In Focus This Week
Election Officials Made Democracy Happen in 2020
A new report from the Center for Tech and Civic Life
It’s been one year since the November 2020 elections, which also means it’s been one year since the Center for Tech and Civic Life’s COVID-19 Response Grant program. You may recall the grant program — it’s the one that distributed approximately $350 million to nearly 2,500 jurisdictions across 49 states, in order to provide emergency funding during a pandemic.
CTCL wasn’t a grantmaking organization before 2020, so we had to learn fast. Luckily, the grant process was straightforward: we awarded funding to every local election office that applied and was verified as legitimate, and they could spend the money on election-related costs that helped them administer the 2020 elections in a safe and secure way.
Awarding grants to 2,500 jurisdictions means we heard stories from 2,500 perspectives. Stories about what grantees were most proud of accomplishing with the funding, what 2020 would have looked like without it, and what grantees could accomplish if their election budgets permanently doubled. The stories were sometimes hopeful, sometimes heartbreaking, and always wildly passionate about serving voters and keeping everyone safe.
Here at CTCL, we believe that these stories belong to the people who shared them. Each individual provided a tiny glimpse into their world, but collectively their stories burst with common themes, goals, challenges, frustrations, hopes, and dreams. We brainstormed ways to “close the loop” between the individual stories and the collective story of the grant program. We decided to curate the stories, memorialize them in a designed report, and mail a physical copy to every grantee.
The report’s full title is Election Officials Made Democracy Happen in 2020: The New Case for Predictable Government Funding. But internally, we’ve been calling it our “love letter” to grantees. For many election administrators, the 2020 election was the most challenging election of their entire career, and we’re unbelievably grateful for all the work they did — and continue to do! — to make democracy happen.
Highlights from the report
Over 70% of grants were awarded to small jurisdictions with fewer than 25,000 voters. Grantees ranged from a town of 600 people, to a city of 6 million, and everywhere in between. Collectively, the grantees served 60% of eligible U.S. voters, and accomplished incredible things. For example:
- A tiny jurisdiction in Texas used grant funds to buy ‘I Voted’ stickers for the first time
- A city in Massachusetts hired interpreters at each polling place to assist non-English speaking voters
- A Georgia county reached rural voters with a mobile voting bus
- A county in Hawaii translated voting materials into Hawaiian for the first time
- A Mississippi county safely trained poll workers with an FM transmitter while they stayed in their cars
The largest section, “What You Accomplished,” is the heart of the report, and showcases quotes directly from grantees. There are stories about disasters that could have happened without the extra funding: “We would not have been able to process all the ballots without these funds.” There are stories about creative pandemic solutions: “The town was able to provide shelter for voters while waiting in line to enter the polls.” And there are even stories about going above-and-beyond previous elections: “For the first time in 16 years, I feel that we were able to operate elections without worrying about budget and fully meet the needs of our citizens.”
The later sections delve into the challenges holding election officials back. The pandemic exacerbated an existing funding shortage that began long before 2020. Some grantees used the money to replace duct-taped equipment, install internet in the office, and replace voting booths they’d been trying to purchase for 15 years. We heard far too many experiences of election administrators working without pay, or struggling to pay their staff. Far too many grantees told us they cried when they received the money, because they honestly weren’t sure what they were going to do without it.
Private philanthropy is no substitute for predictable government funding at the local, state, and federal level. As one grantee wrote, “The funding from CTCL was a light in the darkness during this election cycle. That said, I think it’s ridiculous that in order to run an election in a somewhat capable manner, we needed to turn to private funding funneled through a national nonprofit.” That’s why the report concludes by envisioning what U.S. election administration might look like with predictable, robust public funding into the future. What would it look like if elections were thriving, not just surviving?
We hope you take time to read the report and reflect on the work of election administrators to make democracy happen in 2020. Let’s celebrate the accomplishments and learn from the challenges. Let’s collectively envision a future with robust public funding, and then work to make it happen.
Election Day 2021
Few snags for Election Day 2021
Voters and officials test out new policies and procedures
By M. Mindy Moretti
Voters in 30 states headed to the polls on Tuesday and faced a variety of new laws, new equipment and greater scrutiny fomented by 2020. What they found, was a fairly typical Election Day. Of course there were some technical issues—especially in New Jersey where new equipment was being used for the first time—but there were no major issues and so far (although it’s still early), losing candidates and their supporters seem to be accepting the fact that they lost.
