In Focus This Week
Guns and voting
New report looks at how to protect elections from gun violence
By M. Mindy Moretti
While incidents of gun violence at polling places or elections offices remain rare, the heated political climate and threats to elections workers and the democratic process has pushed more and more states to include voting locations in legislation that prohibits guns in “sensitive places.”
Currently only 12 states and the District of Columbia prohibit both open and concealed carry of firearms at poll sites. According to the Movement Advancement Project, 43% of the voting-eligible population lives in states that have a clear prohibition against guns in polling places while 57 % of voting-eligible population lives in states that have no clear prohibition against guns in polling places.
This week, The Brennan Center for Justice and the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence have released a report Guns and Voting: How to Protect Elections after Bruen.
This report evaluates the new risks that gun violence poses for U.S. elections and proposes policy solutions to limit those risks.
Solutions include prohibitions on firearms wherever voting or election administration occurs — at or near polling places, ballot drop boxes, election offices, and ballot counting facilities. In addition, states need stronger laws preventing intimidation of voters, election officials, election workers, and anyone else facilitating voting, with express recognition of the role that guns play in intimidation.
“Though American elections have remained safe and secure, both political and gun violence pose significant risks to the safety of voters and people bravely conducting our elections. The 2024 presidential election brings an unprecedented confluence of factors that heighten these risks, said Allison Anderman, Senior Counsel and Director of Local Policy, GIFFORDS Law Center. “Ahead of next year’s elections, it is critical that states take the steps recommended in the report to ensure that elections remain free from violence. Our leaders must act to protect our democracy.”
- Only 12 states and D.C. prohibit both open and concealed carry of firearms at the polls.
- Voting and elections have become the targets of threats and intimidation just as we face a proliferation of guns, more frequent gun violence, and fewer legal protections.
- Neither federal law nor any state law explicitly acknowledges that the presence of guns in or around places where people are voting and conducting elections can constitute illegal intimidation.
“We found big holes in the legal protections for voters and election workers against gun violence. Even as it cast many other gun regulations into doubt in Bruen, the Supreme Court said that it’s constitutional to ban guns at the polls. That’s a straightforward, popular policy that states should be able to enact without controversy.” Sean Morales-Doyle, director of the Voting Rights Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law and coauthor of Guns and Voting.
- States should prohibit all guns, including concealed carry, in and around sites where elections are taking place.
- States should strengthen laws protecting voters and others from intimidation by explicitly addressing the intimidating effect of firearms.
- States must pass stronger anti-intimidation laws that protect voters and election workers.
Voter Registration News
National Voter Registration Day: This week, the country celebrated National Voter Registration Day. NVRD was first celebrated in 2012 and to-date, more than 5 million have registered to vote on the annual civic holiday. Like all holidays in the country, NVRD was celebrated in a variety of different ways. Here’s a look at a few of them. President Joe Biden issued a proclamation for NVRD. In Pulaski County, Arkansas the clerk’s office partnered with Loblolly Creamery to set up an ice cream truck next to the clerk’s office to entice people to register to vote. In Florida, Palm Beach County officials visited high schools while officials in Martin and Indian River counties partnered with Indian River State College to get students registered. The Idaho Secretary of State’s Office partnered with election officials in Ada and Canyon counties to offer voter registration in front of the Idaho Capitol Building to celebrate NVRD. Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate spent Tuesday and much of the week reaching out to high school students to encourage voter registration. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the office of the Michigan Secretary of State announced the signing of an interagency agreement to designate the Saginaw VA Medical Center, the Detroit VA Medical Center, and the Detroit Regional Office as voter registration sites. This agreement will empower VA to provide voter registration information and assistance to Veterans and eligible dependents at these three facilities. In Minnesota, the group that successfully pushed the legislature to restore the voting rights for an estimated 55,000 Minnesotans with felony records celebrated the long-sought policy change. Officials in Nebraska used NVRD not only to register voters, but also do some voter education about the state’s new voter ID law. In Monroe County, New York, the Board of Elections has set up a booth at the Rochester Educational Opportunity Center on Chestnut Street with the goal of simplifying voter registration for residents. The Brunswick County, North Carolina Board of Elections partnered with Brunswick County Libraries to bring a streamlined registration process to future voters and help those who have voted in the past update their voter registration. In Buncombe County, North Carolina, election officials did Facebook lives in English and Spanish, encouraging people to register. Hamilton County, Ohio marked the holiday by inviting local media crews inside their operations for a “Behind the Ballot” tour. The Oregon elections mascot Blobby was featured a voter registration public service announcement in multiple languages on the state’s YouTube channel. The next NVRD will be celebrated on September 17, 2024. A number of event were held throughout the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area on Tuesday including concerts, a pirate party (because NVRD coincided with National Talk Like a Pirate Day…arrrr…) and a future voters festival. “What I love about this holiday is that it inspires confidence in our voters,” said Milwaukee County Clerk George Christenson. “Allowing people to be empowered as they enter the polling place, knowing that they’re registered, strengthens our democracy.” And never underestimate the power of Taylor Swift. An Instagram post drove record-breaking web traffic to Vote.org this week and helped the site register more than 35,000 new voters. 35,252 people newly registered to vote on Tuesday — a 23% jump from last year’s National Voter Registration Day, and the largest since the 2020 general election year, according to Vote.org.
