I. In Focus This Week
Want a role on Election Day?
Go work — or watch — the polls
By Wendy Underhill
National Conference of State Legislatures
What’s all this we hear now about partisan poll watchers? Amid the heat of this election, candidates have already begun encouraging more partisan poll watchers to participate on Election Day.
If this worries you, it shouldn’t. Poll watchers aren’t watching anyone actually cast a ballot.
Most likely, they’re watching people check in to vote, and reporting back to their local political party headquarters about who has voted, and who still needs a rousing “get out the vote” call.
Sometimes, in some states, poll watchers are authorized to question, or “challenge,” a person’s ability to vote at that location, based on information that indicates he or she doesn’t live in the jurisdiction or for some other concern.
What they aren’t authorized to do is to campaign, to interfere with the voting process, or to talk directly to the voters. Instead, they can observe and report to the administrators if they see a procedural hitch. Traditionally, allowing representatives from major parties observe elections was intended as an integrity check. They still serve this function.
Partisans aren’t the only ones monitoring elections.
Nonpartisan election observers are also out and about during general elections. Some are academics, some are international observers, some are representing citizen groups and some are just interested citizens. The Carter Center and NCSL teamed up this year to figure out exactly who’s doing all these observations, and why they do it.
“Election observation helps to strengthen election processes by providing information and recommendations to hard-working and over-stretched election administrators as the election unfolds,” says Avery Davis-Roberts, from the Carter Center. “Here in the United States, the rules and regulations about who can observe what, when and where vary greatly across jurisdictions. Having clearer rules about observation and observer access can really help to institutionalize trust and good communication between observers and election administrators.”
That was Davis-Roberts’ takeaway from the project—one I agree with. My biggest takeaway, though, was that election officials are clear that what they really need is more poll workers, not more poll watchers.
All across the country, election officials say that finding enough poll workers to work 12-hour shifts for $150 to $200 on Election Day is hard, and gets harder every year. NCSL has interviewed 43 election administrators over the last few years, asking them what issues they face in their jurisdictions. Fifteen rank poll worker recruitment at the top, the single highest issue.
This election is an opportunity for loyal partisans to be part of the election itself—to be doers (as well as watchers).
Want more on nonpartisan election observers, partisan poll watchers and others? Check out these resources:
- Policies for Election Observers
- International Election Observation Abroad and At Home
- Poll Watcher Qualifications
(Wendy Underhill is the program director for elections and redistricting at NCSL. This article is reprinted with permission from The NCSL Blog).
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III. Primary Updates
Statewide primaries went off without a hitch this week and that may be largely due to the fact that turnout was incredibly low. Although final numbers aren’t in yet, in Juneau it’s believed that as few as 1 in 5 registered voters bothered to cast a ballot. Although a count of mail ballots will likely boost the turnout a bit, it is expected to go down as one of the worst turnouts ever.
Despite early voting and an increasing number of people voting by mail, turnout in this week’s primary in Hawaii hit record-level lows. Only 34.7 percent of registered voters bothered to cast ballots. In all, 251,959 people voted. The previous low was set in 2008 at 36.9 percent.
About 15 percent of Hawaii County’s registered voters took advantage of early voting, and while that number is growing, it’s still small. “I think elections should be something that builds the community,” voter Alec Richardson told the Hawaii Tribune Herald. Saturday, minutes after voting at Hilo High School. “And when you send in a form from home, you’re not really participating in the community as a whole. I think coming in is a way to build community.”
Voters headed to the polls in Wyoming on Tuesday and as was the case with many other states holding non-presidential primaries, turnout was low. But despite the low turnout, poll workers and voters alike both commented on the efficiency of the new digital sign-in process in Natrona County.
There were reports of confusion in Natrona County after the county consolidated polling places for the primary. The county moved from 45 voting locations in 2014 to 26 this year.
IV. Election News This Week
- Following an Appeals Court ruling reinstating early voting, North Carolina county election boards have been working to comply with the order. Word comes this week that an email from the state’s GOP executive director to county elections officials is calling on them to limit early voting hours. “Republicans should fight with all they have to promote safe and secure voting and for rules that are fair to our side,” Dallas Woodhouse wrote in his email. “Our Republican board members should feel empowered to make legal changes to early voting plans that are supported by Republicans.”