Technology and Turnout
As mentioned, the largest issues stemmed from problems with technology. In Virginia, the state’s largest county, Fairfax, was forced recount about 20,000 ballots after an issue with a thumb drive from an early voting machine. In Loudoun County, about three dozen voters had to use emergency ballots when a ballot machine briefly jammed. In Amherst County, voting got off to a slow start when a missing part for the sign-in equipment briefly delayed the opening of polls. The commonwealth saw its highest turnout ever for a gubernatorial election and that had some voters waiting in long lines when polling places in several areas ran out of ballots. Polling places in Albemarle County and Chesterfield County ran out or ran critically low on ballots.
In New Jersey, officials and voters ran into a host of issues with new voting equipment, being rolled out for the first time in a general election on Tuesday. Problems were reported in Jersey City, Sussex County, Cumberland County and Middlesex County. E-pollbooks and the ability to connect them to the Internet caused numerous issues throughout the day. In Monmouth County, Board of Elections Commissioner Eileen Kean said there were “definitely hiccups taking place today.” “Yes we are having internet slowdowns and problems and we are working our way through it,” Kean said. “The problem is around the state. It’s not just a Monmouth County problem. It’s tied to the electronic poll books Kean said that the early voting went smoothly because there were fewer locations than on Election Day. “We have hundreds of polling districts. Sure there’s going to be more problems today than there were when we had ten polling centers for early voting,” Kean said. The ACLU and the League of Women Voters went to court seeking to keep polling places open for an additional 90 minutes due to the problems, but a judge in the state Superior Court, Mercer County division, denied the extension. And problems continued into Election Night. Poll workers in several towns in Union County failed to follow proper procedures when removing thumb drives which then resulted in a delay in tabulation and reporting.
While Election Day in Pennsylvania was a marked improvement from the May primaries there were still some issues reported both with voting in-person as well as ballot tallying. In Montgomery County, an equipment issue at two polling places led to polling hours being extended by an hour. Also in Montgomery County, an error on about 23,000 mail-in ballots complicated the scanning process and caused a delay in tallying and reporting. McKean County experienced technical issues at several polling places, but voting was not impacted. In Bristol Township, it wasn’t an issue with malfunctioning equipment, but the wrong equipment. The misdelivered equipment was eventually delivered to the correct polling location.
Georgia held its first election since the implementation of SB202 which revamped a number of the state’s voting laws. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, there were few problems on Tuesday that stemmed from the new law, although there were some technical issues with voting equipment. However, election officials did experience some difficulties with a new reporting requirement. Under the new law, officials are supposed to publicly report on election night, the total number of ballots cast. According to the Atlanta-Journal Constitution, elections offices in the metro Atlanta area didn’t always comply. An employee who would have helped answer poll workers’ questions after precincts closed instead was assigned to verify turnout information, Cobb Election Director Janine Eveler told the AJC. “The task of collecting and reporting numbers delayed the poll workers from starting their regular closing tasks,” Eveler said. “This likely delayed the returns from some polls.” In Iowa, where some voters did run into issues with a new voting law that shortened absentee ballot deadlines, turnout for early voting, which was shortened, was up in at least two counties. In Virginia, voters took advantage of new early voting and absentee laws. In New Jersey, where early voting was used for the first time, about 200K people took advantage of the new law.
Voters in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Broomfield, Colorado and Westbrook, Maine voted to implement a ranked choice voting system for local elections. In Denver, voters overwhelmingly voted to amend the charter to move municipal elections to the first Tuesday in April in odd-numbered years instead of the first Tuesday in May as the charter mandates now. Two elections-related ballot measures which would have aligned New York’s voting laws more closely with many other states – no excuse absentee voting and same day registration — failed.
Recounts, Ties and Ranked Choice
For those that follow elections closely, recounts and ties—especially in small, more localized elections—aren’t all that uncommon. This year was no exception. Several Connecticut towns including Greenwich and Bethel, will be conducting recounts. In Milton, Pennsylvania, the difference in the mayoral race is one vote with three provisional ballots left to be counted. The county board of elections will conduct a recount and include the provisionals. In Florida, with just 12 votes separating the leading candidates in the Democratic primary for the special U.S. House election, a hand recount of ballots will occur. Interestingly, in Portland, Maine, an election conducted using ranked choice voting still ended up in a tie. After none of the four candidates received more than 50% of the vote, ranked choice kicked in and after the two lower-vote candidates were eliminated, Roberto Rodriguez and Brandon Mazer each ended up with 8,529. Portland’s rules for ranked-choice elections states that ties must be settled “in public by lot.” But the rules do not specify whether that should be a coin flip, drawing straws or another method. In Utah, 21 cities debuted ranked choice voting and the response from local election officials was that overall, things went well. “It went really well,” Salt Lake County Clerk Sherrie Swensen told KUER. “Voters didn’t seem to be confused by it, I think, because of our explicit instructions on our ballot.”
