In Focus This Week
It’s state Legislature season!
LEOs are their best advocates in statehouses
By M. Mindy Moretti
State Legislatures across the country are back in session and there’s elections-related legislation being introduced in just about every state.
From meetings to panel discussions to encouraging state legislators to get a hands-on look at how elections are run, state and local elections officials use a variety of tools in their advocacy toolkit to inform state legislators about the process.
“I think our legislators are called on to make difficult decisions about election administration, and I say this lovingly, but I think they all think they are election experts because they’ve been elected,” said Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose who previously served in the Ohio Senate and ushered numerous elections administration-related changes through the Legislatures. “They think they know how this stuff works but in many cases they really don’t.”
Just this week, election clerks in Michigan took a pro-active step. In November 2022, voters approved Ballot Proposal 2 which will require them to provide nine days of early voting among other things. During a panel discussion hosted by Promote the Vote, advocacy group that got Prop. 2 on the ballot, city and county clerks addressed advocates and legislators, including House Elections Committee Chair Penelope Tsernoglou (D-East Lansing) about what they will need to implement the changes required by Prop. 2.
“I’m going to work with them to make sure that we implement Proposal 2 in all the ways that they said that they need the support,” Tsernoglou told MichiganLive.
Tsernoglou did not have a timeframe for when legislation may pass, “but I’ve already submitted bill requests for some of the things [clerks] talked about, and I plan to move forward quickly.”
After laws, rules and funding are in place, Barb Byrum, Ingham County clerk told MichiganLive, local and county clerks can decide how to run their elections.
“Time is not on our side,” she urged. “This legislation needs to go quick.”
During his tenure in the Senate, LaRose who sort of became the go-to legislator on elections because of his military experience and advocacy on military and overseas voting, wanted to learn more about what elections officials did. He attempted to serve as a poll worker but when those efforts were thwarted he signed up to be an elections observer and ended up becoming a credentialed elections observer and observed elections in many counties throughout the state.
“It gave me good fodder for floor speeches when I could say, I was there at 1am and this process would go smoother if…” LaRose said.
Those experiences lead LaRose and Ohio local elections officials to create a “Take Your Legislator to Work Day” program where local boards of elections invited state legislators into their offices so they could peek behind the curtain so-to-speak to see how elections are actually administered.
While how the day played out was up to each county board of elections, a template agenda for the day recommended BOEs walk legislators through the absentee voting/ballot processing area, show IT improvements and discuss cybersecurity, demonstrate L&A testing, provide plenty of time for Q&A and emphasize the bipartisan nature of the BOEs.
This year, Ohio is going to try something a little different. Because none of the state legislators is on the ballot in 2023, LaRose is going to make an effort to get as many legislators serving as poll workers as possible. LaRose said in the coming weeks he plans on sending a letter to all members of the Legislature to encourage them to be poll workers. From there he hopes to get some early adopters and then do a full court press to get as many of them on board as possible.
“Other than a small handful them, most legislators don’t know how logic and accuracy testing works, they don’t know how provisional ballots work, they’ve just never experienced it,” LaRose said. “Our goal is that they will come away more knowledgeable and more confident with the security of election.”
Weber County, Utah Clerk/Auditor Ricky Hatch has been at the forefront of working effectively with his state’s legislature—in fact, he was so busy in Salt Lake City this week, that didn’t have time to respond to questions we sent him!
He did send us a link to this absolutely fantastic video he created on Facebook about lobbying the Legislature. In the video he talks about how being effective is really about being a good neighbor—not always automatically saying no to every piece of legislation, but working with the Legislature to get the right bills passed.
The County Clerks Association of Utah also has a “Legislation 101” PowerPoint to help explain the lobbying process and how to effectively communicate with legislators. The PowerPoint covers everything from the make-up of the Legislature to the best way to write an effective email to legislators.
Advice from the National Conference of State Legislatures
The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) actively tracks more than 1,400 issue areas and conducts policy research in those areas including elections. NCSL also tracks elections-related legislation and is a great resource for state and local elections officials to find what’s happening in their state—not always an easy task!—and elsewhere.
Amanda Zoch, PhD, project manager, Elections & Redistricting for NCSL has some advice for state and local elections officials on how to effectively advocate on their own behalf with state Legislatures:
- Understand your state legislature and its legislative process. Understanding the legislative process in your state is critical because it determines the timing and flow of bills through the legislature. Keep in mind, too, that most legislators are generalists with many competing priorities and that some constraints—like term limits—may affect their ability to develop deep policy knowledge.
- Consider your role as an advocate for elections, not just an elections administrator. That doesn’t necessarily mean advocating for specific policies or legislation (though it might), but rather using your role to advocate for the importance of the electoral process and the work done by your office.
- Build relationships with key legislators (those in your district, chairs of the elections committees, and legislative champions of election issues). This will take patience and persistence, but even in a hyperpartisan world, your allies may surprise you.
- Engage in the legislative process. During session, pay attention to the election committee’s schedule and—if you have comments on a bill—reach out to the relevant committee members before the scheduled hearing. Go to the hearings of bills that will affect election administration and consider testifying in relation to a bill—that could entail explaining how the changes would affect your office. Sometimes that practical, on the ground perspective can be illuminating for policymakers.
- Communicate effectively. Legislators’ attention is limited, so you must be clear and concise when talking about elections. Avoid jargon, including acronyms and other insider knowledge. Have specific, rather than general requests, and be prepared. Especially when advocating for or against legislation, be prepared to explain the problem and the specific solution you’d like to see. Arm yourself with useful anecdotes, data and financial information, and take the time to anticipate legislators’ questions (or objections) and have answers at the ready.
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Election News This Week
Unranking the Vote: Alaska Lt. Gov. Nancy Dahlstrom has certified an application for a petition that, if successful, would get rid of the state’s ranked choice voting system and non-partisan primary. Sponsor Art Mathias wants to go back to the traditional election, where a candidate from each officially recognized party has a spot on the general election ballot in each race. Alaska voters adopted the new voting system in 2020 and used it for the first time in 2022. Proponents of ranked choice voting and the non-partisan primary say the new system tends to produce consensus candidates as it curbs extremism on the left and right. Fans say it encourages civil discourse and gives candidates an incentive to appeal beyond their base of voters. Mathias’s group, Alaskans for Honest Elections, is now waiting for its petition booklets and then will have a year to collect nearly 27,000 signatures to put the measure on the ballot in 2024. The group plans to launch its campaign with an event on Feb. 16. Separately, conservative Republican Kelly Tshibaka announced Monday that she’s launched a different group, Preserve Democracy, to combat ranked choice voting in Alaska and around the country.
Election Office News: The Frederick County, Maryland Board of Elections is moving from Montevue Lane to Riverside Five, adjacent to the 177-acre Riverside Research Park in Frederick. “The new location gives us enough room to serve the ever-growing number of registered voters,” Election Director Barbara Wagner said. “Frederick County reached over 200,000 registered voters this month.” The York County, Pennsylvania Elections & Voter Registration Office has expanded by creating another office in Springettsbury Township. While some of the operation has moved to the suburbs, the office still will have a presence in the York County Administrative Center, 28 E. Market St., for the public to be able to conduct election-related business downtown. “We view this as an opportunity to provide better customer service,” President Commissioner Julie Wheeler said of the move. The New Hanover County, North Carolina Board of Commissioners signed off Monday on an amendment to its contract with firm Cape Fear FD Stonewater to build out an elections facility for $5.6 million at the new government center. The building will stand apart from the main center, constructed on a piece of land where the current county manager and attorney suite is located.
The Kids Are Alright: Congratulations to East Tennessee State University and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville which were bothered honored this week by Secretary of State Tre Hargett for their efforts to get students registered to vote in 2022. UT-Knoxville challenged the University of Florida to a voter registration drive. “They had 100 volunteers that stepped up to help register their fellow students. They had all kinds of activities, speaking events, the Vols Vote program, did a video alongside the University of Florida. All kinds of really cool things that they did all trying to get people to register to vote. It’s really the students using their spears of influence to get their fellow students registered that really makes a difference,” said Hargett. ETSU celebrated National Voter Registration Day on Sept. 20, encouraging students, faculty, staff and members of the community to register to vote. Among the events was the Civic Couch Party, led by ETSU Votes and the Office of Leadership and Civic Engagement. “What an honor it is to receive this award,” said Nathaniel Farnor, coordinator of Leadership and Civic Engagement. “At ETSU, we strive to promote lifelong civic engagement among our students, faculty, staff and community.”
Personnel News: Cochise County, Arizona Elections Director Lisa Marra is resigning. Marco Sommerville has resigned from the Summit County, Ohio board of elections. Douglas County, Michigan Clerk Susan Sandvick is retiring after 24 years as county clerk. Wendy Mickel is stepping down as the Westborough, Massachusetts town clerk. Stephen Knipper has filed paperwork to run for Kentucky secretary of state. Lancaster County, Nebraska Election Commissioner David Shively is resigning his post after a 23-year tenure in the position. Edward “Ed” Leary has retired after 22 years as the Farmington, Connecticut Republican registrar of voters. Yuma County, Arizona Election Services Coordinator Francisca “Kika” Guzman has been named interim election services director. Mark Miller is resigning as the Kalamazoo, Michigan clerk. Kathy Funk, former Genesee County, Michigan elections supervisor, has entered a “no contest” plea to a charge of misconduct in the office. Mississippi Secretary of State Michael Watson has announced that he will seek a second term.
