In Focus This Week
Military & Overseas Citizen Voting Rates Remained Steady in 2020
State of Military Voter and State of Overseas Voter Updated
An estimated 47% of active duty military and 8% of U.S. citizens abroad voted in 2020, compared to 46% and 8% in 2016 respectively.
These findings and more are part of the recent update of the Federal Voting Assistance Program’s (FVAP) State of the Military Voter (SOTMV) and State of the Overseas Voter (SOTOV) data, examining post-election research from the 2020 General Election.
Since 1986, military members on active duty stationed away from their voting residence have been covered by the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA), which requires that states allow these military members, their eligible family, and overseas citizens to vote absentee in federal elections. In 2009, UOCAVA was amended requiring states to:
- Transmit ballots at least 45 days before federal elections
- Offer at least one method of electronic transmission (email, fax, online portal, etc.) of voting information and blank ballots
- Transmit ballots automatically within the calendar year of the ballot request
Part of the U.S. Department of Defense, FVAP administers the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA), which requires states to allow active duty military members, their eligible family, and overseas citizens to vote absentee in federal elections.
UOCAVA voters face unique challenges compared to local voters. FVAP again found the ability to receive and submit an absentee ballot on time can be an obstacle, made more complex in 2020 by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our research shows the pandemic most notably affected UOCAVA voters’ ability to receive direct voting assistance and use international mail,” FVAP director David Beirne said. “We worked closely with partners at the Military Postal Service Agency, the U.S. Postal Service, and the State Department to monitor the situation as it evolved and to share the latest guidance to help make voting for military and overseas citizens as smooth as possible.”
Turnout among the civilian population was the highest since 1900. Among civilian voters with similar characteristics, turnout was 74%, resulting in a 27-percentage-point difference between military and civilian voters in 2020. Military turnout in 2020 was comparable to 2016’s 46%.
In 2020, two-thirds of military members expressed an interest in voting, with 17% explicitly uninterested and 16% neither interested nor uninterested.
In 2020, a fifth of military members tried or wanted to vote but did not or could not complete the process. Service members often encounter problems early in the voting process, such as being unsure which address they should use, having difficulty registering to vote or requesting an absentee ballot, or having an absentee ballot fail to arrive.
Younger military members are less likely to vote — and more likely to need help doing so. As a group, Service members who are 18-24 years old are less experienced with voting, less confident in their knowledge of each step of the absentee voting process, and less likely to take voting-related actions. The good news: when they seek help from a DoD resource, they’re more likely to return their ballot successfully.
The FVAP State of the Military Voter (SOTMV) and State of the Overseas Voter (SOTOV) data is released after each federal election year. Findings are based on post-election surveys and studies of voter file data.
Bipartisan Principles For Election Audits
Bipartisan Principles for Election Audits
Rachel Orey, Christopher Thomas, Matthew Weil
The Bipartisan Policy Center
The function of audits is not to appease a losing candidate. Rather, audits provide a continual means of verifying the integrity of U.S. elections. Election officials have been conducting audits in a bipartisan manner with broad institutional trust for decades. “Audits” meeting certain basic, bipartisan standards are the primary means of increasing confidence in an election’s legitimacy.
When expanded audits are considered in tandem with the nearly universal use of paper ballots and bolstered cybersecurity, 2020 was the most secure election in U.S. history. Even still, this year an increasing number of states have considered additional extralegal, unofficial election reviews examining the presidential election.
Politics and potential motives aside, the rise of unofficial election reviews prompts a need for a reckoning—begging the questions: What is the purpose of audits? How should audits be conducted? What makes an audit deserving of public trust?
The Bipartisan Policy Center’s Task Force on Elections is uniquely suited to answer these questions. Comprised of politically and geographically diverse state and local election administrators, the task force inserts balance and objectivity into some of the most difficult questions facing the American electorate today. The perspective of election officials is unparalleled in its impartiality, fair-mindedness, and precision (after all, it’s those running elections who know best how they work).
BPC’s task force includes 28 state and local election officials from 20 states devoted to making meaningful improvements to U.S. elections. This report builds on the task force’s recommendations made in Logical Election Policy and Improving the Voting Experience After 2020.