Polling Place Odds and Ends
Election Day never disappoints for a myriad of stories that come from polling places. Sometimes it’s nudity, sometimes it’s violence and sometimes it’s ponies. In New Canaan, Connecticut, a poll worker was removed from a polling place after there were reports that she was telling people how to vote. In Syracuse, New York, voters and poll workers got into a shouting match over a mask requirement. In New York City, mayoral candidate Curtis Sliwa showed up with this cat and tried to bring it into the polling place. Gizmo—the cat—was denied entry and Sliwa challenged poll officials on that and several other issues. In Wake County, North Carolina, a precinct judge was removed from a polling place for refusing to wear a mask. Authorities in Hamilton County, Ohio investigated a threat made outside of a polling place. According to the police report, the victim says someone drove past her in a black pickup truck and yelled an obscenity directed at democrats, and then pointed a firearm at her. In Monmouth County, New Jersey, a power outage caused a halt to voting at the two fire stations used as polling locations in Keansburg, according to JCP&L spokesman Christopher Hoenig. He said animals damaged a breaker inside a substation that crews are trying to bypass in order to restore power. The article doesn’t say what type of animals caused the damage, but given past problems, we’re gonna put our money one animal, and one animal only. And in York County, Pennsylvania, Dominique, the miniature therapy horse was at the Bridgeville Fire Co. polling site. “We need kindness, but we need to cast our ballots. It’s a terrific privilege,” Dominique’s handler Sandy Smith said.
NIST Comment Period
NIST Draft Report on Promoting Access to Voting
Comment period open until November 22
As part of the federal government’s effort to improve access to voting, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has released a draft publication outlining barriers that voters with disabilities may encounter during the election process — as well as potential approaches for addressing them. NIST is requesting comments from the public on the draft by Nov. 22, 2021, to inform a final version expected in December.
The draft publication, formally titled Promoting Access to Voting: Recommendations for Addressing Barriers to Private and Independent Voting for People with Disabilities (NIST Special Publication 1273), forms part of NIST’s response to the March 7, 2021, Executive Order (EO) 14019 on Promoting Access to Voting.
How to Comment
You can comment via regulations.gov or directly to NIST.
If possible, we encourage you to use this comment template for sending in your comments.
You can find the Request and the draft document through regulations.gov by Searching regulations.gov with “NIST-2021-0005.” Or, go directly to https://www.regulations.gov/document/NIST-2021-0005-0001for the notice and to submit your comments (click the “comment” icon) and https://www.regulations.gov/document/NIST-2021-0005-0002 to download the report.
You can also go to the NIST webpage https://www.nist.gov/itl/voting/executive-order-promoting-access-voting and scroll down to “New Request for Comments” which also has links to the report, the comment template, and the regulations.gov notice.
If you prefer, you can send your comments directly to NIST via firstname.lastname@example.org (and NIST will post them on the regulations.gov comments page for you).
Again, we encourage you to use the comment template, if possible.
The NIST EO Voting Team
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Election News This Week
There’s an App for That: This week, the West Virginia secretary of state’s office launched a new election security campaign. “See Something, Text Something,” leverages the technology of common communication devices to quickly and securely report allegations of wrongdoing directly into the WVSOS Investigations Division. Warner said the text to report technology makes it easier than ever to report possible violations. Warner sees a double benefit of this program: on one hand the easy-to-use text to report technology will encourage people to report possible election fraud, while on the other, the accessibility and speed of the ability to report will deter offenders from engaging in errant behavior. Possible violations of election law can be confidentially reported from any common texting device in three easy steps: Text WV to 45995; Click on the incoming text link; and Submit the Confidential Complaint. With investigators situated around the state, the immediate transfer of information will allow them to get to work quickly. Once submitted, the complaint is received immediately by the WVSOS Investigations Division for action with a notice of receipt upon submission. Complaints made to the WV Secretary of State’s Office are kept confidential. By state law, employees of the WVSOS Office are not permitted to discuss any election investigation or complaint. “In West Virginia, we’re continuing our effort in making it easy to vote and hard to cheat,” said Secretary Warner. “The general public plays a vital role in helping my office and our county clerks keep elections fair and secure.”
