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September 14, 2023

September 14, 2023

In Focus This Week

VVSG 2.0 Update
EAC provides update to media on migration

By M. Mindy Moretti

This week, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission provided the media with an update on the migration to VVSG 2.0.

All four EAC Commissioners made remarks during the briefing that covered the EAC’s ongoing work to keep elections safe and secure, with a focus on the EAC’s testing and certification process, an overview of VVSG and the path VVSG 2.0 migration in the years ahead.

The continued security of VVSG 1.0 systems, the future of VVSG 2.0, and role the EAC plays in support of state and local election officials throughout the migration process were also highlighted in the briefing.

The EAC’s commissioners adopted the newest standard, VVSG 2.0, on February 10, 2021. In November and December of 2002, Voting System Test Labs (VSTLs) were accredited to test to the latest standard and the EAC is now accepting voting systems for certification to VVSG 2.0.

On November 15, 2023, testing new systems against VVSG 1.0 will cease and all further testing of new systems will be done against VVSG 2.0 system standards.

“Enacting VVSG 2.0 was an important step in enhancing U.S. election security, which we all know is a national security imperative,” said Commission and EAC Vice Chairman Ben Hovland. “This was done not with the immediate elections in mind, but rather thinking many years down the line, trying to stay ahead of future threats.”

Hovland stressed that while moving forward all systems will be tested to the VVSG 2.0 standards, no system currently certified under VVSG 1.0 will be decertified.

“Election officials may continue to use or procure voting systems that have been certified to VVSG 1.0 and 1.1 in accordance with their state and local laws,” Hovland said. “I would like to reiterated that EAC-certified voting systems remain certified unless a formal process for decertification occurs. We remain confident in certified systems, regardless of which VVSG they were certified to.”

With the accreditation of the VSTLs, the EAC is now able to test and certify systems to VVSG 2.0 and Commissioner Tom Hicks said they have just reached an important milestone in that process—the first system has been submitted to the EAC and it is currently going through the process for certification to VVSG 2.0.

With one system already going through the certification process, reporters queried about the process for other systems. Chairwoman Christi McCormick noted that the EAC is not usually in communications with vendors, but that her understanding is that all of the manufacturers are work to submit to 2.0.

“It will take time for other new systems to be developed, certified, manufactured, and fielded for use in elections, particularly in an environment of constrained funding for state and local elections offices,” Hicks said. “We anticipate seeing VVSG 2.0 systems deployed in the years following the 2024 election, based on state and local procurement processes and decisions.”

Help for Elections Officials
The commissioners addressed what they are doing to help state and local elections officials navigate this process with the public and other stakeholders.

“The VVSG 2.0 migration process has been a top of director engagement with state and local officials for the better part of two years now,” Commission Donald Palmer said. “We understand that our voices together will do the most to amplify the communication to as many stakeholders and voters as possible.”

Palmer discussed the suite of resources available to elections officials including the Secure Elections Toolkit with plain language messaging and customizable graphics as well as a Testing and Certification Factsheet. The EAC also created a dedicated landing page on eac.gov that gives an overview of the migration process and provides links to the resources available.

The commissioners acknowledge the uphill battle state and local officials may experience with educating the public about this process. McCormick noted that the commission has worked to change some of the language it uses with regard to testing and certification so that it’s more plain English.

“One of the things we’ve learn in the last few years is that there are many pieces of the process  that the pub wasn’t familiar with,” Hovland said. “We continue to look for ways to build out materials and work with elections officials throughout the country [to better educate the public].”

24 for '24

24 for ‘24
National panel recommends 24 ways to protect integrity of 2024 elections

Two dozen of the nation’s leading experts on law, elections and information security — representing universities, nonprofits and the private sector — have issued 24 recommendations for safeguarding the integrity of the 2024 U.S. elections.

The report, titled “24 for ’24,” was published today under the auspices of UCLA School of Law’s Safeguarding Democracy Project. It is aimed at ensuring access to the ballot for all eligible voters, protecting election integrity and enhancing the public’s confidence in the fairness of the election and the accuracy of the results. In it, the authors call for specific action from journalists, social media companies, government bodies, election officials, congressional and state leaders, and the general public.

The authors’ guidance is divided into four broad categories: legal, media and social media, politics and norms, and technology. Chief among the recommendations is that states strengthen laws to protect election officials from violence, threats of violence and intimidation.

“Since the 2020 election, election officials throughout the nation have faced increasingly more frequent threats of physical violence,” the authors write. “According to one recent poll, nearly one third of election officials have been ‘harassed, abused or threatened.’ … Nationwide, approximately 20% of local election officials have stated they may quit before the 2024 election in response to such threats, which would lead to substantial losses of institutional knowledge.”

“The United States’ election system continues to be under great stress, especially after the last election was conducted during a pandemic and with unprecedented attacks on the integrity of the election system,” said UCLA Professor Richard Hasen, who is also director of the Safeguarding Democracy Project and lead the work on the report. “I am hopeful that we have provided a road map for actionable steps that can and should be taken for a fair and legitimate 2024 election season.”

Hasen, a UCLA professor of law and political science, is an internationally recognized election law expert and frequent commentator on American democracy and the courts. The Safeguarding Democracy Project promotes research, events and advocacy aimed at ensuring election integrity.

“Under the auspices of UCLA Law’s Safeguarding Democracy Project, Rick Hasen has led a stellar and diverse group with concrete suggestions that everyone committed to American democracy and fair elections should closely consider,” said Michael Waterstone, dean of UCLA School of Law.

