In Focus This Week
States turn to cyber navigators
Programs help local officials navigate the cybersecurity waters
By M. Mindy Moretti
Election related incidents and allegations, small or large, real or imagined, that arise in one jurisdiction, have significant impact on voters and election officials throughout that state, and the nation.
The community of election officials, and state election leadership in particular, increasingly recognize they have a reputational stake in the performance of locals – and therefore local election officials need much more support in their efforts to navigate the myriad challenges of this dynamic new environment.
The damages from errors, misunderstandings, miscommunication, or outright falsehoods, are felt by all election officials and so mutual aid and support is required now more than ever.
Thus, cyber navigators were born. Cyber navigator programs are programs under which state election officials employ election technology professionals to provide practical cybersecurity knowledge, support and services to local elections officials. CISA‘s Election Infrastructure Subsector Government Coordinating Council recommends that states spend portions of their HAVA funding on election security personnel including navigators.
Currently less than a dozen states including Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota and Ohio, have cyber navigator programs.
Illinois led the charge in creating a cyber navigator program shortly after the 2016 election. By 2018 the State Board of Elections had nine cyber navigators working statewide to help Illinois’ 108 election offices. The program received a 2020 Clearie Award from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.
Noah Praetz, the former director of elections for Cook County, Illinois and co-founder of The Elections Group was a very early advocate for cyber navigators and has testified before Congress on the importance of the programs.
“Years ago, when I advocated for ‘cyber navigators’ in Illinois, and around the country, I hadn’t fully envisioned this threat environment,” Praetz said. “Back then, my navigator concept was focused primarily on helping local election officials manage the onslaught of cyber security recommendations and the heavy workload of maturing their cyber security. That limited challenge set outstripped the capacity of under-resourced election officials to keep pace. Navigators were to be force multipliers – and where deployed, they have been.”
Today, Praetz says he believes navigator programs should be broader and so “election security navigators” would bolster election official efforts at improving cyber security, physical security of facilities and assets, the safety of staff and election workers, secure operational practices and documentation, and of course crisis and communications support. This larger challenge set also outpaces the workforce capacity in most election offices and indicates a need to redouble navigator-type force multiplication efforts.
While cyber navigator programs have one common goal—helping local elections officials, well, navigate through the complexities of election security—the approaches are different. What works for Illinois and its 108 jurisdictions may not work as well for Massachusetts and its 351 local election jurisdictions. Creating a cyber navigator program is about finding what works for each state.
“After having some statewide meetings with our local election officials in which we discussed cyber security, we quickly realized additional resources were needed to be able to really provide support,” explained Michelle Tassinari, general counsel/director, Elections Division . Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth.
Tassinari said because the secretary’s office maintains everything about the statewide database of registered voters that local elections officials falsely assumed they didn’t need to worry about cyber security.
“As such, we had to remind them about all of the other election related activities are done on local networks and explain how to protect those as well. To do that, we needed dedicated staff that could develop relationships with both the local election officials as well as any local IT staff,” she said.
Massachusetts has local election officials in 351 cities and towns, varying in size from less than 100 voters to over 400,000 voters. Each municipality had different technological capabilities and IT resources.
“Our biggest challenge has been connecting with all of them—both the local election officials and IT staff since they are interdependent,” Tassinari said, “In some municipalities, they contract IT services and making those connections has been the most difficult. Our local election officials have actually welcomed us in with mostly open arms. We’ve now created a relationship for them with their IT staff that some didn’t have. We’ve been able to provide them with information they can use to request additional resources. We’ve conducted multiple table top exercises for them, which have been incredibly useful for them to identify weaknesses or gaps in their processes or business continuity. The lessons learned go far beyond just elections.”
In Minnesota, where Bill Ekblad is the state’s cyber navigator, said one of the biggest responsibilities for his job as a navigator is getting local election officials the help they need.
Getting county election officials and county IT staff together has been one of the biggest challenges.