Expert Witnesses: University of Florida professors Daniel Smith, Sharon Austin and Michael McDonald have been block by the University from testifying in a lawsuit against the state’s new voting law. In a statement issued this week, the professors that they won’t comply with the school’s order barring them from giving testimony. Their statement comes after the university softened its initial stance and said that the professors can provide expert testimony as long as they do it pro bono and on their own time. “Prohibiting professors from giving standard expert testimony, and instead only allowing pro bono testimony, undermines their credibility as expert witnesses and chills their speech,” the professors’ attorneys David O’Neil and Paul Donnelly wrote in a statement. Within days of the New York Times breaking the news on Friday night, the school had changed its stance to allow the teachers to testify under certain conditions. The conflict was brought to light in a court filing, where school leaders contended the testimony from professors would pose a conflict of interest and be “adverse to UF’s interest.” Professors at the university had previously testified in legal challenges involving the state, including on voting rights issues.
Congratulations: Congrats to Will County, Illinois Clerk Lauren Staley Ferry for receiving the Excellence in County Government Award from the Illinois State Crime Commission. The Illinois State Crime Commission selected County Clerk Staley Ferry for her skillful coordination of the 2020/2021 elections during the COVID-19 Pandemic, the accuracy and speed in which she posted elections results during each of those elections, and for transparency in providing important election information to the public. She also was recognized for expanding Early Voting locations across Will County and for cost-reduction measures that have saved hundreds of thousands of dollars. “I am humbled to be recognized by the Illinois State Crime Commission with this distinguished honor for work performed during my first term,” County Clerk Staley Ferry said. “My directive to my staff when I came into office at the end of 2018 was to think creatively and to work tirelessly to serve our voters. The COVID-19 Pandemic put my entire team to the test, but we met every challenge together. This is an honor I share with my incredibly talented and resourceful staff.”
Personnel News: Karen Healy has been appointed supervisor of elections for Highlands County, Florida. Stephanie Justmann has resigned as the West Bend, Wisconsin city clerk. Anna Beth Gorman has joined the race for the Democratic nomination for Arkansas secretary of state. Ken Waller is not seeking re-election as the Jefferson County, Missouri clerk. Suzanne Fahnestock is the new Bloomington, Illinois election commission executive director. Heidi Grindle is resigning as the Ellsworth, Maine city clerk. Janice Winfrey was elected to a fifth term as Detroit city clerk. Dorothy Moon has announced her candidacy for Idaho secretary of state. Fulton County Georgia Director of Elections Rick Barron has resigned. Marcy Granger is the new clerk-treasurer for Beloit, Wisconsin.
Federal Legislation: Republicans on Wednesday blocked the Senate from starting debate on a voting rights bill named after the late Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), marking the latest setback for Democrats in their push for new elections legislation. Senators voted 50-49 on whether to bring up the bill, falling short of the 60 votes needed to move forward. Vice President Harris presided over part of the vote. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) voted no, a procedural step that lets him bring the bill back up in the future for another vote. Unlike this year’s previous failed election reform votes, which were on bills that stretched well beyond bolstering the Voting Rights Act, Democrats picked up a GOP supporter: Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska). All Senate Democrats except Manchin introduced the bill in October to update the 1965 Voting Rights Act (VRA) to strengthen sections that were gutted by the Supreme Court’s 2013 Shelby County v. Holder decision, which focused on Section 5 of the VRA and its required Justice Department preclearance before some states could change voting laws, and this year’s Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee decision, which advocates believe weakened Section 2, which is focused on racially targeted voting policies. The revised bill that Republicans blocked on Wednesday includes changes such as what factors courts can consider when determining if Section 2 of the VRA has been violated. The bill also drops a requirement for localities with growing minority populations to get preclearance for changes on offering food or drinks to people waiting in line to vote. The change has been included under the earlier version of the bill’s new requirement for “practice-based” preclearance.
Michigan: Democrats have introduced a nine-bill package aimed at reforming elections. The measures would:
- Allow absentee ballots received up to 72 hours after polls close on Election Day to count, as long as they are postmarked on or before Election Day.
- Allow absent voter counting boards to start processing and tabulating ballots up to seven days before Election Day. The bill says boards are “only permitted to open, process, and tabulate absent voter ballots and are not permitted to tally or count the results of those absent voter ballots.” Generally, tabulating a ballot and counting a ballot are considered the same thing. A House Democratic spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a call seeking clarification.
