I. In Focus This Week
The Voting Rights Act turns 50
A look at some of the stories this week and some artwork too!
Fifty years ago today, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 into law.
Between the anniversary of the March on Selma and the Voting Rights Act this year, literally thousands of column inches have been written about voting rights.
We at electionline weren’t sure how much we could expand on that this week, so we just wanted to give you a round up of some of the major news stories about the Voting Rights Act that were published this week.
In addition to highlighting some of the major news stories about this week’s Voting Rights Act anniversary, we wanted to share a blog post (see below) from the Washington Secretary of State’s office about the 2015 Kids’ Art Contest.
The secretary of state’s office holds the contest every year with the winning artwork gracing the cover of the state’s voter guide that year.
“The Kids’ Art Contest has been one of the Elections Division’s favorite programs. Hundreds of students across Washington take part, and many of them create some incredible posters,” said Elections Director Lori Augino. “The contest allows kids to put their artistic side to good use while also developing an appreciation for voting.”
Emily Cain and Secretary Wyman (right) hold up a poster of Emily’s winning artwork in her class. With them (from left) are Emily’s teacher, Kevin Plough, and her mother, Amanda Cain. (Photo courtesy of Lindsay Pryor)
Emily Cain began Wednesday morning at Burien’s Cedarhurst Elementary School like she has many times before it. But what was a routine day for the fourth-grader took a major change around 9:30.
Her mom and her little brother unexpectedly entered her classroom. Then walked in a lady she’s never met, Secretary of State Kim Wyman. Standing before Emily, her teacher, Kevin Plough, and her classmates, the Secretary of State explained why she was there – to announce that Emily was the winner of the statewide Kids’ Art Contest.
“I could tell Emily had no idea why we were there, which made it really special when I told her she won the contest,” Wyman said. “It was fun to surprise Emily in front of her teacher and classmates with the big news! Congratulations to her and her family!”
Emily’s winning artwork, featured below, will be shown in the 3.2 million copies of the statewide General Election Voters’ Pamphlet that will be sent to Washington residents in October. Emily’s drawing and those of the runners-up will be displayed this fall in the Lieutenant Governor Brad Owen’s office in the state Capitol.
The annual contest, sponsored by our Elections Division, is for fourth- and fifth-grade Washington students. Nearly 300 students took part this year. The contest prompts a discussion with our youngest citizens about the importance of voting.
This year’s contest theme, “Every Vote is Equal!” celebrates 50 years of the Voting Rights Act, a landmark federal law that prohibits racial discrimination in voting. Civil rights activists Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks were on hand to watch President Lyndon B. Johnson sign the bill into law on August 6, 1965.
“Washingtonians and Americans today could not truly call themselves free if the Voting Rights Act didn’t exist,” Wyman said. “I hope the students who took part in this year’s Art Contest learned about this important law and how it’s helped give a voice to all citizens, regardless of skin color.”
II. Election News This Week
- San Mateo County, California Chief Elections Officer & Assessor-County Clerk-Recorder, Mark Church, announced that 41 cities, special districts and school districts in San Mateo County have approved a resolution for an all-mailed ballot election for the upcoming November 3, 2015 Consolidated Municipal, School and Special District Election. The county will be the first in California to hold a county-wide all-mailed ballot election. The all vote-by-mail election is made possible through Assembly Bill 2028, signed into law in 2014 creating a pilot program for vote-by-mail. “Conducting the November 2015 Local Consolidated Election by all-mailed ballot will be good for San Mateo County,” Mark Church, Chief Elections Officer & Assessor-County Clerk-Recorder said in a statement. “It most likely will increase voter participation by as much as 10% and save taxpayers close to $1 million.”
- Following a 2014 complaint lodged with the Oklahoma Election Board by the Tulsa Urban League, the League of Women Voters of Oklahoma and others, state public assistance agencies have agreed to begin offering voter registration services. According to Tulsa World, Under the terms of the agreement, the departments of Human Services and Health and the Oklahoma Health Care Authority will begin offering voter registration assistance. Also, the Oklahoma Election Board will launch an NVRA website with voter registration information and statistics.