“The idea was to have someone that could link together the people who need help with the help that’s already there,” Ekblad explained. “There are a lot of entities out there that are trying to protect and defend elections and then you have a lot of local entities who don’t know all the threats. The concept is to be a bridge, understand where the gaps are and marry up those gaps.”
Ekblad spends his days interfacing with the state’s 87 counties—largely by phone and online these days. Additionally, he puts out a newsletter about six times per year informing the local election officials of what resources are available. Another big part of his job was working to get local elections offices and local IT offices on the same page since many LEOs rely on the county’s IT department and not their own.
So how exactly does one get into a career as a cyber navigator? For Ekblad who spent nearly 30 years in the military, he said he did a lot of soul searching about what to do post-military and knew that he wanted to continue a career of service. Ekblad said there really needs to be two sides to someone considering being a cyber navigator. The cyber security knowledge side, but also the people side. A huge part of being a cyber navigator is about dealing with people.
“The challenge is finding someone that can straddle that line,” Ekblad said. “You have to have a little of both. Any success we’ve had is because we’ve focused on the relationship.”
Earlier this year, Ekblad Amy Kelly, special projects manager for the Illinois State Board of Elections and David Noonan, cyber security manager for the Massachusetts secretary of the commonwealth participated in a discussion at the National Association of State Election Directors’ summer conference on successes and lessons learned about cyber navigator programs. You can find a video of the discussion here. Additionally, Ekblad and Kelly spoke at CISA’s Cybersecurity Summit 2021. That video can be found here. Day three of the summit was titled Team Awesome: The Cyber Workforce and there’s actually a lot of good stuff in there, not just about cyber navigators.
Tassinari said Massachusetts was able to learn a lot from other states when getting its program up and running.
“We may be one of the first, but others came before us and we learned from them,” Tassinari said.” We also worked with CISA who had participated in some of our state meetings.”
According to Praetz, a key to success for programs is to add value by reducing the work local election officials need to expend in order to improve.
“As navigators are onboarded, considering their ability to quickly build strong relationships with election officials should be a strong consideration – the navigators will need to be a trusted source,” Praetz said. “Locals might rely on the navigators for a variety of support services such as the curation of best practice materials, direction on prioritization of efforts, help cutting through red tape often associated with bringing in government and private sector subject matter expertise, etc.. In building a program whose success depends upon trusted relationships and finding navigators from within the election community can be as valuable as any particular expertise that a navigator may have.”
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Election News This Week
The Cost of Elections: There are a couple of stories out this week that look into the consequences of new state voting laws. In Idaho, a new law will help local elections officials save money beginning with the November 2 election. The new law allows county clerks to not put a race on the ballot if it’s an uncontested race for a city position. “It reduces the cost; it reduces the time needed to administer the election. If you are in a hand-count county, it’s one less tabulation process to have in getting those numbers in. Ultimately, it reduces the cost of administering that election for the county clerks,” Chad Houck, chief deputy secretary of state explained to KTVB. Meanwhile in Florida, the state’s new law, Senate Bill 90, has some elections officials saying they will need thousands of dollars in additional funding to meet requirements of the new law. To cover the additional costs, at least one county is reducing the number of ballot drop-off boxes, making voting less convenient. In a survey of supervisors of elections offices, a dozen respondents confirmed they expected to spend a combined total of $164,390 more next year to meet the new law’s requirements. More than half of Florida’s 67 elections offices either didn’t respond to questions about the new costs they might face under the law, declined to answer questions or weren’t sure about any impact on their budgets. Under the new law, ballot drop-off boxes can only be utilized during early-voting hours. Boxes must be located at either a county’s elections office or early-voting sites. The law further mandates that ballot drop-off boxes be guarded by an employee of the elections office when in use. Some large counties, like Miami-Dade, already guard ballot boxes, so no additional expenses were expected. Others, including Alachua, Flagler and Putnam counties, said the provision is expected to strain their budgets.