American democracy relies on a functional and trusted election ecosystem; a functional and trusted election ecosystem relies on audits. They should be performed with the respect, candor, and transparency that they deserve.
The BPC Task Force on Elections unanimously endorses the following eight principles for effective and trustworthy election audits:
- Audits should occur after every election and be explicitly authorized in state law.
- Audits should have a thorough, pre-established methodology.
- Audits should follow established security best practices and be conducted with trusted technology and tools.
- Election officials must maintain custody of ballots and other election peripherals in accordance with federal and state law and judicial standards for admissible evidence.
- Audits should be fully funded by state or local public resources.
- Audits should be transparent and open to the public for observation.
- Audit results should be clearly communicated to the public after their completion.
- Audits should take place before results are certified.
There is a clear appetite to expand election audits for future cycles among voters and elected officials. American elections are secure and legitimate, and yet public distrust of the voting process is itself a threat to democracy and should be addressed with the seriousness it deserves.
Elected officials truly seeking to improve election performance will ensure that any proposed audits meet each of the eight principles contained herein as unanimously endorsed by the Bipartisan Policy Center Task Force on Elections.
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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 email@example.com (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
Election News This Week
Recounting 2021: Acting Pennsylvania Secretary of State Veronica Degraffenreid issued notice that she will order a statutorily required statewide recount in the November 2nd race for two open seats on the Commonwealth Court. The department estimates that the recount will cost at least $1.3 million of taxpayer funds. Since the automatic recount provision was enacted under Act 97 of 2004, the provision has been triggered five times, with two recounts carried out. In Portland, Maine, after a recount, Roberto Rodriguez has won the race for a Portland city council seat. Rodriguez and challenger Brandon Mazer initially finished in a tie for the seat following two rounds of ranked-choice instant runoff voting last week. On Friday, Mazer was declared the winner after his name was drawn from a bowl by the Portland city clerk. Rodriguez then asked for a hand recount, which was held on Tuesday. Mazer officially conceded the race to Rodriguez. Onondaga County, New York recount all votes cast during the nine-day early voting period in October after finding that 802 ballots were not counted in the final results. The uncounted ballots could affect about a dozen close races in Manlius and other eastern suburbs of Syracuse, said Dustin Czarny, an Onondaga County elections commissioner. In Holyoke, Massachusetts, Challenger Guy O’Donnell filed papers with the city clerk’s office requesting a recount of the Ward 5 City Council race that declared incumbent Linda Vacon the winner. For now, 17 votes separate Vacon and O’Donnell, a first-time candidate. O’Donnell gathered 15 signatures over the weekend, more than the requirement to trigger a recount. In Virginia, two House of Delegates races will be headed to recounts after tallies of mail-in and provisional ballots left the Republican challengers with slim leads.
Not Fake News: The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) is beefing up its disinformation and misinformation team in the wake of a presidential election that saw a proliferation of misleading information online. “I am actually going to grow and strengthen my misinformation and disinformation team,” CISA Director Jen Easterly said during virtual remarks at the RE:WIRED conference on Wednesday. Easterly noted that earlier this week she had a meeting with “six of the nation’s experts” in the disinformation and misinformation space. She stressed her concerns around this being a top threat for CISA, which is charged with securing critical infrastructure, to confront. “One could argue we’re in the business of critical infrastructure, and the most critical infrastructure is our cognitive infrastructure, so building that resilience to misinformation and disinformation, I think, is incredibly important,” Easterly said. “We are going to work with our partners in the private sector and throughout the rest of the government and at the department to continue to ensure that the American people have the facts that they need to help protect our critical infrastructure,” she added.
