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September 28, 2023

September 28, 2023

In Focus This Week

New tool helps elections officials provide trusted information
VoterCast makes the process of communicating with voters more clear and more efficient

Providing trusted information to voters is a core responsibility of election officials.

In recent years, it’s become even more important, as a shifting voting and media landscape causes voters to struggle to access verifiable election information. Yet communicating with voters can be confusing, time consuming, and resource-intensive for election officials, leading some to feel as though they’re not conducting sufficient outreach or in the “right” way.

At ideas42, we obsess over the root of challenges like these and then design solutions to address them. We’ve seen firsthand how more and better information can build trust in our democracy and deepen civic participation. To that end, we’ve conducted dozens of experiments with election officials to test and refine voter communications that inspire engagement. Now we’ve built a tool called VoterCast to scale those findings so that all election officials can efficiently and effectively communicate with voters.

VoterCast makes the process of communicating with voters more clear and more efficient, so that voters have the information they need to cast their vote with confidence.

Delivering Effective Voter Outreach Materials, Tailored to Every Jurisdiction 
VoterCast provides election officials research-backed outreach materials on the subjects they most need to communicate to voters. The content offered through VoterCast is based on evidence from a wealth of research in effective communication and voter outreach. All the materials are professionally designed to be simple, clear and effective at communicating relevant election information to voters. And for election officials, every piece of content they access through VoterCast is automatically tailored to the specifics of their jurisdiction and the elections they have coming up. With just a few clicks, election officials have access to professional voter outreach materials, customized to meet their needs.

VoterCast enables election officials to select from a range of topics, ranging from upcoming election notifications to registration deadline alerts and poll worker recruitment messages. If election officials don’t see a topic they’re looking for, they have an opportunity to create custom materials directly within VoterCast. Once users select a topic, they can choose from a range of outreach channels, including email, text message, social media content, posters, flyers, and newspaper advertisements. Then they’re able to edit and immediately export professional materials for digital or print distribution. VoterCast takes the hassles and guesswork out of producing effective and clear voter education materials.

The Importance of Voter Outreach
For those of us involved in the world of election administration, a voter’s decision to cast a ballot or not can be mystifying. The personal combines with the situational and the systemic. Everything from rain to the number of polling locations and knowledge of the candidates can impact voter turnout. This fact can easily dissuade election officials from pouring a lot of energy into outreach. Does it even matter?

The answer is a resounding yes. A growing body of research suggests that access to reliable, trustworthy information about elections is highly connected to voting. People who lack voting and registration information can be up to 57 percent less likely to vote. When they have direct access to civic information – like information directly from election officials – they feel significantly more confident voting. While official outreach to voters cannot solve every challenge, it can have a meaningful impact on making voters feel more prepared and confident casting their ballot.

With VoterCast, we hope to demystify the process of communicating with voters by giving all local election officials the tools they need to conduct outreach effectively and efficiently. To sign up, local election officials can visit www.VoterCast.com.

ideas42 is a nonprofit that uses insights from behavioral science to improve lives, build better systems and policies, and drive social change. They have have team members in New York; Boston; Washington, D.C.; San Francisco; Accra, Ghana; Dakar, Senegal; Cape Town, South Africa; Mexico City, Mexico; New Delhi, India; and Nairobi, Kenya. But they work on projects in almost every corner of the world.

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Election News This Week

Election Official Turnover: This week Issue One released a new report entitled “The High Cost of High Turnover,” which focuses on the high turnover of election officials since the 2020 election — and what lawmakers can do to strengthen our election infrastructure and protect the dedicated people who keep it functioning. Issue One found that half of the 76 million Americans who live in the western United States have a new chief local election official since the 2020 presidential election. In this 11-state region — which includes two major presidential battleground states as well as a mix of Democratic-leaning and Republican-leaning states and where elections are typically administered at the county level by a single official — more than 160 chief local election officials have left their positions since November 2020. This represents roughly 40% of the total chief local election officials in the region. These officials took with them more than 1,800 years of combined experience. “These turnover rates signify a crisis in our democracy. The health and vibrancy of election administrators are essential to ensuring free and fair elections in our country,” said Issue One Founder and CEO Nick Penniman in response to these findings. The costs of this exodus are real — especially in terms of psychological duress, lost institutional knowledge, and the financial impacts of recruiting, hiring, and training new people to fill these critical positions. Congress can help remedy this crisis by providing more funding and protections to these dedicated public servants.