Automatic Voter Registration: On National Voter Registration Day, Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro announced that the state will automatically register residents to vote when they interact with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT). Under the new system, which went into effect Tuesday, residents obtaining new or renewed driver’s licenses and ID cards will respond to questions to complete or update their voter registration unless they opt out. Previously, residents were asked if they wanted to fill out a voter registration form or update their existing voter registration, which is known as an “opt in” system. Now, forms on PennDOT’s website say “this application will also serve as a request to update your voter registration unless you check this box” and that voter registration material will automatically be mailed to unregistered voters. An application for an identification card obtained by Votebeat and Spotlight PA at a Lancaster County PennDOT center Tuesday contained the same language. Prompts on terminals at PennDOT centers will now also take users through the registration, unless they opt out.
Interstate Data Sharing Agreements: Several states that left ERIC have announced that they are entering data sharing agreements not only with other non-ERIC states, but states that are a part of ERIC. Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose announced this week that Ohio will share data with Florida, Virginia and West Virginia. “This is a major new development as states look to move beyond the old model of sharing voter data through an unaccountable third-party vendor,” LaRose said. “Ohio took the lead on this election integrity project, and it’s only one aspect of the work we’re doing to keep our elections honest as we prepare for the next presidential election year.” In Virginia, Election Commissioner Susan Beals announced this week that the Virginia Department of Elections has signed six data sharing agreements with the District of Columbia, Georgia, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia. “Secure elections start with accurate voter lists,” said Beals. “Virginia now updates our voter list using data coming directly from one-to-one data sharing agreements with neighboring states and partnerships with state and federal agencies.” While announcing the creation of a new statewide voter registration system, Alabama Secretary of State Wes Allen announced that the state has signed MOUs with Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Florida and Tennessee to share voter data.
New Technology: This week, Alabama Secretary of State Wes Allen announced that the statw would launch its own database of registered voters. The move follows Alabama’s withdrawal from ERIC earlier this year. Allen unveiled the Alabama Voter Integrity Database, or AVID, to manage the state’s registered voter rolls, completing a goal to replace the Electronic Registration Information Center, or ERIC, system that the Secretary of State withdrew from at the beginning of the year. “This is going to be an Alabama-based system,” Allen said. “This is not going to be something that we send to some private nonprofit, third party vendor, out of state. It is going to be something that we control, that we have access to at all times.” According to the secretary’s office, Alabama Law Enforcement Agency will identify registered voters in Alabama who have moved and obtained a driver’s license or a non-driver identification in another state. Thus far, the secretary of state’s office found more than 8,000 people who received driver’s licenses from other states, making them ineligible to vote in Alabama’s elections. The system will also use the National Change of Address File to compare it against the Alabama voter rolls to identify people who should be removed from the registry after moving out of state. In comparing the state’s voter registration list against those change of address list maintained by the U.S. Postal Service, Allen said that his office has found more than 30,000 active registered voters who have moved out of Alabama. It will use the Social Security Death Index to remove people who have passed away from the state’s voter rolls.