New Secretary of State: Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has appointed Democratic state Sen. Steve Hobbs as the state’s 16th secretary of state, marking the first time a Democrat will hold the office since the mid-1960s. He will replace Republican Secretary of State Kim Wyman, who will leave office Nov. 19. “Steve has demonstrated through his career as a senator the ability to act independently, to not to be swayed by any party,” Inslee said in a video statement. Wyman echoed those statements, saying in a written statement that Hobbs “has a demonstrated record of seeking bipartisan solutions to complex problems, which is essential to the position of secretary of state.” “It is imperative the secretary of state — the state’s chief elections official — serve as a neutral arbiter in order to inspire confidence across the political spectrum in our election processes and results,” Wyman wrote. Hobbs, 51, is considered a centrist in his caucus, which holds a 28-21 majority in the Senate. He had previously sought a statewide office, briefly running for lieutenant governor last year before withdrawing from the race, citing his COVID-19 response work with the National Guard. “This is a tremendous honor and responsibility,” Hobbs said in a written statement. “There is nothing more sacred than the right to vote. I’ve fought for that right overseas and will do everything in my power to protect that right here in Washington.” Hobbs grew up in Snohomish County and has represented the 44th legislative district in the Senate since 2007. He served for decades in the U.S. Army, serving in Iraq and Kosovo, and currently serves as a lieutenant colonel in the Washington State National Guard. Inslee said that Hobbs’ service in the National Guard, saying it will be “an asset in dealing with the best cybersecurity effort in the United States. Inslee’s office said he spoke to a number of candidates, including current county auditors. Wyman and her predecessor, Sam Reed, both were Thurston County auditors before being elected to statewide office. Hobbs said that while he doesn’t have the county auditor experience that Wyman and Reed had, he pointed to his management and leadership experience in the National Guard and said that he plans to keep most of Wyman’s staff. He also plans to meet with county auditors to hear their ideas and concerns. “This is a partnership,” he said. “We work together.”
Sticker News: Congratulations to Layla M. Gonzalez a 7th grader from Jose J. Alderete Middle School in El Paso County, Texas for winning the 2022 “I Voted” Sticker Contest! Second place is for Jair Herrera a 6th grader from Del Valle Middle School and third place is for Luna D. Robledo a 6th grader from Hanks Middle School. The first place design will make its grand debut during the 2022 elections. Thank you to judges Christin Apodaca, local Illustrator and Muralist, Chelsie Evaldi, owner of Chuco Relic and Miriam Garcia, Public Art Program Supervisor for the City of El Paso. The El Paso County Elections Department invited local middle school students to participate in the second El Paso County “I Voted” sticker design contest. The contest was open to all middle school students in the county and the winning design will be used as the official “I Voted” sticker. The sticker will be distributed to voters at all Early Voting Locations and Election Day Vote Centers during the 2022 elections. The deadline to submit a design was October 28, 2021. “The El Paso County Elections Department was excited to continue working with middle school students and encouraging their participation in the electoral process,” Lisa Wise, El Paso County Elections Administrator. All three winners will be honored and recognized by the El Paso County Commissioners Court.
Personnel News: Orange County, California Registrar of Voters Neal Kelley announced this week that he will retire in March 2022. Interim Registrar Cynthia Paes has now been appointed as the new San Diego County, California Registrar of Voters. Wichita County, Texas Clerk Lori Bohannon has announced that she will not seek re-election. Todd Stermer has been appointed the new Fresno, California city clerk. Nicholas Leon is no longer the elections administrator for Melrose, Massachusetts. Outgoing Hood County, Texas Elections Administrator Michele Carew has announced that she will run for county clerk in 2022.
In Memoriam: Ruth Huneycutt, longtime Davidson County, North Carolina board of elections director has died. She was 82. Huneycutt, who served as director since 1983, was remembered for her even-handed approach to candidates and voters of all political backgrounds. She was one of the longest-serving election directors for a single county in North Carolina modern-day politics. “Our condolences go out to Ruth’s family, friends and coworkers during this difficult time,” State Elections Director Karen Brinson Bell said. “Elections work is difficult work, and Ruth succeeded in it and loved it.” Huneycutt joined the Davidson County Board of Elections in 1973 before becoming director 10 years later. Huneycutt oversaw elections from a time when ballots and candidate filings were processed by hand — long before digital devices — to a period today when the nuts-and-bolts of holding elections rely on computers and electronic voting tabulators. She died three days after overseeing municipal elections in cities and towns across Davidson County on Nov. 2. Former state legislator and Democratic House Majority Leader Hugh Holliman, who served Davidson County, remembered Huneycutt as a fair elections director who helped candidates of diverse political stripes negotiate the candidate filing process. “I always had a really good relationship with Ruth,” Holliman told The High Point Enterprise. “She oversaw a lot of changes during her time there and was very knowledgeable.”