Record Requests: This week Votebeat, in collaboration with The Guardian took a look at Local Labs, which has been responsible for many of the records requests local elections offices have been inundated with. According to the report, local election offices across the country are struggling to manage a sharp rise in the number of public records requests, and extensive requests coming from Local Labs in at least five states have stymied election officials, according to a Votebeat review of hundreds of records requests, as well as interviews. The requests are broad and unclear, and the purpose for obtaining the records is often not fully explained, leaving officials wondering in some cases whether they can legally release the records. Local Labs CEO Brian Timpone told Votebeat the company is using records requests in an attempt to expose election fraud that he is sure exists. The company is sometimes getting paid by GOP-backed clients to do so, Timpone acknowledged, characterizing the work simultaneously as both political research and journalism.  “We’re just trying to push for more free speech and more transparency,” Timpone said. “And no one else is doing it.” Local Labs is known for a massive network of websites that rely mainly on aggregation and automation, blasting out conservative-leaning hyper-local news.

Battling Mis- Disinformation: Illinois counties banded together this week to put on a full court press against mis- and disinformation ahead of the 2024 election cycle. Officials from 25 counties scheduled a series of news conferences Tuesday in Tazewell, McLean and LaSalle counties. At the Tazewell event, the election officials said accusations of vote tampering and other misinformation campaigns have proliferated in each of the last two presidential election cycles, and they fear it could get worse in 2024. “You know us. Our kids attend the same schools,” Tazewell County Clerk John Ackerman said at a news conference in Pekin. “We shop at the same supermarkets. We are actively involved in the communities we represent. You also know as election authorities we are all working together regularly for best practices and procedures.” Some of the election officials described misinformation they have encountered in recent elections, including accusations that voting machines had been rigged or that tabulation machines had been hacked, and social media rumors that certain polling places were closing early or had run out of ballots. Ackerman said anyone who has questions or concerns about voting equipment or election procedures should simply contact their local election authority. “We welcome your inquiries,” he said. “Better yet, get involved in our processes. We all need more election judges. You’re never going to hear one of us say we don’t want more election judges. Get involved in the process.”

Update on the News: This week, the Great Falls Public Schools has asked that election duties be transferred to Cascade County, Montana commissioners, citing a “complete lack of cooperation” with the current Elections Office under new Clerk and Recorder Sandra Merchant. The letter describes a “breakdown in communication” between the Merchant and the district during their trustee election earlier this year, as well as more than $17,000 in additional costs for both legal costs and allowing in-person voting. The letter from the school district, signed by Superintendent Tom Moore, Board Chairman Gordon Johnson and Director of Business Operations Brian Patrick, details how the rejection of the proposal for an all mail-in ballot impacted the school district’s finances since it bears the cost of the election. “This denial not only disregarded the district’s financial obligations, but also did not follow the request of the trustees who support a mail ballot election because it is cost efficient and allows the most voters the opportunity to receive a ballot and vote in the election,” the letter said. Merchant refuted claims of poor communication and other alleged shortcomings by her office made in the letter. Merchant told the Daily Montanan in an email that having elections managed by the commission would not be necessary or positive. Merchant disputed claims of a lack of communication between her office and the school district, saying she and her office sent emails, made phone calls and attended in-person meetings. She also said the cost of the election was on par with past elections, and some irregularities from Election Day were the district’s fault.

Personnel News: Flagler County, Florida Supervisor of Elections Kaiti Lenhart announced that she will seek another term in office. Tara Zagorski is the new Bad Axe, Michigan city clerk. Chad Mizelle, Rick Joyce, Kymberlee Curry Smith and John “Martin” Hayes have been appointed to the Florida Elections Commission. Judy Henry has been appointed Taylor County, Iowa auditor. Florence County, South Carolina Voter Registration and Elections Director Julian Young will serve on the National Association of Counties Finance, Pension and Intergovernmental Affairs Steering Committee. Santa Monica City, California Clerk Denise Anderson-Warren will retire at the end of the year, concluding 29 years of service with the city. Dianne Packer is retiring as the Natick, Massachusetts town clerk. Wendell Stone has resigned as the Coffee County, Georgia board of elections chairman. Dustin Renner is the new Indiana election director. Charlemont, Indiana Kathy Reynolds is retiring. Hendry County, Florida Supervisor of Elections Brenda K. Hoots is retiring.

