In Focus This Week
Exit Interview: Dana DeBeauvoir
Travis Co., Texas clerk exits after more than 30 years on the job
By M. Mindy Moretti
Outgoing Travis County, Texas Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir likes to joke that the office was still using quill pens when she arrived on the scene 36 years ago.
While that may be a bit of a stretch, elections in Travis County, and throughout the country have changed dramatically since 1986 and DeBeauvoir has been at the forefront.
More than a decade ago, DeBeauvoir worked with computer and usability experts to write specifications for a new, open source voting system that provided a paper trail.
The STAR-Vote system resolved common issues related to determining the intent-of-the-voter and managing early voting, mega voting, and election day centers. Lower costs and more flexible scalability are added by maximizing the use of commercial-off-the-shelf hardware.
Although STAR-Vote never really got off the ground in Travis County, it certainly helped make DeBeauvor a star in the elections community.
Pam Smith, senior advisor for Verified Voting reminisced about a keynote address DeBeauvoir gave for election technology experts at the EVT/WOTE in 2011 about the STAR-vote voting system DeBeauvoir had worked with election scientists to create.
“She held the room in thrall for an hour, and aside from the technical details, she said some magic words: ‘You’re the bright spots in my job, believe it or not…,’” Smith said. “That talk epitomized Dana. From her shout-out to her elections staff as preface, to the wit, humor and graciousness, to the collegiality and respect and clear vision that it will take all hands to make voting work—100% real. I’ve never known her to be otherwise.”
In addition to her duties in Travis County, DeBeauvoir has served as an advisor and election observer for Bosnia, the Peoples Republic of Bangladesh, Kosovo, and the historic South Africa election that represented the end of apartheid.
And that’s what DeBeauvoir hopes to do in her retirement from Travis County, more international observing.
Electionline would like to wish Dana well in her future endeavors and a very happy birthday—which is tomorrow, which is also her last day as county clerk.
Why have you chosen not to seek re-election?
I’ve served for 36 years as County Clerk. I worked for 3 ½ years before that in the Tax office. That’s a long road. It’s time.
What are you most proud of during your tenure as clerk?
We took this office from the quill pen era to automated, modern management. In 1987, there was little technology available. We were still using typewriters and were thrilled when we got our first fax machine around 1990. We can help many more people in the same number of work hours than we could in the early years. I love that we’ve come so far.
What do you wish you’d been able to accomplish that you weren’t able to either because of budget or other reasons?
We are almost complete loading all the old records onto an internet platform for remote viewing. I wish I had been able to finish uploading all the millions of records. I came very close and the next County Clerk will be able to post online every record the Clerk’s office carries.
More than a decade ago, you partnered with computer security experts to create the STAR voting system. Is that still your ideal voting system or if you were starting from scratch today would it look different?
STARVote was a massive undertaking born of frustration that as Election Administrators we could not purchase what voters were demanding—electronic voting with a paper trail. The new voting systems today look very much like the STARVote design. We were a little ahead of our time, but we were on the right track. STARVote still lives and under a new name, Election Guard, DOD with DARPA funds is building the prototype. Soon our idea of an open source voting system, with electronic inventory of ballots, non-ambiguous marks, E2E verification, and independent third party verification will be a reality. And we hope that the jump-start that DOD has given the industry will reduce the cost of purchasing this new voting system.
You’ve been a high profile woman in the elections community for a long time, what’s that been like? Has it changed over time? What advice would you give women who are interested in getting into election leadership?
Most of the time it’s been a fight—to be heard, and to achieve implementations. The technology sector has always been a white male dominated world, and the women in the field know better than I how tough that world can be. Success takes patience, spine, and a thick skin. Thing are changing as more women and people of color join this sector and I am optimistic about the future. There are already many women in the field of elections. I think we are a rare bunch with special abilities in planning, juggling multiple tasks at one time, taking on naysayers and calming down the disturbed, and pulling off miracles. For example, Election Administrators can run an election in the middle of Hurricane Sandy.
What’s one thing that you wish policymakers in Texas and Washington, DC knew about the election process?
I wish we didn’t have to deal with the political reality of voter suppression. Congress and the Legislatures should be thinking more about the ease of voting and the welfare of voters, rather than their own political advantage.
What will you miss about working election administration?
The voters. That we lose both sunrise and sunset on Election Day. Tireless and tenacious election staff. The adrenelin.
What’s next for you, other than sleeping in on Election Day?
I want to return to international election observation. Seeing how elections are run around the world were some of the most inspiring moments of my life. I can sleep when I’m really old.
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6th Annual EAC Clearie Awards Submissions
Submission period opens for the EAC’s “Clearies”
The U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) invites submissions for its sixth annual national Clearinghouse Awards, also known as the “Clearie” Awards, for best practices in election administration. The awards program recognizes the hard work and leadership of election officials and staff across the country.
Election jurisdictions of all sizes are encouraged to submit their work. Entries must be received by Friday, February 18, 2022. Submission guidelines for this year’s contest are available here. All entries and supporting materials should be uploaded through the EAC’s new online submission form. Please send any questions to the EAC at email@example.com. Submissions will be judged based on innovation, sustainability, outreach, cost-effectiveness, replicability, and the generation of positive results.
The 2021 Clearie winners will be announced in April 2022.
This year, EAC Commissioners are pleased to announce two new award categories honoring innovative programming developed by election official associations and successful Help America Vote Act (HAVA) grant initiatives. 2022 marks the 20th anniversary of the signing of HAVA, and the Commissioners hope to highlight the spirit of this landmark bipartisan legislation by recognizing innovative uses of HAVA funds. The prestigious new award will also help jurisdictions utilize these best practices to enhance future efforts.
The EAC will present awards in the categories of:
- Outstanding Use of HAVA Grants in Elections Modernization,
- Outstanding Election Official Association Program,
- Outstanding Innovation in Election Cybersecurity and Technology,
- Improving Accessibility for Voters with Disabilities,
- Outstanding Innovations in Elections,
- Best Practices in Recruiting, Retaining, and Training Poll Workers, and
- Creative and Original “I Voted” Stickers.