Former North Dakota Secretary of State Jim Kusler has died, he was 73. Kusler is the only Democrat to have ever served in that role. Kusler was elected secretary of state in 1988, at the height of Democratic-NPL control of state politics. He served through 1992, losing reelection to Republican Al Jaeger, who has served since. Before becoming North Dakota’s top election official, Kusler was a research and information assistant to Gov. Art Link from 1978-81, a special assistant to Tax Commissioner Kent Conrad from 1981-82, and a state senator for District 33 from 1983-87. Conrad, who served in the U.S. Senate from 1987-2013, said Kusler “was a dear friend and a dedicated public servant. He loved North Dakota’s people and our history. May he rest in peace.” Gary Holm, who worked with Kusler in the Link administration, credited Kusler with modernizing the secretary of state’s office. Former state Sen. Aaron Krauter said Kusler “worked hard to bring the secretary of state’s office into the 21st century.” After leaving office, Kusler moved to his family farm and began an organic food venture and hosted a weekly radio show.
District of Columbia: Councilmember Charles Allen (D-Ward 6) introduced the Elections Modernization Amendment Act of 2021, a bill he says is intended to make voting in D.C. accessible to more residents. The legislation, co-sponsored by six of Allen’s colleagues, would give every registered voter access to mail-in voting, distribute more ballot drop boxes citywide, bring back the vote centers used during the 2020 election cycle, and make Election Day a holiday for D.C. public schools. The bill would also create a new election data portal on the D.C. Board of Elections’ website and require the board to provide more support to Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners who are currently incarcerated (as one currently is, representing the residents of the D.C. Jail), among other measures. The Elections Modernization Amendment Act will be assigned to a committee and receive a hearing at a date to be announced. “There are times when necessity is the mother of invention, and that’s exactly what we saw when a pandemic and a general election collided,” Allen wrote in a statement. “D.C. held a safe, secure, and accessible election by making it easier to vote and safe to vote from home. These are common sense and popular changes we need to make a permanent part of our elections moving forward.”
Georgia: State Sen. Billy Hickman told constituents that the provisions laid out under Senate Bill 202 may need some “tweaking” in 2022. While praising the controversial new law as “a very tight election bill,” that has served as a model for a couple of other states, Hickman said there should be some changes made during the Georgia General Assembly’s regular January-March session. He referred particularly to the requirement that counties and cities host 17 days of early voting, including two Saturdays, for all elections, even for council member elections in small towns. “Then we go right back in January for a long January through March session, and that’s probably when we’ll make some tweaking on the election bill,” Hickman said.
Pennsylvania: The Pennsylvania House State Government Committee advanced a bill that would end the use of private money to fund county elections. Under the measure, the Department of State and individual counties would have to refuse any “private donations” that would be used for “operating elections, employing staff or selecting and equipping a polling place or for use in voter education or outreach.” State Rep. Jim Struzzi (R-Indiana) is among those sponsoring the ban on private election grants. He said he took issue with how the money was handed down, and argued it’s unfair that places like Philadelphia got $10 million in grant money while Lancaster got just under $500,000. Rep. Seth Grove (R-York), who chairs the State Government committee, said the practice opens the door for well-resourced counties to have unfair election operation advantages over those that aren’t.
The House State Government Committee approved House Bill 1482 that would create a Bureau of Election Audits within the Pennsylvania Auditor General’s office, tasked with conducting “result-confirming” audits of every election in the state. “This will continue on our efforts that we’ve made for the past several years to ensure that our processes are consistent, and every legal vote is counted, and every voter can have faith in our election processes,” said House Speaker Bryan Cutler, the prime sponsor of House Bill 1482. Cutler’s legislation would require the new election audit bureau to complete “result-confirming” audits of every election in the state by the third Friday after the election. The bureau would be tasked with conducting risk-limiting audits of each uncontested election, as well as audits of election machine logs and of returned mail-in and absentee ballots in each county. The proposal would also require the Bureau of Election Audits to conduct performance audits of election machines and processes – including reviews of county election offices, the state’s voter registration system and the Department of State’s certification process for election machines – once every five years. The new bureau would also be authorized to conduct “any other audit deemed necessary … to ensure the public trust” in both elections and election administration, according to the legislation. This is Cutler’s second attempt to advance similar legislation.