The authors also advise that:

  • News organizations and nonprofits should fund, develop and implement training workshops to improve reporters’ understanding of election processes and relevant election law, and to help develop relationships between election professionals and journalists. Special attention should be paid to helping local and non-English-language news outlets.
  • Nonprofit organizations and foundations should establish an independent, bipartisan commission well before the election to gather and amplify prominent pro-democracy voices warning against the erosion of core democratic norms. The commission should alert the public to instances of democratic erosion, encourage candidates and other political actors to embrace pro-democracy norms and weigh in after the election, if necessary, to promote the resolution of election disputes in a manner consistent with democratic principles.
  • Election administrators should review and strengthen measures to secure election systems against insider threats, such as mandatory background checks for vendors and staff with access to critical systems, access controls, and robust chain-of-custody procedures.


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Election News This Week

Democracy: Concern for U.S. democracy amid deep national polarization has prompted the entities supporting 13 presidential libraries dating back to Herbert Hoover to call for a recommitment to the country’s bedrock principles, including the rule of law and respecting a diversity of beliefs. The statement released September 7, the first time the libraries have joined to make such a public declaration, said Americans have a strong interest in supporting democratic movements and human rights around the world because “free societies elsewhere contribute to our own security and prosperity here at home.” “But that interest,” it said, “is undermined when others see our own house in disarray.” The joint message from presidential centers, foundations and institutes emphasized the need for compassion, tolerance and pluralism while urging Americans to respect democratic institutions and uphold secure and accessible elections. The statement noted that “debate and disagreement” are central to democracy but also alluded to the coarsening of dialogue in the public arena during an era when officials and their families are receiving death threats. “Civility and respect in political discourse, whether in an election year or otherwise, are essential,” it said. The statement stopped short of calling out individuals, but it still marked one of the most substantive acknowledgments that people associated with the nation’s former presidents are worried about the country’s trajectory. “I think there’s great concern about the state of our democracy at this time,” Mark Updegrove, CEO of the LBJ Foundation, which supports the LBJ Presidential Library in Austin, Texas told Voice of America. “We don’t have to go much farther than January 6 to realize that we are in a perilous state.” The bipartisan statement was signed by the Hoover Presidential Foundation, the Roosevelt Institute, the Truman Library Institute, the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, the LBJ Foundation, the Richard Nixon Foundation, the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation, the Carter Center, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute, the George & Barbara Bush Foundation, the Clinton Foundation, the George W. Bush Presidential Center and the Obama Presidential Center. Those organizations all support presidential libraries created under the Presidential Library Act of 1955, along with the Eisenhower Foundation. The Eisenhower Foundation chose not to sign, and it said in a statement emailed to The Associated Press: “The Eisenhower Foundation has respectfully declined to sign this statement. It would be the first common statement that the presidential centers and foundations have ever issued as a group, but we have had no collective discussion about it, only an invitation to sign.”

Celebrating Herstory: The Vermont secretary of state’s office is once again open after flooding in August. The return to the building also included the unveiling of a new painting that hangs high on the lobby walls. “The Light of Truth Upon Them” is an oil canvas that commemorates more than 100 years of the 19th Amendment being passed. It details women’s fight to have an equal part in American democracy. When Secretary of State Sarah Copeland Hanzas now walks into her office building, she said her eyes are drawn to the banner at the top that reads “Hard Won, Not Done.” Cynthia Cagle is the local artist that created the piece. She explained that painting these powerful women figures was an emotional process.  “These women were more than just activists,” Cagle said. “They were rebels, agitators, and warriors. Members of the BIPOC community for whom access to vote was barred in so many ways. They fought not just for women’s rights to vote, but the right to vote for all.” The Vermont Suffrage Centennial Alliance commissioned the project.

Voter Education: This week, the Oregon secretary of state’s office debuted the state’s new election mascot across social media platforms. Blobby is a cartoon blob and social media influencer leading the state’s Voting in Oregon Feels Good campaign. According to the Oregon Secretary of State’s office, the accounts will “use humor and meme content to reach a broader audience with our office’s accurate election information” in an effort to increase voter participation. The team will also use the accounts to share PSAs that they hope will “pre-bunk” false election information. The videos are animated and channel the same informative messaging of Smokey the Bear, which former Secretary Shemia Fagan said was an influence at the start of the campaign in October 2022. “Research shows that once a person forms a belief about elections it’s very hard to change their mind,” Fagan said when the campaign was first announced. “When Oregonians know all the steps elections workers take to protect the integrity of our elections, it completely undercuts the conspiracy theories from proponents of the Big Lie.”

Sticker News: More than 500 online votes were cast to select the top designs in Franklin Tomorrow’s “I Voted” sticker design contest for the upcoming Franklin, Tennessee city election. Joining Franklin Tomorrow in sponsoring the contest were the city of Franklin and its Public Arts Commission, as well as the Williamson County Election Commission, which will use the sticker designs during the October election cycle for both early voting and on election day, Oct. 24. The top vote getter in the youth category was a design by Maia Bowers, who is an eighth-grader. Her design featured patriotic colors of red, white and blue as well as the Tennessee tri-star flag with the words “I Voted” in cursive. Matthew Mattheiss had the top design in the adult category with the “I” in his design framed against a columned building similar to the Historic Williamson County Courthouse. His design also featured the tri-star circle at the top and is in red, white and blue.

Personnel News: David Kuennen has left CISA’s Election Security  and Resilience Team. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has appointed Secretary of State Tahesha Way to serve as the state’s lieutenant governor.  David Koel has been removed from the Seneca County, Ohio board of elections. Janet Santos, the Saginaw, Michigan city clerk since April 2012, retired recently. Now her deputy, Kristine Bolzman, will replace Santos. he Mississippi Democratic Party announced that Ty Pinkins, an attorney, will become the party’s replacement nominee for the ongoing secretary of state’s race. Wes Hodge, former chair of the Orange County, Florida Democratic Party, launched a campaign for Supervisor of Elections. Cari-Ann Burgess and Marc De La Torre have been appointed deputy director of the Washoe County, Nevada registrar of voters office. Chris Lukasevich is stepping down from the Carbon County, Pennsylvania board of elections. Rebecca Spencer, the Riverside County, California registrar of voters has been placed on paid administrative leave.