“Leading up to the 2022 elections, officials are handling issues related to election security, further utilization of cutting-edge technology, COVID-19 precautions, and increased voter engagement. The 2021 Clearie awards will once again celebrate the outstanding work of election officials meeting these challenges,” said Donald Palmer, EAC Chairman. “Twenty years ago, Congress enacted HAVA, bringing about sweeping election reforms and greater accessibility in voting. Under that Act, the EAC was entrusted to serve as a clearinghouse for election administration information by offering comprehensive products and services to state and local election offices. As the EAC celebrates the anniversary of this historic law, my fellow Commissioners and I can think of no better stage for the EAC to uphold the tremendous work of election officials.”
Election News This Week
Threats to Democracy: In a letter to states, Kristen Mahoney, acting director of the Bureau of Justice Assistance, told state officials administering a law-enforcement grant program that they could use the funds “to deter, detect, and protect against threats of violence against election workers, administrators, officials, and others associated with the electoral process.” According to The Washington Post, how much federal cash will get spent on deterring threats to election workers is unclear. The funds at issue come from the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program, which gives state and local jurisdictions various amounts of money for public safety endeavors, based on the states’ population and violent crime rate. An agency or person is designated in each state to determine how the money is spent. In her own letter to state administering agency directors, Vanita Gupta, the Justice Department’s associate attorney general, noted that “the past year has seen an unprecedented increase in threats of violence against Americans who administer the election process in our country.” “The Department of Justice is committed to protecting every American’s right to vote, including by protecting election workers against personal threats of violence that aim to undermine the electoral process,” Gupta wrote.
Threats to Democracy Part II: Officials in the Nevada County, California clerk and recorder’s office closed their offices to the public for safety reasons this week. “I’m deeply saddened that our office had to go to such extremes to ensure the safety of our staff,” Assistant Clerk-Recorder/Registrar of Voters Natalie Adona said. “We are taking steps toward the safe reopening of our lobby and look forward to serving walk ups soon.” The Nevada County sheriff’s office is investigating where people associated with an attempted supervisor recall effort pushed their way into the building after they were told they couldn’t enter unless they complied with the office’s mask mandate. Recall proponents dispute the claims and say they have filed a complaint with the sheriff’s office as well. The case is considered an ongoing investigation Andrew Trygg, sheriff’s office public information officer told The Union.
Voter Reg Simplified: In response to changes made to Montana election law and ahead of the 2022 midterms, a Native American advocacy group is rolling out a new project aiming to simplify voter registration. Western Native Voice is setting up kiosks in public places that will help Montanans get the voter registration process started. Montana requires a physical signature for voter registration, so once users enter their information, Western Native Voice sends them a partially completed form and a free return envelope to finish the registration. Western Native Voice is looking to reach both rural and urban Indians by deploying the kiosks to reservations and cities in places like libraries, community colleges and clinics. The organization hopes to register 1,000 new voters across the state before Election Day 2022. Ta’jin Perez with the advocacy group said the project aims to make up for the loss of same-day voter registration, which state Republican lawmakers ended last spring. The registration deadline is now the Friday before an election. “The immediate remedy is gone, which means that organizations like ours and the public are essentially saddled with the responsibility to be proactive and preemptive when it comes to voter registration,” Perez says.
Post-Election Reports: This week officials in New Mexico and Virginia released post-election reports. In New Mexico, the secretary of state’s office partnered with the University of New Mexico to release the 2020 New Mexico Election Administration, Voter Security and Election Reform Report. “The data we get from these reports is essential for gauging voters’ attitudes about their voting experiences and their perceptions of election administration in New Mexico,” said Secretary Toulouse Oliver. “But this isn’t just an academic exercise. The data helps my Office and election administrators across New Mexico understand how voters are thinking, what’s working, and what needs improvement in the eyes of the customers we serve.” According to Professor Lonna Atkeson, a principal author of the report, the survey was expanded this year to include questions on perceptions of ballot privacy and incidences of voter coercion. “It’s a great example of why these comparative reports are important. We gain insight on current elections; and better understand the concerns facing voters regarding future elections. Comparing data across elections broadens the scope of our perspective on election protocol,” Atkeson said. In Virginia, Election Commission Christopher Piper this week presented the Virginia Department of Elections (ELECT) post-election report for 2021 November General Election. The reports have been published since 2018 and this report highlights several areas of work done in 2021 to include law and regulatory changes impacting the administration of elections, participation in the election, and election administration tasks completed. It also spotlights Virginia’s successful Voter Education and Outreach Campaign and specific issues that were reported in the lead up to and on Election Day
Personnel News: Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin has announced that he will seek an eighth term as secretary. Bernadette Matthews is officially the new executive director of the Illinois State Board of Elections. She had served as assistant executive director since 2017 before being named interim executive director in April 2021. Mona Harrington is stepping down as the executive director of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. Beverly Wenger has announced that she will seek a sixth term as the Yuma County, Colorado clerk and recorder. Tom Gillon will serve as the interim elections supervisor for Macon-Bibb County, Georgia. Alyssa Singles is the new Cheboygan, Wisconsin city clerk. Steve Ulrich has stepped down as the York County, Pennsylvania director of elections to become the managing editor of PolitcsPA. Alabama Auditor Jim Zeigler has announced his candidacy for secretary of state. Norwalk, Connecticut Republican Deputy Registrar Ellen Wink was fired following her arrest in connection with the death of her tenant.
Federal Legislation: District of Columbia Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) has introduced legislation that will allow the District to schedule its own special elections. The bill, entitled the District of Columbia Special Elections Home Rule Act. “The bill simply removes a limitation on the District that is not only inconsistent with the self-government authority otherwise granted by the Home Rule Act, but is also counterproductive,” Norton’s team stated via press release. “[District of Columbia Special Elections Home Rule Act] follows legislation we got enacted in 2012 that gave the D.C. Board of Elections (“Board”) more flexibility to set the date of special elections for local offices to maximize voter participation,” Norton said in a Tuesday statement. “Although we sought complete authority for the District over the scheduling of special elections, the 2012 law, the District of Columbia Special Election Reform Act, did not include this home-rule principle. D.C. should have complete authority over a matter that is unrelated to any other congressional district and has no relevance to Congress.”
