In Focus This Week
Strengthening Democracy Through Cross-Sector Collaborations
A guide for building coalitions based on the Future of California Elections model
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and large amounts of misinformation, voter turnout was high in the 2020 election. Over the last year, we have continued to see attacks on the integrity of our election process and an escalation of anti-democratic efforts to stifle the vote in many states. These efforts disproportionately affect BIPOC communities, young and senior voters, voters with disabilities, and justice-involved citizens. As we look forward to the 2022 and 2024 elections, a new cross-sector coalition is needed to protect our democratic values and ensure equitable election policies and practices that are responsive to communities long disenfranchised and disengaged from the voting process.
Between 2011 and 2020, Future of California Elections (FoCE), a cross-sector coalition of bi-partisan election officials and nonprofit organizations, convened with the shared goal of modernizing elections and expanding participation for all eligible voters in California. This is a noteworthy achievement—for many years, these groups often sat on the opposite sides. FoCE uniquely brought together an uncanny group of organizations and provided them a space to convene and work together. We see the benefit and success of this collaboration today, including the passage of the 2016 Voter Choice Act and expanding access to translated sample ballots, information, and other assistance for minority language communities.
A new Democracy Fund-commissioned white paper authored by Astrid Ochoa, former Executive Director of FoCE, highlights the success — and learnings — of the FoCE model and best practices for those interested in building cross-sector collaborative networks in other states. Beyond just finding more inclusive solutions to today’s election administration issues, a cross-sector network like this can help create a community of support between election officials and nonprofit organizations to better defend our democratic process against those who wish to usurp it. Additionally, this model can help election officials and voter advocates rebuild public trust and enhance participation in the democratic process by having a diverse group of election advocates and administrators at the table together to develop and advocate for inclusive elections policies and practices.
FoCE, the nonprofit, closed in 2020 and now operates as the Future of California Elections Network. This nonpartisan network continues to build on the work of its predecessor to advance effective and inclusive election policies and practices. Much can be learned from the FoCE model that can be carried forward to other states looking to start their cross-sector networks, regardless of how different your state (or community) may be from California. Whether you are a State Election Director, the President of a State Association, or Executive Director of a civic action nonprofit, this report can help you develop a strong network of election administrators and voting advocates that can work together to create responsive and inclusive election policy.
Democracy Fund has partnered with Astrid to offer free consultation to election officials, election offices, or state associations interested in building better cross-sector collaborations with civic engagement groups in their community. If you are interested in learning more about this free consulting service, please reach out to Ebony West at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2020 Elections Oral History Project
The Guardians of Democracy
New project from Stanford highlights issues from 2020 and a path forward
The Stanford Internet Observatory Cyber Policy Center this week released an oral history of the 2020 election. The center interviewed federal state and local officials from around the country to capture their voice and experiences in 2020.
Additionally, the Center has released an election security policy paper that takes the experiences we heard and what Stanford non-resident Policy Fellow Matt Masterson went through at CISA and lays out a roadmap for a path forward in this new environment.
The oral history and corresponding policy paper attempt to capture their experiences and offer a path forward for healing the election community and protecting our democracy. By telling the on-the-ground story of election officials in their own voices, we seek to tell the story of those guardians of democracy who administered and secured this election, and, as a result, were the targets of unprecedented, baseless, and heinous attacks.
The report outlines three exigent threats to the election process following the events of the 2020 general election. It also provides 11 targeted recommendations to best address these threats in preparation for the 2022 midterm elections and beyond. The report reflects months of interviews with election officials from around the country and across the political spectrum. While many threats to the election process exist, three stand out as especially concerning for the 2022 election and beyond.
- Election officials’ capacity to do their jobs is degraded by physical threats and broad districts fomented by bad-faith actors;
- The playbook for undermining confidence in election results is well-defined and available for foreigh and domestic influence agents; and
- Inconsistent funding and lack of governance structures around elections IT continue to perpetuate vulnerabilities.
In light of the aforementioned threats, and others yet to come, the report proposes a set of concrete and actionable recommendations to shore up election security and ensure election confidence. Each recommendation will require coordination by relevant stakeholders at the local, state and federal level.