Another Look: Georgia secretary of state Brad Raffensperger (R) is calling for a bipartisan federal election reform commission to convene following the 2020 presidential election. Raffensperger told Axios that it is time for another examination of the U.S.’s election practices, 16 years after a bipartisan commission led by former President Carter and former secretary of State James Baker penned a report outlining reforms to modernize the electoral system in the U.S. “Let them really work on it, do a lot of public policy debates, take a year or two but get it right. I think it’s been now 16 years since the last report. We’re probably ready for another one,” Raffensperger told Axios.
Not Fake News: The Bucks County, Pennsylvania Board of Elections removed a “dancing drop box” costume from Bristol Borough Hall after six people had already confused it for a real ballot box and dropped off their mail-in ballots. The board separated the ballots and planned to contact the people who cast them about the mix-up, according to a statement from Bucks County. “We found out about it and we got it out of there as quick as we could,” said Bucks County spokesperson Jim O’Malley. The board also contacted the Bucks County District Attorney’s Office. Despite the confusion, those six people will be allowed to recast their ballots for the November general election, said O’Malley. It is yet to be determined by the state if the voters will be able to cast the same ballots in the appropriate drop box or if they will have to fill out new ballots, he said. According The Philadelphia Inquirer, a per diem, temporary employee for the board was responsible for the “box”. A spokesperson for the Bucks County District Attorney’s Office confirmed that no charges had been filed and that none were likely forthcoming. In a statement, District Attorney Matt Weintraub said the cardboard box did not appear to be an attempt at voter fraud. ”After consulting with the chair of the Board of Elections, and after consideration of the facts, I have concluded at this time that the person responsible for placing the mock ballot drop box did not intend to commit election fraud by their actions and was not acting at the direction of any governmental agency or official to commit election fraud,” Weintraub said in the statement.
Personnel News: The U.S. Virgin Islands Board of Elections has voted to retain Caroline Fawkes as the territory’s elections supervisor. Watertown, Wisconsin Clerk/Treasurer Elissa Friedl is resigning. Juneau, Wisconsin Clerk Shawn Hart is resigning. Greene County, Missouri Clerk Shane Schoeller has been appointed to the United States Election Assistance Commission Technical Guidelines Development Committee or TGDC. Kim Bonner is stepping down as the Routt County, Colorado clerk and recorder. Maria De La O is retiring as the Windsor, California clerk after more than 30 years on the job. Kerry Nardolillo is the new director of elections for Warwick, Rhode Island.
Federal Legislation: For the third time this year, Senate Democrats tried to pass sweeping elections legislation that they tout as a powerful counterweight to new voting restrictions sweeping conservative-controlled states. Once again, Republicans blocked them. But amid the ongoing stalemate, there are signs that Democrats are making headway in their effort to create consensus around changing Senate procedural rules, a key step that could allow them to muscle transformative legislation through the narrowly divided chamber. Democrats still face long odds of passing their bill, now known as the Freedom to Vote Act, which Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky)excoriated as a federal “election takeover scheme.” But the softening of King’s stance on the filibuster amounts to progress, if incremental, for Senate Democrats as they look to convince others in their caucus to support a rule change. According to the Associated Press, After the vote, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer invoked the Reconstruction era following the Civil War, hailing the Northern senators serving at that time for “going it alone” when confronted by “minority obstruction.” “Members of this body now face a choice,” said Schumer, D-N.Y. “They can follow in the footsteps of our patriotic predecessors in this chamber. Or they can sit by as the fabric of our democracy unravels before our very eyes.” As written, the current “compromise” version of the bill would establish national rules for running elections, limit partisanship in the drawing of congressional districts and force the disclosure of many anonymous donors who spend big to influence elections. Other provisions are aimed at alleviating concerns from local elections officials, who worried that that original bill would have been too difficult to implement. And some new additions are aimed at insulating nonpartisan election officials, who may be subject to greater partisan pressure under some of the new state laws. It also includes a number of changes sought by Manchin, the chamber’s most conservative Democrat, including a provision that would limit, but not prohibit, state voter ID requirements. But so far, those changes have not attracted the Republican support that Manchin was seeking.