Alabama: New Secretary of State Wes Allen (R) has discussed some of his legislative priorities with a local radio station. Allen said he hoped to pick on two efforts from a year earlier dealing with paper ballots and the connectivity of voting machines. “There were a couple of bills last year that we ran out of time on, that we didn’t get to during the last regular session in 2022,” he said. “And two of those, State Senator Clyde Chambliss had. And I think we’ll approach again, and we’ll get behind. Number one is that we’ll always have paper ballots in Alabama. We want to put that in the state statute. It’s in the administrative code now, but we want to make sure we strengthen that and want to make sure we always have paper ballots because it is receipts, basically. And you can go back and check if something looks funny. Always have paper ballots – that’s important.” “Also, put in the code that machines will never be connected or have the ability to be connected to the internet through Bluetooth or any modems or anything that — any of the tabulating machines or whatnot that actually take in the ballots,” Allen continued. “None of that can be connected or have the capability of being connected to the internet.” “So, those two bills, I think, will receive some top priority of attention,” he added.
Arizona: The House Municipal Oversight and Elections Committee passed four elections-related bills out of committee this week. The committee voted to pass to the house floor HB2308, a bill that would deem it illegal for the Arizona secretary of state to oversee and confirm the results of an election in which they are a candidate. The bill, presented by Representative Rachel Jones, a Republican from Tucson, states that the secretary of state would instead have to publicly appoint someone to take on those duties. The committee unanimously voted to pass along HB3278, a bill prohibiting the secretary of state, county supervisors, county recorders and all other election officers from associating in any way with political action committees. “This really just brings trust back to the election process,” said bill sponsor Leo Biasiucci, the Republican majority leader and a representative from Lake Havasu City. The committee split along party lines regarding HB2319 a bill that would tell judges to “aggressively” favor an election-law interpretation that provides greater transparency. Kolodin, the bill’s sponsor, said he hopes the bill will simplify “sloppily written” laws he said are indiscernible to well-practiced attorneys, let alone average citizens. HB2322 states that the signature on a ballot envelope must be compared with the signature in an elector’s registration record. Those guidelines should be the minimum requirement for verification.
Idaho: Rep. Joe Alfieri, R-Coeur d’Alene, proposed legislation to amend current law preventing private money to go toward elections to include state government. Currently, the language prevents county clerks and local election officials or “other local governing body” administering an election from accepting any money from private parties or items with a value exceeding $100. The amendment adds that no official or employee from the state may accept money to administer an election either. The House State Affairs Committee unanimously voted to introduce the legislation.
Indiana: Hoosiers convicted of felony vote fraud offenses wouldn’t be able to cast a ballot for 10 years under a bill passed 6-4 by the House Elections Committee. The legislation was amended so that misdemeanor offenses wouldn’t count — only felonies. But Democrats tried to remove the suffrage language altogether, with Republicans defending it. “Once a person has done their time, as with any other offense … whatever the crime may be, after they have served their time, we don’t continue to punish that person,” said Rep. Cherrish Pryor, D-Indianapolis. “Ten years is a long time.” Rep. Kyle Pierce, R-Anderson, pushed back: “I don’t know if we can characterize it as victimization. They’re not a victim. They’re an offender.” Both sides agreed that voter fraud cases are very rare and the provision likely won’t be used often. It would only impact crimes committed after June 30.
Louisiana: The Legislature could consider a proposal to ban sex offenders from working as election commissioners. While voters who are sex offenders must cast absentee ballots if their precinct is located at a school, there currently is no such prohibition in place for polling precinct workers. The State Board of Election Commissioners issued an official recommendation this week to forward a draft bill to the Legislature that would put the ban in place. Lawmakers will convene April 10 for this year’s regular session. Board member Robin Hooter, the clerk of court for Rapides Parish, said parents are often encouraged to bring their children to vote so they can learn about the election process. This is why the prohibition on sex offenders as election commissioners is needed at all polling places, not just schools, she said. An official with the Secretary of State’s office told the board there have been instances where sex offenders have worked as election commissioners, but he did not indicate how many or where they worked.
Maine: Sen. Matt Pouliot (R-Augusta) has introduced legislation that would require Mainers to show a photo ID in order to vote. “A lot of the polling I’ve seen has really high levels of public support for the idea of having an ID to vote,” he said. “The idea being like you have to have an ID to get on a plane, why not to vote?” Secretary of State Shenna Bellows said proof of identity and residency is required when Mainers register to vote. Requiring a photo ID on Election Day is an unnecessary extra step, she said. The idea of requiring a photo ID to vote is not new in Maine. A Republican-led committee studied the concept in 2013, ultimately deciding that “the negative aspects of a voter ID law outweigh its potential benefits.” Pouliot said that fraud isn’t an issue in Maine, but said he feels that the extra step of requiring a photo ID to vote will reassure some of those with doubts. “The level of trust there is low,” he said. “I think at the end of the day what I would like to do is submit this bill and say I hope to increase trust in the Democratic process. Whether it’s a red herring argument or not, there can’t be an argument that this isn’t safe because everybody had their ID.” Pouliot’s bill would require the Secretary of State’s Office to set up a process so those who don’t already have a photo ID can get one for free. The bill lists a driver’s license, passport, military identification or permit to carry a concealed handgun as permissible types of ID. However, it excludes IDs issued by colleges and universities. Pouliot said he has another bill to require college students to register to vote where they file their applications for federal financial aid.
Minnesota: A Minnesota House committee on this week advanced a proposal that would automatically send absentee ballots to Minnesota voters who opt-in. The bill would create a permanent absentee voter list. For those voters who sign up, it would eliminate the step of filling out an application to request an absentee ballot and local officials would send the ballots straight to them in the mail. More than 26,000 Minnesota voters are already on a list to routinely receive the paperwork to apply for an absentee ballot ahead of an election. Rep. Emma Greenman, DFL-Minneapolis, an attorney who focuses on election law, said there is often confusion about that list—people think by signing up, they’ll automatically receive an absentee ballot in the mail, like the bill proposes, but that doesn’t happen. Some communities with fewer than 400 registered voters conduct elections exclusively by mail, according to the secretary of state’s office. That means 150,000 Minnesotans already automatically get a ballot sent to them.
Missouri: lawmakers weighed at a hearing a bill that would remove people from voter rolls after several years of inactivity. The bill, sponsored by state Sen. Rick Brattin, (R-Harrisonville), states that if registered voters do not engage in voter activity for two consecutive calendar years, the local election authority will investigate their qualifications and include them in the next canvass. A canvass could utilize a number of ways to reach voters, including by mail, house-to-house, the U.S. Postal Service or through the National Change of Address database. If the election authorities don’t hear back from the voter and they don’t vote in the next two general elections, which happen every two years, then they would become eligible to be taken off the list of registered voters under the proposed legislation. “We can always make this process better to ensure that the integrity of our vote is protected at all costs. And that’s what this does,” Brattin said. “It’s not disenfranchising voters, even though many will say that it is.”
Montana: Following two years of election workers reporting threats and harassment across the country, a legislative panel approved a bill aiming to protect Montana election officials from being prevented from doing their jobs. The Senate State Administration Committee on Wednesday voted 7-3 to send it to the full Senate. The bill was requested by former Commissioner of Political Practices Jeff Mangan, whose term ended at the end of 2022. In a Jan. 16 hearing on the bill, Mangan said his proposal was in response to anecdotal accounts he’s heard over the past two years from Montana’s election workers, some of whom have felt targeted by groups alleging election malfeasance. Regina Plettenberg had testified in support of the bill on behalf of the Montana Association of Clerk and Recorders — the group representing county-level administrators of the state’s elections. Herself a Republican Clerk and Recorder in Ravalli County, Plettenberg told the committee that she had to call law enforcement to stop a group of poll watchers — people who are allowed to monitor election processes at the polls — from blocking voters who needed to cast provisional ballots.
Lawmakers are considering a bill that would ban grant funding and other private money or services from being used by local officials to run elections, a practice that has come under intense scrutiny since the 2020 elections. Senate Bill 117 would ensure that local election offices are not influenced by outside funding, Darin Gaub, chairman of the Lewis and Clark County Republican Central Committee, told lawmakers during a hearing. “This is simply, in essence, a basic ethics bill,” Gaub told the Senate State Administration Committee. “I don’t believe any organization of any kind should be able to donate funds to assist and facilitate the elections … whether they mean to or not, you have the influence of impropriety.” The Montana Association of Clerk and Recorders, representing county election administrators, didn’t take a stance on the bill. But Regina Plettenberg, speaking for the group, did raise the possibility that language prohibiting donations of “personal services” could create issues for the volunteers that help out with local elections. Opposing the bill were the ACLU of Montana and the Blackfeet Tribe, arguing that it could jeopardize the ability of rural, reservation-based Native Americans to access satellite election offices. The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Shelley Vance, R-Belgrade, said it’s the responsibility of local election offices to request sufficient funds from their county commissioners. The committee didn’t immediately vote on the measure, but it appeared to attract some bipartisan opposition from members of the Legislature’s American Indian Caucus.