- Fund elections consistently at the state, local and federal level;
- Prepare state and local election officials to respond to mis-and disinformation in future elections;
- Educate the public about the trusted role of election officials;
- Encourage states to implement paper-based pre-certification audits;
- Reform the U.S. Election Assistance Commission;
- Mandate reporting of election cyber incidents to CISA and the FBI;
- Establish minimum cybersecurity baselines for state and local election offices and election vendors;
- Centralize election IT infrastructure at the state level; and
- Support good-faith security research and vulnerability assessments.
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Election News This Week
Difficult Logistics: The Louisiana elections postponed by Hurricane Ida are just under a month away and officials in parts of the state are still struggling to find adequate polling places and prep for the election. Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin recently took a four day tour of 11 storm-damaged parishes and found 34 of Terrebonne Parish’s 77 precincts would have to be moved, nine of St. Charles’ 41 precincts, 28 of Jefferson’s 273 precincts, several in St. Helena Parish and every one of Lafourche’s “down the bayou” 10th Ward voting locations had been destroyed or damaged. Each precinct averages 815 registered voters. That’s more than 100,000 voters impacted, about a third of those registered, and the count is still rising. More precincts in Orleans, Tangipahoa and St. John the Baptist parishes will be moved once the local governing authorities, later this week, pass the necessary ordinances to do so. Only Livingston Parish’s traditional polling places survived enough to be usable. “Logistics have been the most difficult part,” Ardoin said. The Secretary of State’s Office has three mobile voting stations that operate off generators. Lafourche is getting one and another is going to heavily damaged St. John the Baptist Parish on the Mississippi River, Ardoin said, adding that the third will be placed soon. “Our main concern is communications,” said Ashley Shelton, president of the Power Coalition for Equity and Justice, a New Orleans-based community involvement group that emphasizes voting statewide. The nonprofit is pitching in by reaching out to voters with the latest news, particularly at the hot meal stations set up in the storm zone. Ardoin’s task force is talking to the U.S. Postal Service continuously, making sure local mail carriers are aware of absentee ballots. If voters aren’t receiving mail at home, they’re being instructed to go to the post office. His office is erecting large metal signs throughout the effected parishes with 1-800 numbers to get information, printing posters, handing out fliers, and will start advertising on local radio this week. “We’re trying to cover all our bases,” Ardoin said.
Stamp of Approval: Calling her an “unsung hero” in 2020, West Boylston, Massachusetts Postmaster Rebecca Dzormeku, representing the postal service, dedicated a stamp to Town Clerk Elaine Novia. “During the COVID pandemic, the Town Hall and, more specifically, the town clerk, Elaine Novia, would keep us updated on developments within the town of West Boylston to ensure that the mail carriers had all the necessary information for safe deliveries. The West Boylston Town Hall continues to work with the USPS. On Aug. 21, 2020, the USPS issued a Forever Stamp that perfectly states what everybody is thinking when the West Boylston Town Hall is mentioned: THANK YOU! The two simple words are highlighted in gold foil in cursive script and an elegant floral design swirls through and around the words.” According to the Telegram & Gazette, Novia thanked the post office for the recognition, saying how much it meant to her, but also “thanked all the folks who helped to make the 2020 elections a success: Family, co-workers, volunteers, election staff. None of us could have succeeded without teamwork, communication and the desire to help each other.” Congratulations Elaine, we think this is pretty cool.
Suffrage News: New Mexico Suffragette Nina Otero-Warren will appear on some U.S. quarters next year. A well-known educator who was an advocate for the preservation of traditional languages and culture in Santa Fe schools for both Native American and Hispanic students during her tenure as superintendent, which began in 1918 and spanned more than a decade, according to The Santa Fe New Mexican, She is perhaps best known for leading efforts in New Mexico to ratify the 19th Amendment and secure voting rights for women. She is credited with much of the February 1920 victory for the state’s suffragist movement, in which she emphasized the importance of reaching out to Spanish-speaking women and recruiting Hispanic women to the fight for voting rights. While Otero-Warren and others ensured Hispanic women gained the right to vote in New Mexico in 1920, along with Anglos, it would be years before Native American women and those of other ethnicities also could cast a ballot.