Election Security Updates

Cybersecurity Information Sheet: This week, the National Security Agency (NSA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) released a Cybersecurity Information Sheet (CSI), Contextualizing Deepfake Threats to Organizations, which provides an overview of synthetic media threats, techniques, and trends. Threats from synthetic media, such as deepfakes, have exponentially increased—presenting a growing challenge for users of modern technology and communications, including the National Security Systems (NSS), the Department of Defense (DoD), the Defense Industrial Base (DIB), and national critical infrastructure owners and operators. Between 2021 and 2022, U.S. Government agencies collaborated to establish a set of employable best practices to take in preparation and response to the growing threat. Public concern around synthetic media includes disinformation operations, designed to influence the public and spread false information about political, social, military, or economic issues to cause confusion, unrest, and uncertainty. The authoring agencies urge organizations to review the CSI for recommended steps and best practices to prepare, identify, defend against, and respond to deepfake threats.

Legislative Updates

California: Most California elections will be forced to use state-approved machines to count ballots under new legislation that responds to an attempt by right-wing supervisors in Shasta County to try and hand-count future elections. The bill, called AB 969, got a final vote Friday as it easily passed through the California legislature, where Democrats hold a supermajority in both houses. Now it awaits the governor’s signature. If enacted, the bill would ban hand-counting in established elections with more than 1,000 registered voters, or more than 5,000 registered voters for special elections. Those rules would only be relaxed if a natural disaster or emergency prevents an electronic voting system from working, such as a wildfire or power outage. AB 969 would also ban counties from terminating a voting system without signing a contract for a new one.

A bill to change the language on ballots for state referendums in order to make it clear what voters are deciding with their choice was signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom. Assembly Bill 421, which was introduced by Assemblymember Isaac Bryan, originally sought to make major changes to the state’s referendum process, which is used to overturn laws passed by legislators. Among the changes it proposed included requirements for those out collecting signatures for these measures to register and receive training with the Secretary of State, and to disclose if they are volunteers or paid. It would also implement a three-year ban if someone violates the law. However, most of the original provisions were scrapped by legislators as it was amended. The version of the bill that was signed into law Friday focused on one change: changing the options for referendums from “yes” and “no” to “keep the law” and “overturn the law.” The new language is expected to take effect next year, just in time for the 2024 ballot. It will not impact language for local referendum measures, according to state officials. Puzzling language used for state referendums have been a long-standing issue for voters. Under current law, voters are required to vote “yes” to oppose repealing the law. On the other hand, a “no” vote means that they support the referendum.

Los Angeles County, California: In an effort to prevent disenfranchising ethnic voters during the 2024 presidential elections, Los Angeles County will pursue creation of additional in-person voting centers in non-English speaking communities, and will  incentivize the hiring of bilingual polling workers. An initiative including a broad array of actions was ordered by the L.A. County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, Sept. 12. The L.A. County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk is required to increase engagement with diverse communities in the county, where some 200 languages other than English are spoken in immigrant households. “We must consistently fine-tune and enhance how we are engaging with these voters,” said First District Supervisor Hilda Solis, who co-authored the motion with Fourth District Supervisor Janice Hahn. It was adopted unanimously. The supervisors directed Clerk-Recorder, Registrar of Voters Dean Logan to work more closely with nonprofit groups representing non-English speaking and limited English-proficient voters. He’s been directed to find places for more in-person voting centers and is empowered to provide cash incentives to hire bilingual poll workers. Logan must report back to the supervisors in 45 days on a plan to improve voting materials and voting access in multi-ethnic enclaves. “These will soon become a majority minority in the next few years,” said Solis. The Registrar-Recorder is required to produce a post-election report after the March 2024 presidential primary and the November 2024 presidential election.

Brevard County, Florida: The Brevard County Commission has voted to eliminate funding for the mailing of sample ballots to all registered voters, as well funding for prepaid return postage on vote-by-mail ballots, from Supervisor of Elections Tim Bobanic’s 2023-24 budget. The vote to reduce the supervisor of elections office’s total proposed budget by $318,223 was approved by a 3-2 vote last week during the county commission’s first of two budget hearings. The change was proposed by District 3 Commissioner John Tobia, who will be running against Bobanic in a Republican primary for supervisor of elections next year. “This is political gamesmanship at its best, and he is campaigning from the dais,” Bobanic said in an interview after the meeting, noting that the mailing of sample ballots had not been questioned by commissioners in previous years. “What’s different? What’s changed? His name will be on the ballot, running for my job.”

Michigan: House Bills 4129 and 4130 would make it a felony to intimidate an election official, such as a clerk or poll worker, or otherwise prevent them from performing their duties. Punishment would be up to five years in prison or a fine of up to $1,000. State Rep. Kara Hope, D-Holt testified in favor of her legislation this week before the House Elections Committee. Her husband is Delhi Township clerk and he has told her as political tensions increase, they’re taking a toll on the regular folks who keep the voting process afloat year after year. “He’s found that some people who have been election workers for a long time – who are maybe seniors – have their children telling them, ‘Mom or Dad, I don’t want you to go into the polling place this year,’” she told MLive. Poll challengers, the politically-appointed observers of election processes, would likely not be covered by these protections, she told the committee. Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, who received threats after the 2020 election, also testified in support of Hope’s bills. False claims about voting have eroded trust in the process, she said, and turned people against public servants.