Arizona: The Senate Government Committee advanced seven election bills in its first meeting since the conclusion of the Senate’s unprecedented ballot review last year. n a series of party-line votes, Republicans on the committee voted to advance bills that would make pictures of all ballots publicly accessible after an election; end all-mail elections for cities and school boards and require extensive security requirements on ballot paper akin to those used to prevent and detect counterfeit money. They also voted to change the threshold that triggers an automatic recount, from a margin of 0.1 percentage points to 0.5 points. Democrats said the election bills were a response to false conspiracies and promote false narratives about the security of elections. “Saying that the election was stolen, that’s great for a campaign speech but that’s not reality,” said Sen. Martin Quezada, a Democrat from Glendale. “And its our job as members to focus on reality.”
Lawmakers have introduced a second wave of election-related bills in the past week that would alter the voting system more dramatically than those heard just days ago in a legislative committee. Newly introduced bills include House Bill 2596, which would let Legislature reject the results of a state election and order a new one, along with a multitude of other fundamental changes to election law. It incorporates several features demanded by election conspiracy theorists, like limiting all voting to Election Day, requiring all voting be in-person and mandating that officials count all the ballots by hand within 24 hours. It also states that the Legislature “shall call itself into session” to review the ballot-counting process “and on review shall accept or reject the election results.” House Bill 2237 would ban same day voter registration. Senate Bill 1453 would allow same-day registration. Senate Bill 1459 requires that election workers use a unique password to log into election systems, and provides for a misdemeanor charge for those who share their password with others.
Apopka, Florida: The Apopka City Council has approved an agreement with the Orange County Supervisor of Elections (SOE) to conduct an early voting site from Tuesday, March 1st through Sunday, March 6th at the Apopka Community Center. However, according to The Apopka Voice, councilmembers debated the hours and ultimately chose an alternative slate of ours. Instead of opening the site from 8 am-5 pm on those dates, Council voted 5-0 to increase the hours from 7 am-7 pm – the same times as the March 8th election date. The SOE estimates a cost of $21,196.16 to administer the early voting site for the six days (and 12 hours per day) leading up to the March 8th election. The previous estimate for eight-hour days was $13,200.
Georgia: The Georgia Senate rejected a plan to amend the state constitution to include a ban on voting by noncitizens that is already in state law. Senate Resolution 363 won a 33-14 majority, but fell short of the two-thirds majority of 38 needed for a constitutional amendment on a party line vote, with Democrats opposing the measure and Republicans supporting it. Republicans said the change is needed to clarify the constitution to reflect state law that says only citizens of the United States and residents of Georgia can vote. Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has been campaigning in favor of the change, arguing the constitution needs more clarity. “The intention of this legislation may by to try to incite a particular base in this state to gin up support for their own elections,” said Sen Emanuel Jones, a Decatur Democrat.
Democratic lawmakers are proposing a complete repeal of the state’s voting law — even provisions that authorize ballot drop boxes and mandate a second Saturday of early voting statewide. The legislation, House Bill 941, is co-sponsored by 30 Democrats in the House of Representatives. The 83-page bill would also roll back parts of the law they most strongly oppose, such as new ID requirements for absentee voting and the ability for the state to replace county election boards.
Illinois: A bill filed by Rep. Charles Meier, R-Highland aims to combat voter fraud by allowing a county clerk the ability to cancel a voter registration if they do not think the person is a qualified voter. House Bill 4310 seeks to address issues with the state’s mail-in vote system and would give county clerks the ability to turn down a voter registration if the clerk believes the registration is fake or if the voter has passed away or moved. Meier said his bill would give county clerks the ability to withhold any applications they get back as invalid. “The ballots will be mailed out to where they are addressed to and if you don’t live there anymore you should not be getting those ballots mailed back to you with votes,” Meier said. “A county clerk is an elected position and they are supposed to uphold the law.” The bill has been assigned to the Rules Committee but has not yet been moved.
Indiana: A Republican-backed proposal that would require Indiana voters who request mail-in ballots to swear under possible penalty of perjury that they won’t be able to vote in person at any time during the 28 days before Election Day was approved by a House committee in 12-7 party line vote. Republican Rep. Tim Wesco of Osceola defended the proposal he’s sponsoring as an updating of the state’s mail-in ballot law to reflect the greater availability of early in-person voting over the past couple decades. “I believe the best policy is to encourage people to vote in person, whether on Election Day or in-person early as much as possible,” Wesco said. Indiana’s current mail-in voting limits allow people to vote by mail only if they fall into one of several categories, including being 65 or older, confined to their homes, scheduled to work throughout the 12 hours Election Day polling sites are open or being absent from their home counties on Election Day. None of those restrictions currently involve the early voting period. Lake County Election and Voter Registration Board Director Michelle Fajman said she is disappointed in the bill advancing. When considering “our day-to-day life,” different circumstances arise where someone doesn’t think they could vote in person and then their schedule changes, she said, and that the threat of a perjury charge is too strong. “I am very disappointed that (the bill) would get any traction,” Fajman said. “That’s voter suppression at its peak. They’re going to make people scared to vote absentee.”
The House Ways and Means Committee has voted down a bill that would have moved the deadline for counties to install a vital election security measure on their voting machines. State law gives counties that use those machines until 2030 to install the paper backups. A bill this session would’ve moved that up to July 2024. But the House Ways and Means Committee deleted that change because it costs money, about $12 million. The state currently has a $4 billion surplus.
Massachusetts: House lawmakers are set to debate legislation that would permanently expand early voting opportunities and make voting-by-mail a standard option in future elections, but Democratic leaders left out of the bill a popular reform that would allow voters to register and vote on the same day. The latest version of the VOTES Act put together by House Ways and Means Chairman Aaron Michlewitz seeks to enshrine some of the changes made to voting rules during the COVID-19 pandemic as a way to minimize health risks. New options for voters, such as voting by mail and expanded windows for in-person early voting, led to a record number of ballots being cast in the 2020 elections. The House bill (H 4359), however, does not call for same-day voter registration, setting up a potential clash, if that doesn’t change, with the Senate where Democrats included same-day registration in the version of the VOTES Act it passed last October.
