In Focus This Week
Federal Legislation Update
From Postal reform to the voting age to same day reg, Fed leg runs gamut
By M. Mindy Moretti
Same day voter registration, Postal Service reform, the voting age, military and overseas voting systems, lines, private funding, Native American voting rights, protecting election officials. These are just some of the elections-related topics covered by the several dozen pieces of federal legislation that have been introduced since January.
According to Matthew Weil, director of the Elections Project and Rachel Orey, policy analyst for the Elections and Congress Projects at the Bipartisan Policy Center, a quick analysis doesn’t show any consistent trends in the introduction and consideration of voting and elections legislation by Congress — aside from the obvious: there’s always an uptick in legislation considered around a presidential election
While election policy is a hot topic this year (and thus getting more attention), it’s not entirely unacquainted with the halls of the Capitol they said. In fact, Weil and Orey pointed out that most of the federal election bills that get introduced never make it to the public consciousness.
Of course some of the legislation has been headline grabbing whether they have a chance of advancement or not. According to Weil and Orey, election reform proposals like the For the People Act and the Freedom to Vote Act have little chance of passing a filibuster-proof Senate barring a wholly unexpected elimination of the filibuster.
“For much of this year, voting advocates have held out hope that the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, in contrast, could bring about real, positive changes in election administration,” Weil and Orey said. “In its current form, the measure would reinstall many of the core components of the Voting Rights Act through historically successful policies such as preclearance, transparency and a totality of circumstances review of potentially discriminatory voting rules changes. That said, the version the House passed this summer included the addition of several provisions unlikely to help in recruiting Republican support; these include stringent voter ID restrictions and a 25-year lookback period of determining preclearance.”
While elections have always, obviously, been a partisan issue, probably no more so than right now. Given that, is there anyway, on a federal level, that legislation may move forward, even nonpartisan bills such as Reducing Barriers to Military Voters Act which was introduced by Sens. Tammy Duckworth (D-Illinois) and John Cornyn (R-Texas)?
According to Weil and Orey, BPC believes that Congress needs to look back to move ahead. A bipartisan, incentive-based federal election reform proposal not only has a better chance of passing than kitchen-sink approaches like HR1/S1, but it is also our best chance at building an election system both parties know and trust.
“It was just 20 years ago that Congress provided a blueprint for how to create federal voting legislation in a truly bipartisan manner. When the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) passed in 2002, it received 98 votes in the Senate and 356 in the House of Representatives.” Weil and Orey said. “The bill was built on compromise; it maintained state and local control of elections while beginning to carve out space for more robust federal involvement. Each of the bill’s big-ticket policy wins were the result of careful negotiation and relied on an incentivize-based grant structure.”
The five pillars of pragmatic and sustainable federal election reform include:
- Bipartisanship to promote sustainable policy change and improve voter confidence.
- Minimum standards that enable flexibility and standardization.
- Regular, incentive-based funding for state and local jurisdictions.
- Strengthened election security.
- Reinvigorated U.S. Election Assistance Commission.
A real bipartisan bill needs to include things Republicans really want, not just things that they can accept. That means some form of voter ID, changes to absentee ballot security and return options, or updated list maintenance procedures. These issues may be a bridge too far for Democrats, but the voter access expansions Democrats want (and included in the For the People Act and Freedom to Vote Act) feel like a bridge too far for Republicans. And there are reasonable doubts that either party wants to give up a rhetorical issue that riles up their bases.
“The question of what real bipartisan compromise might look like is the conversation we have rarely ever had on the federal stage during the past two decades,” Weil and Orey said. “For example, is a minimum voter ID standard as a tradeoff for an early voting floor ultimately good for voters and acceptable to both parties? Does pairing automatic or online voter registration with list maintenance improvements satisfy both sides or neither side? How can Congress incentivize good election administration through funding that improves both integrity and access?”
While politicians bicker on Capitol Hill, what exactly can state and local election officials do with regard to federal legislation? Weil and Orey said it’s important for election officials, especially those closest to voters at the local level, need to be clear about what they need from policymakers at all levels, as well as any implementation concerns of policies under consideration
“One of the biggest problems with the election legislation put forth this Congress is that it at least initially precluded the voices of election officials. As a practical matter, this simply makes for bad policy,” Weil and Orey said. “Election officials know what works and how to implement changes. Rather than attempt to respond to legislation once it’s out, it’s important to begin engaging with congressional offices while–or even before–a bill is in development.”
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Election News This Week
Federal Voter Reg Efforts: This week, to coincide with National Voter Registration Day, the White House announced the first actions federal agencies will undertake after President Joe Biden’s March 2021 executive order instructed them to draft plans to boost voter registration and participation rate. Several agencies will pair voter registration services with health care. The Department of Veterans Affairs and Indian Health Service will offer voter registration services to patients who rely on the agencies for medical treatment, according to a White House fact sheet. The VA will also help homebound veterans in registering to vote and casting their ballots. Most of the plans center on providing people who interact with the agency access to forms or information on voter registration. The fact sheet does not specify a timeline for each agency’s implementation. The Treasury Department will add information to direct deposit campaigns for Social Security and other federal benefits, while the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s rural development offices will provide voter registration forms and information on location and dates for voting to those who visit their offices for housing and business assistance. The Department of Housing and Urban Development will issue a guidance for local public housing authorities to provide nonpartisan voter registration services that will go out to 3,000 local agencies that oversee 1.2 million housing units nationwide. “The hope is we will see millions of eligible Americans getting more information about how they can participate and we certainly hope that translates to more participation,” a White House official told McClatchy. “The point here is to expand opportunity.”