Congratulations: First he won an McArthur Genius Award and now Florida voting rights advocate Desmond Meade has finally had his civil rights restored. Meade announced the restoration of his voting rights via Twitter. “Wow. Wow,” he said. “Another chapter in the journey. Another, I guess, example of perseverance.” According to the Tampay Bay Times, His rights were restored under a new state clemency process approved by Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida Cabinet in March. The changes automatically restored the right to hold office and serve on a jury for Floridians with felony convictions who have completed their sentence and paid off their court debts. Meade and the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition he leads had advocated for the changes, which included removing a minimum five-year waiting period for those with felony convictions to apply to have their rights restored. In the Twitter video Meade In the video, Meade acknowledged that restoring his civil rights was “not a pardon.” “But it’s definitely a step,” he said. “The restoration of my civil rights definitely helped remove some hurdles for me.” “I could apply for the Florida Bar now. I can get a house. I could run for office if I wanted to run for office. “This is good. It’s good.”
Personnel News: Erica Hamilton has resigned as the DeKalb County, Georgia election director. Justin “Tyler” McNeil has been appointed supervisor of elections for Jefferson County, Florida. Akyn Bailey has been named the White County, Georgia election supervisor. Michele Carew has resigned as the Hood County, Texas elections administrator. Margaret DeFoe has resigned as the Galway, New York clerk. Eric Olsen has been hired as the new registrar of voters for Prince William County, Virginia. Kelly Jahner-Byrne (R) has joined the race for Minnesota secretary of state. Elaina Cano has been appointed clerk-recorder of San Luis Obispo County, California. Brianna Schletz has been appointed the new inspector general for the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. Mesa City, Arizona Clerk Dee Ann Mickelsen. Byron Stelly is the new St. Mary Parish, Louisiana registrar of voters.
Florida: Rep. Anthony Sabatini (R-Lake County) has filed a bill ahead of the 2022 legislative session calling for the governor to “appoint an independent third party to conduct a forensic audit of the general election that took place on November 3, 2020.” The investigation would happen in each county with a population of 250,000 or more, which would be 24 out of Florida’s 67 counties, according to the state’s 2020 population estimates. The Lake County Republican Party signed a resolution calling for an audit of the 2020 results even though former President Donald Trump won the state by more than 3%, a veritable landslide in a state known for close elections.
The Clearwater City Council has vote 4 to 1 against holding a referendum on ranked choice voting because, even if residents were to approve it, the city would not be able to be implement the system unless the state recognizes it as a legal method. Council member Kathleen Beckman voted no. Sarasota was the first city in Florida to approve the system in 2007, but 14 years later, the Secretary of State has not acknowledged the system as constitutional. “It’s almost going to take somebody suing the state to make this happen,” council member David Allbritton said. “If you get real about it, it’s not something that’s going to happen for a while.”
Guam: Bills 173-36 and 174-36, both authored by Sen. James Moylan, would amend a number of local election laws, including provisions affecting the names candidates use in official documents, electioneering limits at polling sites, and a timeframe to hold a special election in the event of a vacancy for Washington delegate. The first proposal is how best to cancel certain primary elections. In order to make Bill 173’s parameters “abundantly clear,” Elizabeth Santos, acting director of the Guam election commission, requested senators amend the bill to read: “In any given election year, the Guam Election Commission shall cancel the primary election if equal to or fewer than the maximum number of candidates can advance to the general election for any partisan elected office.” The provision as offered would only cancel elections for individual offices, and only in their entirety – not for just one political party, Elizabeth Santos repeatedly assured lawmakers. The legislation also allows the GEC to no longer keep track of exactly who was supported through write-in votes. To help comply with federal overseas voting laws, the GEC is also supportive of Bill 174, which would push up the dates of the primary election, in addition to the deadlines for candidates to file packets and residents to register as voters. The Legislation proposes to push up the initial vote of an election year to the first, rather than the last, Saturday in August. If adopted, campaigns will need to file official paperwork to appear on a ballot a month earlier than current law allows. The measure also requires voters to register for an election 21 days before it is held, instead of the current 10-day window.