- According to an article published in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Gov. Scott Walker and Republicans who control the state Legislature plan to restructure the nonpartisan Government Accountability Board before the fall of 2016 when Walker hopes to be the GOP nominee for president. Lawmakers created the board in 2007 by combining the board of elections and ethics board. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) he wanted to form a new board that would include former lawmakers or others who represent Democrats and Republicans. He said he favors creating two new boards instead of one.
- Several cities and states held primaries this week and it was largely a quite day with moderate to low turnout. Officials in Jasper County, Missouri were pleased with the roll out of new voting equipment. “It went really well, and we got a lot of good comments from the election judges,” County Clerk Marilyn Baugh told The Joplin Globe. In Lincoln County, Mississippi, a tree fell on a power line temporarily cutting power to a polling location. Voting was never affected at the voting machines ran on battery power until a generator could be brought to the site. Sometimes math errors work in your favor, as was the case in Adams County, Mississippi when a mathematical error due to how computers calculated the total number of registered voters listed turnout at only 24.3 percent when it was really closer to 50 percent. Voting was delayed for about 50 minutes in Hancock County, Mississippi when a poll worker with the GOP ballots and voting equipment in their car had car troubles. “Sometimes events outside of our control happen,” Karen Ladner Ruhr, circuit clerk told the Sun Herald. “We’re glad the poll is now running smoothly.”
- Personnel News: Secretary of State Denise Merrill has tapped Christine Horrigan, an attorney and longtime leader of the Connecticut League of Women Voters to serve as Hartford’s new election monitor. Congratulations to Elkhart County, Indiana Clerk Wendy Hudson for being named the Marlene Sutton Clerk of the Year by the Association of Clerks and Circuit Courts of Indiana. Robin Smith, a former news anchor, as announced that she’s running as a Democrat for the Missouri Secretary of State seat. Craig Latimer has announced that he will seek a second term as Hillsborough County, Florida supervisor of elections. Supervisor of elections Leslie Rossway Swan will see re-election in Indian River County.
III. Research and Report Summaries
electionline provides brief summaries of recent research and reports in the field of election administration. The summaries are courtesy of the research staff of The Pew Charitable Trusts Elections Initiatives. Please email links to research to Sean Greene at Pew.
2014 Bernalillo County Election Administration Report– Lonna Rae Atkeson, Alex Adams, Charles Stewart III, and Julia Hellwege, The Center for Voting, Elections and Democracy at the University of New Mexico, July 22, 2015: This in-depth research on the November 2014 election in Bernalillo County, New Mexico finds high voter satisfaction with the performance of poll workers as well as confidence their vote was counted correctly. The report additionally notes there were some long wait times to vote on Election Day at county voter centers, and makes recommendations to help reduce these wait times.
2014 Post-Election Report to Congress– Federal Voting Assistance Program, July 2015:This required Congressional report on military and overseas voters finds that in 2014:
- Active duty military registration rates were higher than civilian rates;
- Active duty military voter participation rates were lower than civilian rates;
- Five percent of ballots received from military and overseas voters were rejected;
- Ballots sent to the voter by mail were a larger proportion of rejected ballots than those sent to the voter by email.
IV. Legislative Updates
Federal Legislation: According to The Hill, House Republican leaders are putting the brakes on voting rights legislation saying that the bill must go through the Judiciary Committee, something that Democrats are attempting to avoid because the committee is chaired by Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), who as previously stated is opposition to the legislation. “Speaker Boehner has said that he believes that the Voting Rights Act has been an effective tool in protecting a right that is fundamental to our democracy. That’s why we reauthorized the law for 25 years in 2006,” a Boehner spokesperson said Friday in an email. “He also believes that if members want to change the law, those discussions will have to begin at the Judiciary Committee.”
The Native American Voting Rights Act has been introduced by several members of the Senate would expand access to the polls by requiring states to establish polling locations on reservations upon request from a tribe, including early voting locations in states that allow it. According to the Cibola Beacon, the bill also directs state election administrators to mail absentee ballots to the homes of all registered voters if requested by a tribe.
California: California Secretary of State Alex Padilla has dropped an appeal filed by his predecessor who was sued after declaring that former inmates were ineligible to vote in December 2011. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Padilla said he wanted to ensure that lower-level felons who were sent under Gov. Jerry Brown’s “realignment” program to county jail as a way to remedy state prison overpopulation retained their voting privileges.