In Memoriam: Longtime Linn County, Oregon Clerk Steve Druckenmiller died Sept. 24 after a six-month battle with cancer. He was 72. Druckenmiller was first elected to office in 1986. HE was serving his 10th term in office. Druckenmiller was the second longest serving elected official in Linn County history. Druckenmiller began working in the Assessor’s Office in 1979 and four years later went to work under Linn County Clerk Del Riley. In 1986 he succeeded his mentor and was elected Linn County Clerk. He oversaw 141 vote-by-mail elections, the most in the United States, plus 28 poll elections. In 1982, he was appointed Linn County Commissioner, completing the term of an outgoing commissioner. He also served on the board of the Linn County Housing Authority. In 2006, he was elected president of the Oregon State Clerks Association. “Steve loved the people of Linn County and was deeply honored that they entrusted him to conduct elections all of these years,” said Roger Nyquist, chairman of the Linn County Board of Commissioners. “It was a job he did flawlessly. Steve became the wise and reasonable person in the courthouse sought out by many for advice. I feel privileged to have been his friend and I miss him. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family.” Druckenmiller greatly admired his mentor Del Riley who pioneered Oregon’s vote-by-mail election system. Like Riley, Druckenmiller was a strong proponent of vote-by-mail. He also spearheaded the county program by which people can register to vote when they get or renew their driver’s license. He said at the time, “We think this is a very good idea. It will make registration more accessible to everyone. If people register online, we won’t have the problems associated with trying to decipher someone’s handwriting. If we can’t read their registration, we have to spend time tracking them down to make changes.” Druckenmiller was always willing to give anyone with questions about the vote-by-mail system a personal tour through the Clerk’s Office and explain how the system works, point-by-point. He was proud of his staff and of the temporary election workers who came back year-after-year as a team. “He was a fair and honorable man with a lot of kindness and love for the people of Linn County,” said Chief Deputy Clark Marcie Richey.

Legislative Updates

Redding City, California: The Redding City Council approved sending a letter to the Shasta County Board of Supervisors that outlines the city’s concerns over the potential cost increase to hand count votes. Council member Julie Winter sees the letter as a way for Redding to work with the county to come up with a more cost-efficient voting system that won’t burden the general fund as much, thus hurting the city’s ability to fund public safety. Redding Mayor Michael Dacquisto and Vice Mayor Mark Mezzano think the correspondence is a waste of time. While discussing the merits of the letter, Dacquisto made it clear that he opposes the letter and as the mayor will not sign it. The letter states that Registrar of Voters Cathy Darling Allen’s cost estimates to do a hand count would increase Redding’s costs from $46,630 to $176,645 per election. “In light of our shared commitment to public safety, we earnestly request that our organizations work together to find an industry-standard voting system that is affordable to all agencies. If the County ultimately chooses a voting system that is substantially more expensive than a more traditional system, we request that the County pay the difference beyond our current pricing structure,” the letter says.

Connecticut: The Connecticut Legislature convened a special session this week where numerous elections-related issues were considered.  The Legislature voted overwhelmingly to hire an election monitor in Bridgeport to combat absentee ballot fraud after an alarming video surfaced in a recent primary for mayor. The measure passed in the state House of Representatives by 136-2 and was approved by the Senate 35-0. Republicans also called for banning the outdoor ballot boxes permanently, saying they are no longer needed because the COVID-19 pandemic has ended. In addition, they want to essentially double the penalties for election law violations to a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine — up from the current maximum of five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. They also want a mandatory minimum of one year in prison for the Class D felony because some campaign operatives have been convicted of various actions and have not served prison time. The Legislature also voted to change Connecticut’s Presidential Primary date, moving the date of the primary from the end of April to the first week in April.

Michigan: The Michigan House Elections Committee held a hearing on bills to register more eligible voters. That would include 18-year-olds who are issued a driver’s license or official state ID, people who apply for Medicaid, or people who have some other contact with the state that also proves their eligibility. The package would also allow for people and organizations to pay for buses, taxis or other transportation to the polls. There’s a question as to whether hiring transportation to take people to the polls amounts to offering voters something of value. This would eliminate that uncertainty.


Maine: This November, Mainers will vote on Question 8 which will ask them if they to “remove a provision prohibiting a person under guardianship for reasons of mental illness from voting.”  Since its drafting in 1819, Maine’s constitution has barred people who are “under guardianship for reasons of mental illness” from voting in state and local elections. The state legislature tried to end that exclusion decades ago, putting constitutional amendments on the ballot in 1997 and 2000, but voters rejected the changes both times. A non-profit organization tasked by the state with protecting disabled residents eventually sued, arguing that the prohibition disenfranchised residents in violation of the U.S. Constitution. This led to a favorable federal court ruling in 2001 that declared Maine’s exclusion unconstitutional. “We are creating a subset of mentally ill people under guardians who can’t vote,” Democratic State Senator Craig Hickman, who spearheaded the effort to put the matter to the vote, told Bolts. Hickman, a voting rights advocate, has also been involved in other measures to remove outdated language from Maine’s constitution. “I think it’s important to ratify this amendment. [We need to] make it clear that in this state we have no reason to disenfranchise.”


Ottawa County, Michigan: The Ottawa County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to pass the county’s Early Voting Agreement. The vote came around 12:30am Wednesday morning, six hours after the meeting began. During the three-plus hours of public comment, many residents also spoke in support of the plan. Two weeks ago, the Board of Commissioners delayed the vote after Chairman Joe Moss said he had a number of questions about the plan that he wanted to square up before a vote. An amendment to the Early Voting Plan, includes a couple of minor changes and clarifications to the language, plus three other additions to the early voting process. The first, is the addition of at least one security camera at each early voting site. The camera(s) would be installed in the secure rooms where election equipment and materials are kept. The second, is a live line-management tool on the County’s website, so that voters will know projected wait times at each early voting center.  The third, is that early voting centers will use watermarked ballots, something that was discussed at length during the previous meeting. The original Early Voting Agreement also includes plans for four early voting sites, funding for one full time Elections Logistics Specialist, and funding for one temporary Elections Logistics Assistant. The total cost for the original plan is $769,094.