Michigan: GOP lawmakers in Michigan’s Senate passed a bill that would eliminate the fee to obtain a state ID card as part of a broader effort to enact a strict voter ID requirement opposed by Democratic lawmakers and voting rights advocates. In taking up the bill to provide free state IDs — HB 5007 — Republicans rejected a Democratic amendment that would have separated it from SB 303, a sweeping election bill passed by the Senate. That bill would enact a strict ID requirement for in-person voters and a brand new one for absentee voters, as well as prohibit election officials from sending unsolicited absentee ballot applications and accepting private donations. Republicans also rejected a Democratic amendment to appropriate funding for the bill to provide free IDs that passed on a party-line vote, with every Republican backing the measure. It now heads to the House. In addition to eliminating the ID fee, HB 5007 would require the Secretary of State’s Office to provide same-day service for those applying for a state ID card for the purpose of voting in an election, as well as those applying for an ID three days before Election Day, on Election Day or six days after an election.
Pennsylvania: Scott Conklin (D-Centre County) has introduced a bill that would allow pre-canvassing of ballots to begin 21 days before election day, instead of the morning of, to help reduce delays in vote county. The bill would also: Require risk-limiting audits; Provide for early voting; Give county election boards flexibility when establishing ballot return locations; Make the ‘permanent’ vote-by-mail list actually permanent; Create a system of curing for absentee and mail-in ballots; Create a public voter fraud hotline; Establish a voter bill of rights; and Seek to have the state reimburse counties for the costs of voting machines, ballot processing machines, and electronic record systems. “This is common sense, county-led, opportunities for us to strengthen our democracy,” said Centre County Commissioner Michael Pipe. “I think that county commissioners across Pennsylvania should look at this as a model for how we go into the future.”
California: Dominion Voting Systems is seeking to block Santa Clara County from releasing the firm’s financial documents, arguing they contain trade secrets that make them exempt from public records laws. Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Helen Williams said she would like to first take a look at the documents in question before making a ruling. In August, Santa Clara County received six public records requests that sought Dominion’s financial statements. As part of an agreement between the county and Dominion, the county notified the company about the records request and that they intended to fulfill it. After Dominion raised concerns about the release of the documents, the county directed them to make their case in court rather than the county making the determination. In their suit seeking to block the records from release, attorneys for Dominion argue that the company’s interest in preventing their release “outweighs” the public’s interest in receiving them. They also state that “across the nation,” individuals who are “fueled” by “false claims” that the company rigged the 2020 election have filed public records requests seeking information that intends to harm Dominion. In addition, attorneys for Dominion contend that it is in Santa Clara County’s own interest to not release the financial documents. If the documents were to be released, they argue, future vendors may be “reluctant” to work with the county.
Colorado: District Court Judge Valerie J. Robison has ruled that Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters cannot be involved in the administration of her county’s November election. Robison sided with the Democratic Secretary of State Jena Griswold, who in late August filed a lawsuit seeking to block Peters and Deputy Clerk and Recorder Belinda Knisley from handling the next election. That lawsuit “met the burden of showing that Peters and Knisley have committed a breach and neglect of duty and other wrongful acts. As such, Peters and Knisley are unable or unwilling to appropriately perform the duties of the Mesa County Designated Election Official,” the judge wrote in a 22-page ruling. This means that former Republican Secretary of State Wayne Williams will oversee Mesa County elections this year. He was appointed by the Mesa County commissioners, under a temporary agreement that pays him $180 an hour. The commissioners supported Griswold’s suit. Wrote Robison, “Peters failed to follow the rules and orders of the Secretary by facilitating and allowing a non-employee … without a disclosed background check to have access to a secured area via a Mesa County access card. Knisley aided Peters in her wrongful acts by requesting that the cameras be disabled. In doing so, Knisley ensured that the wrongful behavior of Peters could not be viewed.”