Maine: A panel of voting and immigration experts told members of Portland’s Charter Commission that extending voting rights to noncitizens is a laudable goal but is fraught with possible unintended consequences. It also could conflict with another objective of some commissioners – holding mayoral elections in high-turnout years, such as presidential and gubernatorial elections. If recommended and approved by voters, Portland would be the first community in Maine to enfranchise noncitizen voters and join more than a dozen other communities nationwide. Advocates have argued that noncitizens should be allowed to vote in municipal elections because they are part of the community, pay local taxes, have children in the schools and are impacted by the school board and city council policies. Opponents, however, argue that voting is a right afforded only to U.S. citizens and should remain that way. Extending voting rights to noncitizens in Portland has surfaced periodically over the last decade, but has failed to move forward. The most recent effort in 2018 was halted after immigrant advocates expressed concerns about the consequences of noncitizens accidentally voting in state or federal elections, which are only opens to citizens, or if separate voter rolls required for noncitizens fell into the wrong hands.
Michigan: A bill that would impose strict ID requirements on voters, as well as restrict election funding and ban election officials from mailing absentee ballot applications unless a voter specifically requests one was on a 56-51 party-line vote. They also voted on a bill that would lay out the steps voters must follow to ensure their ballot counts if they do not comply with the new ID requirements, as well as a third bill that would eliminate the fee to obtain a state ID. Both bills also passed without the support of any Democratic lawmakers. The free ID bill was sent to Whitmer by the House, but the two other bills must undergo a final procedural step in the state Senate before they’re presented to the governor. The bill — SB 303 — would eliminate the option for those voting in person who do not have a photo ID to sign an affidavit affirming their identity and vote normally. Voters requesting an absentee ballot would have to include their driver’s license or state ID number, last four digits of their Social Security number or a copy of a photo ID with their absentee ballot application. Voters who do not comply with the new ID rules would be issued a provisional ballot that would not count unless a voter took additional steps to verify their identity. SB 304 — which is tied to the voter ID bill — lays out the process: Within six days of the election, those issued provisional ballots would have to present an ID, along with a documentation verifying their address. If voters do not have a photo ID, they would have to provide a copy of their birth certificate or Social Security card as well as documentation verifying their address. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) vetoed the legislation.
New Hampshire: After a city councilor proposed nixing Keene’s primary elections due to high cost, low voter turnout and a minimal number candidates eliminated from the general election ballot, officials are taking a closer look at whether this would be the right move for the city. In a Sept. 13 letter to the city council and Mayor George Hansel, Councilor Randy Filiault suggested either eliminating Keene’s municipal primary election or raising the number of candidates needed to trigger one. The city council’s Finance, Organization and Personnel Committee voted unanimously to place the request on more time — a move that allows the committee to continue the discussion at a later date after more information has been collected.
Texas: Despite unusually heavy lobbying from the former president, two elections bills that he pushed Gov. Greg Abbott to enact this fall are all but dead according to the Houston Chronicle. One would have eased up the process for requesting an election audit, and another would have raised the penalty for the crime of illegal voting, a reversal of a provision that top Republican leaders said was accidentally included in a sweeping elections bill Republicans passed in the summer. The former president had zeroed in on the bills in messaging to his supporters, Even so, both bills passed quickly in the Senate in early October, but neither received a committee hearing in the House. The illegal voting bill calls for making the criminal offense for illegal voting a second-degree felony, subject to a year in jail, which would be an increase from its Class A misdemeanor status. It would alter language in the much contested voting rights bill the state legislature ultimately passed in late August after Democrats staged a walkout and fled to Washington, D.C., to deny Republicans a quorum to take up the bill. The elections audit legislation, if passed and signed into law, would have directed county clerks to form an “election review advisory committee” to look into the results of the 2020 presidential election in specific precincts, selected randomly, if a request is made by a state or county party chair, according to the paper. Additionally, the bill called for making the process easier for candidates and other individuals to ask their county clerk or the secretary of state for an audit. The legislative session ended this week.
