of the issues his group raised during the last few times Republicans took up similar voting bills, but ultimately, if passed, the legislation will “end up disenfranchising voters with disabilities.” The sponsor of SB 1, state Sen. Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola, said he has been listening to feedback about the bill and the process. “We are trying to make the bill better and accommodate everybody,” he said. After hours of testimony, the committee approved the bill along party lines. It now heads to the full Texas Senate for final approval.
Utah: A proposed ballot initiative aims to change Utah’s election system. The proposed change would dispense with partisan primary elections, in which political parties send the top vote-getter to the general election. Instead, the “Fair Elections Initiative” creates a single, nonpartisan primary election including all candidates. The top five finishers in that primary election advance to the November general election, regardless of political party. The November general election would no longer crown the top vote-getter as the winner, regardless of whether the candidate secures a majority or not. Instead, the winner would be determined by ranked-choice voting. The idea is similar to a ballot initiative approved by voters in Alaska in 2020. The issue could be put to voters in November 2022, but there’s a long road ahead. If the lieutenant governor approves the initiative, backers need to hold at least seven public hearings around the state and prepare a fiscal impact statement to demonstrate how much the initiative would cost if it were to become law. Reasons for rejecting an initiative include being unconstitutional, if it’s deemed “nonsensical,” or it could not become law if passed. Then they would still need to collect nearly 138,000 signatures. They must also meet specific signature thresholds in 26 of the state’s 29 state Senate districts. Sponsors have until Feb. 15 to meet those requirements.
Wisconsin: Gov. Tony Evers (D) vetoed election bills that would have required Wisconsinites to fill out more paperwork to vote. The bills Evers vetoed would have required voters to fill out two forms instead of one to vote absentee, added restrictions on who can return completed absentee ballots, required elderly and disabled voters to provide IDs to vote absentee in most cases and prohibited clerks from correcting defects on absentee ballot envelopes. Other bills vetoed would have created a backup system for voting in nursing homes and required nursing home administrators to notify relatives when special voting deputies will visit the facility. Another would have allowed election observers to sit or stand within 3 feet of poll workers during recounts. Another bill he vetoed would have required municipalities that livestream their counting of ballots to record it and save it for 22 months. Other election records must be retained for that amount of time.
Wyoming: Lawmakers rejected a proposal by State Rep. Chuck Gray (R-Casper) to give the Wyoming Legislature the power to audit elections. Gray, who is running for Congress against incumbent U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney in next year’s Republican primary, has made “election integrity” a centerpiece of his campaign. Gray has also touted his visits to the site of an election audit in Arizona inspired by former President Donald Trump’s disproven claims the 2020 election was stolen from him. County clerks’ offices are responsible for auditing elections at the county level. Wyoming does not require a statewide audit of election results. Gray’s proposal, which failed by a raised hand vote of 8-2, proposed bringing the Wyoming Department of Audit — which primarily handles financial and government performance audits — under the umbrella of the legislative branch. He also proposed authorizing it to audit elections. Sen. Anthony Bouchard (R-Cheyenne), a member of the Management Audit Committee and one of Gray’s opponents in next year’s race, accused Gray of pulling a political stunt. While he said he supported similar legislation in the past, Bouchard has largely rejected claims of rampant voter fraud in the 2020 election. “I’m disgusted that you’re pulling this election issue because you’re running for office here,” he said.
Federal Litigation: Dominion Voting Systems has filed a billion-dollar lawsuit against Newsmax and One American News Network for their alleged spread of misinformation during the 2020 election. The election system vendor accused the outlets of spreading misinformation about the 2020 election by accusing Dominion of rigging the ballots in President Biden’s favor via their voting machines. These lies have harmed the company, its employees, and its customers; workers have been threatened, their offices vandalized, and the company has had to spend upwards of $600,000 on security for employees, the suit alleges. The suits also name OAN CEO Robert Herring as well as his son, OAN president Charles Herring, the Chief White House Correspondent for OAN, Chanel Rion, and a network personality, Christina Bobb. Dominion has also sued Patrick Byrne, the former CEO of Overstock; he appeared often on OAN and was interviewed as an “expert,” but similarly spread misinformation about Dominion and the 2020 election, the suits allege.