Mississippi: In May, the Mississippi Supreme Court voided the state’s citizen-lead ballot initiative process. The Mississippi Supreme Court ruled that Section 273 of the Mississippi Constitution, which is the part that outlines the way ballot initiatives work, “cannot work in a world where Mississippi has fewer than five representatives in Congress.” When voters adopted the process in 273, the state had five congressional districts, but lost one due to slow population growth after the 2000 Census. Now, a group of plaintiffs has filed suit in the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of Mississippi in Jackson seeking to have the ballot initiative process reinstated. The suit says “the initiative petition rights of the people of Mississippi have been wrested from them.” The federal court, the motion says, inadvertently made that possible years ago when it redrew Mississippi’s congressional districts after the Legislature failed to propose a four-district map that complied with the 1965 Voting Rights Act. “Left to a state legislature unable to adopt a constitutionally compliant redistricting plan for the last thirty years …, the initiative petition rights of the people of Mississippi have been sideswiped and killed,” the motion says.
New Jersey: Passaic County Superintendent of Elections Shona Mack-Pollock locked hundreds of electronic poll books inside voting machines on Election Day; now, she’s asking for a court order to get them back out again. The poll books, which are new technology for the state as of this election, are meant to be secured and transported in designated carrying cases, but Mack-Pollock said the vendor supplying the cases to Passaic County could not deliver them in time for the election. Thus, Mack-Pollock made the decision to store the electronic poll books in the back of the voting machines themselves. But state law requires that voting machines be locked for a period of 15 days after the election unless ordered opened by a Superior Court judge, prompting Mack-Pollock’s request for a court order to open them earlier.
Pennsylvania: Delaware County Court of Common Pleas Judge Kelly Eckel ruled that the integrity of the Nov. 2 election was intact, in part due to the safeguards put in place, as county leaders discussed the case recently. Republican county council candidates Frank Agovino and Joseph Lombardo filed suit Oct. 29 after being notified of irregularities in the mail-in ballots, something they contended impacted the integrity of the Nov. 2 election as they requested thousands of votes to be sequestered and counted by court-appointed individuals. County staff had testified that impacted ballots were being sequestered and that observers from both parties are present and watch the counting of the votes. The judge ruled that was adequate. After the decision, county Solicitor William F. Martin issued remarks. “As anticipated by the county, Judge Eckel confirmed that the petition filed by the Republican candidates was moot, as the matters complained of had been appropriately remedied by the county Board of Elections,” he stated. “The judge confirmed the role of ‘watchers’ to monitor the count of ballots the county had already agreed to sequester. Finally, the judge extended to 8 p.m. on Nov. 5, 2021, the period where the county can tabulate ballots, only as the deadline relates to the small number of ballots that had been re-mailed, or mailed late, as long as the ballots are postmarked on or before Election Day. As to the petitioners’ proposal to take the election out of control of the Board of Elections, and rest such control in the courts, the judge recognized such request as unneeded, since the county was already following the law.”
Texas: Disabled, elderly and non-English speaking voters risk disenfranchisement under Texas’ new voting law passed by the GOP-controlled Legislature earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Justice claims in a lawsuit filed challenging the legislation known as Senate Bill 1. The suit, filed in San Antonio federal court, argues that both provisions “will curtail fundamental voting rights without advancing any legitimate state interest.” “These vulnerable voters already confront barriers to the ballot box, and SB 1 will exacerbate the challenges they face in exercising their fundamental right to vote,” the suit argues, saying that the law would negatively impact voters with disabilities, elderly voters, members of the military who are deployed, voters with limited English proficiency and voters residing outside of the country. “There is a history of discrimination against voters with disabilities in Texas,” the lawsuit claims, noting estimates that 28% of Texans have conditions impairing their mobility, cognition or vision. The suit also takes aim at SB 1’s new rules for mail-in voting. Texas traditionally has placed more limits on mail-in voting than other states. The legitimacy of mail-in ballots was largely determined by comparing signatures on applications and ballots.