Suffrage News: A fire damaged the Susan B. Anthony Museum and House in New York on Sunday, before firefighters put out the blaze and rescued artifacts inside. The Rochester Fire Investigation Unit listed the cause of the fire as suspicious, but the final cause remains undetermined and is still under investigation. “We don’t know why someone would do this, it may have been a random or intentional act, or it may have been someone responding to the museum being a supporter of women’s rights since we are in a contentious era. It’s hard to know for sure,” Susan B. Anthony Museum and House president Deborah Hughes told CNN. Firefighters relocated artifacts into a safe part of the house and took great care entering the home. “The firefighters were so careful with the artifacts, even moving pictures while keeping them in the right order,” Hughes said. “They were extremely conscientious about making sure not too much water got into the house.” In Vermont, he Vermont Suffrage Centennial Alliance is touring the state with its new theater production, “The Suffragist Reenactment Society.” The Suffragist Reenactment Society is described by the Vermont Suffrage Centennial Alliance as a “fast-paced journey through the history of how women won the right to vote in the U.S.” The production aims to put a spotlight on the fact that many white suffragists excluded people of color from their movement. They also argued that voting rights couldn’t be granted to both women and Black people, and they believed white women deserved suffrage first. In Delaware, there are four new historic marker in the City of Wilmington to commemorate women winning the right to vote. The new markers are part of the National Votes for Women Trail, a project by the National Collaborative for Women’s History Sites. One marks the site of the Thomas Garrett Settlement House on Walnut Street, where meetings of the African American Equal Suffrage Study Club and some integrated suffrage events were held in the years leading up to the ratification of the 19th amendment. Other markers commemorate the site of a 1914 suffrage parade and rally at Rodney Square and the homes of civil and voting rights advocates Blanche Williams Stubbs and Alice Dunbar-Nelson.
In Honor Of: The Contra Costa County Clerk-Recorder-Elections facility in Martinez will be dedicated as the “Stephen L. Weir Building.” Weir, the County Clerk-Recorder and Registrar of Voters from 1989 to 2013, was described as the “innovator and pacesetter” among County Departments and Clerk-Recorders across the State. In addition to his 24 years as County Clerk-Recorder and Registrar of Voters, Weir served as Concord City Councilman and mayor, and also as a member of the Contra Costa Water District, a member of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, and staff member to the late Assemblyman and Sen. Dan Boatwright. “There is not a more fitting legacy than to name the Clerk-Recorder facility after a public servant like Steve Weir,” Board of Supervisors Chair Diane Burgis said. “His career was distinguished by a reputation for integrity, dedication, diligence, sincerity, and professionalism. Essential to his mandate, Steve brought credibility to the office of the Clerk-Recorder and Registrar of Voters for Contra Costa County.” Current Clerk-Recorder Debi Cooper said, ““He served the public with unfettered integrity, dedication, and a natural genuineness,” Cooper said. “The Clerk-Recorder-Elections Department continues the customer and voter-centric focus Steve instilled during his tenure. He is a mentor and a friend and I cannot imagine a more fitting tribute to his legacy than dedicating the Clerk-Recorder-Elections facility in his name.”
Cheers! There were lots of great celebrations of National Voter Registration Day this week, but we’re not gonna lie, we are sorta partial to how the Charleston, South Carolina Board of Elections and Voter Registration chose to celebrate. BEVR partnered with Frothy Beard Brewing on a new beer to bring awareness to the importance of voting and registering to vote. “We are excited that Frothy Beard chose to partner with us to promote voter registration and the need for poll managers in Charleston County,” BEVR director Isaac Cramer said in a press release. “We have an increasing need to make it easier for citizens to register to vote and update their voter registration information.” The new, limited-edition beer was selected after Frothy Beard asked patrons to vote between an English summer ale and a Kolsch. The beer features a QR code that links to the BEVR website. “This was the right kind of partnership,” Frothy Beard managing owner Michael Biondi said in a press release. “We are a community center where people come together to discuss ideas. Voting emphasizes the importance of our voice being heard. We want every citizen of Charleston County to register to vote and be a part of the process.”
Congratulations: Desmond Meade, the Orlando activist who overcame homelessness and drug addiction to earn a law degree and lead a sweeping movement to restore the voting rights of former felons, has won a prestigious MacArthur Fellowship “genius” grant, one of the highest honors recognizing an individual’s contribution to society. The recognition comes with a $625,000 no-strings-attached prize — money that Meade, 54, said will fuel his continued work and help pay off student loans from law school. “Even in my wildest dreams, I couldn’t imagine me winning this award,” he said. “What it says, more than anything else, is that if Desmond Meade — who was homeless and addicted to drugs and in and out of jail — could turn his life around and be awarded this prize … then that person who is out there struggling and thinking there’s no light at the end of the tunnel, that person can not just be successful, but be successful in a way that benefits the community or even the world.”