Michigan: The Michigan Board of State Canvassers has approved Let’s Vote Michigan’s request to circulate petitions in order to get an initiative on an upcoming ballot that, if approved, would move Michigan to all vote-by-mail. The potential ballot proposal calls for an amendment to the Michigan Constitution. The group would have to collect 315,654 to make the 2016 ballot. According to Michigan Live, Secretary of State Ruth Johnson will not take a position on the initiative.
New Mexico: A political organization in Clovis has requested that an ordinance be placed on the general ballot for the March election that would allow citizens to decide if the city should change it’s charter to require residents to show voter ID before casting a ballot.
North Dakota: The Pierce County commission is considering whether or not to move the county to all vote-by-mail as a way to decrease costs and increase access. Currently 26 North Dakota counties use vote-by-mail.
V. Legal Updates
Minnesota: A Red Wing Township supervisor has been convicted of a felony for burning ballots following a March 2014 election. According to the Minnesota Post, a jury found Thomas Joseph Shane, 59, of Zumbrota, guilty Thursday of election day act-mutilating ballots. He was acquitted of misconduct of a public officer, a gross misdemeanor. Jurors deliberated for less than a day. Sentencing has been set for Sept. 25; he faces up to a year in jail.
North Carolina: Closing arguments were held earlier this week and the federal voting rights trial in North Carolina is now in the hands of U.S District Judge Thomas Schroederr who has said he will make a decision later this year.
Texas: On the eve of the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Texas’ voter ID law citing the Voting Rights Act. The court ruled that the law has a “discriminatory” effect on minorities and that it runs afoul of parts of the VRA.
VI. Tech Thursday
Florida: Lee County Manager Roger Desjarlais has told Supervisor of Elections Sharon Harrington that he would be uncomfortable approving an expenditure of the size requested [$893,000 to replace iPads, which has since been rescinded] without a comprehensive technology upgrade master plan for the supervisor of elections office. “It’s like building a house without the blueprints,” Desjarlais said during a Lee County commission meeting according to the News-Press. “I think she’s trying to insure that every voter can vote and we have the same goal. But we also have to scrutinize purchases of this size.”
Hawaii: As of August 4, residents of the Aloha State are now able to register online to vote. Legislation approving the move was passed in 2012 with a 2016 deadline. The new online system cost about $500,000. According to KHON, the service is only open to residents with a Hawaii driver’s license or state ID and allows voters to update their information and request a permanent absentee ballot.
VII. Opinions This Week
National Opinions: Voting Rights Act, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII, XIII, XIV, XV, XVI, XVII | Voting rights, II, III, IV, V, VI | Florida 2000 | Partisan politics | Voter suppression
Arizona: Voter ID laws
Colorado: Voter registration
Iowa: Voting rights
Kansas: Voting machine audit
Missouri: Secretary of state race
Nevada: Election reform
Oklahoma: Young voters
Tennessee: Voting Rights Act
Texas: Election reform
Virginia: Voter registration forms
Washington: Primary date
VIII. Available Funding
U.S. Election Assistance Commission Grants
EAC Grants Management Division is responsible for distributing, monitoring, providing technical assistance to states and grantees on the use of funds, and reporting on requirements payments and discretionary grants to improve administration of elections for federal office. The office also negotiates indirect cost rates with grantees and resolves audit findings on the use of HAVA funds.
IX. Upcoming Events
Please email upcoming events — conferences, symposiums, seminars, webinars, etc. to firstname.lastname@example.org.
EAC Election Data Summit — EAC will host an election data summit to discuss how good data can help elections run better. Attendees will include a broad spectrum of election researchers, state and local government election officials and representatives from leading non-profit election organizations. Agenda details will soon be posted here. Where: American University, Washington, D.C. When: August 12 and 13. For more information, click here.
Election Center 31st Annual Conference— The Election Center hold its 31st Annual Conference in Houston in August. Planning is still in the early stages, but be sure to mark your calendars now. Where: Houston, Texas. When: August 18-22. For more information and to register, click here.