During the House State Administration Hearing, a bill was heard that could change the way votes are tallied in local, state, and federal elections going forward by requiring all votes to be counted without adjourning, once counting starts and requiring that any official vote count must be open to public observation. Representative Lyn Hellegaard, a Republican from Missoula, sponsored House Bill 196 to bring back a portion of a law (SB 162, Section 13-15-101) that was changed during the 2019 legislative session that allows vote counting to be paused overnight and resume the next day. Dana Corson, Elections Director for the Montana Secretary of State’s office, spoke in support of the bill, saying if passed he believes it would lead to election results being published faster. However, election officials in Gallatin and Flathead Counties and the legislative chair for the Montana Association of Clerks and Recorders testified in opposition to the bill. Their main concerns regarded staffing shortages, the possibility of working for days at a time, and the inability to start counting ballots early, as provided in SB 162, due to HB 196’s language. “Lots of people signed up to the election judges, work at the polls, to help here in the office: opening and sorting ballots, doing all those processes. We had big crews of those people, but when it comes to 2 a.m. in the morning, those same people are not really willing to stay around. And so my, my crew here is at the end of their capabilities, and there just isn’t those temporary workers to be able to support the processes that we have to do,” said Eric Semerad, Gallatin County Clerk and Recorder.
Senate Bill 153, sponsored by Sen. Brad Molnar (R-Laurel), would reverse 2021’s House Bill 651, a bill passed in the latter days of the last session that expanded the Legislature and state attorney general’s role in reviewing proposed statutory and constitutional ballot initiatives before they go before voters. While proponents of HB 651 argued that it placed needed sideboards on the initiative process, Molnar said Monday that the law places unfair — and illegal — obstacles in the path of those who wish to put an issue on the ballot.
Nebraska: Advocates for restoring voting rights of convicted felons said that such a step would remove a “punitive” stigma and improve public safety. “People who are engaged are less likely to reoffend,” said State Sen. Justin Wayne of Omaha, at a press conference sponsored by the Voting Rights Restoration Coalition. About 20,000 Nebraskans cannot vote because they are serving time in prison, are on parole for a felony crime or have not completed the current two-year waiting period to regain their rights to vote, serve on a jury or run for public office. Wayne, who chairs the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee, has introduced a measure this year, Legislative Bill 20, that would restore felons’ voting rights as soon as they complete their prison or parole sentence. Felons who have completed their sentences said at Friday’s press conference that the loss of voting rights disproportionately affects communities of color and leaves reformed felons, who now have jobs and own homes, “marginalized.” Also introduced this year was a proposed constitutional amendment, LR 4CA, from Omaha Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh. It would do away with the clause that requires convicted felons to lose their voting rights at any time. Only those convicted of treason would lose their right to vote under the proposal, which would require voter approval.
Under Legislative Bill 225, students ages 16 and older could also fulfill their civics graduation requirement by working a shift as a poll worker and then writing about it. State Sen. George Dungan said the bill would help address a shortage of poll workers and would foster civic engagement by students.
Nevada: The Nevada Legislature is set to consider several bills in the upcoming 2023 session that will affect Native Americans in the state. Tribes also want to revise voting laws to make sure tribes automatically get a polling location in their community. If a tribe does not want a polling location, then it can opt out, Melendez said. As the law exists, tribes have to request a polling location, but some clerks are not honoring that request, Teresa Melendez, CEO of Tall Tree Consulting, which helps Nevada tribes connect with legislators said.
Gov. Joe Lombardo (R) is proposing a change in the state’s election laws to end the counting of mail-in ballots by the close of business on Election Day. “The right to vote is one of the most fundamental rights in American society,” the governor said in his first State of the State Address. “It is not only important that the process itself has integrity but also that the people of Nevada have confidence that the process is free and fair.” Nevada law allows mail-in ballots to be accepted for four days after an election. The change in the law, passed and signed by former Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak, was a compromise and changed from seven days. The law also required Nevadans to opt-out rather than opt-in to receive a mail-in ballot. “Sending ballots to more than 1.9 million registered voters is inefficient and unnecessary,” he said. “Not to mention, it’s estimated to cost nearly $7 million dollars in this budget and will increase to over $11 million dollars in future budgets.” The governor also proposed a voter identification process. He also called for a nonpartisan commission to draw congressional and legislative districts.
New Hampshire: House Bill 101, would have required that all New Hampshire voters register for a political party four months before the September state primaries. That bill, which would have eliminated “open primaries” and ended New Hampshire’s tradition of unaffiliated voters participating in one party’s primary and then registering as undeclared, was recommended “inexpedient to legislate,” 19-0. With that recommendation, it will likely be killed on the House floor.
House Bill 405, would require that New Hampshire college students be receiving in-state tuition in order to register to vote. The bill would mandate that students provide a copy of their tuition bill, and requires that public universities and community colleges provide the Secretary of State’s Office a list of students receiving in-state tuition. That bill would require college students to follow different residency rules than other New Hampshire residents; currently all residents may vote as long as they reside in the state as of Election Day and plan to remain residents for the foreseeable future. But students must be residents of the state for 12 continuous months in New Hampshire before they qualify for in-state tuition.
House Bill 460, would require people registering to vote to prove their U.S. citizenship by producing either a birth certificate, a passport, naturalization papers, or “any other reasonable document which indicates the applicant is a United States citizen.” Sponsored by Rep. Bob Lynn, a Windham Republican and a former chief justice of the state Supreme Court, HB 460 would also require voters to produce identification to vote without exceptions, eliminating the current laws that allow voters to sign an affidavit if they do not have identification on Election Day.
House Bill 496 would require two election monitors – one from each party – to accompany a town or city clerk to a nursing home or elder care facility in order to deliver and collect absentee ballots.
Senate Bill 156 would make different tweaks to the registration process, and would allow the secretary of state to request that registrants volunteer email addresses, phone numbers, social media accounts, employer names, Social Security numbers, or addresses of friends and family in order to be contacted after the election.
House Bill 452 would prohibit poll workers from folding absentee ballots, preventing the behavior found to be a major factor in issues during the 2020 Windham election.
After a series of recounts last year that determined control over the New Hampshire House, and a number of challenges to hard-to-read ballots, House Bill 495 would provide more explicit instructions for voters over how to properly make ballot selections.
House Bill 333, which would move the state primary date forward.
Senate Bill 157, which would require audits of a certain percentage of AccuVote machines after elections.
Senate Bill 158, which would allow town and city clerks to open the envelopes containing mailed-in absentee ballot applications – but not the ballots themselves – before Election Day, giving them the ability to catch errors in the application before voting day and contact the applicant in time to make corrections.
New Jersey: Assembly lawmakers unanimously approved two bills last week that would shift the cost of returning mail-in ballots to state government, reducing costs for residents and counties in what may be New Jersey’s latest expansion of mail voting. The Assembly State and Local Government Committee last week approved bills that would require the state to pay for postage on applications to receive mail-in ballots and on the ballots themselves. Under the bills, the state would directly pay postage for mail ballot applications, while counties would initially pay for postage on actual ballots and later be reimbursed by the state. Under New Jersey’s current system, there is little uniformity in who bears the cost of mailing ballots across counties. While some counties — Camden, Monmouth, and Essex, among others — already pay for mail-in ballots postage, most counties do not. “Paying for the postage — why would we not do that? To me, it’s all common sense,” said Assemblyman Lou Greenwald (D-Camden), the chamber’s majority leader and prime sponsor of the bill requiring the state to pay postage on vote-by-mail applications.
New Mexico: Rep. John Block has introduced House Bill 110, which would require voters to provide a driver’s license or Motor Vehicles Division-issued ID to vote in-person, and either one of these or their Social Security number to vote by mail. His bill would require the MVD to provide, free of charge, xerox copies of voter identification cards so voters can mail those in with their ballots. The bill would also waive the $5 fee (for four years) or $10 fee (for 10 years) for registered voters to obtain voter identification cards. In an interview, Block, R-Alamogordo, told the New Mexican he believes HB 110 would “add just one more layer to ensure our elections are trusted and valid — and at the end of the day we know exactly what we did in that voting booth because we proved who we were when we went to vote.” He said New Mexicans need ID “to check into a hotel, to get married, to buy alcohol, to buy a pack of cigarettes” so his bill makes sense. HB 110 has been referred to the House Government, Elections and Indian Affairs Committee. As of Friday, it had not been placed on the committee’s agenda.