Attorneys representing the One America News Network and Donald J. Trump for President Inc. asked Denver Judge Marie Avery Moses to dismiss defamation claims filed by a voting machine employee they falsely accused of rigging the 2020 election. Following the 2020 election, podcaster Joseph Oltmann claimed he heard a man on a call identified as “Eric from Dominion” say he was going to make sure Trump lost. Through internet research, Oltmann said he concluded this referred to Eric Coomer, a director of product strategy and security at Dominion Voting Systems. The spark caught and spread like wildfire, as it was picked up by the OAN, and repeated by the Trump campaign and attorneys Rudi Giuliani and Sydney Powell. In his 2020 lawsuit, Coomer identified 16 individuals and companies that collectively made him the villain in the narrative of unbased claims of election fraud. Threats and harassment drove Coomer into hiding. Moses did not indicate when or how she will decide the motions in question, but issued decorum and civilities orders before the hearings started.
Florida: Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Walker allowed a series of challenges to a new state elections law to move forward, setting the stage for a showdown over Republican legislators’ efforts to make it more difficult for Floridians to vote by mail and for organizations to conduct voter-registration drives. The Florida Conference of the NAACP, Disability Rights Florida, the League of Women Voters of Florida, UnidosUS and a number of other organizations allege that the changes approved by the Legislature this spring could curtail voting by Black, Latino and disabled residents. The lawsuits focus on several parts of the law that deal with voting by mail, as well as a requirement that third-party voter registration groups provide a disclaimer to people signing up to vote. The lawsuits contend that the restrictions will have a negative impact on people who work during the day and voters with disabilities, who might be forced to bring ballots into early voting sites if supervisors don’t provide drop boxes outside. Walker said Secretary of State Laurel Lee, Attorney General Ashley Moody and supervisors of elections should remain as defendants in the cases, though he dismissed the officials from some parts of the challenges. Lee argued that the case should be dismissed because the vote-by-mail restrictions do not place undue burdens on the right to vote and that the plaintiffs’ claims fail because they focus on burdens placed on “vulnerable” voters instead of on the electorate as a whole. “She is wrong on both points,” Walker wrote in a 62-page order. “In sum, defendant Lee’s arguments that restrictions on mail-in ballots do not implicate the right to vote is unsound and unsupported by precedent.”
Georgia: Superior Court Judge Brian Amero dismissed a lawsuit by Donald Trump supporters who sought to inspect absentee ballots from last year’s presidential election, a decision that came a day after Georgia investigators told the court they were unable to find any counterfeit ballots. Amero’s ruling ended the last remaining major lawsuit over Georgia’s 2020 election and prevented an outside review of Fulton County’s 147,000 original absentee ballots. Though Amero’s decision was based on the legal principle of standing — the plaintiffs hadn’t suffered a specific injury that would give them a right to sue — he reviewed the evidence before making his ruling. There was no indication of “pristine” ballots with perfectly filled-in ovals and no creases, as alleged in the lawsuit. All ballots in those batches appeared to be authentic. “While no election is perfect, there was no widespread fraud or illegal voting large enough to overturn the election,” Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said. “The results were, as we reported, that President Trump came up short in the state of Georgia.”
Kansas: Shawnee County District Court Judge Teresa Watson has ruled that Secretary of State Scott Schwab’s office was within its rights to remove a function generating a statewide report showing which provisional ballots weren’t counted. The case, brought by Davis Hammet and the ACLU of Kansas, director of the civic engagement group Loud Light, argued Schwab’s move to ask the contractor managing the state’s voter registration database to dump a feature creating the report was a bid to circumvent the state’s open records laws. Watson ruled there was nothing compelling Schwab’s office from maintaining the ability to create the report, only that they must make the report available for inspection if the document exists. Under the Kansas Open Records Act, an entity can’t be required to create a record which doesn’t otherwise exist While Watson wrote Hammet “understandably” raises concerns about why Schwab’s office eliminated the ability to produce the report, she said that had no bearing on the lawsuit’s success. “There is no statute within or apart from KORA that requires the Secretary of State to create a statewide provisional ballot detail report either by hand or electronically,” Watson’s ruling said. “There is no statute that dictates how the Secretary of State must program the databases it uses to store information.