NACRC Annual Conference— The Annual Conference of the National Association of County Recorders, Election Officials and Clerks is set for Houston in August. Planning is still in the early stages, but be sure to mark your calendar. Where: Houston, Texas. When: August 21-25. For more information and to register, click here.
MEOC Conference — The Midwest Election Officials Conference is back! Following a several-year hiatus, Brian Newby, Johnson County, Kansas election commissioner is bringing back the regional conference for elections officials. There are still a lot of details to work out, but if you’re an elections official in the Midwest, mark your calendars now! Where: Kansas City area. When: September 30-October 2. For more information, stay tuned to electionline and Brian Newby’s Election Diary.
X. Job Postings This Week
electionlineWeekly publishes election administration job postings each week as a free service to our readers. To have your job listed in the newsletter, please send a copy of the job description, including a web link to email@example.com. Job postings must be received by 5pm on Wednesday in order to appear in the Thursday newsletter. Listings will run for three weeks or till the deadline listed in the posting.
California Program Coordinator, Civic Engagement, NALEO, Los Angeles — California Program Coordinator for Civic Engagement will provide support to the NALEO Educational Fund’s Civic Engagement program work across California. This includes providing program, logistical and administrative support as needed for the implementation of the department’s naturalization promotion and assistance, voter engagement, and capacity building programs. The Program Coordinator will be responsible for oversight of community-focused initiatives; organization of and responsibility for NALEO Educational Fund technical trainings and community events; development/use of program assessment tools and implementation of program improvements; management, training, and engagement of regional volunteers; reporting on California-based civic engagement activities; effective and professional management of external partner relationships; and other programmatic and administrative support for the team as needed. Salary: $16.00-$18.00 per hour. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Elections Technology Specialist III, Boulder County, Colorado — position will perform a variety of complex and specialized tasks associated with elections management, elections processing systems and the statewide voter registration system. The position is responsible for the implementation and results of related processes, as well as related procedural development, training and technology support, while ensuring compliance with elections rules, laws and policies. This role requires varying degrees of process management and supervisory support of temporary employees, as well as a high level of initiative, attention to detail, collaboration, problem-solving and analytical ability. Ability to work effectively under pressure while remaining positive and flexible is also key to success. This position requires additional hours; evenings, weekends, and some county holidays as needed during election cycles. Salary: $52,572-$75,696. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Hotline Operator, Civic Engagement, NALEO, Los Angeles, California — NALEO Educational Fund seeks motivated individuals to staff its national bilingual hotline. The Hotline Operator will be responsible for answering calls, documenting calls and assisting individuals with basic non-legal information and local referrals related to U.S. citizenship, elections and administrative relief programs. Duties also include, but are not limited to recording all call details in a simple database, following up on pending calls and retrieving voicemail as instructed. This is an entry-level, part-time/temporary position. Work hours will vary and may range from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. (PST) Monday through Friday. Salary: $12.00 per hour. Application. For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
IT Coordinator, Bowen Center for Public Affairs, Dept. of Political Science, Ball State University — administer and coordinate all activities related to the computer operations and databases created and maintained by the Voting system Technical Oversight Program (VSTOP) in the Bowen Center for Public Affairs; work with the co-directors and other staff of the project; provide professional and technical advice in the areas of maintaining and integrating databases and web-based interfaces; maintain responsibility for all database operations; update protocols used in the testing of voting equipment and related peripherals and provide oversight on field tests of voting equipment. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
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There are still items available for purchase from Yavapai County Arizona’s previous Diebold system. Most notably, Accu-Vote Precinct Packages, which are $35.00 and include 1 Scanner w/ key, transfer case & power cord. This is good news for Jurisdictions who may be interested in AVOS central count machines, as vendors have indicated that they are still selling the EPROMS that turn AVOS precinct counters into central count machines (see vendor for details). Other items still available for purchase include: 128K Accu-Vote Memory cards ($25.00), 32K Accu-Vote Memory cards ($25.00), and TSx PCMCIA Memory cards ($25.00). Equipment is being sold as-is on a first come, first served basis until all items have been liquidated. Interested parties may send a request for more information to: email@example.com. Please be sure to include in your email: Contact Name, State, County, and phone number.