- Mandate at least one absentee ballot drop box for every 20,000 registered voters in a city.
- Require clerks to mail an absentee ballot application and pre-paid return envelope to every registered voter in a city or township. The state would be required to reimburse the local municipality for the cost of postage.
- Nix a part of law that criminalizes the hiring of a vehicle to take anyone other than someone physically unable to walk to a polling place.
- Allow active duty service members and their spouses who are deployed or living overseas to return ballots electronically.
Democrats did not work with House Republican leadership on the measures. Generally, bills from Democratic lawmakers have a harder time advancing through the GOP-controlled Legislature. House Elections and Ethics Committee Chairwoman Ann Bollin, R-Brighton, did not outright reject the package but called the overall announcement a “political stunt.”
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer vetoed a series of GOP election bills that would have imposed strict ID rules on voters, barred election officials from accepting donations and prohibited the Secretary of State’s Office as well as clerks from providing absentee ballot applications unless a voter specifically requested one. In a letter outlining her objections to the bills — SB 303, SB 304 and HB 5007 — Whitmer echoed concerns voiced by Democratic lawmakers that the measures would disenfranchise voters. All three bills passed on party-line votes without any Democratic support. Republican lawmakers who backed the measures argued the changes would boost confidence in elections. While the Michigan Democratic Party celebrated Whitmer’s vetoes as a win for voter access, the Michigan GOP blasted her decision as a blow to legislation the party said would enhance election integrity.
A bill brought before a House committee aims to prohibit election clerks from posting unofficial election results until all precincts in a community are complete. It would change the way voters typically watch unofficial election results come in on clerk’s websites throughout an election night. HB 5474, sponsored by Rep. Luke Meerman, R-Coopersville, would bar local clerks from publishing any unofficial results online until all of the precinct ballot returns and absent voter ballot returns for that precinct are complete. The bill would require clerks to have counted every ballot, both in-person and absentee, before posting results on the websites.
Mississippi: The House Judiciary Committee recently held a meeting over restoring the voting rights for people convicted of certain felonies. “To be perfectly clear, we are not going to completely allow people convicted of crimes to vote. We are not going to do that, but I do want the law to be more consistent. I do think it is unfair for someone convicted of a bad check to not be able to vote, but someone convicted of child phonography can vote,” said State Representative Nick Bain. One of the topics that came up during the 90-minute meeting was the idea of expanding on what crimes are eligible for expungement.
Virginia: State Senator Amanda Chase R-Chesterfield said that she is drafting legislation to limit mail-in voting and require a photo ID now that Virginia will have a Republican governor. She also plans to push for a forensic audit of Virginia’s 2020 election results after spending recent months traveling the country participating in election audit protests like the one she organized outside of the Virginia State Capitol in August. ”While I’m thankful freedom won this election cycle, I’m still fully committed to election integrity,” Chase tweeted Wednesday, the day after the Republican statewide ticket swept the Democrats. “Tomorrow, I begin drafting legislation to put the guardrails back on our elections including photo ID to vote. Mail in ballots increase the risk of issues.”
Federal Lawsuits: Voting technology vendor Smartmatic is suing conservative news outlets One American News Network (OAN) and Newsmax for alleged slander and libel about its voting systems. The case is in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. “The first time it happened could be a mistake,” the new suit says of claims of election fraud. “The second, third, fourth and fiftieth times it happened were intentional choices.” The suit says OANN had “every opportunity” to do the right thing: “It could have reported the truth. Instead, OANN chose to do the wrong thing every time. It reported a lie.” Before the 2020 election, Smartmatic’s business was valued in excess of $3 billion based on a modest multiplier, the suit says. “Now … Smartmatic’s business is valued at less than $1 billion. The general and widespread publication and distribution of OANN’s defamatory statements about Smartmatic were a substantial cause of a portion of this business valuation decline.” Smartmatic had previously filed a $2.7 billion lawsuit against Fox News, Fox News hosts, as well as attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, accusing them of harming the company’s brand with their accusations of the voting machines’ role in alleged widespread election fraud.
Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s office is investigating the 2020 election after the findings of the Senate’s partisan ballot review and months of pressure from former President Donald Trump to take action. Roger Geisler, a special agent with Brnovich’s major fraud unit, questioned Adrian Fontes, the Democratic former Maricopa County recorder, on Monday about issues stemming from the election. Another investigator also attended the one-hour interview of Fontes, arranged late last week by Geisler. According to The Arizona Republic, it is unclear how far along the probe is or how wide it reaches, but the interview makes clear that Brnovich, a Republican running for the U.S. Senate, is taking up an issue that has often dominated GOP politics in the aftermath of Trump’s narrow defeat in Arizona last year. A spokesperson declined to discuss the matter, saying, “We cannot comment on any specifics of an ongoing investigation.” Last week, attorney general officials told The Arizona Republic it had not received any written complaints of election fraud from the Trump campaign, Trump’s lawyer, or key figures from his reelection campaign. Officials did not respond when asked repeatedly whether the office had received any verbal requests.
Georgia: A request for Floyd County Superior Court Judge Bryan Johnson to issue an injunction to stop the municipal election was dismissed Tuesday after local activist Mark Swanson was granted permission to review voting machine testing logs. Swanson filed for an emergency injunction Tuesday morning to stop the Rome City elections, stating that he had not seen evidence that necessary testing on the election machines had been completed. The judge told Swanson that he had to prove irreparable damage has taken place before an injunction could move forward. Representing himself in court, Swanson argued that “if the logic and accuracy testing wasn’t completed as required by law, then the machines that tabulate the vote could be flawed.” Johnson stated that under Georgia law, citizens can contest election results five days after the votes are certified if they feel that the election was corrupted in some way. “If it’s determined through that procedure that the election was impermissibly flawed, it provides that a second election be held,” Johnson said. Since the testing logs were turned over to Swanson to review, he agreed to dismiss the injunction to review the logs. At that point he has the option to go file a complaint after five-day waiting period.
New York: A state appellate court unanimously affirmed Judge Maria Rosa’s decision to split Red Hook’s polling site between its longtime site at the Episcopal Church of St. John the Evangelist, and the Bard College Bertelsmann Campus Center. The Dutchess County Supreme Court judge originally decided the site would be split in September, as it was for the 2020 general election, because the county’s election commissioners could and the decision on a change. Rosa’s decision has survived a pair of appeals from county Republican Election Commissioner Erik Haight; Democrat Election Commissioner Hannah Black has supported the decision. Bard officials and advocates have pushed to move the site to the campus for years. Bard students, staff and president filed a suit to block Haight from reverting the polling place to where it was in 2019. The elections commissioners agreed on splitting the site in fall 2020 after weeks of last-minute legal arguments in court stemmed around safety and accessibility of the church amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The appeals court this week ruled Haight’s challenge as “arbitrary and capricious.”
Pennsylvania: Common Pleas Court Judge Kelly Eckel largely dismissed a petition over 670 flawed mail-in ballots filed by a lawyer for two Republican candidates running for Delaware County Council the night before the election. Eckel dismissed the bulk of the lawsuit ruling that the board of election will continue to oversee Tuesday’s election after putting safeguards in place and correcting the ballot issues. The judge will allow two watchers — one from each political party — to monitor the mail-in ballots in Delaware County for any irregularities. The 670 ballots in question were mailed to addresses that did not match the voter information on the ballot inside. The county said it has taken steps to identify those ballots and send new ones to the voters who received them. Delaware County Solicitor Bill Martin criticized Republicans for attempting to wrestle control of the election out of the hands of the county board of elections over an issue he said had already been “appropriately remedied.”
The supervisor and chief custodian of the Delaware County Voting Machine Warehouse is suing former President Donald Trump, two local GOP poll watchers and others for allegedly making “deliberate, malicious, and defamatory statements and insinuations” about him in the wake of the contentious 2020 Presidential Election. James Savage, of Chester, says his character has been “assassinated at a national level,” that he has suffered health issues and that he has been subjected to threats of physical violence after Trump and his supporters repeatedly made false statements that painted him as a criminal who fraudulently uploaded 50,000 votes for Democratic President Joe Biden during vote tabulations last fall. The suit, filed in Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas by attorney J. Conor Corcoran, names Trump, Donald J. Trump for President Inc., former Trump attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis, former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline, and GOP poll watchers Greg Stenstrom of Glen Mills and Leah Hoopes of Chadds Ford as defendants. The lawsuit points to numerous public statements made by the defendants in the wake of the election that were allegedly designed to sow discord and confusion about the results, including a Nov. 25 hearing before Pennsylvania Senate Republicans in Gettysburg and a press conference in Arlington, Va., on Dec. 1. The suit also references an affidavit from Stenstrom in one of several lawsuits filed by Trump seeking to overturn election results and in statements he made on Fox News’ “Hannity” program on Dec. 3, 2020.
