August 1, 2013

I. In Focus This Week

Director’s Note: Au Revoir to go on indefinite hiatus beginning August 8

By Doug Chapin

In September 2001, made its first appearance online. At the time, our idea was that with so many different election reform efforts underway across the nation it was important to have a comprehensive yet unbiased source of news and information about the field.

It’s been a terrific 12 years – covering most of three presidential election cycles – but, as with everything else, all good things must come to an end.

Next week on August 8, the site will go on indefinite hiatus.

Our friends and colleagues at The Pew Charitable Trusts have been more than generous partners throughout the years – providing operational and substantive support via grants and direct project funding – but as far back as 2001 it was understood that eventually Pew’s investment would end as it pursued new and different priorities both inside and out of the field of elections.

Now, that day has come.

I want to thank and recognize everyone who has given of their time and effort to grow through the years, including:

  • Dan Seligson, who was my wingman as we birthed the electionline concept years ago;
  • Aron Goetzl, who launched our first weekly newsletter shortly thereafter;
  • Sean Greene, who was our first research director and still our last line of defense against errors;
  • Kat Zambon, who I hired even though I didn’t have a specific job for her (and never regretted it); and
  • Alyson Freedman, who went from intern to a self-taught (and darn good) webmaster;

Dozens (hundreds?) of people at Pew who supported us directly and/or indirectly, but especially:

  • Sue Urahn, Michael Caudell-Feagan, David Becker, and Zach Markovits at the Pew Center on the States for giving us a home and helping us make every penny last;
  • Pew election staff and alumni John Lindback, Sam Derheimer, Matt Morse, Elyse Berkowitz, Stan Turner, Tanner Horton-Jones, Stacie Temple, Kate Viar, Olivia Doherty, Gita Ram and Andreas Westgaard;
  • Miscellaneous Pew gurus (who provided advice, aid and comfort and the occasional rescue) including Carla Uriona, Jennifer Peltak, Gaye Williams, Margie Newman, Scott Scrivner, Nikki Trentacoste, Lori Grange, Kil Huh and Carolynn Race;
  • Our good friends in election administration and academia for making us smart and keeping us honest (or at least trying to); and
  • All the people at the University of Richmond (our first home) and the University of Minnesota (our current home) for giving us a platform to do the work we enjoy.

Of course, no one has done more for – and thus deserves more recognition and gratitude – than Mindy Moretti. She has assumed more and more responsibility for the site over time and, as we stripped down operations to prolong the site’s life, has stayed with it as our only paid staffer, even when grant extensions and contract procedures meant that her checks weren’t as regular as I (or she) would have liked. She is a great friend and colleague and I will miss working with her every day.

Finally, I want to thank you,’s readers, for your support through the years. Although our subject matter makes us a bit of a niche site, I have always been amazed and gratified by the reception we have received. Our little experiment would never have gotten off the ground with a proper audience, and your interest in and commitment to what we do has been nothing short of overwhelming.

There’s a reason this is au revoir instead of goodbye, though; we’d love to find a way to restart – and if you have any ideas on that score send them my way; obviously people are still talking about what to do with elections and we would like to be a part of that conversation. Until then, thanks for all your support throughout the years. It’s been a great ride!

Editor’s Note: It’s hard to believe that more than eight years of knowing the ins and outs of election administration across the country are coming to an end. I won’t lie and say I’ve enjoyed every minute of it — the Pew CMS nearly killed me — but I have had the opportunity to meet and work with some fascinating and incredibly dedicated people. I would like to thank the many election officials, scholars, policy wonks, manufacturers and election geeks who have, time and time again, answered my questions and met my deadlines.

A special thanks to Doug Chapin for being a great boss and not caring whether the website and newsletter got posted from Xela, Guatemala or Savannah, Ga. as long as it got posted. Also thanks to Sean Greene who has done a heck of a job backing me up through the years. While I won’t miss getting up at 5 a.m. to search for stories, I will miss reading all those stories and keeping up with what’s going on in elections nationwide.