New York: State Senator Mark C. Walczyk (R-Watertown) has introduced a bill that would make criminal penalties harsher for people who pretend to be election workers and approach voters with claims of potential fraud. Reports of people falsely claiming to be local Board of Elections workers have come from Onondaga and Steuben Counties, prompting local officials in those areas to warn residents. Walczyk is the senior Republican on the state Senate Elections Committee, and said he is especially troubled by these recent reports. His legislation, Senate Bill 7661, would establish the crime of impersonating a Board of Elections worker or commissioner, by adding those titles to the list of titles included in the crime of criminal impersonation in the first degree, a class E felony. Introduced on Sept. 20, the bill would amend the current law which applies to police and federal law enforcement, and would go into effect on the first of November after being enacted. “Regardless of one’s political affiliation, intimidation of this kind cannot be tolerated,” Walczyk said. “In a time when faith in our electoral system is diminished, these impostors actively undermine voter confidence.”

North Carolina: The North Carolina General Assembly gave final approval to Republican-backed legislation that would shift control of the State Board of Elections away from the governor and give it to lawmakers as the 2024 elections get underway. With the Senate recording a party-line vote to accept a consensus GOP measure after the House completed a similar vote late Sept. 21, the bill now heads to Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper. Cooper has promised to veto it, saying it’s a GOP power play that would result in stalemates on the proposed new board, potentially limiting access to early in-person voting and giving more opportunity to the General Assembly and courts to settle contested elections. The changes would begin Jan. 1 — sooner than a July 1 start that was contained in a version of the measure approved by the House. But Senate Republicans balked at having the changes start next summer. Under the bill, the House speaker, the Senate leader and the minority party leaders in each chamber each would pick two seats on the proposed eight-member election board — likely giving Democrats and Republicans four positions apiece. The current board appointment process, in which the governor chooses the five members, usually gives the governor’s party a 3-2 majority. The same 3-2 split also happens on county boards, which under the bill also would now be reduced to four seats, with legislative leaders each naming one appointee. The approved bill says if the new state board can’t choose an executive director by Jan. 10, then Berger would choose.

Wisconsin: A bill introduced by three Republican lawmakers would allow clerks to begin processing absentee ballots the day before Election Day, something election officials in Wisconsin have long asked for. While clerks would not be able to count absentee ballots until after the polls close under the “Monday processing bill,” they could perform tasks such as ensuring the voter is not ineligible due to a felony conviction, checking that the envelope contains information like a witness signature and taking the ballot out of the envelope to run it through voting equipment. Under current law, clerks cannot begin counting absentee ballots before 7 a.m. on Election Day. In past elections, particularly in Milwaukee, the counting of those ballots has stretched late into the night or early morning and leading sometimes to a late change in who prevailed in a hotly contested statewide race. The bill would require clerks to report the total number of absentee ballots at three points on Monday and Tuesday. In an Assembly informational hearing last week, county and municipal clerks said beginning to process absentee ballots earlier was one of their top priorities. A presentation from the National Conference of State Legislatures showed Wisconsin as one of only a handful of states that do not allow clerks to begin processing before Election Day.


Legal Updates

Alabama: The U.S. Supreme Court refused this week to block enforcement of an Alabama voting rights decision that the high court issued just months ago. In June, the court ruled that Alabama’s Republican-drawn congressional map violated the Voting Rights Act because, in a state with seven congressional districts and a 27% Black population, the GOP-dominated legislature had created just one congressional district in which Black voters are either a majority or close to it. The court’s 5-to-4 decision upheld a unanimous decision by a three-judge lower court panel that included two Trump appointees; the lower court had required the creation of a second majority Black congressional district, and the Supreme Court agreed. But when the case was returned to the state legislature with orders to create a second majority Black district, the GOP lawmakers didn’t do that. Instead they upped the number of Black voters from 30% to 40% in one of the districts. The justices refused to delay the lower court’s drawing of a new map with two majority, or near-majority, Black districts. In an unsigned order, the court said: “The application for stay presented to Justice Thomas and by him referred to the Court is denied.” No rationale was presented and there were no noted dissents. The Supreme Court’s action was a further repudiation of Alabama’s tactics, and served as a reminder that the Voting Rights Act, once viewed by the court’s conservatives as no longer necessary, continues to provide a limited but crucial guardrail against deliberate dilution of black voting strength.