Ottawa County, Michigan: Leaders of the Ottawa County Board want local election clerks to possibly use watermarked ballots and livestream ballot drop boxes and early-voting polling places. The suggestions made Tuesday, Sept. 12, by Ottawa County Board Chair Joe Moss and Co-chair Sylvia Rhodea were part of last-minute discussions around a countywide plan by local governments to meet requirements of Michigan’s new early voting law, which goes into effect next year. While the board’s authority is relegated to approving or denying the county’s expenditures related to the plan, Moss pulled the item from consideration Tuesday to have a discussion around changes he and Rhodea want to see in the plan. The early voting plan has already been approved by nearly all local governments in Ottawa County. The changes proposed by Moss and Rhodea would require use of watermarked ballots and livestreaming early voting polling places and ballot boxes. They say the changes would further election integrity and transparency, but it would potentially bind local clerks to election changes outlined by the county board leaders. The meeting ended with no clear direction on what Moss may seek to require in the agreement, or offer as an addendum, for the board to possibly approve it at the next meeting on Sept. 26.

North Carolina: The North Carolina House Committee on Elections and Campaign Finance Reform held a discussion-only session Tuesday to consider a bill that would ease public access to confidential voting records. The bill has raised concerns among voting rights advocates and Democrats in the GOP-controlled state legislature. Among the changes the bill would make, voted ballots and something called cast vote records, or CVRs, would be accessible by public records requests. Under current state law, such confidential records are publicly available by court order only. The bill is modeled on legislation drafted by the North Carolina Election Integrity Team, or NCEIT, which is a chapter of the Election Integrity Network, an organization founded by Cleta Mitchell. Mitchell is a North Carolina-based attorney and notorious for her role in trying to help Donald Trump overturn the 2020 presidential election results in Georgia. Ann Webb, policy director for Common Cause North Carolina — a civil and voting rights advocacy group — does not totally disagree with Womack and backers of making CVRs more publicly accessible. “We fully support transparency in elections and election audits,” Webb told the committee in a public comment period, adding that she appreciated the slowing down of the legislative process on this bill. Through its legal counsel, the State Board of Elections submitted some recommendations to the bill sponsors, including that they remove an entire section of the proposed legislation. The bill as written would seemingly enable counties and their local elections boards to circumvent the state elections board’s authority and dispense with vote tabulating machines altogether in favor of hand counting ballots.

Ohio: Ohio Republicans have introduced legislation to close the state’s primary elections. Each of the supporters provides no data or statistics backing up their claims that voters are gaming the system. Ohioans have a choice going into primary election day. Right now, voters are able to pick whether they want a Republican, Democratic or an unaffiliated ballot that day. “It’s time that we really modernize the way that we do voter registration in party primaries in the state of Ohio,” Sec. of State Frank LaRose said. LaRose joined Republicans in introducing Senate Bill 147, which would close Ohio’s primaries. It would require voters to register with a political party 30 days before the election to be able to vote on that ballot. This would prevent political “gamesmanship,” according to state Sen. Michele Reynolds (R-Canal Winchester) and state Rep. Thomas Hall (R-Madison Twp.) Hall introduced House Bill 208, the companion legislation. Voting rights advocates say the legislation is another way to suppress voters. If a voter doesn’t register with a party in time, they will have to vote with a nonpartisan ballot, which won’t have any candidates on it.

Wisconsin: A GOP-controlled Wisconsin Senate elections committee voted not to give the embattled administrator of the state elections commission another term, setting up a potential court battle over the appointment of an agency official who became a target of false conspiracy theories over the 2020 presidential election. In the 3-1 executive session vote by paper ballot, the Senate Committee on Shared Revenue, Elections and Consumer Protection decided not to reappoint Meagan Wolfe as the administrator of the bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission. The committee vote sends her appointment to the full Senate, which could take up the matter as soon as Thursday. Senator Mark Spreitzer, a Democrat from Beloit who sits on the five-person committee, confirmed through a spokesperson the result of the vote Monday afternoon — with Spreitzer as the lone “yes” vote in favor of Wolfe. Echoing the opinions of Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul and the Wisconsin Legislative Council, Spreitzer said Wolfe’s nomination is not properly before the Senate because a majority of the six-member WEC did not vote on her appointment and formally send it to the legislature. Despite the commission’s deadlock, GOP senators vowed to move forward with Wolfe’s confirmation anyway, a process that took another step forward Monday and brings her appointment closer to being settled with a lawsuit, an outcome lawmakers and others have acknowledged as a likelihood.

Legal Updates

Alabama: Alabama officials asked the U.S. Supreme Court to temporarily halt a lower court’s ruling that rejected a Republican-crafted electoral map for diminishing the clout of Black voters, escalating a legal dispute with potentially broad implications for the 2024 congressional elections. The state’s request concerned the decision by three federal judges in Birmingham who found that the map approved by the Republican-led state legislature to set the boundaries of Alabama’s seven U.S. House districts was unlawfully biased against Black voters and must be redrawn. That map was devised after the Supreme Court in June blocked a previous version, also for weakening the voting power of Black Alabamians. The Supreme Court in its 5-4 June ruling ordered state lawmakers to add a second House district with a Black majority – or close to it – in order to comply with the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act, which prohibits racial discrimination in voting. Black voters tend to favor Democratic candidates. Following that ruling, the legislature adopted a plan that increased the portion of Black voters in a second House district from around 30% to 40%, still well below a majority. The three-judge panel on Tuesday ruled that the new map failed to remedy the Voting Rights Act violation present in the first map and directed a special master – an independent party appointed by a court – to draw a new, third version of the map ahead of next year’s congressional elections.

Arizona: Kari Lake supporters are mounting a new effort to void her loss in the 2022 governor’s race, less than a month after one supporter’s attempt was rebuffed by the Arizona Supreme Court. And the essential elements of the new claim, this one to Maricopa County Superior Court, remain the same as those the state’s high court refused to consider. The supporters’ attorney, Ryan Heath, contends now, as he did then, that it was illegal for Maricopa County to verify signatures on early ballots by comparing them with images from prior early ballots. He argues Arizona law says the only valid comparison has to be with the person’s original voter registration. What he has now that he did not last month is a ruling by Yavapai County Superior Court John Napper in a similar case seemingly agreeing with the argument. But that decision, while providing legal fodder to support Heath’s theory about ballot signature verification, is not final. Moreover, in the Yavapai County case, the Arizona Free Enterprise Club and Restoring Integrity and Trust in Elections are seeking only a declaratory judgment prohibiting recorders from using anything but original voter registration records when verifying early ballots in future elections.