Michigan: Circuit Court Judge Kevin Elsenheimer denied a motion from Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson seeking to lift a stay order in a dismissed Antrim County election-related lawsuit to assess whether court-protected images from Antrim County’s voting equipment were shared during a “cyber symposium” hosted by Donald Trump supporter and My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell. Elsenheimer, responding to Benson’s motion, said that Bailey’s lawsuit — dismissed in May — had been referred to the Michigan Court of Appeals and until that court decided whether to hear the case, he was denying the motion. “I think that frankly having a two-track process in this case is not in the best interest of the public, not in the best interest of the parties,” Elsenheimer said, following a hearing Monday morning conducted over Zoom. “I can understand the position of the defense, but I believe that this matter should be resolved by the court of appeals before we take it back up for enforcement or any other purposes here in circuit court,” Elsenheimer said. “I look forward to the direction of the court of appeals, if any.”
Montana: Montana Democratic Party, Montanans for Tester, and University of Montana student Macee Patritti filed suit this week challenging a new Montana law banning voter registration and get-out-the-vote efforts in certain areas of college campuses. The plaintiffs argue the law is suppressing the vote of young people who typically favor Democratic candidates. The law prohibits political committees including student organizations from conducting voter registration drives and other political activities inside certain high-traffic public university spaces including residence halls, dining facilities and athletic facilities. The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Missoula argues that the law contained in Senate Bill 319 “imposes arbitrary, vague, and onerous restrictions on the rights of college students” to participate fully in the political process. According to the lawsuit, Montanans for Tester along with the Montana Democratic Party registered over 3,000 new voters on college campuses by focusing on high traffic areas such as dorms and dining halls prior to the 2018 election. The lawsuit names Montana Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen, a Republican, and Commissioner of Political Practices Jeff Mangan as defendants in the lawsuit, and asks the court to ban them from enforcing the law.
Pennsylvania: The Democratic National Committee is seeking to intervene in a lawsuit brought by Pennsylvania Republicans aimed at curbing the use of mail voting, according to a copy of the filing shared with NBC News. Fourteen Pennsylvania Republican legislators filed a lawsuit against the commonwealth on Aug. 31, arguing that a 2019 law that expanded access to mail voting to all eligible voters was unconstitutional, according to The Associated Press. Most of the plaintiffs voted to pass the law two years ago — but since then, many Republicans have followed former President Donald Trump’s lead in attacking the method of voting. The DNC and the Pennsylvania Democratic Party filed the motion to intervene, arguing that the mail voting law is valid and constitutional. They are intervening in part because the lawsuit has been expedited by the court, and is expected to move rapidly through the legal process this fall, an attorney representing the DNC said.
Virginia: U.S. District Judge David Nova is urging Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring to issue a formal opinion on the state’s election calendar after U.S. census delays forced members of the General Assembly to run in outdated districts this year. Herring has steadfastly declined to weigh in despite receiving a formal request for an opinion five months ago from Del. Lee Carter, D-Manassas. “Maybe the attorney general wants to opine — he may want to,” said Novak during a hearing, suggesting that some clear legal direction from Herring might resolve the need for the lawsuit. “I want him to do his job, but I’m not ordering it.” After Novak proposed a three-day deadline for additional filings, the attorney general’s office protested, calling the timing unreasonable. Novak snapped back: “I wouldn’t be in this position if you had done your job the first time.”
Washington: Attorneys for the Washington Democratic Party filed motions to intervene in the lawsuits filed by Republican voters in eight counties including Snohomish, King, Pierce, Thurston, Clark, Whatcom, Lincoln and Franklin, The Daily Herald reported. They want all the cases tossed out. “This lawsuit is entirely unfounded and appears to be little more than a coordinated political attack on the integrity of Washington elections,” lawyers for the Democrats wrote in a motion filed in the Snohomish County case. “Plaintiffs stand before the Court with nothing but speculation, fueled by conspiracy theories, asking for breathtaking and entirely unwarranted ‘relief.’” The original lawsuits allege that auditors used uncertified voting equipment and manipulated thousands of ballots in an unspecified statewide race. Each lawsuit seeks a “full forensic audit” conducted in the same manner as one carried out in Arizona which found no evidence of fraud. U.S. District Court Judge Richard Jones notified the election integrity coalition that it cannot appear pro se and must get counsel by Nov. 1. Borrelli, in an email, said the group wants those cases — and any others that land in federal court — remanded to Superior Court.