- U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson told state officials this week that federal cyber security experts could scan for vulnerabilities in voting systems and provide other resources. In his call with state officials this week, Johnson encouraged the state officials to comply with federal cyber recommendations, such as making sure electronic voting machines are not connected to the internet while voting is taking place.
- Unfortunately Louisiana officials are used to preparing for an election in the wake of catastrophic flooding so that’s why this week Secretary of State Tom Schedler said his office is already making preparations to set up mobile voting precincts where needed in the wake of this week’s historic flooding in parts of the state. “We’re assessing what schools, fire stations and the other places where we typically have precincts have been damaged and when they’re expected to be available,” Communications Director Meg Casper told The News Star. “We have many processes already in place from Katrina.”
- The National Conference of State Legislatures has put together an overview of the state-by-state laws regarding poll watcher qualifications. According to their research, West Virginia appears to be the only state that does not allow poll watchers to observe elections.
- At the cost of $500,000 Ohio officials will hold a special election in September with only one candidate on the ballot. The September 13 election is a Democratic primary to replace former U.S. Rep. John Boehner. “Regardless of how many are on the ballot, if you have an election, it’s a full-blown election and you move forward,” Clark County BOE Director Jason Baker told the Springfield News Sun. “It doesn’t matter if it’s one, two or 50 candidates.”
- Personnel News: River Falls, Wisconsin Clerk Lu Ann Hecht is retiring at the end of the year. Kelly Gillis, chairman of the Miami County, Ohio board of elections is stepping down at the end of 2016. Franklin County, Ohio Elections Director William A. Anthony, Jr. has resigned. Joyce Simon has been named the chair of the Hawkins County, Tennessee election commission.
V. Research and Report Summaries
electionline provides brief summaries of recent research and reports in the field of election administration. The summaries are courtesy of Sean Greene, project management specialist with the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.
Projecting the Number of Eligible Voters with Disabilities in the November 2016 Elections – Dr. Lisa Schur and Dr. Douglas Kruse, Department of Labor Studies and Employment Relations, Rutgers University, August 11, 2016: People will disabilities are projected to be approximately one-sixth of the electorate this November, more than 35 million people, according to new research. The report estimates 16.4 million of these eligible voters could cast ballots, but that will depend on a variety of factors including barriers to voting people with disabilities encounter.
VI. Legislative Updates
Federal Legislation: To commemorate the 51st anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, Congresswoman Eleanor Holms Norton (D-D.C.) said she plans to introduce a resolution calling on the House of Representatives to make restoring the preclearance provisions of the VRA a top priority.
California: A bill that will reinstate the voting rights of some felons serving time in county jails is headed to the desk of Gov. Jerry Brown (D). According to Democrat Shirley N. Weber, who introduced the bill, it will standardize and clarify practices throughout the state to ensure that felons under the formal jurisdiction of county jails and probation departments are still able to vote.
Illinois: Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) has vetoed legislation that would have made Illinois the sixth state to approve automatic voter registration. According to the Chicago Tribune, Rauner said he wanted to continue negotiations with supporters to work on issues like potential voter fraud and conflicts with federal law.
VII. Legal Updates
Hawaii: The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld an earlier decision to support Hawaii’s open primaries. The Democratic Party of Hawaii had challenged the state’s open primary system where registered voters can choose any party’s ballot to cast their votes without formally joining the party.
Kentucky: Two Magoffin County officials have been convicted by a federal jury in a vote-fraud scheme. The officials were charged with conspiring to buy votes in 2014 for a slate of candidates.
Michigan: A panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 3-0 against Secretary of State Ruth Johnson’s motion to stay an injunction against the lower court ruling to keep straight-ticket voting in place for the November election.
Missouri: A losing candidate in the recent Democratic primary is suing the St. Louis County board of elections claiming that the high number of absentee votes the winning candidate received puts the results in question.