Election Security Updates
CISA News: Speaking at an event hosted by the National Security Institute (NSI) at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School, CISA Director Jen Easterly said this week that Americans can remain confident in U.S. election infrastructure, but also warned that the information environment is at risk. Easterly’s remarks came just days after the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released a report predicting that attacks on critical infrastructure, misinformation and disinformation, election interference, and emerging technologies will be among the biggest cyber threats in 2024. “I think at the end of the day, why Americans should continue to have confidence in the integrity and the resilience of our elections, is because of the incredibly hard work of state and local officials who for the past six years have been building capability and security measures in place to keep election infrastructure safe and secure,” Easterly. “So, I don’t think anything from an AI perspective will change what we put in place in terms of those measures,” she added. Even so, the CISA director said she believes that there are issues surrounding confidence in terms of the information environment, especially as adversaries look to use AI to generate deceptive content to influence Federal elections. For example, Easterly said local election officials are concerned about deepfakes – which use a form of AI called deep learning to create images or videos of fake events – and the use of generative AI from a disinformation perspective. Easterly said CISA is working hard to combat this newer threat and is “now very focused on the local offices,” and bringing them the support they need. “We’re going to work very hard using the same things that we’ve done before … rumor control, we’re continuing to do that, we continue to amplify the trusted voices of local officials, and then continuing to work with our [Intelligence Community] and FBI partners on what are the tactics of disinformation that are used by foreign adversaries and how could that impact the information environment,” Easterly said. “We are doing everything we can to be proactive and get ahead of it. I think it’ll be a challenging year,” she said, adding, “But, I have great faith in the state and local election officials who are on the frontlines defending democracy, and there’s no more important mission.”
Election Security Research Forum: The Information Technology – Information Sharing Analysis Center (IT-ISAC) hosted a first-of-its-kind pilot event, the Election Security Research Forum to strengthen U.S. elections. Hosted at MITRE Corporation, this program culminates 5 years of planning by the IT-ISAC’s Elections Industry Special Interest Group (EI-SIG) and an independent advisory board composed of security researchers, security companies, nonprofits, and former state and local election officials. As part of the forum, election technology manufacturers provided trusted security researchers access to modern election technology with newly developed and not yet fielded configurations of resident software under the principles of coordinated vulnerability disclosure (CVD). The robust offering collectively included digital scanners, ballot marking devices, and electronic pollbooks with a primary focus on the technology that voters may encounter at a polling site. The event built relationships between security researchers and election technology providers, which will bolster the security and resilience of voting technology and increase overall voter confidence in U.S. elections in the immediate and longer term. “This forum was a long time in the making and we are grateful and thrilled that it has come together. We are thankful to each election systems provider, researcher, and advisory board member who has worked tirelessly to make this happen,” said Scott Algeier, Executive Director of the IT-ISAC. “The experience and lessons learned from the last three days are invaluable to the elections industry and to democracy. We look forward to the lasting relationships this
forum has provided and what the future holds for more Election Security Research Forums.” During the event, researchers were given access to election technology from Elections Systems & Software (ES&S), Hart InterCivic, and Unisyn Voting Solutions for a day and a half at MITRE Corporation in McLean, Virginia. MITRE and its National Election Security Lab (NESL) were essential partners in bringing these diverse stakeholders together and ensuring the safety and security of the equipment used. The Center for Internet Security provided financial support to cover the travel expenses of researchers. The forum also enabled the security researchers to engage with the individuals and companies who create these essential systems. The three-day event concluded with discussions on the various components of America’s election infrastructure and explored how to leverage the momentum of the event to improve the security and resilience of elections.