Franklin County Judge Sam Swanberg is allowing Franklin County another chance to argue that Latinos are being fairly represented in county commissioner elections. Swanberg allowed the county to cancel an agreement that required the county to come up with new district maps and change to district-only elections. His decision resets the case to where it was a little more than a month ago, and sets the county and the League of United Latin American Citizens up for a trial. Swanberg suggested that should happen before the end of the year. The judge pointed out that he wasn’t making any decision about whether the county was violating the Washington Voting Rights Act. He also found merit to the argument that the county sat on its hands and was not working to defend itself. In the end, Swanberg agreed that the decision in the lawsuit affects everyone in the county, and was concerned that it appeared that the elected officials didn’t agree with the decision. “I think it’s in the best interest that the public at large (for the case) to be heard on the merits,” he said. “I think it provides a greater assurance to the community.” Swanberg said they should expedite the case, since it should have been decided on Sept. 13 as part of the court hearing where the two sides entered into the agreement.
Wisconsin: Dane County Valerie Bailey-Rihn ordered Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, to immediately release records about the investigation previously requested by American Oversight, a national nonprofit group that, according to its website, “uses public records requests backed by litigation to fight corruption, drive accountability, and defend democracy.” The judge’s order said Vos has “unjustifiably withheld and refused to release the contractor records to which Petitioner is entitled.” If Vos refuses to immediately release the documents, the order calls on him to appear in court on Nov. 5. In a prepared statement, Austin Evers, executive director of American Oversight, lauded the court’s action. “Wisconsin has a right to know how this taxpayer-funded investigation is being orchestrated,” Evers said. Vos could appeal the decision. According to Wisconsin Public Radio, his office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Opinions This Week
California: Poll workers
Georgia: Secretary of state
Michigan: Detroit city clerk race
New Jersey: Ranked choice voting
New York: Voting rights
Ohio: Barriers to voting
South Carolina: 2020 election review
Texas: Voter fraud
Virginia: Election security
West Virginia: Federal election legislation
Wisconsin: 2020 election review
Creating a tech equity agenda to advance American democracy, a conversation with Alondra Nelson, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy: The modern world is shaped by technological innovation, from the exploratory potential of spacecraft to the promise of artificial intelligence systems. These and other emerging technologies are improving how we live our lives and modernize government operations and can create efficiencies that lend themselves to better public institutions and more participatory democracy. But these same technologies can create intended and unintended consequences for democratic processes and risks to citizens, who deserve a new digital ecosystem that advances well-being and prosperity. What’s more, what are the consumer and worker protections necessary for the equitable and fair deployment of emerging technologies and to mitigate racial bias and social inequities? How can we advance the nation’s aspiration for a more diverse science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) workforce? What would responsible and rights-preserving science and technology systems look like in our criminal justice system? How can we protect free speech while also addressing the spread of misinformation and disinformation online? On October 21, the Center for Technology Innovation at Brookings will host Alondra Nelson, deputy director for science and society at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, for a wide-ranging conversation with Senior Fellow Nicol Turner Lee on these and other topics. When: October 21. Where: Online.
Disinformation in American Elections Part II: This three-part online lunch series hosted by the Fair Elections and Free Speech Center at UCI Law explores the risk of disinformation in American elections, spread through social media and otherwise, and how to counter it. This session, Part II of the series, brings together leading legal scholars who study how law shapes the ability to counter disinformation in elections, and addresses how the U.S. Constitution’s protection of free speech and association in the First Amendment may constrain potential solutions. Speakers include: Danielle Citron (UVA), Spencer Overton (GW) and Nate Persily (Stanford). When: October 27 3:15pm 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. Watch for registration and hotel details in early June 2021. When: November 3-5. Where: Tampa, Florida.