Cochise County Supervisor Tom Crosby filed a lawsuit against Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs, Attorney General Kris Mayes, Secretary of State Adrian Fontes, and Maricopa County Election officials claiming that Arizona’s largest county failed to follow the procedure to verify 1.3 million mail-in ballot signatures in the 2022 election. Crosby filed suit last week in a personal capacity along with Maricopa County resident David Mast.  Together, they claim that Maricopa County Elections staff compared signatures on electors’ mail-in-ballots to the most recent historical signatures submitted by those voters and not to the signatures on each elector’s voter registration form they used to register to vote, which Crosby and Mast assert is required by Arizona law. Crosby and Mast seek to have the court force Maricopa County to conduct a recount of all the mail-in ballots in the 2022 election or conduct yet another election for Governor, Attorney General, and Propositions 308 and 309. A court date has yet to be set.

Arkansas: An 8-month-old lawsuit challenging the legality of Arkansas’ ballot-counting machines was thrown out of court on Monday after the plaintiff’s attorney said he could not show that the system has ever misrepresented a vote. At issue was whether the bar code-based system allows voters “to verify in a private and independent manner the votes selected by the voter on the ballot before the ballot is cast” as described in Arkansas Code 7-5-504, which sets the standards for machine operations under the state Election Code. Dismissing the lawsuit, Circuit Judge Tim Fox ruled that the system does provide that verification opportunity as required by law because voters are given printed ballots to cast once they’ve selected their choices from the computer system. “This format completely and totally complies with that [language],” he said. “They [voters] got to look at that information. The voter has been given the opportunity to confirm their ballot.” The law is “clear and unambiguous” so the question comes down to either yes, the system complies with the law, or no, it does not, the judge said. “This is the crux of the lawsuit,” Fox said. “I am ruling that … this mechanism gives the voter the opportunity to verify in a private and independent manner the votes selected by the voter on the ballot before the ballot is cast.”

Georgia: A special grand jury that spent eight months investigating efforts by former President Donald Trump and others to overturn Georgia’s 2020 election results recommended nearly 40 people face criminal charges. In a 9-page report fully unsealed by a judge late last week, the special purpose grand jury told Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis they recommended prosecutors seek indictments against the former president for his Jan. 2, 2021 call with Republican Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger where he pressed the state’s top election official to overturn his already-certified defeat. The special panel, which interviewed more than 75 witnesses but did not have the power to issue indictments, found 39 different people allegedly violated more than a dozen state laws including making false statements and writings, solicitation of

Idaho: Jeremy Jon Thibault, 52 of Challis, is spending a year in jail after he pleaded guilty to lying on his voter registration form. Thibault reached a plea agreement with the Custer County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office in which he pleaded guilty to the election fraud charge in exchange for the prosecutor dismissing a perjury charge and a persistent violator enhancement against Thibault. Thibault was sentenced July 17 in District Court to one year of determinate jail time and one year indeterminant jail time after those terms in prison were suspended. His time is concurrent with a jail sentence for a 2021 DUI conviction. He was fined $750 and ordered to pay $745.50 in court costs. He was also ordered to perform 50 hours of community service and put on probation for two years.

Minnesota: The Minnesota Voters Alliance is suing the state over a new law barring people from distributing misinformation in the run-up to elections. The latest election law they’re targeting, effective June 15, makes it a misdemeanor to knowingly spread false information with the intent to impede or prevent people from voting if issued within 60 days of an election.  The law doesn’t target policy disputes or claims about candidates, but, rather, dirty tricks like spreading lies about how and when to vote and who is eligible, which have long been employed to suppress voting, often in Black neighborhoods. It’s now a gross misdemeanor — punishable by up to a year in jail and a $3,000 fine — to spread false information about the “time, place or manner of holding an election”; restrictions on voter eligibility; and threats to physical safety associated with voting. The provision was part of the Democracy for the People Act. The misinformation lawsuit contends that people who believe and continue to say felons still serving sentences don’t have the right to vote could reasonably fear prosecution for doing so, and fear retaliation from felons bringing lawsuits against them. The lawsuit claims the law targets political and campaign speech and gives too much power to the attorney general, county attorneys and “any person injured.”   Secretary of State Steve Simon has said he thinks the law has enough safeguards to protect First Amendment rights because a prosecutor would have to prove the intent to impede someone from voting, which is a high bar.

North Dakota: The U.S. Department of Justice is the latest party to get involved in an ongoing lawsuit that seeks to restrict mail-in voting in North Dakota.  The suit targets ballots that are mailed in accordance with the state’s current deadline — which requires that all mail ballots must be postmarked by the day before Election Day — but that aren’t received by election officials until after Election Day. The Department of Justice’s argument is largely in line with other opponents of the suit, pushing back on the idea of an alleged tension between state and federal law regarding these ballots.  Burleigh County Auditor Mark Splonskowski and the Public Interest Legal Foundation, which bills itself as a nonprofit dedicated to election integrity, filed the initial suit in early July against state Election Director Erika White. In a Statement of Interest filed Monday, the Department of Justice indicated that it doesn’t see a conflict between federal and state laws.  The U.S. Attorney General’s office is allowed to address issues that pertain to “the issues of the United States in a suit pending in a court of the United States,” according to the filing. The office’s argument is twofold: First, that counting ballots postmarked on or before Election Day is not in violation of federal law, and second, that an absentee ballot deadline like the one North Dakota has in place, which allows for counting after Election Day, protects the rights of overseas Americans and military personnel.