A filibuster killed election legislation at the Roundhouse in the final hours of last year’s session. But with more time this year, Democrats are set to introduce new legislation that would, among other things: Phasing in a system of automatic voter registration, such as during MVD transactions, for citizens who are qualified to vote but aren’t registered. Supporters say it would include an opt-out for those who don’t want to register, similar to what’s used in Colorado; Creation of a permanent absentee voter list. Voters would have the option of opting in to receive ballots by mail before every election rather than having to apply each time; Establishing a Native American Voting Rights Act intended to better coordinate access to the polls on tribal land and allow the use of tribal buildings as a voter-registration address for people without a traditional address; and Automatic restoration of voting rights for inmates exiting prison. Under the current system, they must complete probation or parole before registering to vote again. According to the Albuquerque Journal, the bill doesn’t include some of the ideas that triggered intense opposition in last year’s debate, such as allowing 16-year-olds to vote in school and city elections.
New York: A state Senate bill would allow groups to give “snacks, water, soft drinks, or other refreshments” of a “nominal value” to voters in line. In a one-two punch, the Brooklyn NAACP is seeking to overturn the ban in federal court. The proposal is part of a wave of legislation in Democratic-led states to make voting easier in response to Republican attempts to restrict access to the polls, and attacks by Donald Trump and his supporters on recent election losses.
According to Bloomberg, there’s little research to support the idea that so-called line-warming bans have much effect on voting, but they make for a stark visual image among Democrats seeking to criticize the Republican bills. New York Senator Zellnor Myrie, the bill’s sponsor, said voters can lose their place in line if they leave to get a “simple glass of water.” “In New York State, despite continued progress on making our elections more accessible, certain polling locations continue to have massive lines,” he said in a statement. “Voting should not be an endurance test and allowing organizations to provide nominal refreshments will help protect their franchise until voting is no longer a burden.”
North Dakota: North Dakota lawmakers are looking at what’s required when people show up to vote. Senate Bill 2157 would allow people to show a valid passport as proof of citizenship at the polls. A spokesperson from North Dakota’s American Civil Liberties Union testified on Thursday after they found some voters had been turned away at a Cass County precinct in 2020. The state department of transportation said it ended up being a computer glitch which was corrected. “As I read the bill, it’s providing more options, but I don’t think it’s taking any away,” Senator Bob Paulson said. So far, the bill is still being held in committee while more information is gathered.
A bill introduced in the House of Representatives seeks to alter the way votes are tallied and if approved, would prohibit rank-choice voting and approval voting systems throughout the state of North Dakota, including Fargo. Rep. Ben Koppelman, R-West Fargo, helped introduce House Bill 1273 on Jan. 11, and views the ban as protecting American standards in light of national events. The bill applies to any races for local, state or federal offices.
Oklahoma: Rep. Andy Fugate announced that he filed a series of bills that he says would improve election laws in Oklahoma. House Bill 1902, a carryover bill from the 2022 Legislative Session, would allow absentee voters to cast provisional ballots to correct absentee ballot errors. Legally cast votes are currently discarded when a voter makes a clerical error on their absentee ballot. Fugate’s bill would allow voters to cast a provisional ballot on election day that would be counted only if their absentee ballot is rejected. “All voters deserve to have their voices heard at the ballot box. Free and fair elections must include all legally cast votes,” said Fugate, a Democrat. HB 1916 and HB 1917 are also carryover bills and address issues where Oklahoma voters are not allowed to elect their own representatives. Fugate said although there were 125 open legislative seats in 2022, just 38 of them appeared on the general election ballot. HB 1916 would require single-party races to advance the top two candidates from the primary to the general election. HB 1917 would have unopposed candidates stand for retention just like statewide judicial officers. Fugate also filed HB 1918, a new proposal that would require Oklahoma’s political parties to pay for the cost of closed primary elections. Fugate also filed HJR 1022 to create a state question where voters can decide whether to remove party affiliation from future ballots. Fugate said he’s proposing that in response to a request from a Libertarian constituent in his district.
Senate Bill 568, authored by Democratic State Senator Mary Boren looks to amend parts of Oklahoma law, removing the straight party option and updating language to be gender-neutral. In the November 2022 election, more than 40% of voters used the option.
South Dakota: The South Dakota Attorney General has sponsored five bills this year including Senate Bill 47. Currently certain actions are prohibited by state law, but there are no penalties for violations. There is a statute that says in those cases, violations are deemed to be Class 2 misdemeanors, but it does not apply to election statutes and several other titles. Attorney General Marty Jackley has introduced Senate Bill 47 to remove election laws from exception. “We are just simply asking for that slight change to allow us to be able to prosecute crimes that the legislature has already said that are crimes, but we just don’t have an enforcement power,” he said. Jackley said some offenses, such as a public official using taxpayer dollars to influence an election or the submission of false absentee ballots in the name of unregistered or deceased people, deserve more than a Class 2 misdemeanor. Senate Bill 47 applies to Title 12, made up of 27 chapters covering issues such as campaign finance requirements, vote counts and recounts, primary elections, voter registration, and duties of the State Board of Elections, county auditors, and the Secretary of State. Sen. David Wheeler voted against the bill. He said he likes the idea of putting teeth in election law, but SB 47 is too broad and could result in criminal charges for workers doing their jobs. The bill now goes to the full Senate.
Texas: State Representative Vicki Goodwin (D- District 47), filed a bill in the House proposing moving nonpartisan county, municipal, and school district elections to a ranked choice system. “The goal is to eliminate run-offs for non-partisan elections,” she said to Fox4. “If no one gets the majority, then they look at who got the least number of votes. Then take those ballots and now they count the second-place votes and add them to the prior votes, so in the second round someone may get a majority of votes. At that point in time, they win the election.” Other ranked-choice voting-related bills filed during the 88th Texas Legislative session include: HB 1444, which proposes enabling military and overseas voters to use RCV so their right to vote is not affected by delays in receiving ballots for runoff elections and HB 1112, which suggests adopting RCV to help sort through multiple candidates in primary elections
Virginia: A Senate committee killed a bill that would make voters show a form of identification to cast a ballot, and another that would cut down the 45-day window for early voting. The same committee also voted down bills from state Senator Amanda Chase (R-Chesterfield), including a proposal to ban drop-off locations for absentee ballots, a proposal that would have required a forensic audit of elections and a proposal ending the use of permanent absentee voter lists. Any bill moved forward to be signed into law has to go through the chambers of the General Assembly.
West Virginia: The House Political Subdivisions Committee approved a bill this week that could pave the way for the state’s attorney general potentially prosecuting voter fraud cases in the near future. The committee recommended for passage House Bill 2038, referring instances of election fraud to the attorney general for prosecution. The bill now heads to the House Judiciary Committee. HB 2038 would allow the Secretary of State’s Office to refer cases of potential election fraud to the Attorney General’s Office if a county prosecuting attorney has declined to prosecute a case after a 60-day review. According to a fiscal note, the bill would cost $285,000 and require the Attorney General to hire two attorneys and a paralegal. According to the state Constitution and state code, the Attorney General has no criminal prosecution powers. State code only allows the Attorney General to assist county prosecutors in criminal matters if a circuit judge or a justice of the state Supreme Court of Appeals deems it necessary. Anne Charnock, an attorney for the committee, said the bill doesn’t address that issue. Donald “Deak” Kersey, general counsel for the Secretary of State’s Office, said the bill was needed to provide assistance to county prosecutors who may wish to prosecute election fraud cases but might not have the resources or manpower necessary.
Wyoming: After two separate days of committee testimony last week, Wyoming’s House Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions committee killed a ranked choice voting bill. The bill would have let municipalities run their own “ranked choice” elections for nonpartisan local races — like city council and mayoral races. In a ranked choice election, voters rank their top choices for a given seat. If their number one choice doesn’t win, their vote can count for their second choice candidate. But opponents like Secretary of State Chuck Gray said ranked choice elections are confusing. “As written, House Bill 49 opens the door to a convoluted, confusing and needlessly expensive voting process which is antithetical to Wyoming’s uniform procedures for elections while posing immediate logistical and fiscal complications,” Gray said. Gray also said establishing local ranked choice elections would be expensive because it would involve running the ranked choice nonpartisan municipal election alongside, but on a separate ballot from, the other partisan or federal races. But that expense wouldn’t be paid by the state. The additional equipment and other expenses involved in running a ranked choice election would have been paid by the communities who decided to use ranked choice. The bill had been endorsed by the Joint Corporations committee in October, but it died Friday, Jan. 20, on a 3-6 vote.
2022 was the first major election — with all five of Wyoming’s executive branch offices on the ballot — that required Wyoming residents to show identification to cast an in-person vote. While several types of identification are currently acceptable, two bills aim to add concealed carry permits to the list. House Bill 79 – Voter I.D.-concealed carry permit and Senate File 86 – Voter identification-concealed carry permit were drafted independently, according to Rep. Barry Crago (R-Buffalo), who is sponsor of the House version. Without a significant difference between the two bills, Crago said he would be content with either crossing the finish line. Senate File 86 passed third reading in the Senate on Tuesday while House Bill 79 was unanimously approved by the House Agriculture, State and Public Lands, and Water Resources Committee that morning. Crago’s bill came from a constituent request while Sen. Lynn Hutchings (R-Cheyenne) said she brought SF 86 after election workers wouldn’t let her vote in the primary election using her concealed carry permit. House Bill 156 would eliminate Medicaid and Medicare insurance cards as acceptable forms of ID to vote.