Arizona: Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Michael Kemp has rejected broad claims by the Senate that it need not disclose various documents related to its audit of the 2020 election. Kemp chided the Senate for withholding virtually every communication among Senate President Karen Fann; Sen. Warren Petersen, who chairs the Judiciary Committee; and Ken Bennett and Randy Pullen, who served as liaisons with Cyber Ninjas, the firm Fann hired to conduct the audit. It was the second time this week that a judge has ruled against the Senate on the issue. Maricopa County Superior Court Judge John Hannah, hearing a separate lawsuit, said Tuesday he would not accept the arguments by Fann that he should just accept the Senate’s assertions the documents at issue are protected by “legislative privilege.’’ The Senate claims that “legislative privilege” shields communications with anyone associated with Cyber Ninjas and the companies it hired. “Senate defendants’ position is clearly overbroad,” Kemp wrote. He said the interest of the public at large “substantially outweighs” any interest the Senate has in keeping the information secret. That is even more important, the judge said, given the issues at stake here. “It is hard to imagine more serious litigation than the disclosure of documents underlying an audit of the election of the president of the United States and a United States senator in Maricopa County,” Kemp wrote.
Colorado: Attorneys for Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters have filed a direct appeal to the Colorado Supreme Court, asking its seven justices to overturn an order by District Judge Valerie Robison barring Peters and her deputy from overseeing this fall’s elections. In his request for appeal, former Secretary of State Scott Gessler, who is representing Peters and Deputy Clerk Belinda Knisley, wrote that Robison overstepped her authority in removing the clerk as the county’s designated election official. Called a Section 113 filing, Robison ruled last week that Peters had “committed a breach and neglect of duty and other wrongful acts.” Gessler said the law doesn’t allow Robison to declare a vacancy in such matters “The lower court did not have authority to declare an absence and remove and replace a clerk or deputy clerk,” Gessler wrote. “No statute gives a lower court this authority, and (declaratory judgment laws) likewise does not constitute sufficient procedural authority for a district court to make a declaration of inability or unwillingness to serve.” The Secretary of State’s Office filed a lawsuit against Peters and Knisley after determining that both played a role in compromising the county’s Dominion Voting System election equipment. While state laws allow for appeal on district court rulings directly to the Supreme Court in certain circumstances, bypassing the Colorado Court of Appeals, there are no laws or rules governing when justices must act, according to the Colorado Judicial Branch. As a result, the county and the Colorado Attorney General’s Office won’t file response briefs unless the court agrees to take the case. It takes a majority of justices to agree to hear an appeal.
Florida: A Florida law passed in 2019 that conditions felons’ voting rights on their payment of fines, fees and restitution does not unconstitutionally discriminate against low-income women of color, the 11th Circuit has ruled. A unanimous three-judge panel of the Atlanta-based appeals court found that two Sunshine State felons failed to show that Florida‘s Republican-controlled Legislature had any “discriminatory intent” in passing Senate Bill 7066, which requires felons to pay all fines and legal fees associated with their conviction before they can vote again. SB 7066 immediately sparked legal challenges from voting rights groups who likened the legislation to a poll tax. The en banc 11th Circuit largely put the issue to rest in a 6-4 decision last year, overturning a Florida federal judge’s injunction against the law and finding it did not violate felons’ 14th Amendment due process rights. Although U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle had moved to block major portions of SB 7066 with the now-overturned injunction, he also found that the law’s pay-to-vote requirement was not discriminatory on the basis of gender. Southern Poverty Law Center attorney Nancy Abudu, who represents plaintiffs Rosemary McCoy and Sheila Singleton, challenged that finding 11th Circuit. Abudu argued that Hinkle had incorrectly rejected their gender discrimination-based claims alleging that the law is unconstitutional because it places an undue burden on poor Black women. In an 11-page ruling issued Monday, U.S. Circuit Judge Jill Pryor wrote that Hinkle applied the correct legal standard when he ruled against the plaintiffs’ claim that the payment requirement discriminates against women in violation of the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause and the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote and prohibits the denial of the right to vote based on sex. Pryor, a Barack Obama appointee, wrote that the plaintiffs failed to prove the existence of discriminatory intent in the law. “The equal protection gender discrimination claim McCoy and Singleton advanced can be sustained only upon a showing of discriminatory intent. Because McCoy and Singleton did not attempt to make this showing, their equal protection clause claim fails, and the district court was correct to reject it,” Pryor wrote.