Arizona: Maricopa County Superior Court Judge John Hannah is weighing whether voters’ signatures on envelopes used to return their early ballots should be made public after a two-day trial on the question concluded this week. Former gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake and her lawyer sued the county earlier this year to get access to the about 1.3 million envelopes and voter signatures on them, which they want to analyze in Lake’s ongoing effort to cast doubt on her election defeat. She lost to Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs in November by less than one percentage point. The crux of the trial was a public records issue, but the climate around elections also played a central role. While Arizona Public Records Law presumes all government records are subject to public review — giving residents and the media a method to oversee the actions of government and their elected leaders — it also includes exceptions. Hannah will decide whether Recorder Stephen Richer was legally justified when his office declined Lake’s request, citing two of those exceptions. The county cites a portion of state law that makes voter signatures available only to certain individuals, like news reporters or election workers and others. The county’s attorneys also argued it is in the best interest of the state to withhold the records, because of what can be a hostile climate around elections.

Connecticut: A civil lawsuit connected to allegations of election fraud briefly convened for a hearing at Bridgeport Superior Court, before recessing when it was determined the parties needed more time to produce and examine evidence. The campaign for John Gomes for Mayor filed a lawsuit claiming the votes in the primary were not counted correctly. He is calling for Judge William Clark to overturn the results of the primary, which showed Mayor Joe Ganim ahead by 251 votes, and to order a new primary be held. The suit is on the clock to issue a ruling before the general election which is set for Nov. 7. However, even if a ruling doesn’t come until after the general election, Atty. William Bloss, who represents Gomes, says the judge can still order a new primary to take place after a general election, which would then be followed by a second general election. The State Elections Enforcement Commission, which is already conducting its own investigation into the Bridgeport primary, worked through the weekend to copy and scan more than 10,000 absentee ballot applications and other related documents to hand over to all the parties of the lawsuit. The SEEC said in a filing however, that they still need more time to copy the inner and outer ballot envelopes. It’s a slower process because they need to avoid damaging them and are trying to preserve forensic evidence associated with them. In addition to the documents, the Gomes campaign has demanded the City of Bridgeport turn over surveillance video from all four of Bridgeport’s absentee ballot drop boxes between Aug 22nd and Sept. 12. It’s a daunting task involving 8-terabytes of digital storage and more than 2,000 hours of footage.

Florida: The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals declined to take up a challenge to a 2021 Florida elections law that opponents contend discriminated against Black voters. The decision effectively let stand an April ruling by a three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit that sided with the state on major issues in the case. The panel overturned much of a 2022 decision by Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Walker, who said the law was passed with discriminatory intent. The law included imposing new restrictions on mail-in ballot drop boxes and voter-registration groups and prohibiting people from giving snacks and drinks to voters waiting in line to cast ballots. Walker blocked those parts of the law, but the appellate panel overturned his decisions on the mail-in voting and voter-registration issues. The Atlanta-based appeals court rejected a request from voting-rights groups to rehear the case “en banc” — which would have meant the full court would have taken it up. “What are the supposedly racist provisions that the district judge enjoined officials from enforcing?” Chief Judge William Pryor wrote in an explanation of the decision Thursday. “They are unremarkable, race-neutral policies designed to bolster election security, maintain order at the polls and ensure that voter-registration forms are delivered on time.” But Judge Charles Wilson wrote that the panel decision “impermissibly increases the difficulty for civil rights plaintiffs seeking the protections guaranteed to them by our Constitution.” He said the full court should rehear the issues.

Guam: Briefing is now complete before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Borja v. Nago, which challenges federal and state overseas voting laws that discriminate against residents of Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and other territories, according to a statement from the Right to Democracy project. Right to Democracy seeks to advance democracy and self-determination in U.S. territories. In a brief filed on Sept. 20, plaintiffs ask the court to reject arguments from the U.S. Justice Department that voting is not a “fundamental right” for residents of U.S. territories who could vote for president by absentee ballot in their former state of residence if they lived in any foreign country or the Northern Mariana Islands but cannot because they live in Guam or the U.S. Virgin Islands. Going further, the Justice Department argues that even assuming these discriminatory laws are unconstitutional, the federal government cannot be sued because Hawaii remains free to “fix” any injury caused by federal discrimination, the statement said. It added that the Justice Department also argues that the proper remedy for any unconstitutional discrimination would be to deny overseas voting rights in the NMI rather than extend them equally to all former state residents who lose their right to vote simply by moving overseas.