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Election News This Week
New Equipment: With its “first-in-the-nation” primary looming, this week the New Hampshire ballot law commission chose two voting systems to replace the states aging AccuVote ballot-counting machines that have been used for as long as 30 years in some localities. The two systems chosen by the 10-person commission come from Dominion Voting Systems, which makes the follow-up to the AccuVote device, and from VotingWorks, a not-for-profit company that uses open-source software that can be viewed by the public. Its makers say that being open source helps dispel any suspicion about the accuracy or fairness of ballot-counting machines. The current machines can still be used until the ballot law commission de-certifies them. It will be up to cities and towns to decide when they want to switch, at the cost of about $7,000 per machine, or even if they want to revert back to hand-counting ballots on election nights. In August, the ballot law commission publicly tested out several systems. During the public testing, conservative activists questioned the legality of the equipment and whether or not parts were manufactured in China. According to NHPR, these questions led to short but spirited responses from local election officials in the audience, who defended the use of counting machines. In Connecticut, a coalition of advocacy groups, including ACLU, League of Women Voters, AARP, Common Cause CT, Safe Vote CT are ramping up pressure on Gov. Ned Lamont and calling on him to authorize funding for a new generation of voting equipment in Connecticut ahead of the 2024 presidential election. The group issued a press release on Thursday imploring Lamont, who leads the State Bond Commission, to use that position to borrow millions of dollars to replace the state’s aging ballot tabulators. They were joined in that effort by former Secretary of the State Denise Merrill, who served more than a decade as Connecticut’s top election official. “We’ve made great strides in expanding access to the ballot for all eligible voters in Connecticut,” said Merrill, a member of the coalition. “Let’s not take the chance that malfunctioning machines sabotage our laudable work.” The Cayuga County, New York board of elections has selected Clear Ballot as its vendor to replace aging voting machines before the 2024 election cycle. The cost to buy the new voting machines and software will be $489,400. Additionally, the board will pay $82,000 to dispose of the outdated machines. The Hamilton County, Tennessee Election Commission voted Wednesday to replace all voting machines using a $2 million grant from the Secretary of State for that purpose. The cost of 130 new machines and maintenance from Election Systems and Software is just a few dollars shy of $2 million.
Budget Battles: Several elections officials in Florida are in the throes of budget battles with county commissions. Some of the issues driving the budget requests include: New election laws that require additional staff; Ever-increasing voter registration rolls; Cybersecurity efforts; and The upcoming presidential primary and general election in 2024. In Palm Beach County, Supervisor of Elections Wendy Sartory-Link said new laws regulating “secure ballot intake stations” or what used to be called drop boxes is a significant cost. Voters used to be able to drop off their ballots at an unmanned drop box at any time of the day. The secure ballot intake stations must now be manned at all times they are open. Sartory-Link has called on county commissioners to approve a $34 million budget for fiscal year 2024. That’s a $12 million, or a 53% increase over last year. Elections supervisors in other counties seeking large increases include Flagler, 52%; Orange, 47%; Martin, 22%, Broward, 21% and Brevard, 15%. In Brevard, last week the county commission voted to cut money for mailing sample ballots and return postage for vote-by-mail ballots from the supervisor of elections budget. However this week, County Commissioner Jason Steele says he has changed his mind. In a Facebook post, Steele said he was wrong on his original vote. He said he thought his vote was “the fiscally responsible thing to do,” but added: “Sometimes, it’s not about the money.” Steele said his office has received more than 300 emails and more than 100 phone calls from residents who disagreed with his initial vote in favor of moving $318,223 from the budget of the Brevard County Supervisor of Elections Office.
Transparency: During this year’s legislative session, Oregon lawmakers passed a bill that calls on the secretary of state to obtain federal grants to install livestream cameras in rooms where ballots are counted. A spokesperson for the office confirmed grants have been secured and cameras will go up in the rooms where ballots are counted in some Oregon counties starting in 2024. “When it comes to elections, the more transparency the better. We often encourage voters to visit their county elections office to see how it works,” the spokesperson for Secretary of State LaVonne Griffin-Valade wrote. “This technology could provide even more access for people who can’t travel in person to see our election workers in action.” Lawmakers say it was a bipartisan initiative suggested by the Secretary of State’s Office and brought forth through the Senate Committee on Rules. “Fundamentally, Oregonians, regardless of their political preferences, believe in our democracy and they believe that every vote should count,” said Sen. Elizabeth Steiner, D-Northwest Portland. The Secretary of State’s Office said the federal grants were just confirmed and details are still being finalized. The office would not release the amount of the grant yet and noted that it is still in the process of determining in which counties cameras will go.
Sticker News: The Charleston County, South Carolina board of voter registration and elections has revealed the winners of the department’s first “I voted” sticker design contest. The competition took place over the summer and there were more then 100 submissions. “Young people across Charleston County combined their creativity and patriotism to produce fantastic artwork this summer. I thank everyone who expressed themselves and participated to make our first ‘I Voted!’ Sticker Design Contest a rousing success,” BVRE Executive Director Isaac Cramer said. “They and their designs will inspire future voters to be more aware of and involved in issues impacting Charleston County. They will help others see the beauty and diversity of our people and our values, and will encourage others to make a positive difference in our community.” The three winners were selected by age group: Nora G. (K-5), Madelyn G. (6-8), and Cameron H. (9-12). Each winner’s design will come to life as physical “I Voted!” stickers, which will be distributed on a limited run during the early voting period for this fall’s municipal elections.