If you are looking for an elections email fix, check out NCSL’s The Canvass. Wendy Underhill and her team do good work. The U.S. Election Assistance Commission also sends out weekly emails with good information. Of course Doug is still blogging most days over at the Election Academy (though I know he’ll miss using the stories I find every day).

Thanks again to everyone! I hope when you see a unique I Voted sticker, you’ll remember electionline. And if you know anyone who is looking to hire a self-declared elections geek, let me know! –Mindy

II. Election News This Week

  • The outcome of next weeks Detroit mayoral election may not be known for weeks if two write-in candidates garner enough votes to require they be counted and reviewed. The reason for the long wait? The two approved write-in candidates are Mike Duggan and Mike Dugeon. Canvassers will have to carefully review each and every ballot for the proper spelling. “There will be misspellings, correct spellings, and other name variations,” Michigan Elections Director Chris Thomas told Michigan Live.
  • Betsy Stoner, executive administrator of the board of supervisors of elections for Orleans Parish has been locked out of her office. Not because she forgot the keys, but because the locks have been changed. According to The Advocate, says the lock-out stems from a disagreement between Mayor Mitch Landrieu and Clerk of the Court Arthur Morrell over office expenditures. Stoner is the board’s only paid employee. Stoner is in the middle of planning for an October municipal election, but, “They have, in a sense, paralyzed the election process,” Stoner she told the paper.
  • A group of blind voters have filed a class action lawsuit in federal court claiming that Alameda County, Calif.’s voting machines have interfered with their right to vote. According to the Contra Costa Times, the civil rights lawsuit seeks to compel Alameda County to make sure the machines are working and to train poll workers to set them up properly.
  • Lake County is suing the state of Illinois over a recently approved law that requires the county create a separate commission to oversee elections. The law removes the election authority from the county clerk. The county DA says the law is unconstitutional and requires a referendum and Board Chairman Aaron Lawlor argued that creating the new commission mandated by law would cost the county millions of dollars.
  • Personnel News: Kathleen O’Keefe will be nominated to serve as the enforcement counsel for the New York SBOE. Jake Porter, who was the 2010 Libertarian nominee for secretary of state in Iowa, has announced that he will run again in 2014. A new municipal election commission was named in Canton, Miss. and includes Gil Spivey, Helen Johnson and Charlie Mae Robinson. The Cleveland County, Okla. BOE recently promoted two staff (Tricia Rittenhouse and Susan Vis) and hired Trey Gaylord to serve as an administrative assistant. Rhode Island Secretary of State Ralph Mollis has announced that he will run for lieutenant governor. Just after 5 p.m. on July 31, Jim Bennett took the oath of office to become the Alabama secretary of state for the fourth time. Barbara Agnew, Burnet County, Texas elections administrator recently spent time in Albania observing their elections. More than 90 charges were filed against Dutchess County Democratic Election Commissioner Fran Knapp. Knapp was charged with 46 felonies, involving 45 counts of misconduct of an election officer and one count of making an apparently sworn false statement, class E felonies. She also faces 48 class A misdemeanors — 45 counts of official misconduct and three counts of offering a false instrument for filing.
  • In Memoriam: It is with sadness we report that Deborah Marshall, the Columbia County, Ga. director of elections for 12 years, has died. Marshall was 49. In April 2012 Marshal was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor and she officially retired in January 2013. Marshall first joined the elections office in 1984 and was appointed executive director in 2000. “The one thing she loved was her job and Columbia Coun­ty,” Nancy Gay, who worked for Marshall at the BOE for more than a decade and was appointed executive director in March, told the Columbia County News-Times. “She was the county’s biggest cheerleader. You would be hard-pressed to find a person who loved the county more.” Marshall is survived by her husband and three adult children.

III. Research and Report Summaries

IV. Legislative Update

Illinois: Gov. Pat Quinn has signed into law legislation that makes Illinois the 18th state to officially adopt online voter registration. The new system is required to be active by July 1, 2014.