Personnel News: Nebraska Secretary of State Bob Evnen has announced his bid for re-election. Reid Magney has stepped down as the communications director of the Wisconsin Elections Commission. Bob Morgan has stepped down as the Luzerne County, Pennsylvania elections director. Cathy Woodlard has been sworn in as the chair of the Fulton County, Georgia elections board.
In Memoriam: Natalie Meyer, Colorado’s longest-serving secretary of state has died. She was 91. Before recent years of declining health, Meyer was the second woman to be elected secretary of state, serving the longest term of any secretary of state, from 1983 until stepping down 1995. She told The Gazette, when she chose not to run for another term, “It’s been wonderful. It’s been real. And in 1995, I intend to leave this office for my successor in apple-pie shape as one of the most efficient, service-oriented offices in the state.” Meyer modernized the office with computerization and electronic access to records. Meyer was the Colorado chairwoman of election campaigns for President Ronald Reagan, in 1976, 1980 and 1984. An adviser to Sen. William Armstrong, Meyer was recruited by the GOP to run for governor in 1986, but chose another term as secretary of state. Reagan appointed Meyer to lead a U.S. delegation overseeing an election to replace Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos. After her service as secretary of state, Meyer served as an election judge. Meyer was the plaintiff in a U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down Colorado’s statute that made it a felony to pay petition circulators. The Court held the law violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
Agnes Laughter, a weaver and longtime Native American voting rights activist has died. She was 89. Born in 1932 near Canyon de Chelly in a traditional Navajo hogan without running water or electricity, Laughter was only 16 years old when Native Americans got the right to vote in 1948, according to a post from Canyon de Chelly National Monument. Despite speaking only her native Navajo language and never attending school in her life, Laughter never gave up the fight for voting rights for Native Americans. Laughter had been using her thumbprint for most of her adult life before the new law required birth certificates, bank statements or driver’s licenses. Living on the reservation, she had none of these documents. When Laughter went to vote in 2006, she was denied her right because she didn’t have the required identification. “I felt humiliated, worthless, and as if I did not exist,” Laughter said, according to the Navajo Nation Council release. Laughter tried several times to get an ID from the state, but they denied her initial attempts, refusing to accept her birth certificate. “When I was told it was not valid, I went through much sorrow, much heartbreak,” Laughter said tearfully, according to ASU News. “Many times I was not able to sleep because I was so concerned about people discrediting who I am.” Laughter finally got her identification, but not before filing a case in District Court that would later become vital in a 2008 federal lawsuit that ended in the Department of Justice expanding the types of documents required for identification at the polls. Laughter was awarded the Frank Harrison and Harry Austin Citizenship Award in recognition for strengthening the voting rights for the Native Americans of Arizona. “I believe I’ve made a difference, not only for myself, but for many people,” she told ASU News. “Not only Native Americans, but for all the five-fingered people, people of different colors. I have stood for their voting rights. I have made that difference. I’ve made a difference for all.”
Alaska: The Palmer City Council failed Action Memorandum 21-055 by a 4-3 vote at their Sept. 28 meeting. Proposed by Mayor Edna DeVries, AM 21-055 would have requested Palmer Clerk Designee Kristie Smithers to conduct a hand count of the ballots cast in the upcoming Oct. 5 election with an expense of $1,685 following the ballot tabulation process outlined within Palmer Municipal Code. The issue was discussed by five members of the public prior to the council discussion on AM 21-055, which was moved from the consent agenda to new business by a unanimous vote at the beginning of the meeting. Machines manufactured by the Dominion company have been in use by the state of Alaska since 1998. Last June, then Clerk Norma Alley purchased Dominion voting machines to prevent the city of Palmer from having to borrow Mat-Su Borough voting equipment, which is also manufactured by Dominion. Upon council discussion of AM 21-055, Councilman Brian Daniels asked if support of the measure would be a way of stating that the council did not have faith that the current Dominion machines. Members of the council suggested that for a hand recount to be conducted, an Ordinance would have to be brought forward and passed by the council amending the current city code.
California: Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) has signed Assembly Bill 37 into law making California the eighth state in the nation to require every voter be mailed a ballot. “Data shows that sending everyone a ballot in the mail provides voters access. And when voters get ballots in the mail, they vote,” Assemblyman Marc Berman (D-Palo Alto), the bill’s author, said during a Senate committee hearing in July. The law takes effect in January, providing a symbolic counterweight to a handful of other states where access to voting could be significantly curtailed before the 2022 election — a contrast Newsom highlighted in announcing his signature on the bill, and one likely to be echoed by Democrats across the country. California’s new law will require ballots to be mailed to all voters for statewide elections in June and November. AB 37 also applies to local elections, potentially improving turnout in community contests but also increasing costs, given that vote-by-mail ballots are provided with prepaid postage.
Michigan: State Representative Julie Alexander (R-Jackson) has introduced a bill that would require election inspectors to attest under penalty of perjury that their application, including identification of the party to which the applicant belongs, is “true, complete and accurate.” Current law already requires election inspectors to complete an application that lists party affiliation. “When they fill out an application to become a poll worker, they have to state what party they belong to. We need clarity on that so they understand they are only allowed to select one of the state parties that are allowed here in Michigan and they are clear and concise that they will stand behind that party affiliation,” Alexander said. H.B. 4876 says it would strengthen election transparency on election day by “ensuring each precinct or absent voter counting board has a publicly reviewable list of the election inspectors assigned to the location, with a certification that each inspector has a complete application on file with the clerk.”