Personnel News: Lucille Wenegieme has been appointed the new executive director of HeadCount. Former Johnson County, Indiana Board of Elections member Phil Barrow recently received the Distinguished Hoosier Award. Ron Sheehan is the new chair of the Carbon County, Pennsylvania board of elections. The Wisconsin Senate voted to reject the confirmation of Wisconsin Elections Commission Administrator Meagan Wolfe. Bob Bartelsmeyer has resigned as the Cochise County, Arizona elections director. Phil Kapro has resigned as the general counsel for the Seminole County, Florida supervisor of elections office. Shara Costa is the new Dighton, Massachusetts town clerk.
Federal Legislation: Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Alabama) lead a group of House Democrats to reintroduce a bill Tuesday that would shore up and expand the Voting Rights Act of 1965 after the U.S. Supreme Court dismantled key parts of the landmark law. The John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act — was part of a pair of voting rights bills in the last Congress that President Biden tried to rally lawmakers around in “a moral and Constitutional obligation to act.” In 2021, the Democratic-controlled House passed Sewell’s bill in a vote along party lines. But in the Senate, where Democrats have held a slim majority, the legislation ultimately could not overcome Republican opposition, as well as a failed attempt to end the Senate’s legislative filibuster in order to pass the bill with a simple majority. As in its previous version, key provisions in Sewell’s latest bill respond to two Supreme Court decisions that have made it more difficult to protect voters of color from discrimination. Sewell’s bill updates the formula to require preclearance for 10 years for any state that, in the past 25 years, had at least 15 voting rights violations, as determined by the U.S. attorney general, committed by localities within the state or at least 10 violations, including one by the state itself. A county would be covered if it had three or more violations. The bill would amend the section by codifying factors that courts would have to consider when reviewing claims of vote denial. It specifies, for example, that an election rule that is intended to help a political party would violate Section 2 if it is also intended to dilute the power of voters of color or make it harder for them to “cast a ballot that will be counted.”
San Joaquin County, California: The Board of Supervisors approved a proposal to replace current vote-by-mail drop boxes across the county with new drop boxes equipped with security measures to prevent election fraud. With the supervisors’ vote, nearly $200,000 will be sent to the San Joaquin County Registrar of Voters to replace the county’s 25 vote-by-mail boxes with “Vote Armor” ballot boxes from Laserfab, Inc. Despite the current system being compliant with secretary of state requirements and having precautions to ensure the security of ballot boxes, Registrar Olivia Hale said that “change is definitely needed.” Those changes will include fortified locking mechanisms, security cameras and tamper seals on the boxes. As an added layer of protection, the boxes will be securely bolted to permanent locations throughout the county and sealed during non-election years.
Missouri: Sen. Denny Hoskins (R-Warrensburg), plans to refile legislation creating the “Office of Election Crimes and Security” within the secretary of state’s office, a position he’s running for. Hoskins said the General Assembly should continue focusing on election integrity. He sponsored Senate Bill 350 last session, a five-page bill to review election complaints and conduct investigations into alleged violations of election law. It died in committee. “This will create, basically, an election audit task force to look before the election, on election day after after the election for any abnormalities or irregularities in Missouri elections,” Hoskins said in an interview last month with The Center Square. “I’ve been talking to my constituents and it’s very popular.”
New York: Gov. Kathy Hochul signed legislation approved earlier this year that she says expands and strengthens the basic right to vote. “Our laws are going to modernize and improve every step of the process from registering to casting your ballot to the Electoral College,” Hochul said. The governor signed 10 laws in total Wednesday at New York Law School. The laws build on New York’s John Lewis Voting Rights Act signed last year. Te New York Early Mail Voter Act. All registered voters will be able to request a mail-in ballot up to 10 days prior to Election Day. The ballots, which will come with postage-paid return envelopes, must be mailed back by Election Day and must be received by the local boards of election no later than seven days after voting occurs Hochul also signed measures that would create same-day registration on the first day of early voting, tighten up rules for changing an early voting polling place, and allow absentee ballots that were sealed with tape to be counted. Local jails will now be required to provide voter registration information to those who are being released from custody, and more comprehensive training will be conducted for poll workers. Hochul also signed a law establishing the date of New York’s presidential primary for April 2, 2024.