In other Dominion litigation news, U.S. District Judge Carl J. Nichols denied requests by former president Donald Trump’s former lawyers and allies to throw out more than $3 billion in defamation lawsuits over false claims that a voting machine company’s technology was used to rig the 2020 presidential election. The ruling allows lawsuits by Dominion Voting Systems against former Trump attorneys Sidney Powell and Rudolph W. Giuliani, as well as MyPillow chief executive Mike Lindell, to move forward. In a written opinion, Nichols said that Powell and Lindell made their claims “knowing that they were false or with reckless disregard for the truth.” “A reasonable juror” could conclude that Powell did not have a video of Dominion’s founder saying that “he can change a million votes, no problem at all,” as she had claimed, the judge wrote. Nichols also wrote that a sensible juror could conclude that Lindell’s insistence on “the existence of a vast international conspiracy that is ignored by the government but proven by a spreadsheet on an internet blog is so inherently improbable that only a reckless man would believe it,” referencing Lindell’s assertion that a spreadsheet he shared on Twitter as proof of Trump’s victory was evidence.
Arizona: The Democratic National Committee and the Arizona Democratic Party are gearing up to sue Arizona officials to stop a new law that allows a third party designated by the Republican-controlled legislature to scour the state’s voter registration database in search of ineligible voters. Party officials say the provision violates both federal voting law and Arizonans’ constitutional rights, in a demand letter being sent to Arizona officials The letter is the first step in filing a lawsuit under the National Voter Registration Act. The move marks the first time that the national Democratic Party has taken legal action to counter the wave of restrictive voting laws passed by Republican-controlled state legislatures this year.
Georgia: A panel of 11th Circuit judges appeared poised to toss out a voting rights group’s request for an order ending the practice of requiring Georgia voters to pay for their own postage to submit absentee ballots and ballot applications. A federal judge denied the bid for free postage last year, rejecting a class action brought by the nonprofit Black Voters Matter and two Georgia voters against Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and DeKalb County election officials. An attorney for the plaintiffs told a three-judge panel of the Atlanta-based appeals court that requiring voters to pay for postage to vote by mail is the equivalent of a poll tax outlawed by the 24th Amendment. Sean Young, legal director for the ACLU of Georgia, argued that the state has unfairly abridged the right to vote by mail by conditioning it on voters’ ability to pay for postage. Young asked the panel to refer back to the court’s 2020 decision in Jones v. Governor of Florida, which he said established the definition of a tax as “any government monetary extraction that is not a penalty.” He told the panel that the definition of a tax is broad under the law. Senior U.S. Circuit Judge Ed Carnes, a George H.W. Bush appointee, balked at Young’s argument, calling the plaintiffs’ position “absurd.”
Illinois: DuPage County Judge Craig Belford denied some of the expenses County Clerk Jean Kaczmarek said Former DuPage County Auditor Bob Grogan should pay for a recount of a 2020 race he lost. The total tab was $289,000. Belford knocked the tab down to $112,614 and decided Grogan should only have to post half of that amount — $56,307 — in advance. Belford said that while the court’s “paramount obligation” is to ensure there is a true and accurate vote count, “the posting of a security should never stand as an obstacle to the accomplishment of this task.” In the county auditor’s race, Grogan, a Republican from Downers Grove, lost to Democrat William White, also of Downers Grove. Grogan had 233,046 votes to White’s 233,121 votes. State law allows a judge to order a candidate who requests a recount to provide a bond or cash deposit to cover some or all of the costs. If the candidate wins the recount, the money is returned. Belford denied the clerk’s request to have Grogan pay the $43,309 costs of the election-division workers who would be involved in the recount, saying the workers would be working anyway.
Maryland: Anne Arundel County Circuit Judge Glenn Klavans has dismissed a lawsuit brought by two Republican political candidates that sought to block Annapolis from mailing ballots to all registered voters in its upcoming primary and general elections. In the seven-page opinions, Klavans wrote that Republican Herb McMillan, a county executive candidate, and George Gallagher, a candidate for the City Council Ward 6 seat waited too long to take legal action after learning of the city’s plans to mail ballots to voters in mid-June. Klavans ordered the lawsuit, which was filed in late July, be dismissed with prejudice, which means a new lawsuit can’t be filed on the same premise. McMillan and Gallagher said they are considering an appeal of the ruling.