Virginia: Judge Michael Devine threw out a lawsuit claiming that the Fairfax County Office of Elections had improperly accepted absentee ballot applications. The suit, filed last week by the Virginia Institute for Public Policy, said that the office was approving mailed absentee-ballot applications of voters who hadn’t provided the last four digits of their Social Security number, as required by law. It included an affidavit by a woman who said she had seen that more than 300 such applications had been approved. In its written response, the elections office pointed to Virginia law that says such a suit can only be brought by an “aggrieved voter,” a candidate or a candidate’s campaign or party. The Virginia Institute for Public Policy, being a nonprofit corporation, isn’t any of those, and Devine agreed that they didn’t have standing to sue. While the institute said it’s dedicated to fair elections, Devine said that didn’t put them into the category of a party with a direct interest: “Everybody who votes shares that interest.”
Opinions This Week
Connecticut: Absentee voting
District of Columbia: Voting rights
Massachusetts: Noncitizen voting
Missouri: Federal election legislation
New Hampshire: Voting equipment
North Carolina: Ranked choice voting
South Carolina: Voting rights
Virginia: Freedom to vote
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
electionlineWeekly publishes election administration job postings each week as a free service to our readers. To have your job listed in the newsletter, please send a copy of the job description, including a web link to email@example.com. Job postings must be received by 5pm on Wednesday in order to appear in the Thursday newsletter. Listings will run for three weeks or till the deadline listed in the posting.
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.
Civic Design Fellowship, Center for Civic Design— Join us as the 2022 Civic Design Fellow. In a 4-month program, from January to April, you’ll take your interest in democracy as a design problem to the next level, working with the Center for Civic Design team and completing an independent project exploring the intersection of language access and voting participation. The Civic Design Fellowship is an opportunity for an early-career professional in UX or an adjacent field to develop their superpowers and take a step towards a career in civic design and research. During the 4 months of the Fellowship, you will: Work on CCD projects covering a range of topics and methodologies, giving you a well-rounded experience of our work and impact. You’ll contribute your own skills and work alongside staff with a wide range of expertise — including design, research, usability testing, language access, and plain language.; Join our regular team-life meetings and contribute to internal conversations. We use this time to discuss projects and civic or election-related news, tackle design challenges together, and try out new ideas; Conduct your own independent project. You’ll propose a topic during the application process. Then, we’ll help you refine the idea and plan the project. You will have staff support through planning, implementation, and final report. And you’ll leave the Fellowship with a completed project for your civic design resume; and Meet election officials and others working in civic design to learn more about the field. Deadline: November 12. 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.
Director, Voter Registration & Elections, DeKalb County, Georgia— The purpose of this classification is to plan, direct, and oversee the operations and staff involved in voter registration and elections processes for the County and to ensure compliance with local, state, and federal election and voter registration laws, rules, and regulations under the general oversight of the Board of Registration & Elections. Essential Functions: The following duties are normal for this classification. The omission of specific statements of the duties does not exclude them from the classification if the work is similar, related, or a logical assignment for this classification. Other duties may be required and assigned. Manages, directs, and evaluates assigned staff; oversees employee work schedules to ensure adequate coverage and control; reviews timesheets; approves/processes employee concerns and problems and counsels or disciplines as appropriate; assists with or completes employee performance appraisals; directs work; acts as a liaison between employees and County administrators and elected officials; and trains staff in operations, policies, and procedures. Organizes, prioritizes, and assigns work; prioritizes and schedules work activities in order to meet objectives; ensures that subordinates have the proper resources needed to complete the assigned work; monitors status of work in progress and inspects completed work; and consults with assigned staff to assist with complex/problem situations and provide technical expertise. Partners with Board of Registration & Elections to establish vision and goals for department and overall conduct of all elections-related efforts in the County; develops and implements long and short-term plans, goals, and objectives for department; evaluates effectiveness and efficiency of department activities; establishes, reviews, and revises policies, procedures, plans, and programs; and researches, assesses, and develops strategies to meet current and future election and voter registration needs. Supports, guides, and responds to requests and directives from the Board of Registration & Elections; ensures Board members understand their role and duties; plans, prepares, and executes Board meetings in partnership with Board Chair; communicates with and informs Board members in accordance with Board by-laws. Interprets, applies, and ensures compliance with all applicable codes, laws, rules, regulations, standards, policies and procedures; initiates any actions necessary to correct deviations or violations; maintains a comprehensive, current knowledge