North Carolina: The North Carolina House passed major changes to the rules for elections — and how election results could be audited. Both could go into effect for the 2024 elections if they become law.
House Bill 770, would make people’s ballots a public record. HB 770 would allow individuals or private groups to request to see all of the state’s ballots after an election, to conduct their own audit in addition to the audits the state government already does. It was originally filed by a group of far-right lawmakers, raising concerns that it was based on false claims of a stolen 2020 election pushed by former President Donald Trump. But GOP lawmakers worked with Democratic colleagues and state elections officials to make changes in recent days. It passed Tuesday with broad, but not unanimous, support.
SB 749 would remove the governor’s ability to appoint members of the State Board of Elections — as well as all 100 county election boards — and instead transfers that power to the legislature. It also would end the process of the governor’s political party getting the edge over the other party with a 3-2 majority on each of the five-member boards, and would instead create evenly tied boards. In effect, it would end the Democratic Party’s control over election rulemaking ahead of the 2024 elections. There are two main concerns critics of SB 749 have with the bill’s potential consequences, both stemming from the fact that it would create a politically even board. If county and state boards found themselves deadlocked by ties, it could mean no early voting sites could be approved, for example, and the county in question would only be allowed a single site at the county elections office. The other concern among opponents is that politically motivated election board members could simply refuse to certify the election victory of a candidate their party opposes. The measure failed in the Senate on Sept. 20, however, the bill isn’t dead. Senate Bill 749 passed the Senate earlier this year and passed the House on Tuesday. But each chamber passed slightly different versions, and on Wednesday the Senate declined to agree with the House version. So now the two chambers must appoint a smaller team of lawmakers to get together and try working out a compromise.
Oklahoma: Members of the House Elections and Ethics Committee weighed potential policies governing ranked-choice voting, including a municipal-level ban, during an interim study at the state Capitol. Interim studies don’t generate official reports or recommendations but are often used to guide future legislation. Four of the five speakers at the study were critical of ranked-choice voting, raising concerns that it’s overly complex or mostly supported by left-leaning organizations. State Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax said the state’s voting machines aren’t capable of reading ranked-choice ballots and would need to be replaced if the voting system is adopted. He said it would probably take at least a year to send requests for proposals and purchase capable machines, likely at a cost exceeding $10 million. Additional money would be needed to educate voters and election officials of the changes. “I’ll be honest, I’m confused by ranked-choice voting,” Ziriax told lawmakers. “As you can imagine, if I’m confused, how does the general public respond to it? I would not want to be the one to have to go out and explain it to voters.”
Pennsylvania: The State Senate Government Committee advanced a bill to move Pennsylvania’s 2024 primary election five weeks earlier and also to compress the pre-election schedule for candidates, drawing expressions of concern from county election directors. The bill would move the primary from April 23 to March 19. That would eliminate a conflict with the first full day of Passover and also satisfy state leaders who want to give Pennsylvania a more prominent spot in the national presidential primary sequence. Lisa Schaefer, executive director of the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania, said the pre-election schedule change is “incredibly concerning to us, almost to the point of being unworkable.” Setting the pre-election schedule in traditional fashion to culminate on the March 19 date, though, meant the 22-day window for candidates to knock on doors seeking nominating signatures would start Dec. 19. Sen. David Argall, R-Schuylkill and the bill’s prime sponsor, successfully moved to have the bill amended to make the period Jan. 2 to Jan. 23. The bill now goes to the full Senate for consideration. The Senate approved the bill 45-2. The bill next moves to the House.