Wisconsin: Dane County Circuit Judge Valerie Bailey-Rihn ordered Assembly Speaker Robin Vos to turn over records within 10 days about a secretive review of the 2020 election that Republicans have been conducting since this summer. Bailey-Rihn ruled the Rochester Republican and Assembly Chief Clerk Ted Blazel were required to release calendars, e-mails, internal reports and other documents maintained by the team conducting the election review. Bailey-Rihn accused Vos of trying to hide records by conducting a “shell game” that changed who was technically responsible for the records. She ordered Vos to turn over records that were created between May and late August. She suggested he’d given up his opportunity to argue he could withhold a subset of the documents because of attorney-client privilege or other reasons. She said he’d likely waited too long to make such arguments. “These need to be produced unless there is a darn good reason why not and I don’t see one at this point,” Bailey-Rihn said. The team reviewing the election has a taxpayer funded budget of $676,000 and is headed by former state Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman, who claimed without evidence last year that the presidential election was stolen.
Runbeck Election Services announced it has purchased two W+D 410 Easy Envelopers to bring all of the company’s vote-by-mail services within their production facility. With the addition of this new envelope converting machinery, Runbeck will be able to oversee each step in the process of producing vote-by-mail packets for their customers. “Envelopes are a critical part of the vote-by-mail process, whether we are mailing a ballot to a voter, or a voter is mailing their completed ballot for tabulation. We are pleased to be able to bring this final piece of the process under our control for the first time in our company’s history,” said Bryan Dandurand, Vice President of Operations at Runbeck. Runbeck expects the new W+D 410’s to be fully installed by the end of 2021 and ready for the 2022 midterm election cycle. Until the Envelopers are installed, Runbeck will continue to fulfill 2021 customer orders for vote-by-mail packets using third-party envelope vendors. “We work with so many jurisdictions across the country, and they each have their own specifications for envelope and ballot design. Purchasing these converting machines will allow us the technology to provide the highest level of customization and chain of custody compliance for their requirements. This can include envelope sizing and now, the integration of mechanisms giving voters the ability to fully track their return envelope as it travels through the USPS system to its final destination,” added Dandurand.
Opinions This Week
National Opinions: Misinformation | Voting rights, II, III | Election sabotage | The Big Lie, II, III | Election security
Colorado: Ranked choice voting | Ballot counting
Delaware: Voting rights
Florida: Voting rights testimony | Election security | Supervisors of elections
Hawaii: Voting rights
Idaho: Voting system
Illinois: The Big Lie | DuPage County
Michigan: Detroit voter turnout | Ballot initiative
New Jersey: Poll workers
New York: Ranked choice voting | Ballot measures, II | Lesson in democracy
Pennsylvania: Vote by mail | Voting error
Texas: Ballot counting | Smooth voting | Voting rights | Crystal Mason
Utah: Election security
Virginia: The Big Lie | Federal election legislation | Ranked choice voting | Election integrity | Election lies
Washington: Voter suppression | Secretary of state
Wisconsin: Election audit errors
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
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 of Elections & Voter Services (Assistant City Clerk), Minneapolis, Minnesota— We’re a division of the Office of the City Clerk. We administer local, state, and federal elections for Minneapolis voters. Our estimated population is 430,000 with about 270,000 registered voters. We champion civic participation for all Minneapolis citizens through accurate, fair, and accessible elections. We strive to be leaders in election administration through innovation and collaboration. As the largest and most vibrant city in the state, Minneapolis depends on purposeful, dedicated and innovative employees. Minneapolis has a large variety of careers for people of all experiences and backgrounds who come together for a singular purpose—serving the residents, businesses and visitors of Minneapolis. The Assistant City Clerk is responsible for the direction of a business line in the City Clerk’s Office, including acting as the Responsible Authority and Data Compliance Official, Chief Elections Official, or Chief Legislative Officer. Responsibilities includes: Direction of a business line, including developing strategic goals with the City Clerk Council/Council Leadership; and developing, implementing, and maintaining programs to implement those goals; Manage multiple competing projects of varying complexity across the department and enterprise; Manage the daily operations of the department, including budget, financial, personnel issues, departmental business plans, involvement in Council office matters, and