Mississippi: House Judiciary B Chairman Nick Bain, R-Corinth, filed House Bill 630 that would allow former felons who have had their crimes expunged, or removed from their criminal record, to register to vote. “This process would simplify suffrage restoration and make it easier for formerly incarcerated felons,” Bain told the Daily Journal. Under the Mississippi Constitution, people convicted of any of 10 felonies — including perjury, arson and bigamy — lose their voting privileges for life. A 2009 opinion from the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office expanded the list of disqualifying felonies to 22. For someone to have their suffrage restored, a lawmaker has to introduce a bill on their behalf, and two-thirds of lawmakers in both legislative chambers must agree to it. A person can also seek a gubernatorial pardon. Mississippi is the only state that requires legislative action to regain the right to vote. Under Bain’s proposal, people convicted of a felony who have the crime successfully expunged from their record would automatically be allowed to register to vote. Current state law requires a person to petition a court to expunge a crime from their criminal record five years after they have completed their sentence requirements and paid all of their fines.
Nebraska: Sen. Mike Groene’s bill to slash the early-voting period in Nebraska elections will receive its required public hearing in the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee this week. Legislative Bill 785 would reduce the time period for mailing out early-voting ballots and returning completed ones from 35 to 22 days before statewide primary or general elections. LB 785 wouldn’t change the current 15-day period in which registered voters can cast early ballots before all other elections. Groene’s bill has 10 co-sponsors.
New Hampshire: Under a bill heard this week before the Senate Election Law and Municipal Affairs Committee, a voter would be able to decide to vote by absentee ballot without meeting the current legal reasons to do so. Senate Bill 427 mirrors changes in election laws for the 2020 election due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The allowable use of absentee ballots for that election included health reasons as well as current excuses such as being out of town on election day or a disability preventing a person from going to the polls. Senate Bill 427 would also allow election officials to begin processing absentee ballots before election day for one day that would be announced prior the meeting for processing. The bill’s prime sponsor, Senate Minority Leader Donna Soucy, D-Manchester, noted the change was incredibly successful producing the largest voter turnout in state history, more than 814,000 ballots cast, and three times the normal volume of absentee ballots. The change had bipartisan support, she noted, and allowed voters to vote in a safe and efficient manner.
New Mexico: A sweeping elections bill backed by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is a little less hefty than expected. The version of the legislation introduced wouldn’t authorize a straight-party voting option, extend the mail-back deadline for absentee ballots or expand early voting by a day – all of which were components of the proposal announced earlier this month. As it stands now, the election bill would: Establish a permanent absentee voter list, allowing people to sign up once to receive absentee ballots for statewide elections, rather than having to file a new application each time; Allow 16- and 17-year-olds to vote in local and municipal elections; Restore the voting rights of felons who aren’t incarcerated; Permitting people without an official state ID to register to vote online by using their full Social Security number; and Designating Election Day as a state holiday. The proposal is supported by Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver, and its co-sponsors include the Democratic floor leaders in both chambers, Sen. Peter Wirth of Santa Fe and Rep. Javier Martínez of Albuquerque. “Even as we’ve seen attempts around the country to make voting more difficult for eligible voters,” Toulouse Oliver said, “here in New Mexico we continue to be a leader in how to balance the demands for voter access with the needs of maintaining our high levels of election security.”
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has authorized legislators to take up a proposal designed to protect election workers by making it a crime to threaten employees working for county clerks or the secretary of state. The proposal, Senate Bill 144, is sponsored by Sen. Katy Duhigg, an Albuquerque Democrat and former city clerk. “Election officials at all levels, from the secretary of state down to your local polling official, have been harassed, threatened, and generally discouraged from being part of our democratic process since 2020,” Duhigg said. “It’s very important that our democracy continue to thrive, and it can only do that if we have a continued influx of professionals and citizen volunteers who come to these important jobs to conduct elections in a fair and nonpartisan manner.”
New York: A bill that would extend the availability of absentee ballots to anyone who is at risk of contracting COVID-19 was approved in the Democratic-led state Assembly as officials seek to continue election changes put in place due to the ongoing public health crisis. “As we go into the third year of a global pandemic, we cannot ask New Yorkers to risk their health in order to vote,” Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said. “By extending this provision, we will allow New Yorkers to exercise their constitutional right to vote without worrying about exposing themselves, their loved ones and their community to COVID-19.” The measure extends the absentee ballot provision for the pandemic to the end of 2022. It was previously approved in July 2020 and had expired at the end of last year. “We have to make sure that every eligible New Yorker can easily exercise their constitutional right to vote,” Assembly Elections Chair Latrice Walker said. “That means allowing people to vote by absentee ballot, especially during the pandemic. I’m glad we’re extending this necessary protection through the 2022 elections.”
State lawmakers are amending a bill that could change the make-up and management structure of the New York City Board of Elections. ‘We’ve been working with both the State Board of Election for guidance, many election lawyers, many people familiar with the problems that the city has had forever with their elections. And I think that we’ve come up with a good model,” said the bill’s State Senate sponsor, Senator Liz Krueger (D-Manhattan). The Krueger-Rozic legislation would give the New York City Council more leverage in appointing commissioners and give city officials greater insight into budgetary matters. It would also set qualification standards for Board members, and outline some of their duties in more clear terms. The bill also replaces the current executive director with Democrat and Republican co-executive directors hired by the mayor with approval of either the City Council Speaker or Public Advocate from lists of candidates provided by the Board.
Ohio: Ohio’s partisan primary would be delayed another month to account for the prolonged redistricting process under new legislation introduced by House Democrats. House Bill 544, sponsored by Reps. Thomas West and Lisa Sobecki, would move the primary from May 3 to June 7. The measure aims to give candidates and election officials ample time to prepare for the election as mapmakers take another stab at drawing legislative and congressional districts. State officials have suggested moving the Feb. 2 filing deadline to accommodate legislative candidates and already pushed the deadline for congressional races to March 3. However, some Republicans and Democrats are hesitant to move the election itself.