Wisconsin: Two Republican lawmakers renewed a proposal to amend the Wisconsin Constitution to enshrine state laws that require voters to show identification at the polls, with some exceptions. Constitutional amendments must be passed by two consecutive legislatures before appearing on voters’ ballots for approval, meaning any such change would not go into effect until after the 2024 presidential election. Wisconsin already has voter identification laws, with some exceptions for military, overseas and permanent absentee voters. Voters who do not have a photo ID can vote a provisional ballot and show their identification to their clerk up to a certain deadline. Absentee voters who request a ballot by mail must provide a photocopy of their identification. The constitutional amendment, proposed by Rep. Patrick Snyder, R-Schofield, and Sen. Van Wanggaard, R-Racine, would not change the provisional ballot process and any exceptions, but rather spell them out in the state constitution. The Legislature would also retain the ability to make laws to create new exceptions.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers revived a push to implement ranked-choice voting and nonpartisan blanket primaries. Under the new bill, candidates for the U.S. House and Senate would compete in a single statewide primary regardless of their political party, with the top five finishers advancing to the general election. Voters in the general election would then rank candidates in order of preference, a system that ensures winners are chosen by a majority. It’s the second time the idea has received bipartisan support in the Republican-controlled Legislature. A nearly identical bill introduced in 2021 was never voted out of the Senate elections committee. The goal “is not to change who gets elected; it is designed to change the incentives of those who do get elected,” authors of the bill said in a message asking other lawmakers to co-sponsor it. “Partisan primaries can be very damaging, encouraging candidates to adopt more extreme partisan positions in order to come through a partisan primary,” Democratic Sen. Jeff Smith, one of the bill’s authors, said in a statement. “This bill will improve legislators’ accountability to their constituents and incentivize cooperation rather than competition.”
Arizona: The Arizona Republican Party is asking the state Supreme Court to overturn lower court rulings that found a 2020 lawsuit the party filed was submitted in bad faith. The party is seeking to evade $27,000 in legal fees. The original lawsuit alleged the process Maricopa County used to conduct hand-count audits to check voting machine accuracy was illegal. The party claimed state law requires audits to be done by precinct, but the county instead audited vote centers. That process was allowed by the state’s Elections Procedure Manual, and has been used since 2011 when the Legislature approved the use of Vote Centers. In April, the state Court of Appeals agreed with a trial ruling that said the GOP had no basis to sue, and did so for political reasons. The Supreme Court has yet to decide whether it will take up the case.
U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton blocked Arizona from enforcing a 2022 state law limiting who can vote for president. Bolton said Arizonans who use a federal voter registration form are entitled to cast a ballot in presidential elections. More to the point, the judge voided parts of the statute which says that only those who provide “satisfactory evidence of citizenship” can vote in those elections. Bolton also said the state cannot enforce another provision which bars anyone who uses this federal form from voting by mail. But the judge withheld final judgment on whether other changes in state voter registration laws enacted by the Republican-controlled Legislature also run afoul of federal laws. That will be determined after a full-blown trial. In a separate ruling, however, Bolton gave challengers — including the voting rights groups like Mi Familia Vota and the U.S. Department of Justice — the ability to question Senate President Warren Petersen and House Speaker Ben Toma about their motives for approving the laws. “The speaker and president must produce communications that they have sent or received relating to the voting laws’ legislative process and withheld on legislative privilege grounds,” the judge wrote. “They may also be deposed about their personal involvement in the voting laws’ legislative process.”
Connecticut: Bridgeport mayoral candidate John Gomes said Monday he will challenge the results of the city’s Democratic primary election in court after videos surfaced online appearing to show a woman placing multiple stacks of papers in a ballot box. The videos, apparently recorded by municipal surveillance cameras outside the city’s government center building, captured widespread attention over the weekend, and prompted an inquiry by Bridgeport police, who are investigating any potential misconduct shown in the recordings. Police have also launched an internal probe into how the videos were obtained from the city’s video maintenance system. Gomes has alleged the woman seen in the video is a city employee and political ally of his opponent, incumbent Mayor Joseph Ganim. Connecticut Public attempted to reach her for comment Saturday, but was unsuccessful. Bill Bloss, a lawyer representing Gomes, said the pending court complaint will allege mishandling of absentee ballots by a person who is unauthorized to possess them. Gomes will ask a judge to declare him the winner of the primary, or alternatively, to toss out the results and conduct a new primary election, Bloss said.