Minnesota: The Minnesota Court of Appeals heard arguments over whether a lawsuit against Rice County’s elections director should have been dismissed. A three-judge panel heard statements and asked a few questions of the appealing attorney, the county’s attorney and an attorney for the intervening Secretary of State’s in a case involving public records and the use of modems to transmit county election results to the state. The appellate judges now have 90 days to issue a ruling whether the dismissed case should be revived. Matt Benda, an attorney from Albert Lea, and Kathleen Hagen, a former county election judge from Lonsdale, sued Denise Anderson last year claiming the county didn’t fulfill their public records requests. Anne Goering, attorney representing the county, said the disputed records “do not exist.” Benda expanded the scope of the lawsuit, asking a Rice County District Court judge to ban the county from using modems to send unofficial election results to the Secretary of State. District Court Judge Carol Hanks dismissed the case in January, finding that the lawsuit was filed against the wrong county official and finding that she did not have jurisdiction to decide the challenge to the use of modems. Benda is asking the Court of Appeals to overturn the dismissal.

Pennsylvania: Delaware County Court of Common Pleas Judge John Whelan has told Delaware County to count ballots cast in person by voters whose mail ballots were rejected during the primary, a ruling the county, even though it lost the case, says it welcomes. Following the May 16 primary, Delaware County’s Board of Elections decided not to accept provisional ballots cast in person by voters who had already been told their mail ballots were rejected due to technical defects. That means that these voters were twice rejected, after trying to remedy their mail ballot mistake by voting provisionally at their nearby polling places, and ultimately were disenfranchised. One provision in the state’s election codes suggests the ballots should not be counted, while a separate provision reads differently, in favor of counting such a ballot. Whelan ruled that such ballots must be counted, writing that the law must be “liberally construed” so as to “protect the elective franchise.” His ruling applies only to Delaware County.

Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas Judge Lesa S. Gelb upheld the Citizens Advisory of Pennsylvania’s request for access to video surveillance footage of official county buildings where ballots were processed and voting equipment was maintained around the time of the November 2022 general election. Gelb’s order affirmed a final determination by the Pennsylvania’s Office of Open Records that the county had appealed. Gelb ordered the county to make any necessary redactions to protect the identities of employees within 30 days, which would involve blurring faces. Within 30 days thereafter, Citizens Advisory vice president Ben Herring must arrange inspection of the records subject to access provisions under state law, it said. Herring repeatedly emphasized Monday he is not interested in seeing the faces of workers. He said he requested a viewing of the footage amid concerns about the November 2022 general election paper shortage. Herring said he wants to see if anything appears amiss, stressing he would report anything suspicious to law enforcement. Based on his understanding, the footage would cover the county-owned voter warehouse and Penn Place Building in Wilkes-Barre. County Manager Romilda Crocamo said the administration is reviewing appeal options to possibly challenge the county court ruling.

Texas: Alexandra del Moral Mealer, the highest profile Republican candidate to sue Harris County over the results of the 2022 election, has dropped her lawsuit. Mealer was one of 21 GOP candidates who had filed lawsuits challenging their losses. The first trial related to the lawsuits — in which a candidate blamed her defeat on ballot shortages and allegations that illegal votes were cast — took place in August. A ruling in that lawsuit is pending. Mealer had lost her bid to become Harris County judge, the county’s top elected official who deals with spending and is in charge of local emergency response. She lost by more than 18,000 votes to Lina Hidalgo, the Democratic incumbent. In a statement, Mealer said she dropped her lawsuit because the county pushed back on her efforts to get a full accounting of problems during November’s election. “My goal in filing an election contest was not to relitigate my race, but rather to make sure future races are fair to all voters and candidates,” Mealer said. Mealer’s decision came after her original attorney had withdrawn from the case because she did not agree with Mealer’s claims of ballot fraud in the election. Harris County Attorney Christian Menefee said Mealer “spread conspiracy theories in an attempt to overturn the will of the voters. It’s time for the other losing Republican candidates to drop their lawsuits as well.”

Wisconsin: La Crosse County Circuit Court Judge Elliott Levine rejected a motion for summary judgment in a suit from a GOP observer who sought to overturn the votes of La Crosse college students. Levine ruled that Werner didn’t follow proper procedure in raising her complaint and didn’t have standing to file the suit. The main thrust of Levin’s ruling was that Werner should’ve first filed an administrative complaint with the Wisconsin Elections Commission objecting to how local officials administered the election. He also found questions over a voter’s qualifications including their residence is an issue administered by the municipal clerk. Werner named the county clerk in her suit. “The decision is a victory for student voters — who are permitted to vote where they live in Wisconsin, and for Clerk Ginny Dankmeyer — who properly oversaw the recount for the sheriff’s race,” she said.

Opinions This Week

National Opinions: Taylor Swift | The Big Lie | Election legislation, II, III | Democracy| Election integrity | Record requests | Voting rights

Connecticut: Ranked choice voting | Secretary of state | Bridgeport election | Election investment

Florida: Democracy

Idaho: Election reform | Voting rights | Primaries

Iowa: Voter registration

Kansas: League of Women Voters

Louisiana: Ballot length

Maryland: Voting rights

Michigan: Election information

Mississippi: Turnout

New York: Vote by mail, II, III, IV | Election dates

Oklahoma: Ranked choice voting, II

Pennsylvania: Automatic voter registration, II, III, IV |Election reform | Democracy | Primary date | Legal costs | Fulton County

Texas: Youth vote

Wisconsin: Election administration | AI redistricting

Upcoming Events

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.