The Board of State Canvassers approved a summary of a petition that would tighten Michigan’s voter ID laws. The petition would also require voters to give the last four digits of their social security number to register. It would also eliminate the ability for voters without an ID to cast a ballot by signing an affidavit. Board of State Canvassers vice-chair Julie Matuzak said it’s important to let potential signers to know that at the top of the petition in the 100-word summary. “This proposal says if you don’t have your ID, you have to cast a provisional ballot. And if you don’t show up at your clerk’s office within six days, your vote’s not going to count. And that’s disenfranchising people,” Matuzak said. The petition, brought by the group Secure MI Vote, echoes GOP-backed legislation brought up earlier this year. For its petition to reach the Legislature, Secure MI Vote would need to gather a minimum of 340,047 signatures.
Pennsylvania: The House State Government Committee this week passed a proposed constitutional amendment that would require people voting in person or by mail to present “valid identification.” Exactly what constitutes valid ID would be laid out in separate legislation. The proposal would also transfer the power to pick Pennsylvania’s top election official from the governor to the state’s voters and would ban counties from accepting outside money to help cover election costs. Paper ballots would need to have a watermark and be open to public inspection for at least two years. The state auditor general would also be required to “audit” each election before the results are certified “to ensure we have accuracy,” Rep. Seth Grove (R., York), chair of the committee, said.
A Republican-dominated Senate committee advanced a measure to increase to three the number of poll watchers political candidates can use in election precincts and also allow them to come from anywhere in the state. Current law allows two poll watchers per candidate, and they must operate within the county where they live. Lead sponsor Sen. Doug Mastriano, a Franklin County Republican, said the proposed changes would ”go a long way to restore trust in the integrity of our elections.” The measure was approved in a 7-4 vote by the Senate State Government committee and now will receive consideration by the full Senate. All Democrats voted against it.
The Philadelphia Council has approved a resolution to start considering moving the city to a ranked choice voting system. Sponsor of the resolution Derek Greene told KYW that he doesn’t have a position on the system yet, but said any effort to increase voter turnout should be considered.
Washington: Franklin County voted to ask a judge to reverse an agreement that would have ended a lawsuit over Latino voting rights. Commissioners Clint Didier and Rocky Mullen approved the resolution seeking to overturn an order that requires the county to come up with new commission voting district maps by Nov. 8. Commissioner Brad Peck opposed the measure. The resolution says county Prosecutor Shawn Sant didn’t listen to their concerns about “our innocence, inexperience of outside council (sic), or the strategy in defending Franklin County.” The county needed to switch private attorneys for the case after John Safarli took a short leave of absence from his law practice. The case was taken over by Casey Bruner, another attorney with the same firm. While the details of the commissioners allegations haven’t been filed as part of the case, they are trying to use civil court rules to argue to the judge that they weren’t properly represented by Sant’s decision — either because he willfully didn’t listen to them or because he made a mistake.
Alabama: Mobile County Judge Wesley Pipes told Reggie Hill, a candidate in the Mobile City Council District 2 race last month, that he did not have enough information to conduct a legal hearing nor stop a runoff election. Hill is contesting the outcome of the election based on a what he said was a “plethora of discrepancies, inconveniences, and illegal practices throughout the courts of the election process.” His lawsuit names Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson as a defendant, but City Attorney Ricardo Woods said the mayor has not been properly served. Hill wanted an expedited jury trial before the October 5 runoff elections. But Pipes said that civil court jury trials are not scheduled to resume until late November. He said the only jury trials occurring on Monday are in criminal court, and that those cases have already been spoken for. Pipes also said he was uncertain if Hill was seeking “injunctive or equity” relief from the court case. He also said that he was unsure if his court even had proper jurisdiction to try the results of the court case. “I don’t have enough (information) to set a hearing, or stop a runoff election,” said Pipes. “I cannot conjure up a jury or a panel of 36 between now and October 5. I just cannot do it.”
Colorado: Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold has filed an opening brief in a lawsuit to remove Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters as the Designated Election Official. Griswold outlined in the brief how Peters disregarded rules and compromised the security of Mesa County’s voting system. The brief states that: Peters and Deputy Clerk Knisley breached their duties in connection with the May 25, 2021 trusted build; Peters is absent and is unable to perform her duties; Knisley is also absent and unable to perform her duties; and Peters’ claim of destruction of election records is false and without merit. The brief also states that “there is nothing further from the truth” in regards to Peters’ false claims about the destruction of election records during the routine trusted build. Election records are required to be maintained by county clerks for up to 25 months. Griswold cited the Colorado Election Code and referenced that election records “include items such as: accounting forms, certificates of registration, pollbooks, certificates of election, signature cards, all affidavits, voter applications, other voter lists and records, mail ballot return envelopes, voted ballots, unused ballots, spoiled ballots, and replacement ballots. None of these items were named in the “report” produced by Peters.” “The Secretary would have no objection to a county backing up its log files for its voting systems—in fact, Larimer County requested to back-up their log files prior to a trusted build, and the Department of State helped Larimer County perform such a backup,” the brief states. “Instead, Peters made copies of the entire hard drive, exposing the security of the entire election system when those copies were posted on the Internet.” “As a result of their own actions and choices, Respondents Peters and Knisley are absent and unable to perform their duties with respect to the 2021 coordinated election. The Court should therefore apply a substantial compliance standard to the Election Code and appoint Wayne Williams as the chief designated election official and acknowledge Sheila Reiner as the election supervisor,” the brief concludes.