The Maryland State Board of Elections has settled a longstanding dispute over ballot-marking devices that disability advocates say forced them to cast a segregated ballot. The terms of the settlement were publicly announced by the National Federation of the Blind, which filed a lawsuit over ballot privacy in August 2019. At issue are the state’s ballot-marking devices, which allow voters who are blind or have other disabilities to use headphones, magnification, touchscreens and other features to independently cast ballots. But the machines also produce a ballot printout that’s a different size and shape than the paper ballots cast by a vast majority of Maryland voters. Under the terms of the settlement as announced by the federation, the Maryland State Board of Elections will take several steps to address privacy and access concerns: The elections board will ensure that additional ballot-marking devices are available at the polling places of three plaintiffs who documented access and equipment issues in the lawsuit. The state will also ensure that additional machines are in place at polling places where there have been issues in past elections and at precincts that would experience significant delays waiting for a replacement if a machine breaks down; Training materials issued to election judges by the state will instruct them to ensure that at least ten voters at each polling location use a ballot-marking device, which will help protect privacy. Election judges at polling places that do not meet the 10-voter requirement will be subject to additional monitoring and training; When the state next buys or leases election equipment, officials will include the capability for ballot-marking machines to produce a ballot substantially similar in size, shape, and content to hand-marked paper ballots as a factor in picking which voting system to purchase or lease; and Elections officials will not discourage the use of ballot-marking devices or encourage the use of hand-marked paper ballots in public messages or election judge trainings. The elections board will also give the National Federation of the Blind data about the use of ballot-marking devices and complaints by voters with disabilities for each election through 2024. A $230,000 financial settlement to cover the legal fees and costs of the National Federation of the Blind and the plaintiffs is subject to approval by the Board of Public Works. The panel is expected to take up the settlement agreement at its Sept. 1 meeting, according to court filings.
Minnesota: The Minnesota Supreme Court will hear a case regarding a dispute over the restoration of voting rights for people with felonies on their records. The high court agreed to hear a constitutional challenge to state law on Tuesday. Minnesota is among 15 other states that require individuals convicted with felony records to serve their time and complete any parole, probation or supervised released before they are allowed to vote again. Dates have not yet been scheduled for oral arguments.
New Jersey: The U.S. Department of Justice announced that it has entered a proposed consent decree with the state, settling a voting rights lawsuit that was filed against the state and state officials in March. The lawsuit specifically charged that the state’s disability transportation programs, including NJ Transit Access Link and the Community Transportation network, had failed to provide voter registration opportunities as required under section 7 of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA). “Under the NVRA, these offices must distribute a voter registration application to each person who applies for their services, and along with each recertification, renewal or change of address form relating to such services, unless the person involved declines in writing to register to vote,” the Justice Department wrote. “However, NJ Transit Access Link and Community Transportation programs have not been providing the voter registration opportunities guaranteed by the NVRA.” According to the terms of the consent decree, the State of New Jersey will designate its disability transportation services as voter registration agencies, allowing them to supply voter registration services going forward. The decree is subject to approval from the federal district court in New Jersey. “The right to vote is a constitutional principle that forms a cornerstone of our democracy,” said acting U.S. Attorney Rachael Honig. “We appreciate that the State of New Jersey has worked with us to ensure that all New Jersey residents, including those with disabilities, enjoy convenient opportunities to register to vote.”
Opinions This Week
National Opinions: Election officials | Voting rights, II, III | Voting Rights Act | Election legislation | The Big Lie | 2020 election | Automatic voter registration | U.S. Supreme Court, II | Noncitizen voting | Election reform
Alabama: Noncitizen voting
Arizona: Ballot review
Florida: Voter ID
Georgia: Election administration
Kentucky: Voting rights
Massachusetts: Voter ID
Michigan: Election funding
New Jersey: Same day registration
New York: Yates County
North Carolina: Election officials
Utah: Election administration
NASED Summer Conference: We’re disappointed not to meet in person, but we look forward to seeing you online at the NASED Virtual Conference, August 9-10 and 19-20, 2021. August 9 and 19 are for NASED state/territorial members only. Items on the agenda include opening remarks from Jen Easterly, director of CISA, and sessions on cybernavigating programs, addressing threats to election officials, VVSG 2.0, list maintenance, election integrity and a state legislative update. When: August 19-20. Where: Online.
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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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.