Pennsylvania: The U.S. Supreme Court this week rejected an emergency bid from Republican election officials in a Pennsylvania county to freeze sanctions related to a dispute about voting equipment and the 2020 election. The case involves actions taken by two of three Fulton County, Pennsylvania, Commissioners – Stuart Ulsh and Randy Bunch – who sought to have Dominion voting equipment examined by a third party after the 2020 election. They claimed they did so to consider whether to continue to use the voting machines. Multiple outside firms were ultimately given unauthorized access to voting systems in Fulton County after the 2020 election without authorization from the Board of Elections, according to court filings in the special master probe. The third county commissioner only learned that an outside firm had been allowed to inspect the election equipment until after it was done, court filings show. Months after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court entered the protective order, the commissioners allowed another party  to inspect the voting equipment without the knowledge of the state, according to court papers. After the completion of that report, the county moved to sue Dominion, arguing that the machines were not fit for their intended use and purpose.  When Pennsylvania state officials brought the action to the attention of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, the court issued sanctions. It ordered the county officials to pay attorney’s fees and referred their attorney Thomas Carroll to Pennsylvania’s attorney disciplinary board. The court also ordered the Dominion voting equipment to be placed in the custody of a neutral agent.  The commissioners had asked the US Supreme Court to freeze those sanctions while the justices considered whether to take up the commissioners’ appeal. The court rejected the request. No dissents were noted in the court’s order.

Texas: Two years after voting rights groups challenged Republicans’ sweeping overhaul of its voting and election laws, the case came to trial this week in a federal court in San Antonio. The lengthy roster  of plaintiffs will argue certain provisions of the new law made it harder for voters of color to cast ballots, with some alleging the effect was intentional. More than 20 state and national organizations brought a collective five lawsuits against the law, often referred to as Senate Bill 1, that have been consolidated into this case. The groups claim several provisions of the law violate federal laws including the Voting Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act and the First, 14th, and 15th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. The trial is expected to go until late October, and U.S. District Judge Xavier Rodriguez may not issue a decision until months later. Experts say it’s unclear and too soon to tell whether a decision will come in time to affect elections and voting in 2024, especially since appeals could draw the process out.

Washington: A lawsuit seeking to stop Washington from rejecting ballots where a voter’s signature appears to differ from the one on file — a practice that disproportionately tossed the votes of younger people and people of color — has prompted heated pushback from elections officials, who contend it could leave the state wide open for voter fraud. The legal battle is playing out in King County Superior Court, where a trio of liberal nonprofit groups filed a lawsuit in November, arguing that the signature rejections are subjective and unconstitutional, tossing out thousands of legitimate votes while doing next to nothing to ferret out the rare instances of actual fraud. In response, elections officials, including Secretary of State Steve Hobbs, have defended the signature checks, warning in dire terms that scrapping them could lead to a total collapse of election integrity and potentially scuttle the state’s all-mail voting system. A key court hearing is set for this week, at which the opposing sides will seek to persuade Judge Mark Larrañaga to rule in their favor without proceeding to a trial.

Opinions This Week

National Opinions: Election subversion | List maintenance| Voting rights | Democracy | Ranked choice voting | Noncitizen voting | Secretaries of state

Alabama: SCOTUS case

Alaska: Bilingual materials

Arizona: Election system

California: Noncitizens

Iowa: Voting rights

Michigan: Voters with disabilities

Mississippi: Engaged electorate

Nebraska: Accessibility

Nevada: Primaries

North Carolina: Democracy

North Dakota: Ballot measure

Ohio: Secretary of state

Pennsylvania: Primaries

Tennessee: Election legislation

Utah: Voter ID

Virginia: Poll workers | Voters with disabilities

West Virginia: Secretary of state

Wyoming: Election legislation


Upcoming Events

National Voter Registration Day: National Voter Registration Day is a nonpartisan civic holiday celebrating our democracy. It has quickly gained momentum since it was first observed in 2012, with more than 5 million voters registered to vote on the holiday to date. Celebrated every September, National Voter Registration Day involves volunteers and organizations from all over the country hitting the streets in a single day of coordinated field, technology, and media efforts. The holiday is endorsed by the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS), the National Association of State Election Directors (NASED), the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), and the National Association of Election Officials (The Election Center). When: September 19.

How Should Platforms Handle Election Speech and Disinformation in 2024?: The Safeguarding Democracy Project at UCLA promotes research, collaboration, and advocacy under the leadership of UCLA Law Professor Richard L. Hasen; one of the nation’s leading election scholars. The Safeguarding Democracy Project is built upon the premise that tackling issues of the U.S. election integrity must be collaborative: across ideologies, across scholarly disciplines, and as a bridge between theory and practice. Josh Lawson (formerly of Meta) and Yoel Roth (formerly of Twitter). Moderated by Richard L. Hasen. Cosponsored by UCLA Law’s Institute for Technology, Law & Policy. When: Sept. 26, 3:15pm Eastern. Where: Online.

The Roberts Court and American Democracy: The Safeguarding Democracy Project at UCLA promotes research, collaboration, and advocacy under the leadership of UCLA Law Professor Richard L. Hasen; one of the nation’s leading election scholars. The Safeguarding Democracy Project is built upon the premise that tackling issues of the U.S. election integrity must be collaborative: across ideologies, across scholarly disciplines, and as a bridge between theory and practice. Joan Biskupic (CNN Legal Analyst and author) in conversation with Richard L. Hasen about her new book, “Nine Black Robes.” When: Oct. 12, 3pm Eastern. Where: Online.

Covering the Risks to Elections on the State and Local Level: Views from the Beat Reporters: The Safeguarding Democracy Project at UCLA promotes research, collaboration, and advocacy under the leadership of UCLA Law Professor Richard L. Hasen; one of the nation’s leading election scholars. The Safeguarding Democracy Project is built upon the premise that tackling issues of the U.S. election integrity must be collaborative: across ideologies, across scholarly disciplines, and as a bridge between theory and practice. Jonathan Lai (Philadelphia Inquirer, Politico), Carrie Levine (Votebeat), Patrick Marley (WaPo), and Yvonne Wingett Sanchez (WaPo). Moderated by Pamela Fessler (retired from NPR). When: November 16, 3pm Eastern. Where: Online.