Georgia: The Eleventh Circuit heard arguments in a case brought by several civil rights groups that seek to require Georgia officials to send absentee ballot applications in Spanish to residents of the state’s second-most populous county. A group of voters in Gwinnett County, Georgia, who speak Spanish as their first language, say they are wrongfully receiving key election materials in English. In addition, they argue that the Gwinnett County elections board’s website has poor access for voters who don’t speak English. In a lawsuit brought by voting rights advocates on their behalf last year, they say they have a right to receive voting materials in Spanish because the county is covered by Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act. The lawsuit was filed by his organization alongside the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials, Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, New Georgia Project and Common Cause. It partially stems from a decision by Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffenspeger in 2020. To encourage residents to vote by mail amid the Covid-19 pandemic in the state’s upcoming primary election, the secretary used CARES Act funds to mail absentee ballot applications to Georgia’s 6.9 million active voters. But all of these applications were in English. Judge William M. Ray ordered that the secretary of state’s office and the Gwinnett County elections board did not violate the federal Voting Rights Act, since people who did not receive the Spanish ballot applications still were able to get them from the county. U.S. Circuit Judge William Pryor interjected to express his opinion that the district court erred when ruling that the plaintiffs had no standing. “That’s at least my perspective about standing, but I think you’ve got much bigger problems when it comes to the merits,” the George W. Bush nominee said.
Missouri: Missouri’s high court will soon rule on whether there are constitutional problems with the way the state lets voters overturn laws. The state Supreme Court’s seven-judge bench heard arguments this week in a case that could alter how much time citizens have to gather signatures and force public votes on laws passed by the legislature and governor. A circuit judge ruled last year that laws pertaining to the timeline of getting a referendum petition on the ballot were unconstitutional. Petitioners have 90 days after the final day of the annual legislative session ends to gather more than 100,000 signatures to bring the referendum to the ballot for a public vote. But certain Missouri laws allow state officials to take up a portion of that time moving the petition through procedural hurdles, delaying the signature-gathering process. In cases where a bill is passed in the final days of the session, those suing the state argue that officials can take up a majority of that 90-day period. Attorneys for the state, representing Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, argue in their brief to the court that the “requirement provides clarity and consistency, prevents voter confusion and promotes informed decision-making by voters considering whether to sign a referendum petition.” The ACLU of Missouri argue in response that “there is a clear, definite conflict” between the constitutional right of referendum and the laws in question, which they say “significantly curtail that right.”
New York: Dutchess County Supreme Court Judge Maria Rosa sided with Bard College in ruling that District 5 voting locations will remain at Bard’s Bertelsmann Campus Center and St. John the Evangelist Church in 2021. The ruling upholds the court’s 2020 decision supporting the opening of a Bard campus voting site, dismissing an effort by Republican Election Commissioner Erik Haight to revert to the 2019 location as “arbitrary and capricious.” “We’re gratified by this reaffirmation of the original decision establishing an accessible voting site at Bard,” said Erin Canaan, Vice President for Civic Engagement who was one of the plaintiffs. “This is a win not just for students, but for all voters in the district, including those with disabilities. We look forward to welcoming all District 5 voters to Bard this fall and for years to come.” “Judge Rosa’s decision sends a strong message as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Twenty-Sixth Amendment and unprecedented youth voting rates nationally,” said Yael Bromberg, co-counsel for the plaintiffs, a constitutional litigator and Twenty-Sixth Amendment scholar. “While voting rights are being legislated in our nation and state capitols, often overlooked local election administration decisions can decisively impact the youth vote. These efforts are particularly successful when, as here, college administrations like Bard College lead by supporting youth-lead efforts.”
Ohio: A lawsuit by a Washington, D.C.-based group won’t prevent Stark County from using Dominion voting machines for the Nov. 2 general election. Look Ahead America opted not to appeal a key decision by Stark County Common Pleas Judge Taryn Heath. Her Aug. 20 ruling dismissed the county commissioners and Dominion Voting Systems as defendants from the case and killed any chance of immediately reversing the county’s purchase of the voting machines. Originally in May, the group filed suit against the Stark County Board of Elections, alleging the board had met in illegal executive sessions to discuss the machine purchase. However, the Board of Elections is not the governing entity that authorized the purchase of the machines. That was the Stark County commissioners. With the commissioners and Dominion no longer parties to the suit, it was not legally possible for Look Ahead America to get a preliminary injunction to pause or reverse the purchase, said Assistant Stark County Prosecutor Lisa Nemes.
The American Civil Liberties Union and other voter rights groups filed a lawsuit challenging the newly drawn state legislative districts enacted last week by a Republican-dominated commission in Ohio, an opening salvo in what is likely to be a series of confrontations across the country as the once-in-a-decade redistricting process unfolds. In a suit filed in the Ohio Supreme Court, the rights groups accuse the Ohio Redistricting Commission of engaging in “extreme partisan gerrymandering” that violates the state’s constitution in formalizing the redrawn districts, which the suit says “are intended to, and will, entrench a Republican veto-proof supermajority in both chambers of Ohio’s General Assembly for the next four years.”