Pennsylvania: Commonwealth Court Judge Kevin P. Brobson ruled a lawsuit to block the use of electronic voting machines used in Northampton County and elsewhere can move forward. Brobson rejected arguments by the state’s top election official that election security advocates and more than a dozen Pennsylvania voters lacked standing and had failed to make valid claims about the ExpressVote XL voting machines used in Northampton and Philadelphia counties. The National Election Defense Coalition and Citizens for Better Elections filed a petition in January 2020 seeking a preliminary injunction requiring the state to decertify the ExpressVote XL electronic voting system for the primary and general election. A spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Department of State said it had no comment on the decision. Brobson, who authored the opinion for the three-judge panel, is the Republican candidate for a seat on the state Supreme Court this November. Brobson wrote that he agrees with the state that the groups and voters must show that the decision to certify the ExpressVote XL machines was “fraudulent, in bad faith, an abuse of discretion or clearly arbitrary,” but it is unclear from the facts alleged in the lawsuit whether that was the case. Further development of the facts in the case is needed to analyze the decision, he said. He also rejected the state’s claim that the voters and advocacy groups lack standing, finding that they have an immediate and direct interest in ensuring that their votes are accurately recorded. Finally, he rejected the state’s claim that the suit must be dismissed because it does not include the counties. Brobson found that because the petitioners are not seeking a remedy from the counties, they need not be named as respondents. Further, he wrote, the counties should be prepared in the event the voting machines they choose are decertified because the secretary of state has the power to do that at any time.
Opinions This Week
National Opinions: 2020 election reviews | Election fraud claims | Protecting democracy | Voting rights, II | Voter ID | Federal legislation, II | 2020
Arizona: Native American Voting Rights Act | Early voting
California: Recall reform
Colorado: Mesa County
Florida: Ex-felon voting rights | Brevard County
Illinois: Voter confidence
Kentucky: Ex-felon voting rights, II | Voting laws
Maine: Federal election legislation
Massachusetts: Voting rights
New Jersey: Approval voting
New York: Protecting democracy
North Carolina: Democracy | Rowan County
Ohio: Poll workers | Early voting
Pennsylvania: Drop boxes
South Carolina: Early voting
Texas: Voting rights
West Virginia: Federal election legislation
Wisconsin: 2020 election review
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.
One Year Out from the Midterms: Where Election Misinformation Stands: Election misinformation is more prevalent now than at any other time in American history. 29% of Americans believe the 2020 election was “stolen” from former President Trump, despite there being no evidence of widespread voter fraud in any state. Social media has become a battle ground where misinformation and authoritative information compete for users’ trust and clicks. One year out from the 2022 midterms, join the Bipartisan Policy Center for a conversation between social media and election experts about what is being done to promote authoritative election information, what additional actions need to be taken, and how it could impact the midterms. Panel discussion with: Maurice Turner, Cybersecurity Fellow, Alliance for Securing Democracy at the German Marshall Fund of the United States; C. Murphy Hebert, Director of Communications, Arizona Secretary of State; Katie Harbath, Tech and Democracy Fellow, BPC. Moderated by: Naomi Nix, Tech Reporter, Bloomberg LP. When: November 4, 12pm. Where: Online.
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.