Georgia: Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee ruled that 17 defendants, including former President Donald Trump, will be tried separately from co-defendants Sidney Powell and Kenneth Chesebro, who are scheduled to go on trial on Oct. 23 for allegedly trying to overturn the 2020 presidential election in Georgia. McAfee noted in his order the logistical challenges of meeting the demands of the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office to have all 19 defendants tried at the same time next month. McAfee’s ruling means that co-defendants Powell and Chesebro are scheduled for an Oct. 23 hearing, the beginning installment in an expected marathon trial that prosecutors anticipate will eventually involve 150 witnesses taking the stand over the course of four months. Earlier this week, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis defended holding joint trials for the 19 defendants as being an efficient use of resources since prosecutors plan to present the same evidence and witnesses for every defendant’s case. McAfee wrote that the downtown Atlanta courtroom was not large enough to hold all 19 defendants, their attorneys, and the team of state prosecutors at the same time. McAfee rejected requests from attorneys representing Chesebro and Powell to have their cases tried separately. Their attorneys have said they wanted to sever the co-defendants’ trials in order to protect their clients from being unfairly tainted by unrelated evidence.In his ruling, McAfee said he considered the impact of a months-long trial that will result in “sidelining dozens of defense counsel from handling other cases and preventing this court — and quite likely most colleagues — from managing the rest of the docket.
New York: Several Republican groups are suing the state of New York and Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) after she signed a measure expanding access to absentee voting. On Wednesday, Hochul signed a package of bills designed to expand voting access across the Empire State, which allows registered voters to vote early using a mail-in ballot and same-day registration. The New York Early Mail Voter Act also intends to help the ballot request process from the Board of Elections and ballot tracking after it is sent in. Representatives from the Republican National Committee (RNC) and the National Republican Congressional Committee joined with the New York State Conservative Party in suing Hochul and the state for the legislation. The New York Constitution reserves absentee voting for people who are not in their county of residence or are sick, taking care of someone who is sick or in jail or prison. Hochul’s package follows temporary changes made to voting in New York during the COVID-19 pandemic.
North Dakota: U.S. District Judge Daniel Traynor requested more information about whether a local election official has the legal authority to file the suit. Traynor called into question whether Burleigh County Auditor Mark Splonskowski can file the lawsuit, which hinges on his status as a county official, without the support of Burleigh County. Splonskowski filed the suit, in partnership with the Public Interest Legal Foundation, against state Election Director Erika White in July, claiming that he is harmed by an alleged conflict between state and federal mail-in voting laws. In the wake of the filing, he has said he brought the suit in his “individual” capacity, and Burleigh County officials have said no county funding or staff time is being put toward the suit. However, Traynor raised concerns with that claim, pointing out that Splonskowski’s initial filing “clearly contemplates the suit in his official capacity as Burleigh County Auditor.” Splonskowski’s suit is not backed by Burleigh County, but the case hinges on his role for the county, with “not a single fact” Splonskowski has brought leading the court to conclude the case was brought on an individual capacity, Traynor said. As a result, Splonskowski and the foundation must submit an additional brief about his legal authority in the suit by Sept. 29. If the court finds that he doesn’t have standing, the case could be dismissed.
Opinions This Week
Alaska: Ranked choice voting
Massachusetts: Voter ID;
Oregon: Election workers
South Carolina: Turnout
Virginia: Election security
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 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 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.
Elections Technician or Specialist, DoQ, Larimer County, Colorado— Are you a self-motivated, positive teammate who thrives in a fast-paced, professional environment? The Larimer County Clerk & Recorder Elections division offers an outstanding opportunity for an exciting career in the field of Election Administration – where the foundation of government begins for our citizens! We are seeking skilled Elections Technicians/Elections Specialists to join our highly respected team. This position provides support and oversight for certain election-related processes. Successful candidates will be dedicated and confident, possess excellent interpersonal and problem-solving skills, and be available to work evenings, weekends, and some holidays during elections cycles. We serve a population of more than 300,000 citizens, more than 250,000 of which are registered voters. We embrace innovative processes and have a shown reputation for integrity. Join our team, apply today! Salary: $22.69 – $29.95 Hourly. Deadline: Sept. 24. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Information Technology System Administrator, Illinois State Board of Elections— Under general supervision of the Chief Information Officer, the Information Technology Systems Administrator will install, configure, and manage a broad range of systems and technologies that include, but not limited to networking, infrastructure management, power management, backup/recovery, software installation and hardware installation working in partnership with a dedicated Information Security department to maintain digital hygiene and security practices. Salary: Salary: $4,834 – $7,417. Deadline: Sept. 27. 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.
Systems Integration Specialist, Oregon Secretary of State’s Office— In this position you will serve as the system integration expert and ensure that Oregon Voter Registration Systems properly interact with hardware and software systems used by the Agency and counties. Salary Range: $6,016 – $9,243. Deadline: Sept. 28. 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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