Assistant Registrar of Voters, Ventura County, California— Under general direction of the County Clerk-Recorder and Registrar of Voters, the Assistant Registrar of Voters plans, organizes, administers, supervises and directs the activities of the Elections Division of the County Clerk and Recorder’s office; and performs related work as required. The ideal candidate is a dedicated public servant who possesses solid administrative leadership skills, the highest integrity, and a strong work ethic that includes accountability for oneself and others. A well-qualified candidate will have in-depth knowledge of and experience in implementing federal, state, and local election laws, regulations, codes, guidelines, and procedures. Additionally, they should possess strong analytical and budgetary skills that are applicable to work in a California public agency. Other qualities needed to be a successful candidate include: detail-oriented, customer-service focused, striving for efficiency and continuous improvement. Salary: $104,708 – $146,606.  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.

Clerk-Recorder Division Manager, Ventura County, California— Under general direction of the Assistant County Clerk and Recorder, the Clerk Recorder Division Manager plans, organizes, administers, supervises and directs the activities of the County Clerk and Recorder Division of the County Clerk and Recorder’s office which includes the main office at the Government Center in Ventura and satellite East County office in Thousand Oaks; and performs related work as required. The ideal candidate is a dedicated public servant who possesses solid administrative leadership skills, the highest integrity, and a strong work ethic that includes accountability for oneself and others. A well-qualified candidate will have thorough knowledge of and experience in implementing federal, state, and local statutes, regulations, and guidelines applicable to a public agency’s operations. Additionally, they should possess strong analytical and budgetary skills that are applicable to contribute to the management team of a California public agency. Other qualities needed to be a successful candidate include detail-oriented, customer-service focused, striving for efficiency and continuous improvement. Salary: $82,275 – $132,491. 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.

Election Advisor to Democracy Resilience Network, The Carter Center— The Democracy Program at The Carter Center works globally to support and strengthen participatory democracy, consistent with human rights. Beginning in 2020, The Carter Center began efforts to support elections in the United States. There are multiple key aspects to this project: establishing nonpartisan observation efforts, bolstering the electoral dispute resolution process, tracking disinformation and dangerous speech, contributing to electoral reform, and promoting a set of candidate principles for trusted elections. The Democracy Program works closely with the Center’s Conflict Resolution Program and its Democracy Resilience Networks (DRNs). The Democracy Resilience Networks bring together key state leaders in FL, GA, NC, MI, WI, and AZ to develop honest messaging campaigns and build trust in democratic processes. The Democracy Program is also active in several of these states and serves as the electoral expert advisor to the DRNs. This position will assist the Democracy Program in coordinating with the DRNs by attending DRN meetings and providing support and expertise to the DRNs regarding U.S. election administration and processes. 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 & Special Districts Director, Cochise County, Arizona— Under limited supervision of the County  Administrator with direction from the Board of Supervisors, provides professional level project planning in all functions related to the conduct of voting and election activities for the County;  perform work of considerable difficulty to plan, organize, coordinate, direct and control all activities of the Elections & Special Districts Department in compliance with statutory and regulatory federal and state requirements; prepare and manage the annual fiscal budget for the department, develop long-range plans and anticipates/identifies long-term organizational needs; responsible for fraud prevention, detection, and deterrence;  sound judgment and considerable communication and interpersonal skills are required in this position. Performs other related duties as required. Salary: $85,000 – $100,000. Deadline: Oct. 9, 2023. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