Foxes and Henhouses: Restoring Oversight and Accountability A Year After the 2020 Election: As we approach the one-year anniversary of the 2020 election, advocates and lawmakers are still debating how best to protect our democratic institutions and promote accountability for executive branch transgressions. Some are particularly concerned about the role that the Department of Justice and its Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) played in undermining congressional oversight during the Trump years, when it issued opinions that arguably distorted the separation of powers by brooking no recognition for Congress’s prerogatives as a co-equal branch. Others are focused on the need to protect and strengthen the roles of Inspectors General after former President Trump fired four IGs in the span of six weeks in what some called a “dangerous pattern of retaliation” against federal watchdogs. Recognizing that transparency and oversight is key to democratic survival, what are the best ways to achieve accountability for executive branch transgressions? What role should the Office of Legal Counsel play in reigning in executive branch illegality? And what reforms to the Inspector General system are needed so that these watchdogs can provide the independent nonpartisan oversight they are legislatively required to deliver? Moderated by Josh Gerstein, senior legal affairs reporter with Politico and featuring welcoming remarks from former Sen. Russ Feingold. When: Nov. 18, 2pm 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.
IGO Mid-Winter Conference: The International Association of Government Officials will hold its 2022 Mid-Winter Conference in-person in Indian Wells, California. Registration is currently available. Check back for more information on the agenda. When: January 20-25, 2022. Where: Indian Wells, California.
NASED Winter Conference: Watch this space for more information. When: January 27-30, 2022. Where: Washington, DC.
NASS Winter Conference: Watch this space for more information. When: January 27-30, 2022. Where: Washington, DC.
Job Postings This Week
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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.
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.
Election Administrator, Hood County, Texas— Provides customer assistance necessary in structuring, organizing and implementing the voter registration process and the county election process. Examples of Important Responsibilities and Duties—Important responsibilities and duties may include, but are not limited to, the following: Perform voter registration duties and the duties of organizing and conducting elections for the county; Hire, supervise and train department employees and election workers; Custodian of election equipment and all election records; Effectively manage public relations for the Election Administrator office by providing election information, issuing press releases, conducting interviews and participating in interviews with the media; Prepare and present annual department budget for approval of the County Elections Commission; Make reports to and work closely with the County Election Commission as well as the County Commissioners Court; Provide the clerical assistance needed by the Commissioners Court in canvassing precinct election returns; Responsible for filing of petitions, determining their validity and any other matters preceding the ordering of the election; Be willing to work and possibly contract with other political subdivisions in the county for their election needs; Attend annual Texas Secretary of State Election Law Seminar and any other functions deemed necessary; Represent the county in an honest and professional manner; and Perform any and all other duties of an Election Administrator as set forth in the Texas Election Code. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Executive Assistant (Republican), Lucas County, Ohio— Reports to the Deputy Director; prepares reports, letters and create forms as required; prepares a variety of documents; assists with the preparation of ballot language according to statutory requirements and reports language for approval to the Secretary of State’s Office and County Prosecutor’s Office; assists with the preparation of legal notices for advertisement purposes according to statutory requirements; prepares timely financial reporting to the Secretary of State, the Lucas County Commissioner and the Office of Budget and Management; responsible for purchasing; coordinates travel arrangements/seminars; responsible for electronically taping all Board Meetings and typing minutes; responsible for preparation of all election reporting requirements to the Ohio’s Secretary of State, Ohio Department of Taxation, School Districts, County of Board of Commissioners, Councils and Cities, and Villages Townships Trustee, other taxing authorities and Department of Liquor Control; acts as liaison between municipalities, Secretary of State, and County Commissioners; responsible for preparing and posting Board Meeting Agenda Notices; prepares and post all media advisories; must maintain confidentiality and business integrity; performs all other duties as assigned, by the Director/Deputy Director, the Board of Elections and/or a prescribed by law. Also, back-up for the Executive Assistant to the Director. Process all new employees’ documents; prepares bi-weekly payroll for all staff, seasonal employees and Board members; review all time sheets, maintain accurate records for all vacation, compensatory and sick leave accrued and used by full-time employees. Other duties as assigned. Must be a Republican. Salary: $23-$25/hour. 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 216-443-6428.