Oklahoma: Rep. Sean Roberts, R-Hominy has filed a bill would require all voters in Oklahoma to re-register with the state before the end of 2023 or lose their local voting status. House Bill 3677 says all voters in the state of Oklahoma must reregister with their local county election board by December 31, 2023. If any voter fails to reregister by that date, but meets the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 requirements, they will be placed on a ‘Federal Election Only’ list and will not be eligible to vote in any state election.
Pennsylvania: Sen. Ryan Aument (R-36) introduced legislation that would reconcile any errors, duplicate files, or any other discrepancies within the state’s voter registration records. Senate Bill 1018 will include the recommendations made by Auditor General Eugene DePasquale from his 2019 report of the Statewide Uniform Registry of Electors (SURE). SURE is the program the Department of State uses to keep a complete list of all the voters registered in Pennsylvania. Aument’s bill will not allow the Department of State, PennDOT, and counties from holding any information needed to perform and full and complete audit. It will also require that the SURE system be audited every four years. “There are legitimate issues and irregularities within Pennsylvania’s election system that must be fixed so we can be confident in any election results produced by that system. Despite opponent’s claims that nothing is wrong with our elections, independent third-party audits have shown this is false, and I would be doing a disservice to my constituents if I did not act to correct these problems,” Aument said. The bill has been referred by the Senate State Government Committee for consideration.
Alabama: A three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama rejected the legislature’s redrawn U.S. congressional district map for November elections, saying it likely violated the Voting Rights Act and stood to deny Black voters an additional representative. The court found that the Republican-dominated state legislature should have drawn the district lines to give minorities a majority in a second district, or at least a better chance of competing. “The appropriate remedy is a congressional redistricting plan that includes either an additional majority-Black congressional district, or an additional district in which Black voters otherwise have an opportunity to elect a representative of their choice,” the judges said in a 225-page ruling. The court postponed an upcoming candidate qualification deadline until Feb. 11 to give the legislature time to redraw the lines. The state has filed an appeal.
Georgia: Judges granted a prosecutor’s request to seat a special grand jury to help criminally investigate former President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the state’s 2020 election results during the waning days of his administration. Atlanta-area District Attorney Fani Willis made the request last week, citing the need for additional authority to compel witnesses to testify by subpoena. In a brief order, Fulton County Chief Superior Court Judge Christopher Brasher said a majority of local judges agreed to authorize the panel for a year’s term beginning May 2. “The special purpose grand jury shall be authorized to investigate any and all facts and circumstances relating directly or indirectly to alleged violations of the laws of the State of Georgia, as set forth in the request of the District Attorney … ” the order stated.
Maryland: Seth Wilson, president of the Washington County Republican Central Committee is seeking a new location for the county’s second early-voting site that was approved by the county and state elections boards. Wilson filed court paperwork in Anne Arundel County, where the state Board of Elections is located, seeking a court’s review and possible revision of the decision. The site in question is two miles away from the Washington County Election Board’s headquarters — the primary early-voting center. The second site was added because state law requires counties with at least 50,000 registered voters, but fewer than 100,000, must have two early-voting centers. Wilson said he felt that there were other areas in the county that weren’t being served, that should have an early-voting site.
Michigan: The Michigan Court of Appeals has reinstated four charges related to forging or falsifying election records against the Southfield city clerk, after four of the six charges she faced were dismissed by a lower court judge in April. And a review of evidence that is part of the three-judge panel’s opinion sheds light on a possible motive for Clerk Sherikia Lavette Hawkins to alter information related to 193 absentee ballots after the Nov. 6, 2018 election. In July 2020, Hawkins, 40, was ordered to stand trial on charges of falsifying election records, forgery of a public record, using a computer to falsify election records, using a computer to commit a crime related to forgery of a public record, misconduct in office, and using a computer to commit a crime connected to misconduct in office. But Oakland County Circuit Judge Leo Bowman last year dismissed the first four charges. Now, the Michigan Court of Appeals has reversed Bowman and increased the number of live charges back to six, up from two. The panel rejected Bowman’s finding that a district court judge erred in sending her to trial on all six counts, after hearing evidence at a preliminary hearing. “Specifically, the evidence supported the conclusion that defendant willfully falsely altered entries in the QVF (Qualified Voter File, the state’s voter database) by indicating AV (absentee voter) ballots received and accepted were either not received or not accepted because they had no signature by Election Day,” the panel said.
The Michigan Supreme Court has struck down an effort by Republicans to make it harder to change state law through petition drives. The court threw out a 15% geographic cap on the number of signatures to get an issue on the statewide ballot. It would have placed a burden on petition circulators by forcing them to be aware of where they were gathering signatures. But the Supreme Court says it violates with the Michigan Constitution. The changes were made by the Republican-controlled Legislature in 2018 and signed by Gov. Rick Snyder before he left office.
New Jersey: A do-over election in Old Bridge, where the results of the November 2021 contest were invalidated after some voters received the wrong ballots, is on for March 22. A state appellate court affirmed the decision of Superior Court Judge Thomas Daniel McCloskey to thrown out the general election results and hold a new election, rejecting an appeal filed by Democrat Jill DeCaro. McCloskey found the state Division of Elections at fault, saying their statewide voter database didn’t properly follow boundaries set in the 2011 ward redistricting map put voters from the odd numbered homes on one side of Cymbeline Drive in Ward 2, and the even numbered homes on the opposite side of Cymbeline Drive residing in the Ward 4. Appellate Court Judge Carmen Messano agreed with DeCaro that some Cymbeline Drive residents have been registered in the wrong ward for several years. Messano found that facts were insufficient to reject a special election. “The official ward map was admitted in evidence, and the judge found conclusively that the residents on that side of Cymbeline Drive are within the Fourth Ward and should have received ballots to vote in that Ward,” Messano wrote in his order. “Nothing in the record raises a material dispute to the contrary.” Blame for the mistake rested with the Statewide Voter Registration System, McCloskey said.