House Bills 103 and 141 as well as Senate File 163 would prohibit voters from changing party affiliation for the primary election any time after the nomination period opens for candidates — that day falls 96 days ahead of the primary election, per state statute. House Bill 207 would prohibit voters from changing party affiliation anytime during the 14 days ahead of the primary election.
Wyoming’s current voter ID law does not apply to absentee voting. House Bill 219 – Voter identification-ballot requests would change that by requiring voters to show an ID when applying for an absentee ballot. If applying in writing or over the phone, voters would be required to provide the county clerk with a copy of their ID either by mail, email or “other secure electronic means.”
House Bill 211 – Ballot harvesting would specify how an absentee ballot can be delivered to the county clerk. Current state statute allows absentee ballots to be “mailed or delivered to the clerk” but does not provide any other details. The minimal guideline in statute is what drew one Democrat to co-sponsor the bill. The bill would keep the mail-in option but would add requirements to the hand-delivery process. That includes requiring any absentee ballot voter to fill out a form to designate a person if someone other than the voter is returning their ballot. Additionally, such a person could only return two absentee ballots in any one election. That restriction, however, would not apply to immediate family members, which the bill defines as a spouse, parent, sibling, child or other blood relative living in the individual’s household.
Federal Litigation: NPR and The New York Times have jointly filed a legal brief asking a judge to unseal hundreds of pages of documents from a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit filed by an elections technology company against Fox News. “This lawsuit is unquestionably a consequential defamation case that tests the scope of the First Amendment,” the challenge brought by the news organizations reads. “It has been the subject of widespread public interest and media coverage and undeniably involves a matter of profound public interest: namely, how a broadcast network fact-checked and presented to the public the allegations that the 2020 Presidential election was stolen and that plaintiff was to blame.” Dominion Voting Systems has sued Fox and its parent company over claims made by Fox hosts and guests after the November 2020 presidential elections that the company had helped fraudulently throw the election. Fox argues it was vigorously reporting newsworthy allegations from inherently newsworthy people. The legal teams for Dominion and Fox filed rival motions before Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric M. Davis earlier this month: in Dominion’s case to find that Fox had defamed the company ahead of the April trial, in Fox’s to dismiss all or much of the claims. Those motions contained hundreds of pages of documents cataloguing the findings from the so-called “discovery” process. In the joint filing, NPR and The New York Times note they do not know the contents of the materials and therefore do not know whether there are instances in which public disclosure could do either side harm. They therefore ask Judge Davis “to ensure the parties meet their high burden to justify sealing information which goes to the heart of very public and significant events.” The documents will help the public determine “whether Defendants published false statements with actual malice and whether the lawsuit was filed to chill free speech,” reads the filing by attorney Joseph C. Barsalona II, for the Times and NPR. “Accordingly, the interest in access to the Challenged Documents is vital.”
Georgia: Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney said this week that a final report produced by a special grand jury tasked with investigating whether then-President Donald Trump and his allies broke the law as they tried to overturn his 2020 election defeat in Georgia will remain under wraps for now. McBurney said he was considering whether to release the report after hearing arguments from prosecutors, who urged it be kept secret until they decide whether to file any charges, and a coalition of media organizations, which pressed for its release. He said he would further reflect on the parties’ arguments and would reach out with any questions before making a final decision. He also said he anticipated his eventual decision would be appealed. The report is expected to include recommendations for Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis on possible criminal prosecution. If McBurney decides to disseminate the report, as the special grand jury urged, he must also determine whether any parts of it should be redacted.
Hawaii: The Hawai’i Supreme Court questioned whether County of Maui officials could explain why certain ballots were deemed deficient during a county election challenge that has kept the council’s Wailuku-Waiheʻe-Waikapū seat vacant. Justices sought an accounting for 706 ballots that county elections staff decided were questionable and therefore didn’t count them in the recent General Election. Results of the council’s Wailuku-Waiheʻe-Waikapū residency area race show incumbent Alice Lee had 513 votes over challenger Noelani Ahia. After the Nov. 8 election, Ahia and 30 Maui County voters filed a complaint to contest the outcome, pointing to “irregularities and mistakes” in the processing of hundreds of deficient mail-in ballots. They want the election invalidated and a new one held. The court will now decide if the existing election will stand or if a new election will be held. Some justices alluded to another scenario: Deficient ballots being cured and counted after the fact.
Minnesota: Judge Carol Hanks dismissed a lawsuit against Rice County’s elections administrator. The lawsuit started as a dispute over public records and grew into a challenge over use of internet modems in voting machines in the county and across the state. Hanks ruled this week that the lawsuit was filed against the wrong county official, and she does not have jurisdiction in the broader challenge. “We are pleased that the court recognized that this lawsuit was completely misguided,” Anne Goering, the attorney representing Rice County in the case, told the Daily News. “It is unfortunate that a great deal of time and public money was spent defending against this frivolous case.” The lawsuit named Denise Anderson, Rice County’s elections director, as the defendant. Hanks’ ruling said Anderson cannot be legally liable in the public records claim. Hanks ruled the lawsuit was not valid, because it should have instead been filed against the county administrator. The suit claimed the county failed to provide all documents requested by Hagen and Benda. Goering countered that the plaintiffs were unwilling to accept the county’s response that the requested documents did not exist.
Nebraska: The Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska and the Omaha Tribe of Nebraska are suing Thurston County alleging a redistricting plan for county board seats adopted after the 2020 Census discriminates against the tribal members who live there. In the complaint, filed last week in the U.S. District Court for Nebraska, the tribes allege the Thurston County Board of Supervisors did not provide American Indian voters with proper notice and an opportunity to review a proposed redistricting plan before it was adopted. The redistricting plan was not provided to the public or the tribes before the Jan. 3, 2022, meeting in which the board voted to adopt it, the complaint says. “Instead, it was only made available to the public after its adoption.” Two members of the Omaha Tribe and seven members of the Winnebago tribe also joined the suit as plaintiffs. According to the complaint, white people hold five of seven defendant Board of Supervisor seats, despite comprising about 36% of the county’s total population and 43% of the voting age population. The 2020 Census found nearly 60% of Thurston County’s population was American Indian. The American Indian population in Thurston County is large and geographically compact enough to constitute a majority in at least 4 districts, the complaint says. Plaintiffs are seeking an order declaring the redistricting plan violates the Voting Rights Act. The defendants are the county, the board, the seven supervisors who make up the board and the Thurston County Clerk.
North Carolina: Republican leaders in the General Assembly are asking the new GOP majority on the state’s Supreme Court to revisit rulings on redistricting and voter ID. Until the beginning of this year, a majority of justices on the the North Carolina Supreme Court were Democrats. The court threw out the state’s voter ID law and decided legislative leaders used unconstitutional gerrymandering when redrawing political maps for congressional districts and General Assembly seats. “It’s time for voter ID to be law, as the people of North Carolina have demanded,” he said. The court’s Democratic majority, in a 4-3 decision, threw out the state’s voter ID law on Dec. 16, with just weeks to go before Republicans took over as the majority on the court. Republicans now have a 5-2 majority on the court and could potentially hear the case on voter ID again. The court could also reopen the case on redistricting. “Holmes was wrongly decided based on a predetermined outcome. We now have a chance to right this wrong and deliver on voter ID, which the voters of this state overwhelmingly support,” said Sam Hayes, general counsel for the House speaker.
Pennsylvania: In a statement posted to their website, the Berks County Republican Committee said it has filed an appeal to an order denying its request for a recount of the 2022 general election. Committee chairman Clay Breece said they’re seeking to overturn a December 6 court order that denied their request for a manual recount in 30 precincts within Berks County. Breece asserted that the state election code allows for a manual re-count of all ballots cast, including mail-in, absentee and provisional. The committee filed the appeal in Commonwealth Court earlier this month. Breece stated his office received numerous complaints from voters in the November election that voting machines weren’t functioning properly. The initial petition was filed on behalf of 94 people who alleged voting machines were changing votes cast for Republican candidates to Democrats on the ballot. The county addressed the issue at a November election board meeting and found that the design of voting machine screens could make it possible for a person to accidentally select the wrong candidate. At that meeting, Commissioner Christian Leinbach said he is seeking answers to determine if the screens can be changed for the May 2023 primary. There is no word on when the court will make a decision on the appeal.