Job Postings This Week

electionlineWeekly publishes election administration job postings each week as a free service to our readers. To have your job listed in the newsletter, please send a copy of the job description, including a web link to mmoretti@electionline.org.  Job postings must be received by 5pm on Wednesday in order to appear in the Thursday newsletter. Listings will run for three weeks or till the deadline listed in the posting.

Assistant Manager-Poll Worker Department, Palm Beach County, Florida— The Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections is looking for an experienced Assistant Poll Worker Department Manager. In this role, you will oversee the planning and the completion of various projects, administrative functions, operations, and specialized tasks in the Poll Worker Department. The work involves knowledge and application of departmental operations, planning, assigning responsibilities, monitoring election worker classes, maintaining records, evaluating performance, and the ability to review work for accuracy. This position requires initiative and sound independent judgement in the application of office policies, election laws, and procedures. Must be personable and maintain effective working relationships with colleagues, associates, and the general public. All work is performed under the guidance of the Supervisor of Elections. The ideal candidate will have an excellent work ethic, including consistent performance, reliability, and attendance. The desire and ability to work well in a fast-paced collaborative environment with a smile are essential to the position. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Certification Manager, Hart InterCivic— Hart InterCivic is looking for a Certification Manager to join our team in Austin, Texas. The Certification Manager’s responsibilities include planning and managing federal and state certification activities, ongoing compliance activities, and leadership of the Certification Team. The Certification Manager will report to the VP of Product Management and will work closely with key internal and external stakeholders and cross-functional input providers including Sales, Product Management, Finance, Operations and Engineering. The ideal candidate will be a master communicator, will have the ability to move seamlessly from big picture to detailed planning activities and will have experience working with state and local government elections processes, high-level project management skills, and the ability to manage priorities to ensure adherence to externally driven deadlines. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Communications Officer, Union County, North Carolina— The Communications Officer, under limited supervision and with a high level of collaboration, administers outreach and communications activities on a countywide basis for the Union County Board of Elections office. Must demonstrate initiative, good judgment, nonpartisanship, and the ability to express thoughts clearly and simply. Employee must also exercise considerable tact and courtesy in frequent contact with candidates, elected officials, staff, media, other governmental departments, and the general public. Salary: $57,749 – $89,511.  Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Data Analyst, Protect Democracy— VoteShield, a project of Protect Democracy, seeks highly motivated and civic-minded Data Analysts to join our growing team. VoteShield’s goal is to maintain complete and accurate voter data in order to ensure free and fair elections for all qualified voters. As a member of this world-class analysis and engineering team, you will analyze voter registration data, work with election administrators, and grow your technical skills. Ideal candidates will be critical thinkers with a command of data analysis techniques and the ability to distill findings into clear, accessible reports and presentations. We are seeking people who bring an interest in civic data, commitment to non-partisanship, and passion for defending and strengthening our democracy through free and fair elections. We do not expect that any one candidate will have all of the experiences and requirements listed — our current data analysis team comes from a variety of professional backgrounds, including academia and the public and private sectors. We highly encourage you to apply if the job description gets you excited about the role and the work of Protect Democracy & VoteShield. You may work from any location in the United States, and candidates from diverse backgrounds and from across the political and ideological spectrum are strongly encouraged to apply. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Departmental Analyst 12 – Training and Election Assistance, Michigan Department of State— This position is a lead analyst for the Training & Election Assistance Section. As a lead analyst, this position will be responsible for guiding the work of employees within the section and directing and reviewing their work. This position will also assist the Training & Elections Assistance Section handling complex issues that arise within the section, creating and implementing new training programs based on best practices in education and training technologies, This position will also develop and adapt training materials for Michigan election officials, conduct training sessions (both online and in person) covering election administration and related technologies/tools, and educate and oversee the performance of Michigan’s over 1,600 county and local election officials to ensure proper practices and procedures. Salary: $2,170.40 – $3,172 Biweekly. Deadline: Sept. 25. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Election Professional, The Elections Group— The Elections Group is growing its team of election professionals. You will work in support of state and local election officials as they enhance or implement new programs and adapt procedures as necessary in a dynamic operating environment. Our team works quickly to assess needs and provide guidance, resources and support in all areas of election administration, including security, audits, communications and election operations. This is an opportunity to be a part of a collaborative and professional group who are passionate about elections and serving the people who run them.  Our employment model includes remote work with some travel required and competitive compensation. We will be hiring full-time, part-time and contract positions over the next several months. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Election Specialist I, II or III, Douglas County, Colorado— This position is focused on routine customer service and general office/clerical support including data entry, communications, and processing mail. This is a support role capable of performing a variety of tasks, with problem solving abilities, managing multiple competing responsibilities and prioritizing to maintain a continuous flow of election office operations. This is a visible and crucial position requiring exceptional computer, customer service, and communication skills. Salary Range: $39,520 – 67,581. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