Deputy Commissioner of Elections, Linn County, Iowa— Under limited supervision, performs supervisory and administrative work in directing all County election activities. Supervises and evaluates the work of subordinate staff; effectively recommends personnel actions related to selection, performance review, scheduling and discipline; administers personnel and related policies and procedures. Provides training to full, part-time and temporary staff to insure that elections are properly administered. Directs all election activities including voter registration, ballot preparation, data processing, the canvassing of returns, the location of polling places, absentee ballots, the coordination of election night returns, the distribution and receipt of nomination papers and the preservation of voting records. Insures that voting equipment is in proper working order and that appropriate procedures are in place to safeguard the equipment. Monitors legislative actions to determine what changes may be required in election policies and procedures. Interacts with candidates for public office, the media, city and school officials and the general public to answer questions regarding the election process, provide information and coordinate related activities. Develops and administers the budget of the Elections Office. Starting Salary: $71,518 – $101,318. Deadline: August 15. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Elections Deputy Director, Oregon Secretary of State Office— In this critical management role in the Elections Division, you will be responsible for directing coordination, accessibility, and execution of Oregon’s nationally recognized vote by mail system. The primary purpose of this position is to assist the Division Director in the execution of the statutory responsibilities and general operations of the Elections Division. You will collaborate with the Elections Director and Elections Manager to develop the Division’s budget, organizational goals and objectives as well as advance the direction of the Division. As the subject matter expert, you will coordinate the conduct of elections at the state and local level. You will perform supervisory functions including, but not limited to: hiring, training/coaching, planning, assigning, prioritizing and reviewing work, evaluating performance, implementing disciplinary action and responding to complaints. In conjunction with the Director, you will act as liaison to the 36 counties across the state and oversee units closely related to public elections management. These are primarily: systems and databases required for elections management as well as processes, statutes, rules, and staff involved in management of the elections cycle, with a focus on initiative, referendum, and referral, and candidate procedures. Salary: Monthly range $6,941 – $11,276. Deadline: August 22. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Elections Director, Boulder County, Colorado— The Boulder County Clerk and Recorder’s Office has an opening for an Elections Director that serves at the pleasure of and reports directly to the elected Clerk and Recorder. The Elections Director position is within the Deputy of Elections job classification. The Elections Director is one of the office’s six Leadership Team members, third in command of the Clerk and Recorder organization and oversees a staff of twelve permanent Elections Staff members (and upwards of 600 election judges during certain election times). The Elections Division provides comprehensive elections services for Boulder County, including voter records, voter services, ballot processing, technical and logistical support, and end-to end election administration. Commitment to building an inclusive, forward looking, continual improvement, and supportive work culture is required. This position leads the team and is accountable for the execution of compliant, accurate, accessible and transparent elections for a county of nearly 250,000 voters. This position will ensure the integrity and accuracy of the election management processes in accordance with federal and state laws, Secretary of State rules and Clerk and Recorder policies. Salary: Hiring Range: $89,256 – $128,544. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Election Services Supervisor, Contra Costa County, California— Are you an innovator and high achiever? Service driven? Dedicated to quality? We are seeking an experienced election administration professional to plan and supervise warehouse operations in one of the state’s and nation’s largest counties. Contra Costa County has more than 700,000 registered voters and a population of 1.1 million. Located in the San Francisco Bay Area, Contra Costa County offers great salary and benefits in addition to a collaborative and fast paced work environment. If your election experience includes tremendous overtime during an election, be prepared for a new experience. As the Warehouse Operations Supervisor, you will: Direct operations at two warehouse locations; Monitor and maintain item inventory using an electronic inventory management system; Direct the preparation and packing of election supplies and equipment; Direct returned vote by mail ballot scanning and sorting process; Plan and oversee the collection of vote by mail ballots from secure drop boxes and USPS. Salary: $65,420.64 – $79,519.20. Deadline: August 22. 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
Information Security Officer, Virginia Department of Elections— The State Board, through the Department of Elections (ELECT), shall supervise and coordinate the work of the county and city electoral boards and of the registrars to obtain uniformity in their practices and proceedings and legality and purity in all elections. It shall make rules and regulations and issue instructions and provide information consistent with the election laws to the electoral boards and registrars to promote the proper administration of election laws. Ensuring the integrity and accuracy of the administration of elections through the administration of the state-wide voter registration system, campaign finance disclosure application and other agency applications and solutions. Ensuring that the systems perform to the expectations of the users and conform to applicable federal and state laws and Board rules and regulations. Leads ELECT’s Information Security Program to ensure ELECT Systems remain confidential, integrity is maintained, and ELECT systems remain available for all users. Ensures ELECT systems meet federal, Commonwealth of Virginia and agency security standards. The position will work with ELECT development teams, network service providers and security staff of the Commonwealth of Virginia to ensure security requirements are included in SDLC activities. Responsible for creating and maintaining security policies, artifacts, tracking vulnerability remediation and updating system security plans to meet changing business, security and technology requirements. Responsible implementing and monitoring security controls for ELECT’s information technology systems. Oversees Information Security Program, ELECT’s Data Privacy Program and ELECT’s Locality Security Program including Voting Systems and Voter Registration System Security. Salary: Up to $150,000. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
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.
Voter Registration Specialist, Wake County, North Carolina Board of Elections— The Wake County Board of Elections is currently seeking an experienced customer service professional to join our Voter Registration Team. The ideal candidate will be a detail-oriented, data entry guru with exceptional attention to detail and organizational skills. As a part of the Voter Registration Team, you are responsible for connecting written information with computer data. Salary: Hiring Range: $17.49 – $23.60. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
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