Ohio: Companion bills (SB146 and HB214) that would require additional training for Bureau of Motor Vehicles staff that work with voter registration, have been introduced. The bills would modify an existing requirement that the registrar of motor vehicles, in cooperation with the Ohio Secretary of State, provide a voter registration training program and materials for deputy registrars and their employees. The proposal would also establish the Motor Voter Act study committee to examine Ohio’s compliance with the National Voter Registration Act of 1993.

V. Conferences

NCSL’s Legislative Summit — join the National Conference of State Legislatures at their annual Legislative Summit. This year’s summit will include almost a dozen sessions on redistricting and elections. When: August 12-15. Where: Atlanta, Ga. Registration: Click here to register.

Election Center’s 29th Annual Conference: The annual conference of the National Association of Election Officials will be in Savannah this year and will feature numerous sessions and coursework ranging from comparative democracies to the history of voter registration. When: August 13-17. Where: Savannah, Ga. Registration: Click here to register.

VI. Opinion

National News: Voting rights, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII | Absentee voting | Congressional oversight

Arizona: Elections changes

Connecticut: Polling places

Georgia: Voter ID

Illinois: Online voter registration

Iowa: Polling places

Michigan: Well-run elections

Mississippi: Hattiesburg election

Nevada: Polling places

New Hampshire: Voting laws

New Jersey: Vote-by-mail

New York: Voting system

North Carolina: Voting changes, II, III | Voter suppression

Ohio: Stark County BOE

Pennsylvania: Voter ID, II, III

South Carolina: Voting rights

Texas: Voting rights, II, III

VII. Job Openings

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 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.

General Registrar, Rockingham County, Va. — the General Registrar performs complex professional planning, supervision and administrative duties related to the voter registration process and the conduct of elections in accordance with Title 24.2 of the Virginia Code and as directed by the County Electoral Board. The Electoral Board of Rockingham County appoints the registrar to a four-year term by the. Minimum Qualifications: Bachelor’s degree in business administration, public administration or a related field and five (5) years of business or office management work experience, including two (2) years in a supervisory capacity (preference will be given to candidates with voter registration/election work experience); OR, any equivalent combination of experience and training which provides the required knowledge, skills and abilities. Comprehensive knowledge of national, state and local citizenship and voting registration laws and regulations, including state election laws and the procedures for maintaining and protecting voting registration lists and records. Understanding of budget preparation and maintenance. Ability to assess voter registration needs and to plan accordingly. Good office management and recordkeeping skills. Effectively supervise, train, and direct employees. Ability to establish and maintain effective relationships, including coordination of operations with County staff, government officials, the general public, and the media. Solid knowledge of and familiarity with data systems and personal computers and the ability to learn and effectively use Microsoft Office, Excel, Word and Powerpoint. Superior organizational skills and the ability to prepare accurate reports. Meets deadlines and works efficiently. Exercises sound professional judgment; demonstrates initiative; and integrity. Effective oral and written communication skills. Application: Complete a Rockingham County employment application and mail it with your resume and references to the Department of Human Resources, Rockingham County, 20 East Gay Street, Harrisonburg, VA 22802. The complete job listing and application are available by clicking here. Deadline: August 5.

Senior Director of Advocacy, Demos, New York City — we are looking for a creative thinker, excellent manager and team-builder, and brilliant strategist who can lead our growing Advocacy Team and help our organization achieve major impact on key challenges facing our nation. The Senior Director of Advocacy will report to the Vice- President for Policy and Outreach, Heather McGhee, and supervise the Advocacy Team. S/he will, in close collaboration with this high-performing team, guide and advance our strategy for advocacy and networking to affect policy change across our four core areas of work. Basic Qualifications: Eight years of issue advocacy experience (state or federal level but ideally both), including lobbying and advocacy, issue campaign development, and coalition-building; demonstrated strong personnel management skills with a track record of building effective, productive, and cohesive teams and developing staff for long-term success outstanding judgment and leadership qualities; excellent oral and written communications skills, demonstrating a strong ability to persuade and to debate; strong organizational and time management skills with ability to manage multiple tasks and projects at a time; and proficient in Word, Excel, Outlook and PowerPoint software. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job posting and to apply, click here.