Pennsylvania: Lackawanna County District Attorney Mark Powell says that an investigation found no reason to file a criminal charge against a man who dropped off multiple voter ballots at a downtown Scranton drop box last May. The district attorney assigned county detectives to investigate the case in October at the request of county Commissioner Chris Chermak. “We have thoroughly investigated the complaint filed by Commissioner Chermak and have found zero evidence of election fraud,” Powell said. “Absent additional evidence, we do not believe criminal charges against the gentleman seen dropping off ballots at the Lackawanna County Government Center are warranted at this time. There is no evidence that he fraudulently harvested votes.” Powell said the man cooperated with the investigation “and told detectives that he was simply dropping off ballots for his friends.”
Wisconsin: Waukesha County Circuit Judge Michael Bohren has kept in place his decision from last week that determined absentee ballot drop boxes can’t be used in Wisconsin. Bohren last week ruled ballot drop boxes could not be used in Wisconsin because state law says absentee ballots must be returned by mail or in person. He also determined voters cannot have someone else return their ballot for them. Groups that support drop boxes asked to put the ruling on hold for the Feb. 15 primary for spring elections while they pursue an appeal. They argued that approach was best because the primary election is so soon. The District 4 Court of Appeals blocked the lower court ruling and ruled that ballot drop boxes may be used in the Feb. 15 primary. The ruling was issued the day before election clerks were scheduled to send voters absentee ballots. This week’s decision affects only the Feb. 15 primary. The appeals court will decide later what rules will be in place for elections after that. The appeals judges wrote that they were acting in part because they did not want voters to be confused by rules that changed so close to election day. “Given this situation, the risk of confusion — and possible disenfranchisement — is compelling,” the judges wrote in their decision. The matter has been appealed to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
Geo-Enabled Elections: NSGIC is proud to announce the launch of its new web page “Resources for Election Directors,” designed to smooth the path towards election modernization for states and counties wishing to further integrate GIS in elections. The page offers access to a range of tools, helping users to begin the dialogue, build a coalition of stakeholders and experts to facilitate implementation, and develop decision support for how to approach the work. It also provides a link to five hands-on training courses – and even offers help to states wishing to enshrine the use of GIS in elections in state statute. Some states recently have been successful in supporting the use of GIS in elections and accessing funding by enacting statute. The new web page offers both model statute to use as a starting point, as well as two new helpful videos featuring insights on the process. For states looking to invest in a new voter registration system, the page offers sample RFPs to ensure a new system is capable of integrating GIS to facilitate regular audits of precinct and voting district assignments and much more.
Opinions This Week
Alabama: Voting rights
Alaska: Ranked choice voting
Delaware: No-excuse absentee voting
Illinois: League of Women Voters
Kentucky: Mitch McConnell
Maine: Voting rights
Massachusetts: Voting rights
Michigan: Elections ballot measure
Missouri: Ranked choice voting
Montana: Secretary of state
Nevada: Voting rights
New Jersey: Voting rights
How Can We Take Partisanship out of Election Administration?: With partisan loyalists aiming to control election administration, it’s clear that America’s antiquated system of politically affiliated election officials needs reform. Register for this expert-led discussion of new ideas that can ensure election leaders are independent, professional, and accountable. Presented by the Election Reformers Network and The Carter Center. When: Jan. 31 3pm Eastern. Where: Online.
NASED Winter Conference: The NASED Board voted unanimously to cancel its in-person conference scheduled for the end of January and hold the conference virtually over four days. This is not a decision that we made lightly and it was not an easy one to make, but ultimately, we think it is the best one for our members and other conference attendees. We hope to see you in person in July in Madison, Wisconsin. When: February 24-24 and March 3-4. Where. Online
NASS Winter Conference: The National Association of Secretary of States has decided to move to a virtual event. When: : Jan. 27-30. Where: Online
Job Postings This Week
electionlineWeekly publishes election administration job postings each week as a free service to our readers. To have your job listed in the newsletter, please send a copy of the job description, including a web link to 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.
Account Management Specialist, EI-ISAC— The EI-ISAC is looking for an ambitious teammate who is passionate about making a difference in the realm of cybersecurity for (SLTT) election offices. The ideal candidate will be comfortable building relationships with the election community to support and advance the mission of “confidence in a connected world.” What You’ll Do: Support the development and execution of the EI-ISAC strategy and mission; Assist election officials to determine security needs and how they integrate with election technology; Facilitate communications between election officials and IT professionals; Provide exceptional service to all members and be able to explain the concepts and services that can protect their technology via email, phone calls, and WebEx meetings/conferences; Ensure ongoing customer satisfaction and retention; Assist with the scheduling and running of member meetings and webinars; Responsible for the onboarding process of new members; Research, record, track, and report on member prospects and qualified leads to the team and management; Assist with data cleanup, reporting, and any ongoing projects; Update metrics for EI-ISAC reports and presentations; Represent the EI-ISAC in a professional and courteous manner; and Other tasks and responsibilities as assigned. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Consultant: Network Coordinator, U.S. Elections, The Carter Center— The Carter Center is seeking two consultant Network Coordinators to work as part of an established team on efforts aimed at the adoption and implementation of an electoral code of conduct at the state or national level. Working with Carter Center staff and consultants, the Network Coordinators will work to build diverse coalitions at the state and national level to gain signatories to and support for a code of conduct for promoting good elections. In order to uphold our nonpartisan approach, The Carter Center is considering both politically right-leaning and left-leaning consultants to support this effort. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Director of Elections/General Registrar, Virginia Beach, Virginia— The Virginia Beach Electoral Board is currently seeking a progressive leader with a demonstrated history of collaboration, negotiation and communication amongst diverse stakeholder groups. The successful candidate will think strategically and be able to navigate dynamic political environments, facilitating compromise and cooperation when needed. Specific responsibilities include, but are not limited to: Plan and direct the operations and activities of the voter registration office; Provide leadership and supervision to paid staff and volunteers on all election procedures; Develop plans to encourage the registration of eligible voters; Oversee the registration process including eligibility determination and denial notification process in accordance with State Board of Election Guidelines; Manage the departmental budget; Plan and provide oversight of educational programs; Oversee maintenance of all official records; Ensure adequate space(s) to facilitate voting process; Ensure election equipment is maintained and readily accessible to voters; Assist with ballot design’ Carry out provisions enumerated in §24.2-114, Code of Virginia, and ensure compliance with the entirety of Title 24.2.; and Communicate election requirements, processes, and results to election observers and stakeholders, including the press. Salary: $136,982. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Election Program Coordinator—Absentee, Buncombe County, North Carolina— An employee in this position is responsible for the management of all aspects of conducting absentee by mail voting. This employee will lead a team who will perform the administrative duties of absentee by mail voting. An employee in this position is also responsible for the administrative work in creating all written materials needed for training election workers and conducts all election worker training, as well as the management of a support team. Work requires that all materials meet the guidelines of election law and department standards. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Election Technician, Thurston County, Washington– The position of Election Technician produces maps to update and maintain accurate taxing district boundaries. Also uses mapping data to develop and maintain address-based voter street/levy database and takes a leading role in the planning and coordination of the technical aspects of the election process. Additional responsibilities may include, but would not be limited to, the following: Plans, organizes, and supervises the work of assigned temporary staff. Recommends selection, provides training, and evaluates performance. Trains staff in the accurate use of election machines and proper use of all election supplies. Programming for elections using advanced software for ballot printing, ballot sorting, ballot tabulation, accessible voting units, and election results reporting.Plans and conducts logic and accuracy tests; responsible for and maintains back-up procedures in case of emergency conditions. Performs formal ballot tabulating tasks at the ballot processing center on election day. Directs on-the-spot activities. Coordinates and trains staff on ballot processing to ensure we follow federal, state, and county election laws. Coordinates the preparation and distribution of ballots for voters; mails all ballot material to voters, both domestic and overseas. Plans and coordinates the vote-by-mail election process. Acts as purchasing agent for the Election Division. Plans, purchases, and maintains sufficient inventory for all election activities. Handles special projects for the division. (Example: requests for proposal purchases, vendor contracts, etc.) Salary: 4,210.00 – $5,600.00 Monthly. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Elections Director, Pima County, Arizona— The Director of Elections leads a department comprised of multiple complex and technical units responsible for the successful conduct of elections in Pima County with over 650,000 registered voters. The role is primarily strategic, operations, and leadership-focused, requiring experience and expertise in the field of conducting elections, elections policy, leading and managing employees to success. Under administrative direction of the County Administrator or designee, this position plans, organizes, supervises and manages the activities of the Pima County Elections Division in compliance with applicable laws, ordinances, rules and regulations. This classification is in the unclassified service and is exempt from the Pima County Merit System Rules. Salary: $125,000. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Elections Program Manager, CIS— The primary purpose of this position is to coordinate EI-ISAC operations and projects and to represent the EI-ISAC in public forums regarding election infrastructure issues. The Elections Program Manager will work with the EI-ISAC Director to build and maintain relationships in the elections community and develop tools, products, and initiatives that meet the security needs of election officials. This position will oversee a team of Elections Analysts and Stakeholder outreach staff. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Executive Director, U.S. Election Assistance Commission— The Executive Director has overall Commission-wide responsibility for implementing, through its operating divisions and offices, the management and administrative policies and decisions of the Commissioners. The Executive Director serves as a key management advisor to the Commissioners. The Executive Director is responsible for ensuring the agency meets its mission defined in HAVA. The Executive Director’s responsibilities include: Ensuring that EAC administrative activities comply with governing statutes and regulations in support of the effective and efficient accomplishment of EAC’s mission. Understanding HAVA and other election laws, regulations, and legal decisions pertinent to the EAC mission to assist with agency oversight. Maintaining good relationships with the U.S. Congress and the various EAC oversight committees and governing bodies of elections, including, state legislatures, city/county officials, and EAC FACA boards. Ability to establish program/policy goals and the structure and processes necessary to implement the organization’s strategic vision and mission, to ensure that programs and policies are being implemented and adjusted as necessary, that the appropriate results are being achieved, and that a process for continually assessing the quality of the program activities is in place. Providing periodic assessment of the administrative efficiency and managerial effectiveness of the EAC through strategic planning including: program reviews, reviews of programmatic goals and outcomes, and resource utilization in achieving results. Consulting with and advising Divisions and Offices on general management and operating practices affecting their substantive program areas. Developing solutions to potential and existing barriers that may limit or impede goal achievement. Planning, assigning, and appraising work products to assure high levels of performance. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Executive Director, Deliver My Vote— Deliver My Vote (DMV) and Deliver My Vote Education Fund (DMVEF) are partner organizations dedicated to voting, voting access, and voting rights specifically as it relates to voters’ ability to vote from home. DMV is a non-profit, non-partisan 501(c)4 organization, dedicated to increasing voter turnout within traditionally disenfranchised communities. DMV’s programs are anchored in helping to facilitate the delivery of a voters’ ballot to their doorstep. Through community organizing campaigns, DMV provides tools and resources to help voters cast ballots from home, taking control of their vote, regardless of life’s obstacles. DMVEF is a non-profit, non-partisan 501(c)3 organization to educate the American public on laws and policies that make voting more accessible for eligible voters. DMVEF provides tools and voter education resources to help eligible voters update voter registration, help interested voters take control of their ballot through absentee voting, and support voters in making specific plans to vote. Salary for this position is highly competitive and is commensurate with experience. Benefits include health, dental and vision, and a 401k with match. Deliver My Vote is headquartered in Washington, DC with Board members and staff working in collaboration from around the country. All work is currently remote. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