Texas: Tarrant, Williamson and Harris counties are suing Attorney General Ken Paxton and are asking a judge to strike down a legal opinion he released last year that says anyone can access voted ballots right after an election. The lawsuits allege Paxton’s opinion violates state and federal law, contradicts his own previous direction on the issue and exposes local elections administrators to potential criminal charges. According to The Texas Tribune, For decades, the attorney general’s office advised counties that voted ballots were to be kept secure for 22 months after an election, a time frame mandated by federal law and Texas state election code. But only months before the November 2022 general election, even though neither law had changed, Paxton released an opinion saying the documents could be released to anyone who requested them, almost right after the ballots were counted. Now, counties and election officials across the state are stuck. They can follow Paxton’s new opinion — which is only a written interpretation of the law — and potentially open themselves up to criminal penalties for violating state law, or they can defy the state attorney general and open up themselves to costly lawsuits. That’s why now the counties are asking a judge to step in and settle the question.
Vermont: The Vermont Supreme Court issued a decision in favor of Montpelier allowing noncitizens to vote in its local elections. The court ruled that the 2018 city charter change does not violate the Vermont Constitution, which does restrict voting in statewide contests to citizens. Montpelier City Council President Jack McCullough told VTDigger that the initiative began when town residents noticed that it was “not fair” that some noncitizen residents who paid taxes and participated in the community “were not allowed to vote on on the local elections and the local issues that affected their lives.” About 11,000 Vermonters are not United States citizens, according to the Census. The charter change required noncitizens to be legal residents of the U.S. in order to be eligible to vote. Montpelier voters supported the change by an almost two-to-one margin in 2018, but the measure has since had a long journey toward implementation. The state Legislature approved the change in 2021, only for Gov. Phil Scott to veto the measure. The Legislature then overturned Scott’s veto that same year. Two Montpelier residents who are citizens and eight citizens who live elsewhere in the state — challenged the law. In April 2022, a Washington County Superior Court judge rejected the plaintiff’s arguments that noncitizen voting was a violation of the Vermont Constitution. Friday’s Supreme Court decision upholds that ruling. The Supreme Court ruled that the parties had standing to challenge the charter change because eligible voters had an “interest” in ensuring the voter pool was constitutional to “preserve the effectiveness of their vote.” But when it comes to the legality of the charter change itself, the court’s decision said that legal precedent and a close reading of Chapter II, Section 42 of the Vermont Constitution proved that local election qualifications can be different from statewide election qualifications.
Wisconsin: Dane County Circuit Judge Nia Trammell is considering whether to make clear that local election officials can accept absentee ballots missing parts of a witnesses address, the latest legal fight in the battleground state where Republicans oppose the acceptance of partial addresses. The case was brought by the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin last fall, weeks before the midterm election. The crux of the lawsuit, and another similar pending case, rests with how much of a witness address needs to be present in order for an absentee ballot to count. The bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission hasn’t said what constitutes a missing address. But it has issued guidance on what constitutes an address, saying it must contain three elements: a street number, street name and municipality. “There’s no definition of missing out there, which means (the election commission) is failing the clerks, it’s failing the people of Wisconsin by not determining what it should mean for purposes of ballot counting,” argued Dan Lenz, an attorney for the League of Women Voters. Trammell said following brief oral arguments this week that she intends to issue a written ruling within a month.
Opinions This Week
Florida: Election police
Minnesota: Ranked choice voting
New Jersey: Ranked choice voting
Oklahoma: Election system
South Carolina: Ranked choice voting
Tennessee: Election legislation
Washington: Election legislation
iGO 2023 Mid-Winter Conference: Check out the iGo website for more information about the tentative agenda. When: Jan. 28-Feb.1, 2023. Where: Glendale, Arizona.
NPC Headliners Newsmaker: Incoming House Oversight Chair James Comer: Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., expected to chair the House Oversight Committee, will speak at a National Press Club in-person Headliners Newsmaker on Monday, Jan. 30 at 10 a.m. Eastern. The event will be livestreamed. Comer is expected to serve as the next chairman of the House Oversight Committee when Republicans take control of the House of Representatives on Jan 3. Comer has said the Oversight Committee under Republican control will focus on rooting out waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement in the federal government and holding the Biden Administration accountable. He also promised to investigate President Biden’s son, Hunter for alleged “influence peddling,” the crisis at the southern border, the origin of the COVID-19 virus and the use of U.S. funds at a research lab in China, and the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. Comer will offer brief remarks followed by a question-and-answer session ending at 11 a.m. Where: Online. When: Jan. 30 at 10am Eastern.
U.S. Election Assistance Commission Public Roundtable: Please join the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) for a public roundtable discussion in the Agency’s hearing room. This discussion will focus on poll worker recruitment, training, and programs. The event will be held in-person and live-streamed on the EAC’s YouTube Channel. If you plan to attend in-person, register here. When: Feb. 8, Time TBD. Where: Online and 633 3rd Street NW Washington, DC.
NASS Winter Conference: Attendee registration for this event will open in December 2022 The cost to attend is $500 early/ $600 late (after January 24, 2023) for Secretaries of State, State Government Staff, NASS Corporate Affiliates and Federal Government Staff. The cost for Non-Profit Organizations to attend is $750 per person early/ $850 late (proof of valid non-profit status required). The cost for Corporate Non-Members to attend is $1300 per person early/ $1400 late. Registration for this event will close on Monday, February 6, 2023, or when registration capacity is fulfilled. On-site registration WILL NOT be available for this event. All event attendees are subject to the event anti-harassment policy and conference waiver of liability. There is no virtual option to attend. Press registration for this event will open on January 18, 2023 Further details and instructions will be posted on January 18. There is no cost for the press to attend. Virtual attendance will not be available. Where: Washington, DC. When: Feb. 15-18, 2023.
NASED Winter Conference: Save the date and check back for more details. When: Feb. 15-18. Where: Washington, DC.
Election Center Special Workshop: Courses offered include: Course 7 (Enhancing Voter Participation); Course 8 (Implementing New Programs); and Renewal Course 13 (Legislatures, Decision-making, & the Public Policy Process). Workshops will include blocks on communications, design, access, security, logistics and planning, and vote by mail. There will also be a visit to the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk facilities. When: Feb. 22-26. Where: Pasadena California.
Job Postings This Week
electionlineWeekly publishes election administration job postings each week as a free service to our readers. To have your job listed in the newsletter, please send a copy of the job description, including a web link to email@example.com. Job postings must be received by 5pm on Wednesday in order to appear in the Thursday newsletter. Listings will run for three weeks or till the deadline listed in the posting.
Assistant County Clerk-Recorder, Nevada County, California— Under administrative oversight you can be assisting with planning, organizing, directing and leading the activities of the County Clerk-Recorder’s office! The Assistant Clerk-Recorder will provide highly sophisticated staff assistance to the Clerk-Recorder! This management classification position serves at the will of the County Clerk-Recorder, and acts on her behalf in her absence and provides full line and functional management responsibility for the department’s Recorder and Election divisions. This position is distinguished from the County Clerk-Recorder in that the latter is an elected position and has overall responsibility for all functions of the department. Salary range: $111,810 – $136,500. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Assistant Director, Butler County, Pennsylvania— To supervise and direct the operational processes relating to voter registration, voting and elections, ensuring that voters’ rights are protected and votes are recorded and counted accurately. Assists the Director in implementing the day to day functions of the Elections Department. The incumbent supervises the non-exempt staff and answers voter and candidate questions or selects proper course of action to resolve problems. Assists Director in evaluating new technologies for election process. Consults with others regarding clarification of the Pennsylvania Election Code. Refers complex issues requiring clarification of the Pennsylvania Election Code or the Pennsylvania Constitution to the Director of Elections. A Bachelor’s Degree in a related field and/or equivalent work experience is required. Significant experience in Computer Science course work or equivalent is required. Prior work experience involving the electoral process is desirable, as is supervisory experience. Must be knowledgeable of State and County voting laws, regulations, procedures, and requirements. Computer, telephone and customer service skills are necessary. Salary: $45,129.18-$63,180.85. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Board of Elections Training Specialist, Wake County, North Carolina— Are you looking to get involved in your community? Do you want to make a difference? Are you passionate about learning? If so, get ready to roll up your sleeves and become part of something bigger! The Wake County Board of Elections is currently seeking an experienced Instructional Designer/Training Specialist to join our dynamic and driven Training Team. The ideal candidate will be a strong communicator who thrives in a fast paced, ever changing work environment. They will have a clear understanding of the commonly accepted instructional design models, what it takes to be a behind the scenes designer, have a strong visual sense and excellent project management skills. What will you do as a Board of Elections Training Specialist? Develop training materials, including classroom presentations, manuals, workbooks, training videos and online training modules to facilitate comprehensive training for Early Voting and Election Day Officials Review, evaluate and modify existing and proposed programs and recommend changes Create schedules, design layouts for training facilities and adjusts room layouts as necessary between in-person classes. Train and manage instructors and assistants for in-person training classes. Serve as instructor for some online webinars and in-person classes. Collaborate with team members to gain knowledge of work processes, identify training needs and establish plans to address the needs through training solutions. Identify innovative training tools and methods to enhance the training program. Monitor and assess election law changes and incorporate the changes into polling place procedures. Develop and design election forms, precinct official website, newsletters, assessments and other communications. Develop high level design documents, storyboards, audio narration scripts, status reporting, QA and testing plans. Assists with Early Voting site setups and call center support. Assists with Election Day call center support and post-election processes. Portfolios will be required by all applicants who are selected to move forward in the recruitment process. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Chief Deputy Registrar, Lexington, Virginia— The City of Lexington is accepting applications for the non-exempt full-time position of Chief Deputy Registrar. This is an appointed, at-will position that serves a term not to exceed the term of the current Registrar. (Code of Va. §24.2-112) The Chief Deputy Registrar “shall have the same limitations and qualifications and fulfill the same requirements as the General Registrar…” (Ibid.) The Chief Deputy Registrar must be able to assume the duties and responsibilities of the General Registrar in the Registrar’s absence. The position requires knowledge of, or the ability to quickly obtain, knowledge of: elections, election law, security practices, government, finance, training, and related technologies. The successful applicant will be required to undergo a criminal background check, DMV motor vehicle record check, and drug screening. Salary: $22.86–$24.09/hr. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Chief Information Officer, Illinois State Board of Elections— Functions as Chief Information Officer (CIO) of the SBE Information Technology Systems. Responsibilities encompass full range of information services; application design and development, system administration, data administration, operations, production control, and data communications. In conjunction with the Board, Executive Director, and Executive staff, the CIO determines the role of information systems in achieving Board goals. Defines goals in terms of statutory obligations to be met, problems to be solved, and/or opportunities that can be realized through the application of computerized information systems. Prepares and submits budget based projections of hardware, software, staff and other resource needs to adequately provide for existing systems, as well as support of new project initiatives. Advises Executive Staff in matters relating to information technology. Develops presentations and reports for the Board and Administrative Staff. In conjunction with Executive Staff, evaluates system performance to determine appropriate enhancements. Salary: $7,885 – $13,237 Monthly. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Departmental Training Coordinator, DeKalb County, Georgia— The purpose of this classification is to develop, coordinate, deliver, and evaluate departmental training programs and learning solutions. The following duties are normal for this position. 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. Develops training programs for departmental employees; creates new and/or modifies existing courses and course materials; researches industry changes; and prepares activities and course assignments. Conducts training and facilitates in-house training programs for employees based on current trends and best practices. Assists employees in meeting certification and recertification requirements for mandated licensure and submits documents for license renewals. Coordinates training logistics to include training room, schedules, attendance tracking, passwords, supplies and set up; and selects or develops teaching aids including training handbooks, tutorials or quick reference guides . Administers and grades course assignments and exams; and tracks and analyzes learning curriculum effectiveness through various evaluations techniques including evaluation of individual performances. Maintains and prepares training and compliance records and prepares related documentation and reports; enters course exam grades; prepares training certificates; and updates compliance databases. Assists with internal departmental communications by preparing newsletters, promotional materials for training programs, flyers for departmental events, or related communications. Communicates with department management, supervisors, other employees, subject matter experts, schools, community groups, volunteers, the public, and other individuals as needed to coordinate work activities, review status of work, exchange information, or resolve problems. Maintains current knowledge of departmental business functions and operations to develop training programs and solutions for improving employee knowledge and performance within business units; and research training industry standards and best practices and applies new technologies. Salary: $52,815 – $81,862. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Deputy County Clerk, Boone County, Missouri— The Boone County (MO) Clerk’s Office seeks a deputy county clerk in its elections division. With general supervision, this clerk processes new and revised voter registrations, provides information to the public on candidates, ballot issues and other election information, determines ballot styles for walk-in absentee voters, verifies petitions, and performs related election duties. Salary: $15.45-$16.41/hr. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Deputy Director of Elections, Arapahoe County, Colorado— The Deputy Director of Elections position has direct responsibility for the entire Election Division. This position will direct complex administrative and supervisory work in activities. The Deputy Director of Elections supports the Chief Deputy Director and the Clerk and Recorder with issues concerning all operations of Elections. The following statements are illustrative of the essential function of the job. The following duty statements are illustrative of the essential functions of the job and do not include other non-essential or marginal duties that may be required. The County reserves the right to modify or change the duties or essential functions of the job at any time: Directs the long term strategic operation of the Election Division which may include but is not limited to, legislative tracking, budget development, business process analysis, data analysis, project management, coordination with external and internal stakeholders and overseeing senior management staff. Manages, and ensures statutory compliance of all election functions including: voting equipment, voter registration, mailing ballots, and providing access to voter service polling centers. Serves as the project manager and primary point of contact for election systems software and hardware vendors. Responsible for the evaluations of the Election staff as directed by the Chief Deputy Director and/or Clerk and Recorder. Informs the Chief Deputy Director and/or Clerk and Recorder on the status of projects and/or changes within the Division. Attends association and professional meetings to enhance and maintain knowledge of trends and developments in elections, as determined necessary by the Chief Deputy Director and/or Clerk and Recorder. Responds to inquiries, providing guidance and interpretation regarding application of the organization’s policies and procedures. Technical expert of election software, business processes, statutes, rules and regulations. Voting equipment and election security subject matter expert. Responsible for overall timekeeping and leave within the Election Division. Salary: $78,780 – $125,866. Deadline: Jan. 27, 2023. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Digital and Multimedia Specialist, Issue One— The Digital and Multimedia Specialist (DMS) will play an integral role in expanding Issue One’s reach by producing and promoting multimedia content (including in-house video), managing and growing Issue One’s social media footprint, including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, TikTok, and Instagram, running Issue One’s fundraising and action email list. The DMS will be proficient at video production and help Issue One reach new and larger audiences through video messaging, social media, and digital storytelling. The individual will also support key functions of the communications team, working closely with the communications director, senior communications manager, and communications specialist. The ideal candidate will possess a strong understanding of digital and multimedia strategies and tools needed to reach wider audiences and grow the organization’s brand in a competitive digital climate. Salary: $58K-$70K. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Director of Registration and Elections, Fulton County, Georgia— The County is seeking a Director of Registration and Elections (DRE). This position serves as the chief executive responsible for developing goals, objectives, policies, and procedures relating to voter registration and elections in Fulton County. The DRE also prepares, presents, and manages the department’s approved annual budget. The DRE leads programs and services that ensure safe, free, and accessible voter registration and elections in the County. The DRE ensures accurate collection and maintenance of voter registration data and administers the county elections and associated services, which includes but is not limited to absentee balloting, voter registration, voter education and outreach. The Director collects information and validates candidates for elective office, ensures the availability of training for poll workers, and directs efforts to educate voters on elections in the county. The DRE performs other duties, including preservation, storage, preparation, testing and maintenance of departmental election equipment. Furthermore, the director oversees election district boundaries, and administers the selection of polling places in the county. Salary: $175K-$195K. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Director of Elections, Cumberland County, North Carolina— The Elections Director works under the administrative direction of the County Board of Elections and Executive Director of the State Board of Election. The Elections Director performs professional, managerial, and administrative work for the Board of Elections and carries out all duties or responsibilities as assigned by Chapter 163 of the General Statutes of the State of North Carolina and as delegated by members of the County Board in accordance with the laws of the State of North Carolina, GS 163-35 (d) and 163-33. Reports to the Chairman of the Cumberland County Board of Elections. Salary: $78,784.40 – $132,425.23. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Division Director, Illinois State Board of Elections— Subject to Executive Director approval; oversees the administration of human resource programs including, but not limited to, compensation, payroll, benefits, and leave; disciplinary matters; disputes and investigations; performance and talent management; productivity, recognition, and morale; occupational health and safety; and training and development. Serves as the Board’s subject matter expert relating to personnel and human resource matters. Identifies staffing and recruiting needs; develops and executes best practices for hiring and talent management. Conducts research and analysis of Board trends including review of reports and metrics from human resource information systems. Recommends, implements, and ensures compliance with agency policies and procedures including, but not limited to, hiring, disciplinary actions, employee grievances, compensation plan, and employee performance evaluations. Creates and oversees human resource practices, programs, and objectives that provide for an employee-oriented culture that emphasizes collaboration, innovation, creativity, and knowledge transfer within a diverse team. Oversees the day-to-day administrative aspects of the Board’s personnel programs; accuracy of bi-monthly payrolls; benefits; quarterly and annual EEO/AA reporting; and, employee transaction documentation. Facilitates professional development, training, and certification activities for staff; development and maintenance of agency-wide training programs for on-boarding, staff development, and knowledge transfer. Responsible for the administration and oversight over all disciplinary matters; including: investigation of complaints; conducting witness interviews; documentation gathering; drafting and submittal of investigation findings to Executive Staff; advising Division Directors and Executive Staff on disciplinary matters; and, drafting of formal disciplinary reprimands in accordance with policy. Has administrative oversight of the Chief Fiscal Officer regarding budgetary and fiscal matters under the purview of the Division of Administrative Services. Supervises and evaluates subordinate staff; facilitates knowledge transfers and cross trainings; performs other duties as required or assigned which are reasonably within the scope of the duties enumerated above. Salary: $6,023.00 – $12,374.00 Monthly. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Early Voting Coordinator, Wake County, North Carolina— re you looking to be more involved in your community? Are you ready to be a part of democracy in the making? If so, get ready to roll up your sleeves and become a part of history! Wake County Board of Elections is currently seeking an Early Voting Coordinator to join our dynamic and talented Early Voting Team. The Early Voting Coordinator plays a critical role in the management and logistical planning of Early Voting. This includes communicating, scheduling election service vendors and managing voting site support operations to include the physically demanding work of setting up Early Voting sites. What will you do as an Early Voting Coordinator? Plan and organize all Early Voting operations; Assist with development of Early Voting expansion budget items and analyze budget impacts of new election laws and state directives and incorporate the changes into Early Voting site procedures; Work with Town Clerks, Municipal Administrators, Facility Directors, Special Event Coordinators and Superintendents to secure use of facilities for Early Voting; Manage Early Voting facilities, including scheduling, communication, support, logistics, database management and site setups; Develop Early Voting ballot order and determine the distribution of ballots each Early Voting facility will receive; Update and maintain the Early Voting blog and Early Voting page of the Wake County Board of Elections website; Manage the Early Voting support Help Line; Post-election reconciliation duties to include provisional management, presentations to the Board and assisting with record retention. Salary: Hiring Range: $20.81 – $28.10. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Elections Specialist-Ballot Processing, Pierce County, Washington— This is a great opportunity to play a critical role in this nation’s elections and democracy. Whether it is Election Day or another day of the year, we are working to continuously improve the voter experience and the conduct of elections. As a dedicated civil servant with experience in elections and supervising large teams, we are looking for an Elections Specialist for ballot processing. You will have the opportunity to be in the center of the action in Washington’s second-largest county. You will work with other specialists and management to develop a ballot processing schedule, and then schedule staff. You will also help with voter registration tasks when needed. We are looking for someone is comfortable and excels at leading and directing a large team of Seasonal elections workers ensuring accuracy in ballot processing and time-sensitive tasks. Someone who is customer service focused yet is deadline driven. Someone who values teamwork, is adaptable, learns new systems quickly, and who can communicate across all levels of the organization, with our customers and party observers. Multi-taskers with excellent written communication will be successful in this role. As an Elections Specialist, you will have the ability to immediately contribute to the team’s success. You will be guided through the process with coaching-focused managerial support, a team that wants you to be successful in your role, and an organizational culture that encourages continuous learning and professional development. Salary: $33.62 – $42.52 Hourly. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Executive Director, Ranked Choice Voting Resource Center— The primary responsibilities of this position are to set and reinforce the mission and vision of the organization, define its strategic direction and implement strategic plans for the organization’s development, make executive decisions that drive organizational growth, and build and manage relationships including stakeholders and potential donors. The Executive Director works with the Board to set goals for the organization, governs over organizational activities and relationships, guides the organization’s culture, and directs communication to support the mission of the organization. The ideal candidate will define the organization’s priorities and direction, oversee staff recruitment and retention, and work systematically to meet organizational goals. He or she should be a self-starter with the ability to work independently and with a team. This is a full-time remote position with in-person meetings and travel as needed. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Executive Director, National Vote at Home Institute — The Vote at Home Executive Director shall be responsible for managing all aspects of the organizations’ operations. These major responsibilities include the following: Strategy. Recommending, implementing, and effectively executing all VAH policies and key strategies and programs as approved by one or both boards. Budget. Fundraising and budget administration, to ensure Vote at Home’s financial sustainability and the effective and efficient expenditure of available funds. Management. The hiring, supervision, and performance management of all staff, contractors, and contracts to promote diversity and equity, ensure a collaborative and productive workplace, and comply fully with all applicable federal, state, and local laws. Partnerships. The creation of collaborative partnership relationships with other key organizations and individuals to help promote and amplify VAH’s work. Communication. The effective communication, in a wide variety of public and private forums, of Vote at Home’s vision, mission, key strategies, and core messages. Salary: $120K-$160K. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Information Technology Security Analyst, Illinois State Board of Elections— The IT Security Analyst reports directly to the Manager of Cyber Operations and Infrastructure. Supports the administration, implementation, review, and improvement of endpoint, network, hardware, application, and data security practices. Implements, supports and monitors the agency’s information security applications, including email security, web security, endpoint security software, firewalls, intrusion prevention applications, data loss prevention, etc. Monitors system dashboards and logs for threat indicators. Analyzes data and performs necessary incident response procedures. Conducts network, system and application vulnerability assessments. Analyzes agency threat surface and makes recommendations to management to harden agency systems. Evaluates agency processes and implements and/or makes recommendations to enhance security. Reviews information received concerning threat events from end users, supervisory personnel, other federal, state, county and local agencies and governmental entities involved in the exchange of data with the State Board of Elections (SBE), external entities such as the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center (MS-ISAC), Elections Infrastructure Information Sharing and Analysis Center (EI-ISAC), trusted cybersecurity vendors, law enforcement agencies, and public information sources. Consults with SBE staff on security issues. Provides a high level of customer service to agency staff, state, county, and local election officials. Ensures service desk queues and incidents are handled in an appropriate and timely manner. Salary: $6,264 – $8,917 Monthly. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Language Access Coordinator (Russian and Somali), King County Elections — The Department of Elections is searching for energetic and resourceful professionals who like to “get stuff done”. The Language Access and Outreach Coordinator position in the Elections Department combines an exciting, fast paced environment with the opportunity to cultivate talents and apply a variety of skills. The ideal candidate will thrive in an innovative, fast-paced environment and will not hesitate to roll up both sleeves, work hard, have fun, and get the job done. The Language Services and Community Engagement Program is recruiting Language Access and Outreach Coordinators who will support the program for the Russian and Somali languages. This position provides bilingual assistance, translation, and community outreach support. These individuals must be able to read, write, understand, and speak Russian or Somali at the language proficiency testing level used by the Department. In addition, as part of the community engagement program, they will participate in voter registration and voter education activities with community partners and provide support to out Voter Education Fund partners. Individuals in this position will provide language access assistance to our communications team and administrative support to other election work groups as needed. Salary: $33.63 – $42.62 Hourly. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Program Director, National Voter Registration Day — We are seeking a Program Director to leverage and coordinate the efforts of our broader staff team to ensure the success of National Voter Registration Day, a single day of coordinated ﬁeld, technology, and media strategies to raise awareness of voter registration opportunities and help more Americans register to vote. Held every September, over 5 million people have registered to vote as part of the holiday’s 10-year history, a success we seek to build on. To do this we need a well-organized and entrepreneurial Program Director with strong people skills and a passion for civic engagement and democracy. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Senior Specialist-Voter Services, Johnson County, Kansas— The Senior Election Specialist – Voter Services will take a lead role on the voter services team within the Election Office. This position will oversee the office’s use of the statewide voter registration system and support other employees in their work within this vital system. This will require attention to detail and the ability to define a series of tasks to complete work within the system in an efficient and accurate manner for temporary employees. This position will also research and perform all geography changes within the statewide voter registration system to accommodate annexations made by cities as well as district boundary changes made by state and local governing bodies. The Senior Election Specialist – Voter Services will also participate in the programming of elections to include laying out paper ballots and designing the screens and audio for use on the ballot marking devices. This position will also receive and file all candidate paperwork including declarations of candidacy and required campaign finance disclosures. This position also actively mentors, coaches and collaborates with employees to enhance the county mission and vision keeping in mind the common goal of leaving our community better than we found it. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
System Administrator, Sarasota County, Florida— The Systems Administrator is an Information Technology professional responsible for the coordination, implementation, planning, investigating and serving as the liaison for all facets of data processing, to include any election related tasks. Salary: $40,996 – $87,630. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Vote by Mail Manager, Palm Beach County, Florida— The Vote-by-Mail Manager is responsible for all aspects of vote-by-mail administration and operations, including but not limited to the Budgets, Staffing, Training Procedure Manuals, Database Management, Quality Control, Canvassing, Supervised Voting, SBIS administration, Inventory, Maintenance, and Testing. Responsibilities include: Departments operational calendar with timeline of election cycle tasks; Forecasting and updating departments annual operating budget; Staffing and training of vote-by-mail operational staff; Staff training and process manuals; Quality control of vote-by-mail database; and Update and maintain inventory, equipment, and software. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Voting Rights Expert, The Carter Center— The Carter Center is seeking a highly qualified voting rights analyst to work on the Center’s US election advisory team under the guidance of the Democracy Program staff. The voting rights expert will assess and analyze key issues affecting women, the disabled, and disenfranchised groups in the United States. The voting rights expert will contribute to public and private statements concerning the electoral process and provide an impartial assessment of elections as well as detailed recommendations for ways to improve the program’s inclusiveness, credibility, and transparency as it relates to voting access of historically disenfranchised peoples. A minimum of seven (7) years of experience in democracy and/or elections is required, in addition to a degree in political science or another relevant field. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
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