Pennsylvania: Attorney General Josh Shapiro (D) sued to block a Republican-approved subpoena to state election officials in what Republicans call a “forensic investigation” of last year’s presidential election, spurred on by former President Donald Trump’s baseless claims that he was cheated out of victory. The lawsuit is the second thus far targeting a subpoena approved last week by the Republican-controlled Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee. Both were filed in the state’s Commonwealth Court. Shapiro’s office broadly asked the court to block the subpoena because, it said, it serves no legitimate legislative purpose and stems from Trump’s efforts to undermine trust in the results of the 2020 presidential election. At points, the 76-page lawsuit targets certain information requests in the subpoena as illegal or unconstitutional, and unenforceable. For instance, granting the subpoena’s request for voter information — including names, dates of birth, driver’s license numbers, and partial Social Security numbers — would violate a person’s constitutional privacy protections, particularly because the subpoena isn’t based on proof of wrongdoing. It also would expose voters to the risk of publicly disclosing their personal information, thus violating the constitutional right to vote, it said. At another point, the lawsuit seeks to block the Republicans’ request for copies of reports from audits and reviews of the state’s voter registration system going back to 2018.
Vermont: The Republican National Committee and the Vermont GOP are suing the cities of Montpelier and Winooski over their recently-passed town charters that allow noncitizens to vote in municipal elections. Last November, voters in both cities approved the changes, which only apply to ballot measures such as school budgets and city council races. The Vermont Legislature approved the charter changes, and later voted to override vetoes by Governor Phil Scott. RNC National Spokesperson Paris Dennard said the lawsuits are part of a broader effort to defend against fraud. “You have to be a United States citizen in order to vote,” Dennard said. “What this is doing, if not stopped, is a direct assault on election integrity.” In a joint statement, Lt. Gov. Molly Gray, Attorney General T.J. Donovan, Senate President Pro Tem Becca Balint and House Speaker Jill Krowinski accused the RNC of peddling misinformation about election security.
Opinions This Week
National Opinions: Stop the Steal | Joe Manchin | Frederick Douglass | Federal legislation, II, III | Constitutional crises | Future elections | Election security | Voting rights, II | Voter registration | The Big Lie
Alabama: Secretary of state;
Arizona: 2020 election review, II | Election confidence
California: Recall reform, II | San Luis Obispo County
Colorado: Mesa County
Florida: Leon County
Georgia: Future elections
Michigan: Ballot measure | Voting rights
Nevada: The Big Lie
New York: Noncitizen voting
North Carolina: Voter ID | Voter registration | Redistricting
Oklahoma: Voting laws | Native American voting rights
Pennsylvania: Democracy | Vote by mail; The Big Lie; 2020 election review, II
Texas: Voter ID | Tarrant County | Filibuster |2020 election review
Utah: 2020 election
West Virginia: Joe Manchin
Wisconsin: Poll workers | 2020 election review
Until I Am Free: Fannie Lou Hammer’s Enduring Message to America: The Brennan Center and the National Civil Rights Museum present Until I Am Free: Fannie Lou Hammer’s Enduring Message to America. Hamer, who came to political activism in mid-life after a forced sterilization, was a relentless advocate for voting rights for Black Americans and against white supremacy. She survived brutal beatings by police and private citizens, and was shot at in a near-fatal attempt on her life. Award-winning historian and New York Times bestselling author Keisha N. Blain shines a light on Hamer’s life, ideas, and political strategies, situating her as a key political thinker of the civil rights movement, alongside Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, John Lewis, and Rosa Parks. Donna Brazile and Blain will discuss the enduring power of Hamer’s example more than 40 years after her death — and what she continues to teach us about the fight for social justice. When: Oct. 6, 7pm Eastern. Where: Online.
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. When: November 3-5. Where: Tampa, Florida.
Democracy Fund Language Access for Voters Summit: We hope you will join our summit on the importance of language access for voters. With the newest set of Section 203 determinations likely to be released in early December, this virtual convening of election officials, voting rights advocates, and translation experts will feature discussions on a variety of language needs and the services necessary to meet those needs, to meet voters where they are. Join us on December 13-14th at 2pm ET/11am PT to share ideas, tools, and best practices with a focus on practical ideas about what needs to be done between now and November 2022 in order to provide effective language assistance in communities across the United States. Please stay tuned for more information about our program, panelists, and workshops. When: December 13-14, 2pm-5pm Eastern. Where: Online.
Job Postings This Week
electionlineWeekly publishes election administration job postings each week as a free service to our readers. To have your job listed in the newsletter, please send a copy of the job description, including a web link to email@example.com. Job postings must be received by 5pm on Wednesday in order to appear in the Thursday newsletter. Listings will run for three weeks or till the deadline listed in the posting.