In-Person Absentee Coordinator, Charleston County, South Carolina— This is a managerial position that provides supervision in the daily operation and management of the front of the office, in-person absentee voting, and candidate filing. Supervises both permanent and temporary employees during in-person absentee voting for elections. Responsible for management of each satellite absentee location, as well as hiring/training absentee poll workers. Provides operational supervision of voting processes from the deployment of voting equipment to receipt and security in absentee voting. Salary: $48,722 – $66,276. Deadline: Jan. 31. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Mail Ballot Administrator, City and County of Denver, Colorado— The City and County of Denver’s Election Division is seeking an accomplished elections professional to serve as the Mail Ballot Administrator and provide administrative and strategic direction for the functional area of Mail Ballot Administration. The Mail Ballot Administrator oversees and acts as the technical expert in all aspects of the mail ballot processing rooms including ballot receiving, ballot verification, and mail ballot extraction in accordance with statutory and Secretary of State rule requirements. Refines and coordinates all operating policies and procedures relating to mail ballot processing. The Mail Ballot Administrator is responsible for training and supervising (50 to 70+) election judges and leads for all mail ballot processing rooms. Creates and oversees the development of all mail ballot materials; acts as the primary point of contact with the ballot production vendor and coordinates production, mailing and receiving of mail ballots; coordinates the post-election process including Canvass preparation, provisional ballots, and poll book processing; cooperates with local, state, and national partners to continually develop best practices; acts as a liaison for the Denver Elections Division to the United States Postal Service and acts as a subject matter expert for postal policy as it relates to non-profit and election mail; oversees quality assurance measures to ensure processes and procedures are tested to evaluate for potential improvement and accuracy; manages continuous improvement initiatives. Salary: $61,263-$101,084. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Michigan Regional Services Manager, Hart InterCivic— Hart InterCivic is looking for a Michigan-based Regional Services Manager. A Hart Michigan Service Manager is a highly motivated “self-starter” who responds to all customer requests ranging from training requests, to phone support requests, to onsite repair of voting equipment requests, to delivery and acceptance of new devices. This individual is the customer’s first line of support. The position requires residency in the State of Michigan. The Service Manager handles all Return Material Authorization (RMA) requests for internal and external customers for all Hart InterCivic Verity products within his/her region and provides on-site customer support and troubleshooting as needed. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Program Coordinator, MIT Election Data & Science Lab— PROGRAM COORDINATOR, Political Science, to coordinate and perform day-to-day operational activities and project planning for the MIT Election Data and Science Lab, a research project that encourages a scientific approach to improving elections in the U.S. The lab’s activities include the conduct of its own research, coordinating the research of others, and fostering a larger community of allied researchers around the country. Will oversee the lab’s budget and reconcile accounts; plan seminar series/workshops; and work as part of a team on a wide range of projects, special initiatives, and events. Responsibilities include developing, implementing, and monitoring the lab’s research projects; overseeing budgets related to grants received by the lab; coordinating seminars, conferences, and workshops; remaining aware of the progress of the lab’s projects and helping to problem-solve bottlenecks; representing the lab at special events and committee meetings; preparing correspondence in response to internal/external inquiries; composing, editing, and proofreading lab materials; helping to track progress on lab achievements and communicating them to funders; making vendor and purchasing suggestions/decisions; developing documentation/reporting for stakeholders; developing and maintaining website content; and performing other dues as necessary. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Project Lead, CEIR— CEIR seeks a qualified Project Lead to guide the Election Official Legal Defense Network (EOLDN) and drive program outreach. As Project Lead, your primary goals will be to: 1) Ensure election administrators’ requests for legal help are addressed promptly and matched with lawyers appropriately, 2) Maximize the number of election administrators who know about EOLDN, and 3) Liaise with lawyers, law firms, and legal organizations to recruit lawyers to the Network and provide value to Network lawyers (e.g., by offering CLEs). EOLDN is a project of CEIR and was designed in response to the threats to and attacks on election officials and provides those public servants with the advice and protection they need. EOLDN will be a crucial resource for election officials both this year and in the years to come. We need to spread the word quickly and ensure we are prepared to respond to what will likely be a high demand for EOLDN’s services. The Project Lead will report to the Chief of Staff and guide the EOLDN team to drive the program’s success. Domestic travel will be required for this role. Salary: $65,000-$100,000. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Senior Programmer Analyst, Clark County, Nevada— This position provides project and program leadership to professional and technical staff; performs applications systems design, modification and programming of a routine to complex nature in support of County administrative and business services for multiple computer platform applications. Provides lead direction, training and work review to a programming project team; organized and assigns work, sets priorities, and follows-up and controls project status to ensure coordination and completion of assigned work. Provides input into selection, evaluation, disciplinary and other personnel matters. Gathers and analyzes information regarding customer systems and requirements and develops or modifies automated systems to fulfill these needs. Conducts feasibility studies and develops system, time, equipment and cost requirements. Using computer generated techniques, simulates hardware and software problems, tests and evaluates alternative solutions, and recommends and implements appropriate applications design. Develops program logic and processing steps; codes programs in varied languages. Plans and develops test data to validate new or modified programs; designs input and output forms and documents. Troubleshoots hardware and software problems, as needed, for customers, other agencies and information systems personnel. Writes program documentation and customer procedures and instructions and assists user departments and staff in implementing new or modified programs and applications; tracks and evaluates project and systems progress. Writes utility programs to support and validate adopted systems and programs. Confers with customer department staff regarding assigned functional program areas. Maintains records and prepares periodic and special reports of work performed. Maintains current knowledge of technology and new computer customer applications. Contributes to the efficiency and effectiveness of the unit’s service to its customers by offering suggestions and directing or participating as an active member of a work team. Uses standard office equipment in the course of the work; may drive a personal or County motor vehicle or be able to arrange for appropriate transportation in order to travel between various job sites depending upon departments and/or projects assigned. This is an open and continuous recruitment, scheduling dates will vary depending on when the application was received and reviewed by Human Resources. This examination will establish an Open Competitive Eligibility list to fill current and/or future vacancies that may occur within the next six (6) months or may be extended as needed by Human Resources. Human Resources reserves the right to call only the most qualified applicants to the selection process. Salary: $32.07 – $49.74 Hourly. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
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