various special projects; Develop, implement, and manage initiatives that improve the service delivery to City administration, and the public; Develop strategic goals with the City Clerk; and develop, implement, and maintain programs to implement those goals; Collaborate with the City Clerk on the preparation of annual budgets, budget presentations, emergency operations and continuity of operations plans; Oversee the preparation of reports, research efforts, planning documents and presentations to elected officials, stakeholder groups and the public; Supervise divisional staff, delegating, coaching, and developing the staff’s professional expertise, and fostering an atmosphere that values the rewards responsiveness, innovation, thoroughness and professionalism; Establish and maintain effective organizational and public relations through the development and implementation of outreach and engagement plans, including hosting events and presenting to the public; Partner and provide professional consultation to City leadership, departments, and other partners, internal and external to the City enterprise; Research, and respond to Mayor and Council Member inquiries and issues independently, including complex requests from policy-makers, the media, and the public involving significant amounts of data or sensitive data; Manage multiple competing projects of varying complexity across the department and enterprise; Oversee and ensure the Implementation of program goals and objectives; Work with the City Clerk regarding support, discipline. and discharge of staff from the department, and when handling controversial or politically sensitive issues; Provide leadership of department-wide initiatives and City-wide initiatives, and oversight of financial decisions for the City Clerk’s Office; Establish and enforce administrative policies, procedures, and standards for the Office; and Act as the City Clerk as assigned. Salary: $112,139.04 – $132,934.88. Deadline: December 5. 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.
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 Director, Pinal County, Arizona— Under the direction of the County Manager or designee performs professional work of considerable difficulty planning, directing, coordinating and controlling overall operations of the Elections Department to ensure that goals and objectives are accomplished in compliance with all elections laws. The Elections Director works to maintain a secure, transparent, accessible, free and fair election that inspires public confidence in the election system. This position is not covered under the Pinal County Merit System. Incumbents in this position serve at the pleasure of their respective Appointing Authority. The employment relationship of incumbents in this position is “at will” the employee may be terminated at any time, for any reason, with or without cause. Salary: $87,718 – $140,349. Application: For the complete 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.
Policy and Compliance Administrator, Denver, Colorado— The Elections Division provides comprehensive, nationally-recognized, election services for the City and County of Denver. These services include voter records management, voter services, petition management, election administration, elections operations, and strategic communications and outreach. The Elections program goal is to conduct fair, accurate, accessible, secure, transparent, efficient and reliable elections. Do you have a passion for serving others? If so, we want to hear from you! The City and County of Denver has an exciting opportunity for a Policy and Compliance Administrator to serve in the Office of the Clerk & Recorder Paul D. López.In this position, you will work with both divisions to ensure the office’s compliance with federal and state law. As a home rule municipality, Denver is uniquely situated to be involved with both state law and its own charter and ordinances. Additionally, as the Policy and Compliance Administrator, you can expect to: Interpret Denver and Colorado law to advise the Denver Clerk and Recorder on compliance issues related to his duties and the functions of the office; Draft legislation and administrative rules at the direction of the Clerk and Recorder; Serve as the Clerk’s legislative liaison to the Colorado General Assembly; Conduct research for policy determinations as directed by the Clerk and Recorder; Meet with stakeholders and members of the community to achieve the Clerk’s policy goals; Conduct comparative research and keep track of court cases; Represent the Clerk on inter-agency and inter-governmental commissions, etc.; Build strategic relationships for the Clerk and Recorder’s Office with other governmental entities, including the Colorado County Clerks’ Association; Coordinate with the City Attorney’s office to determine the Clerk’s legal strategy for litigation; Perform other duties as assigned or requested; and Assignments for this position are diverse in nature and require determining practical solutions in a fast-paced environment. Salary: $83,348 – $137,524. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
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