Administrator II, Maryland State Board of Elections— The Administrator position in the Election Reform and Management Division assists the Director and Deputy Director implementing, managing and supporting various projects related to the election process and improving election administration in Maryland. The duties will include on-going compliance with the Help America Vote Act, Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act, Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act, and other federal election laws and any federal funds awarded to the State under these laws. This position will develop and oversee the statewide training and education program for elections officials and judges, including development and issuance of a statewide Elections Judges’ Manual, training curriculum, and an online training system/module. Salary: $50,971 – $81,596. Deadline: October 8. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Assistant County Registrar, Contra Costa County, California— Contra Costa County is recruiting for an experienced Assistant County Registrar, with a proven track record, to join our exceptional elections team. This at-will position reports directly to the elected County Clerk Recorder-Registrar through the Chief Operating Officer and directs the Elections Division’s day-to-day operations, under general direction from the elected Department Head and Chief Operating Officer. This position is responsible for managing the processes of registering county voters, maintaining voter precincts and voter files, conducting Federal, State, County, and local elections on behalf of the County’s residents. The Assistant Registrar administers local provisions of campaign finance requirements and monitors and analyzes the impact of legislation on the election process. Candidate must be familiar with election law and code; initiative, referendum, and recall petition processes as well as compliance with all election laws and timelines. The Assistant Registrar position handles the administration of the Elections Division, including budget development and adherence, personnel development, supervision, and performance management. The position will ensure that all electoral processes are conducted in a fair and transparent manner, consistently demonstrating integrity, neutrality, and non-partisan decision-making. In addition to a customer service focus, demonstrating, promoting, and developing leadership values and skills are core responsibilities, as department staff are key assets of the organization. The Elections Division operates with a ~$16 million annual budget, has approximately 30 full-time staff, and can include up to 100 temporary staff and 2,000 volunteers during peak election cycles. Salary: $120,695-$161, 743. Deadline: October 18. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Campaign Finance Specialist, Wake County, North Carolina Board of Elections— The Wake County Board of Elections is seeking a Campaign Finance Specialist to manage communication support and report auditing for candidates and committees who file campaign finance reports at the county level. The Campaign Finance Specialist must maintain in-depth knowledge of campaign finance law and reporting schedules. Responsibilities of the position include: Communicate with candidates and Campaign Committee Treasurers; Conduct financial audits of campaign finance reports; Refer late or non-compliant reports to the State Board of Elections for further investigation or financial penalties; Maintain directories and databases of elected officials and report filing statuses; Develop candidate and campaign finance informational guides; Manage the candidates and Campaign Finance section of the Board of Elections website; Organize and administer candidate filing; and Assist Campaign Committee Treasurers with campaign reporting software. Salary: Hiring Range: $20.19 – $27.26. Deadline: October 3. 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.
City Clerk, West Sacramento, California— The City of West Sacramento is actively recruiting for a City Clerk to lead the City Clerk’s Office! Candidates should have knowledge of State Elections Code; the California Public Records Act; State Government Code as it pertains to the office of City Clerk; filing provisions of the State Fair Political Practices Commission; the Brown Act; principles and practices of modern public administration; organization and functions of municipal government, including the roles of a Council/Manager form of government; principles and practices of records management, including records retention laws; modern office practices and procedures including business correspondence, filing and standard equipment operation, including audio-visual equipment. The City Clerk plans, organizes, and directs all functions and responsibilities of the City Clerk’s office as specified by the City Council and as required by law. The City Clerk is an at-will position that is appointed by and sits at the pleasure of the City Manager. This position receives general supervision from the Assistant City Manager or their designee, and may supervise professional level staff, as well as clerical, technical and temporary staff. Salary: $113,868-$138,384. Deadline: October 17. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Communications Liaison, Hillsborough County, Florida— The Supervisor of Elections administers all federal, state, county, municipal and special district elections in Hillsborough County. It’s our responsibility to process all voter registration applications received from qualified Florida residents, and also to educate Hillsborough County residents about registering to vote. We issue Voter Information Cards to all newly registered voters, and reissue those cards when there are changes to a voter’s registration information or polling place. Maintaining our voter database is a huge undertaking and one we take great care with. We hold countywide elections, as well as municipal elections for the City of Tampa, Plant City and Temple Terrace, and work with the county and municipalities periodically on reapportionment, redistricting and drawing precinct boundaries. Candidates for county, district and special district offices file and qualify for candidacy with our office. We also receive the forms and financial reports that candidates, committees and political parties are required to file. And our office verifies and certifies all petition signatures for candidates and ballot initiatives. Participates in all aspects of the communications department, engaging in a wide range of community outreach efforts to register voters and provide information about voting and elections, as well as working on event planning, marketing, media outreach and candidate services. Salary: Salary starting $44,790. – $55,987. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Communications Manager, Sarasota County, Florida— This position of Communications Manager is responsible for the development, implementation and evaluation of communication initiatives for the Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections. These communication efforts include sharing timely and relevant elections-related information with voters, media, government agencies and internal staff through written and electronic communication mediums. This nonpartisan and nonpolitical position supports the mission and responsibilities of the supervisor of elections, provides guidance and leadership to temporary and permanent office staff regarding all communications activities. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Early Voting Specialist, Wake County, North Carolina Board of Elections— Are you looking to be more involved in your community? Do you have a passion for learning? Are you ready to be a part of democracy in the making? If so, get ready to roll up your sleeves and become a part of history! The Wake County Board of Elections is currently seeking an Early Voting Specialist to join our dynamic and talented Early Voting Team. The ideal candidate will be a strong communicator who thrives in a fast paced, ever changing work environment. They will have a clear understanding of the commonly accepted instructional design models, know what is takes to be a behind the scenes designer, and have a strong visual sense and excellent project management skills. The Early Voting Specialist will also assist with planning and management of Early Voting. This includes logistics, such as identifying and inspecting potential voting sites, communicating with facility staff, scheduling election service vendors, and managing voting site support operations. In addition, they will assist in the physically demanding work of setting up Early Voting sites. What will you do as an Early Voting Specialist? Develop and design training material for election workers, including classroom presentations, manuals, quick reference guides, workbooks, training videos, and e-learning modules; Teach training classes via Zoom or in person at the Board of Elections Operations Center; Monitor and assess election law changes and incorporate the changes into Early Voting site procedures; Identify training needs and solutions, collaborate with team members on best practices, develop training assessments, and implement changes in response to the assessments; Manage the logistics of early voting training, including recruiting and training classroom instructors, scheduling classroom facilities, recruiting and supervising training assistants, and preparing training budget needs; Manage the Learning Management System through user interface design, user record management, course creation, and uploading of SCORM packages; Develop high level design documents, storyboards, audio narration scripts, status reporting, Q&A and testing plans; Schedule and design layouts for training facilities; Develop and design election forms, Precinct Official website, newsletters, assessments, and other communications; Answer calls on the Early Voting support help line, including training help line staff, managing telephone, website, and live chat support tools, and managing help line staff schedules; Listen and respond to voter complaints; Identify innovative training tools and methods to enhance the Early Voting training program; Assist with Early Voting site management, including scheduling, communication, support, logistics, database management, and site setups; Assist with election support operations, including answering phone calls at the Precinct Official support help line and performing post-election reconciliation procedures. Salary: Hiring Range: $17.49 – $23.60. Deadline: October 3. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
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.
Information Technology Specialist, Leon County, Florida— This full-time employee will provide support for a wide variety of technology needs, primarily specializing in computer hardware. Duties include deploying computer images, providing support for desktop computers, and assisting with security and protection of elections technology and infrastructure. The role is ideal for a dynamic, self-motivated IT professional who is focused on providing outstanding internal customer service and innovations across project teams. Success in this position requires experience with Windows desktops and applications, and installing and maintaining peripheral hardware such as printers, scanners, and bar code readers. Experience in multimedia and video production and editing is desired, but not required. Must be able to deliver work on-time under pressure and maintain flexible hours including on-call shifts and overtime during elections. Occasional out-of-town travel may be required for training. Work is sometimes physically demanding and requires reliable personal transportation, an insurable driving record, and a security clearance. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Management Analyst III, Fairfax County, Virginia— Serves as Administrative Division Director in a fast paced, high performing elections and voter registration agency. Independently performs a wide range of professional-level work related to personnel, financial management, budget, planning, physical security, and physical resource management. Plans and implements all phases of administrative support to election activities to ensure compliance with federal, state and county laws and procedures including fiscal controls, purchasing, budgeting, facilities planning and management, recruiting and hiring, payroll, personnel rules and practices, and training and staffing. This position works under the direction of the General Registrar and specific duties include but are not limited to:Directs and supervises professional and seasonal employees who perform fiscal and human resources duties in support of the agency, to include developing and implementing written policies and procedures for fiscal and personnel activities; Develops and manages agency budget and purchasing in coordination with the General Registrar; Participates in strategic planning and budget development; researches and evaluates new technology and equipment, and serves as project manager for the acquisition and implementation of new systems or equipment; Develops and administers internal space plan and physical security plan for the agency, to include acquiring, reserving and managing work and warehouse spaces, regulating access to offices, files, keys, databases, warehouse and other sensitive locations and materials. Communicates security initiatives to staff; Coordinates related activities with other agency departments, state board of elections, county agencies, federal agencies, and vendors; and Manages, directs and supervises professional staff. Deadline: October 8. 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 Joaquin County, California— San Joaquin County is seeking an experienced and dedicated professional to join the executive team to provide strong leadership and administrative oversight of the Registrar of Voters Office. This is an executive, department head level position which reports directly to the County Administrator and is responsible for planning, organizing and directing the work of the Registrar/Elections staff. The Registrar manages all phases of the election process and should have an in-depth understanding of the Elections Code and have demonstrated experience in management, supervision, employee development, budgets and activities of an Elections Office. The ideal candidate is expected to provide strategic management of the Registrar of Voters Office and must model strong work ethics and leadership skills, including accountability for oneself and others. Salary: $124,215- $150,984. Deadline: October 15. 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.
Voting Systems Assistant OPS/Seasonal, Leon County, Florida— Duties for this full-time seasonal position include equipment maintenance, sign creation and assembly, organizing materials, asset management, assisting with retention of official records, and serving as USPS liaison for the office. Work is performed in a physical, warehouse-type environment supplemented with office work. Applicants should demonstrate integrity and a passion for providing internal operational support for the office. Must be able to work under pressure, have flexible hours during election cycles, and complete tasks in a timely and organized manner. Must be able to lift up to fifty pounds and have an insurable driving record. The anticipated term of employment for this position is at least until completion of the 2022 election cycle (through November 2022). This position qualifies for retirement and health care benefits. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
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Cuyahoga County, Ohio Board of Elections has approximately 1,000 poll booths available at no charge. If your county is interested in these poll booths, please contact Cuyahoga County at email@example.com or 216-443-6428.