HAVA Grant Manager, Idaho Secretary of State’s Office— The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) Grant Manager is a part-time limited-service position. The position is expected to exist through December 31, 2026. Any contract extension is dependent upon renewed appropriation of HAVA funds from Congress. The role is responsible for the management of the State of Idaho’s HAVA grant funds, inclusive of developing a county subgrant program; monitoring, evaluating and reporting grant activities; providing training and technical assistance to subgrantees; and performing related tasks for the responsible management of the grant. Responsibilities include: Develop a county subgrant program for the purpose of fairly allocating and distributing HAVA funds. This includes defining objectives, time frames, priorities, budget formats, criteria and performance standards. Develops subgrant agreements in collaboration with the Chief Deputy and Assistant Chief Deputy. Develops or recommends program policies and procedures to conform to federal regulations and eligibility criteria for the Secretary of State office. Analyzes reports to determine program progress, quality and quantity of service and compliance with laws, standards and guidelines. Monitors expenditure reports to ensure services are provided in accordance with agreement. Monitors for contract compliance by evaluating statistical data and identifying the needs for corrective action plans for recipients and preparing reporting documents. Reviews audit reports and develops responses to resolve audit findings. Identifies training needs and provides technical assistance or arranges training for subgrant recipients. Identify and accounting of allowable cash and in-kind match. Salary: $25-$27/hour. Deadline: Oct. 6. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Legal Compliance Officer, Ventura County, California— Under administrative direction of the County Clerk-Recorder & Registrar of Voters, this position is responsible for coordinating, planning, and administering regulatory compliance for the County Clerk/Recorder and Elections divisions. It also ensures agency-wide observance of pertinent state law. Additionally, the CCR Legal Compliance Officer serves as legislative analyst to monitor, interpret, and apply legislation, and supervises related functions as assigned. Salary: $133,224 – $186,534. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Legal and Electoral Dispute Resolution Expert, The Carter Center— The Democracy Program at The Carter Center works globally to support and strengthen participatory democracy, consistent with human rights. Beginning in 2020, The Carter Center began efforts to support elections in the United States. There are multiple key aspects to this project: establishing nonpartisan observation efforts, bolstering the electoral dispute resolution process, tracking disinformation and dangerous speech, contributing to electoral reform, and promoting a set of candidate principles for trusted elections. The Carter Center’s proposed electoral dispute resolution program aims to bolster public awareness of existing mechanisms to resolve electoral challenges as a means of building confidence in the process and encouraging peaceful acceptance of results. It also seeks to identify and propose meaningful reforms to strengthen those mechanisms and make them more coherent. Ahead of the 2024 election cycle, The Carter Center is proposing a four-pronged program of work that to increase the transparency, accessibility, timeliness and accountability of electoral dispute resolution mechanisms and thereby bolster public trust in the electoral process. The program will seek to both raise awareness of existing mechanisms for electoral dispute resolution and provide recommendations for their improvement. This position will also serve as our legal expert and will work closely with other members of the US Electoral expert team to assess the extent to which the US legislation, state legislation, and their implementation complies with international election standards. The legal analyst is expected to understand the legal framework of elections in the United States, generally, brief staff on election-related legal issues, and meet with relevant stakeholders as requested. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Manager Election Administration, City of Minneapolis— As the largest and most vibrant city in the state, Minneapolis depends on purposeful, dedicated and innovative employees. Minneapolis has a large variety of careers for people of all experiences and backgrounds who come together for a singular purpose—serving the residents, businesses and visitors of Minneapolis. This Manager of Election Administration oversees all aspects of the City of Minneapolis’ expansive Vote By Mail program.  The ideal leader will value attention to detail, teamwork, and serving our community.  This individual will have the opportunity to lead a diverse staff of experts who facilitate mail voting, healthcare facility voting, ballot board and tabulation, agent delivery, and ballot drop off. These responsibilities are required under State Statute and delegated County authority. This position directly supports the Division’s goal to ensure Minneapolis voters have free, impartial, and fair access to the ballot box. Salary: $84,423.04 – $98,777.12, Deadline: Oct. 9. 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.

Nonpartisan Election Observation and Election Administration Advisor, The Carter Center— The Democracy Program at The Carter Center works globally to support and strengthen participatory democracy, consistent with human rights. Beginning in 2020, The Carter Center began efforts to support elections in the United States. There are multiple key aspects to this project: establishing nonpartisan observation efforts, bolstering the electoral dispute resolution process, tracking disinformation and dangerous speech, contributing to electoral reform, and promoting a set of candidate principles for trusted elections. The Carter Center plans to advance nonpartisan observation efforts in two states among several currently under assessment, including: California, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, and Virginia. Nonpartisan observation efforts implemented and/or supported by The Carter Center will differ from existing partisan poll watchers and election protection groups. The goal of this observation is to provide credible and transparent information on the conduct of elections in each state through public reports.  To support this work, The Carter Center also provides analysis and resources on various aspects of the electoral process and election administration such as, poll worker recruitment & training and tabulation & audit procedures. The Carter Center is looking for an experienced professional with knowledge of the U.S. electoral system that can support our targeted efforts in select states as we work to increase transparency in the electoral process and support election officials. 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 the 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 the 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 the 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.

Specialist, Butte County, California— Under general direction, plans, develops, and implements special projects and/or programs for the Clerk-Recorder or the Elections Division; provides technical support, information, and assistance to assigned division within the Clerk-Recorder’s Office; and performs related duties as assigned. This is the journey-level classification in the County Clerk-Recorder Specialist series responsible for managing assigned clerk-recorder or elections division projects and/or programmatic areas. Positions at this level perform the full range of duties as assigned, work independently, and exercise judgment and initiative. This class is distinguished from the Senior County Clerk-Recorder Specialist in that the latter manages the more complex projects/programs assigned to the series and provides technical and functional direction over lower-level staff. Salary: $43,201 – $57,886. Deadline: Oct. 2. 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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