IT Coordinator, St. Johns County, Florida— The IT Coordinator is a critical role in the organization responsible for overseeing the technology operations of the Supervisor of Elections office operating in a Microsoft Windows environment. This includes managing the IT staff, ensuring the security and integrity of the organization’s data and systems, and identifying and implementing new technologies to improve efficiency and productivity. The IT Coordinator manages core network operations, reports to senior management, and collaborates with other department heads to align Information Technology strategies to maximize organizational operations. Responsible for ensuring the smooth operation of the Supervisor of Elections office and systems while identifying and implementing new technologies to improve efficiency and productivity. Salary: $80,000 – $92,500 a year. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Network Manager, Rhode Island Secretary of State’s Office— The Network Manager will manage, maintain, document, and operate the Department of State’s (Department) network. Additionally, the Network Manager will configure, update, secure, and install network equipment with the Department’s infrastructure as well as work with other members of the eGov and IT Division to ensure secure reliable service to staff and the public. The Network Manager performs various duties including, but not limited to: Install, secure, maintain, troubleshoot, and repair LAN and WAN network hardware, software, systems, and cabling; Work with Department staff to assist them in understanding and utilizing network services and resources; Build and maintain network log infrastructure and support critical response initiatives; Manage, monitor, document, and expand the network infrastructure; Resolve desktop and networking problems; Assist staff with maintaining voice, data, and wireless communications; Develop and implement policies related to secure hardware and software; Optimize and maintain network security through the proper design, implementation and maintenance of network devices, appliances, and other systems; Plan and implement new network installations and upgrades; Maintain an orderly networking office and equipment storage area; Participate in Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity planning, drill, and implementation activities; and Perform other duties as required. Salary: $73,416 – $83,126. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

NextVote Project Manager, Hart InterCivic– Project Managers at Hart InterCivic are highly motivated “self-starters” who are enthusiastic about providing exceptional customer service. Working with other members of the Professional Services, the Customer Support Center team, Product Management and the Engineering teams, the Project Manager directs activity, solves problems, and develops lasting and strong relationships with our customers. Hart InterCivic’s unique and industry known culture of innovation, transparency, and customer-centric focus creates an environment where team members will continually grow and be challenged to develop their careers. Responsibilities: Acquire an expert level of knowledge of Hart products. Develop project plans and applicable subordinate plans, including identification of risks and contingency plans. Identify and schedule project deliverables, milestones, and required tasks. Coordinate and conduct requirements-gathering for functional elements of voter registration products. Develop election-based training schedules for voter registration customers that guide them through first election activities. Assess customer needs throughout the project and manage those needs, expectations and relationships. Direct and coordinate activities to ensure project progresses on schedule. Provide technical advice and resolve problems. Create a strong customer relationship that encourages questions and participation. Coordinate customer-level data migration activities (milestones) for voter registration products. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Operations Manager, Santa Fe County, New Mexico— Under the general direction of the Department Director or elected official, establishes, implements, and oversees sound financial management, accounting, budgeting, staffing, procurement, and monitoring of internal control systems and processes for a department.  Oversees multiple program support functions within the Department.  This position will also manage the customer service and front window functions of the Clerk’s office. Essential Job Functions: Collaborates with Finance Department to establish the departmental budget request and submittal; executes, analyzes, forecasts, and manages budget in compliance with County policy. Oversees the development, tracking, and processing of all Department contracts, Requests for Proposal (RFP), Personnel Actions (PA), and payroll. Tracks grants and bond expenditures to ensure timeliness and efficiency. Serves as the official liaison with County Finance Department, Legal Department, and Personnel Department regarding Contracts, RFP’s, and payroll. Ensures internal control structure, budgetary control system and all accounting processes are functioning effectively within the department. Certifies that payments to vendors are accurate and timely and are for goods and services rendered in accordance with County policy. Disseminates information to management regarding the fiscal procedures and responsibilities regarding all financial transactions and activities. Coordinates program support activities within the Department; may present information at Board of County Commission meetings; may develop policies and business procedures for the department; and may audit and verify department payroll matters. Supervises timesheet submission for the department, ensuring timesheets are accurate and complete. Coordinates with the County Human Resource Department regarding the processing and tracking of all employee actions and issues; collaborates with Human Resources to facilitate recruitment for the department. Assists the Department Director/Elected Official with projects and assignments of priority and ensures completion of assignments in an effective and timely manner. Responds to questions and requests for information for the department. Hires, orients, trains, supervises, assigns and reviews work of, evaluates, and disciplines staff; recommends staff for promotion, compensation increases; and disciplinary action. Schedules, plans, and oversees or assists with departmental meetings; attends external meetings as representative of department; and attends meetings with government officials, vendors, and the public. Maintains knowledge of emerging technology and trends, current industry standards, evolving technologies, and methodologies that will impact department. Manages the customer service procedures and protocols in the Clerk’s Office; is readily available by phone, chat and email.  Answers the main phone number and Clerk inbox; follows up with customer requests. Manages the Clerk’s Office calendar protocol, chat and ticketing systems. Maintains lists of regular customers by type: titles companies, surveyors, etc. Notifies customers of any operational changes, ensures holidays are posted. Maintains effective communications with users regarding vendor activities, problems, status, timelines and other details. Salary: $68,598 – $96,033. Deadline: Oct. 18. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Research Director, CEIR— CEIR seeks a qualified Research Director to join our team. The Research Director will report to the Executive Director and lead CEIR’s research initiatives. These initiatives include, but are not limited to, matters pertaining to voter registration, voter access, election integrity and security, and election policy, generally. The Research Director will set goals aligned with CEIR’s mission and provide the research team with strategic direction on how to reach those goals, all while ensuring the rigor, integrity, and quality of all research activities. This is an excellent opportunity for an experienced and highly motivated individual who wants to join a growing nonprofit that seeks to make a substantial, positive, nonpartisan impact on elections and American democracy. The Research Director role is a full-time job. CEIR supports hybrid work at its office in Washington, DC. However, we will consider outstanding candidates across the United States that wish to work remotely. CEIR’s office hours are 9am-5pm ET, and the Research Director is expected to be available during that time regardless of location. Salary Range: $110,000-160,000.Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Training Program Coordinator, Charleston County, South Carolina— This position is responsible for the recruiting, coordinating, and training of Election Day poll managers on the policies, procedures, and SC State law regarding the administering of fair, honest, and accurate elections within the polling places on Election Day and during early voting. This position will also train all temporary Early Voting staff. This position will be responsible for developing all instruction manuals and materials. This position reports directly to the Deputy Director of Election Operations. Salary: $53,248 – $69,784. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.


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