North Carolina: A three- judge panel of the U.S. District Court has ruled that 28 of North Carolina’s legislative districts are unconstitutional because they are racially gerrymandered. Despite the ruling, the districts will still be in place for the November 2016 election.
Also in North Carolina, Gov. Pat McCrory asked the U.S. Supreme Court to freeze parts of the federal appeals court opinion that struck down provision of a 2013 election including voter ID, same-day registration and early voting limitations. “We have asked Chief Justice John Roberts to stay the Fourth Circuit’s ruling and reinstate North Carolina’s Voter ID law,” said McCrory in a statement.
Oklahoma: Bucking recent trends, Oklahoma County District Judge Aletia Haynes Timmons dismissed a case against the state’s voter ID law this week after hearing oral arguments. The fight over the state’s voter ID law began in 2012.
Texas: U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman blocked the state from enforcing a law that limits the availability of interpreters in polling places saying that the limitations violates the Voting Rights Act. Pitman ruled that the residency requirement violated Section 208 of the Voting Rights Act, which guarantees voters the right to be helped by a person of their choice if they need assistance because of blindness, disability or inability to read or write.
Also in Texas, the state announced plans this week to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to keep the state’s voter ID law in place.
Wisconsin: Attorney General Brad Schimel has filed a motion with the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals for a stay in lower court’s ruling lifting restrictions on early voting in Wisconsin.
VIII. Tech Thursday
Colorado: This week, the secretary of state’s office launched a new way for Coloradans to get involved in the process—by registering to vote with a text. Eligible residents can text the word Colorado or CO to 2Vote (28683) and then open a link on the secretary of state’s website. “In today’s on-demand society, we’re staying one step ahead addressing the needs of millennials, Gen-Xers and anyone who wants information immediately,” said Secretary of State Wayne Williams.
Kentucky: In the five months since it launched, more than 36,000 Kentuckians have used the state’s new online voter registration system to either register for the first time or update an existing registration. More than 2,700 18-year-olds have used the system to register for the first time. The oldest user of the system is 98.
Massachusetts: Woburn City Clerk William Campbell has created 123voter.com that provides Woburn voters with a gateway to all the information they may need about the upcoming presidential election. “There is going to be a tremendous turnout for this election in the fall, and I thought it would be a good idea to gather all voter information in one place,” said Campbell. Campbell bought the 123voter.com domain name and manages the website himself.
“It’s a low-maintenance website that is easy to use,” he said.
IX. Opinions This Week
Arkansas: Secretary of state
Georgia: Sparta voters
Kansas: Voter fraud
Maine: Ranked choice voting
Pennsylvania: Rigged elections
Virginia: Ex-felon voting rights
Wisconsin: Voter ID
X. Upcoming Events
National Voter Registration Day — In 2008, 6 million Americans didn’t vote because they missed a registration deadline or didn’t know how to register. In 2016, we want to make sure no one is left out. On September 27, 2016, volunteers, celebrities, and organizations from all over the country will “hit the streets” for National Voter Registration Day. This single day of coordinated ﬁeld, technology and media efforts will create pervasive awareness of voter registration opportunities–allowing us to reach tens of thousands of voters who we could not reach otherwise. When: September 27th. Where: Nationwide. For more information, click here.
XI. 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 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.
Customer Relations Manager, Dominion Voting Systems, Chicago, Illinois— Dominion Voting Systems is seeking a highly motivated and enthusiastic, Customer Relations Manager, based in the Chicago, Illinois area! This position will be responsible for providing world-class customer service in order to achieve our core purpose of delivering solutions for the advancement of fair, accessible, and secure elections! You will problem solve, collaborate, create and improve processes, and make our customers successful in the execution of seemingly impossible tasks. Excitement lives here!. Salary: Negotiable base + bonus target & benefits. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply click here.