of applicable laws/regulations and pending legislation that may impact department operations; and maintains an awareness of new products, methods, trends and advances in the profession. Consults with Board of Registration & Elections to develop, implement, and administers department budget; applies current and commonly accepted financial management practices to create and monitor project and program budgets; presents and defends budget to County officials and Commissioners; monitors expenditures for adherence to established budgetary parameters; and prepares and submits invoices and other financial documentation. Directs functions and activities of the department; directs voter registration programs, voter education and outreach programs; administers elections; recruits and trains poll workers; and oversees storage, maintenance, preparation, and testing of election equipment. Directs voter registration activities; reviews and approves staffing levels during high volume and peak registration periods; monitors work activities to ensure timely processing of applications and maintenance of voter registration rolls; and conducts voter education seminars and training for citizens. Conducts elections; supervises departmental personnel to ensure that all elections are conducted in accordance with state and federal laws and regulations; determines locations and schedule for early voting; organizes equipment and staff deployment levels for early and election day voting; reviews training packets; monitors early voting traffic and election task lists; approves ballot layouts; and implements changes in procedures to resolve issues. Represents department to media, voters, other departments, municipalities and other stakeholders; represents department at Board of Commissioners meetings, Registration and Elections Board meetings, and to Secretary of State’s office; answers questions and provides information; coordinates work activities; reviews status of work; and resolves problems. Salary: $102,843 – $159,408. Deadline: November 19. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Early Voting Specialist, Wake County, North Carolina— The Early Voting Specialist will also assist with planning and management of Early Voting. This includes logistics, such as identifying and inspecting potential voting sites, communicating with facility staff, scheduling election service vendors, and managing voting site support operations. In addition, they will assist in the physically demanding work of setting up Early Voting sites. What will you do as an Early Voting Specialist? Develop and design training material for election workers, including classroom presentations, manuals, quick reference guides, workbooks, training videos, and e-learning modules; Teach training classes via Zoom or in person at the Board of Elections Operations Center; Monitor and assess election law changes and incorporate the changes into Early Voting site procedures; Identify training needs and solutions, collaborate with team members on best practices, develop training assessments, and implement changes in response to the assessments; Manage the logistics of early voting training, including recruiting and training classroom instructors, scheduling classroom facilities, recruiting and supervising training assistants, and preparing training budget needs; Manage the Learning Management System through user interface design, user record management, course creation, and uploading of SCORM packages; Develop high level design documents, storyboards, audio narration scripts, status reporting, Q&A and testing plans; Schedule and design layouts for training facilities; Develop and design election forms, Precinct Official website, newsletters, assessments, and other communications; Answer calls on the Early Voting support help line, including training help line staff, managing telephone, website, and live chat support tools, and managing help line staff schedules; Listen and respond to voter complaints; Identify innovative training tools and methods to enhance the Early Voting training program; Assist with Early Voting site management, including scheduling, communication, support, logistics, database management, and site setups; Assist with election support operations, including answering phone calls at the Precinct Official support help line and performing post-election reconciliation procedures,. Salary: Hiring Range: $17.49 – $23.60. Deadline: November 7. 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.
Elections Manager, Clackamas County, Oregon— Our Election Manager must manage and supervise elections flawlessly and with transparency, honoring and counting every vote. The incumbent will plan, organize and manage all general, primary, and special elections held in the county and ensure elections procedures and records comply with statutory requirements. Additionally, the position has supervision over four technical and clerical support personnel and, during elections, up to 100 temporary employees. The Elections Manager is responsible for managing the technical and administrative activities of the Elections Division, including voter registration, candidate filing, ballot preparation, voting, vote tallying, jurisdictional mapping, reporting, and other requirements related to conducting special, primary, and general elections in compliance with federal, state, and local statutes, regulations, and rules. Competitive applicants will be highly motivated, detail-oriented, and have well-developed management and supervisory skills. A demonstrated ability to maintain an environment of high integrity and dependability is critical in the role. Equity, diversity, and inclusion are at the core of everything we do. Clackamas County is committed to building a workforce that reflects the community we serve. In that spirit, we encourage applicants of diverse backgrounds and experiences to apply. Salary: $ 78,088.26 – $ 105,420.58. 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.
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