Disinformation in American Elections Part III: This three-part online lunch series hosted by the Fair Elections and Free Speech Center at UCI Law explores the risk of disinformation in American elections, spread through social media and otherwise, and how to counter it. This session, Part III of the series, features a conversation among leading social scientists studying disinformation in American elections and our evolving understanding of how disinformation spreads and may be limited. Speakers include: Joan Donavan (Harvard), Brendan Nyhan (Dartmout) and Renee DiResta (Stanford). The event will be moderated by former NPR correspondent Pam Fessler. When: November 10; 3:15pm Eastern. Where: Online.
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
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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 21. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
CEO, Democracy Works— Democracy Works seeks a strategic, committed leader to serve as its Chief Executive Officer. Democracy Works’ rise over the last 11 years was led by its Founding Chief Executive Officer who will be stepping down at the end of 2021. The incoming CEO will step into an organization in strong financial and strategic health, with an exceptional team. Reporting to Democracy Works’ Board of Directors, the CEO will serve as the organization’s most senior external advocate and fundraiser, overseeing the organization’s continued growth in its current moment and beyond. The CEO will also set organizational strategy, enabling Democracy Works to continue to deliver consistent, high-quality products, research, and expert assistance in pursuit of a fairer voting system. As the organization’s primary strategic leader, the CEO will support Democracy Works’ leadership team and staff to achieve exceptional results and impact at scale. Upon starting, it is anticipated that the CEO will lead an organizational strategic review and a foundational analysis of organizational strengths and opportunities in the areas of diversity, equity, inclusion, and access working closely with staff to chart its course into the future. The CEO will play a critical leadership role to foster an inclusive workplace that not only values and is responsive to the diversity of staff and the audiences it serves, but elevates all voices and identities across its work internally and with external partners. CEO will also build the organization’s internal capacity to ensure diversity, equity, and inclusion are central tenets of Democracy Works and are embedded across the organization. The CEO will directly manage a senior leadership team of 8 and an organization of over 60 staff. 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.
Counsel, Fair Elections Center— Fair Elections Center is a national, nonpartisan, non-profit voting rights and election reform organization based in Washington, D.C. Our mission is to use litigation and advocacy to remove barriers to registration and voting, particularly those disenfranchising underrepresented and marginalized communities, and to improve election administration. Fair Elections Center is seeking an attorney with a background or strong interest in civil rights, voting rights, and/or election reform to join our legal team. The Center has an aggressive and expanding litigation docket, including pending challenges to the arbitrary felon voting rights restoration scheme in Kentucky, restrictions and penalties imposed on voter registration activity and voter assistance for persons with disabilities in Florida, and unnecessary barriers to the use of student IDs as voter ID in Wisconsin. Recent cases include a First Amendment challenge to Florida’s arbitrary voting rights restoration system which resulted in the first court order striking down a state felon disenfranchisement or re-enfranchisement scheme in over 30 years, and lawsuits in Wisconsin, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, and Kentucky to make voting safer and more accessible during the COVID-19 pandemic. Salary: $85,000 to $100,000. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Government Services Strategy Impact and Learning Associate, CTCL— Election officials want to administer elections where every eligible voter can easily and securely cast their vote. But moving from intention to real-world impact can be challenging, especially without evidence of what works and what doesn’t work. As the Strategy, Impact, & Learning Associate on CTCL’s Government Services team, you will help measure and maximize the impact of CTCL’s work supporting election officials. You will identify metrics, design evaluations, coordinate with partners, and collect and analyze data. You will contribute to a culture of learning at the heart of CTCL’s Gov Services team, which will expand outward to our partners that work directly with election offices, and expand further outward to every election office in the country. You will be filling a new position and will report to the Senior Strategy, Impact, and Learning Manager. If you care about democracy, if you believe in the importance of public service, and if you love to exceed expectations, this is the job for you. 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.
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.
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.