Manufacturing Engineer III, Toronto, Ontario — Dominion Voting Systems is seeking an experienced and passionate, Manufacturing Engineer III, to join our team in downtown Toronto! This position will work with Contract Manufacturer’s (CM’s) Engineering Teams to develop, implement and maintain methods, operation sequence and processes for the manufacture of parts, components, sub-assemblies and final assemblies; Interface with design engineering, estimating, determining time standards and making recommendations on product lines; Provide technical support to CM’s engineering teams; and Maintain records and reporting systems for coordination of manufacturing operations and accountable for on-site monitoring and audit of CM’s manufacturing processes to help identify and resolve issues causing defects and affecting product quality. Salary: Negotiable base + bonus target & benefits. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Product Manager (Owner), Toronto, Ontario — Dominion Voting Systems is seeking an motivated and experienced, Product Manager (Owner), to join our team in downtown Toronto! This position will be responsible for managing the planning, forecasting and marketing of one or more products at all stages of the product lifecycle; Investigating, selecting, and developing the products by considering such factors as intended market, products offered by the competition and how well the product fits with the company’s business model. This position may be assigned a jurisdiction to coordinate a Requirements Elicitations and Gap Analysis (REGA). Salary: Negotiable base + bonus target & benefits. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Product Specialist, Denver, Colorado — Dominion Voting Systems is seeking a tech-savvy and passionate, Product Specialist, to be based in our downtown Denver, Colorado office. This role is responsible for responsible for the installation, operation, repair, and maintenance of all Dominion Voting Systems elections products; providing elections support services and customer training; and interfacing directly with customers, co-workers and election officials. Salary: Negotiable base + bonus target & benefits. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
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 and Operations 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. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Registrar Liaison Supervisor, Virginia Department of Elections — the Department of Elections (ELECT) is seeking a qualified individual to lead and direct the administration of elections in Virginia through the supervision of staff responsible for regular communication with local general registrars. This position leads the team dedicated to improving communication with local election administrators by promoting awareness of compliance with election related matters and assists with managing new legislative, regulated or administrates changes. Salary: $55,000-$70,000. Deadline: Aug. 24. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Senior Data Architect, Virginia Department of Elections — the Department of Elections (ELECT) is seeking a qualified individual to plan, design and manage ELECT data extraction processes to ensure accuracy, completeness, integrity, security and efficiency of the ELECT processes. Implements policies, standards and procedures relating to data structures, performance, security and auditing. Possess the knowledge, skills and abilities to manage processes, databases and other applications written by a third-party. Also, works closely with our vendors, developers and business analysts for successful election management. Salary: $70,000-$110,000. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Senior Project Manager, Denver, Colorado — Dominion Voting Systems is seeking an experienced, well-organized and passionate Senior Project Manager to join our team in downtown Denver! This position will be responsible for overseeing the successful execution of assigned projects in the State of Colorado as well as managing a team of local and remote employees. This position is critical to the success of our customers throughout the State of Colorado. Salary: Negotiable base + bonus target & benefits. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Senior UI/UX Designer, Toronto, Ontario — Dominion Voting Systems is seeking a talented and passionate, Senior UI/UX Designer, to join our team in downtown Toronto! This position will be tasked with creating an easy-to-use voting experience for voters and election workers. The ideal candidate should have an eye for clean and artful design, possess superior UI skills and be able to translate high-level requirements into intuitive and functional user interfaces. Salary: Negotiable base + bonus target & benefits. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Senior Software Developer, Lead, Toronto, Ontario — Dominion Voting Systems is seeking highly technical and passionate, Senior Software Developer, Lead to join our team in downtown Toronto! This position will be responsible for providing high-level technical expertise to design development, coding, testing and debugging of new voting system software and/or significant enhancements to existing software for our customers. This position will Lead a team utilizing an Agile development environment. Salary: Negotiable base + bonus target & benefits. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Software Developer II, Toronto, Ontario — Dominion Voting Systems is seeking a talented and passionate, Software Developer II, to join our team in downtown Toronto! This position will be responsible for providing high-level technical expertise to design development, coding, testing and debugging of new voting system software and/or significant enhancements to existing software for our customers. This position will work on a team utilizing an Agile development environment. Salary: Negotiable base + bonus target & benefits. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Training Specialist, Wake County, North Carolina — The Wake County Board of Elections is seeking a creative and experienced Training Specialist to design and manage instructor-led and online training programs for our 3,000+ precinct officials. Deadline: August 21. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
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