I. In Focus This Week
Democracy Fund survey finds majority happy with voting experience
Survey also finds most have concerns about threats to the process
By M. Mindy Moretti
These days, it seems you would be hard pressed to get 85 individual people to agree on anything, let alone 85 percent, however, according to a new survey by the Democracy Fund, 85 percent of Americans who went to the polls on November 8th said they had a pleasant experience at the polls on Election Day.
That said, an overwhelming number of those same voters also said they hand concerns on some level that the election was “very fairly” determined, meaning that even the voters who are most trustful of the system after the election still have considerable concerns about specific threats to the process.
What this says to Adam Ambrogi, elections program director at the Democracy Fund is that elections officials have worked hard to build confidence in the system, but there is still work that needs to be done.
“The positive news is that we’re gratified that most people reported individually having a good experience, which I think is a testament to the hard work of elections officials. It’s also a testament to the structure of some of the election system,” Ambrogi said.
Data shows that large swaths of Democrats and Republicans express nervousness about key safeguards within the system, including the idea that fraud, rigging, or hacking may actually have impacted the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.
Ambrogi said the survey included an instrument to try and identify messages election officials can use to build greater confidence in the system. Explaining that our system is decentralized, voting machines are under lock-and-key and the lack of connectivity to the Internet seemed to play well with those surveyed.
“All of those messages we tested independently seemed to increase people’s confidence,” Ambrogi said. “Elections officials can work these into conversations.”
Ambrogi did caution that elections officials need to work especially hard to make sure all voters feel safe about their ability to cast a ballot without intimidation. Twenty-three percent of African American voters, and 18 percent of Hispanic voters, say they felt fearful, intimidated, or had problems voting, compared to 12 percent of white voters.
“As election officials work to serve their community and do outreach and education they should be mindful that this is a concern that is out there and they should try to figure out ways and messages to make sure all communities know they are safe and welcome to vote,” Ambrogi said.
This was the first post-election survey Democracy Fund has conducted.
“We just got very troubled with a lot of the rhetoric about rigging/hacking of the voting systems, coming from both sides of the ideological spectrum and we decided to do a couple of things,” Ambrogi said. “First in a longer-term basis, we have put into the field a series of questions through CCS, but we don’t get that data until the beginning of next year and we really felt that we needed to get an initial snapshot of how people experienced the election — what they felt about the entire election writ large.”
The online survey of 1,500 U.S. adults was conducted November 9–11 via VeraQuest, Inc. Panelists are required to double opt-in to ensure voluntary participation in the surveys they are invited to complete. Adult respondents were randomly selected to be generally proportional of the age, sex, region, race/ethnicity, income, and education strata of the U.S., based on Census proportions, and quotas were established for demographics to confirm sufficient diversity of the sample in proportions so that they would resemble that of the United States.
Ambrogi said the Democracy Fund and their partners are still parsing through the demographics of the survey and there will be more information in the coming weeks. And he anticipates surveying voters to become a more regular thing.
“For better or worse the concerns that were raised around this election, I don’t see them going away easily so I think we will be doing more public opinion surveys in people’s faith and trust in the system trying to aid officials and advocates to alleviate those concerns.”
(Editor’s Note: Electionline is funded by the Democracy Fund).
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III. Election News This Week
Recounts — many states and localities are conducting recounts for one race or another. The obvious three big ones are recounts of the presidential election in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, those recounts were filed by Green Party Candidate Jill Stein. In Nevada, Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente has filed for a recount of select precincts in five Nevada counties. Also, the North Carolina Board of Elections, which has been at odds with Gov. Pat McCrory since the polls closed on Nov. 8th has ordered Durham County to recount more than 94,000 ballots. Officials in Minnesota are preparing to recount the votes in the eight congressional district that was decided by just over 2,000 votes. The recount will cost about $100,000, which will be paid for by Republican challenger Stewart Mills who is seeking the recount. And in California, in Santa Clara County, 10 races will be automatically recounted because the margin of victory is so close.
Vermont recently completed an independent election audit of six communities and the secretary of state’s office reports that the tabulator machine technology used statewide is accurate. “Really accurate,” Will Senning, director of elections told NBC5. While the audit showed no unexplained disparities, Senning said it did show that voters don’t do the best job at following instructions. Though the ballots clearly instruct voters to completely fill in the oval next to the name of their preferred candidate, scores of ballots were filled with “X” marks, check marks, or circles around the entire name. “It’s eye-opening to see those markings on the ballots,” Senning said. Boston-based Clear Ballot conducted the audit.
St. Paul Votes Smarter is a political action committee created to repeal the city’s ranked choice voting system. Shawn Towle, a DFL political consultant told the Pioneer Press that ranked-choice voting confuses immigrants and first-time voters and has done little to increase turnout since being approved by the voters in 2009. “I believe in the fairness principle,” Towle said. “I don’t feel that one person’s vote should have more weight than another.” Towle hopes to have the system overturned by the courts arguing that it violates the constitution. If that doesn’t work, he plans to ask the city’s charger commission to do a formal review.
Two members of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe and one member of the Walker River Paiute Tribe will be honored at an awards banquet at the Nevada governor’s mansion for bringing a voting rights lawsuit against the secretary of state’s office and Washoe and Mineral counties. Following a judge’s ruling the state and counties had to provide polling locations closer to where member of the tribe live. The three will receive the American Indian Community Leader of the Year Award from the Nevada Indian Commission.
Personnel News: Lannie Noble, Denton County, Texas elections administrator is retiring. Replacing Noble will be Frank Phillips who is leaving the top elections job in Tarrant County to return to Denton. Floyd Jones is the new Fayette County, Georgia elections supervisor. Amy Charney is retiring after 25 years as the Williams Charter Township in Michigan. Medina, Wisconsin Town Clerk Pat LeMahieu has resigned after being on the job for about 18 months. Tina Gardner is retiring from her job of 20 years as the Wilton, Connecticut Republican registrar of voters. Robert Hooks has retired as the Coffee County, Alabama voter registrar after 17 years on the job. Howard County, Texas Election Administrator Saundra Bloom is retiring after 11 years in the elections office and 26 years working for the county. It was announced this week that incoming New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver will take office on December 9. After 39 years on the job, Lynn City, Massachusetts Clerk Mary Audley is retiring in the New Year.
In Memoriam: Edgar F. “Hike” Heiskell III, who served as West Virginia’s secretary of state from 1973 to 1975 died on November 19 following a battle with cancer. He was 76. He was the first Republican to serve the role since 1928 and was passionate about fair and honest elections. While in office he served as the chairman of the Committee on Election Reform of the National Association of Secretaries of State. Heiskell was born on October 10, 1940 in Morgantown. He graduated from West Virginia University in 1963 with a bachelor’s degree in political science, then earned a Juris Doctorate from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1966. He served as a fighter pilot for the US Air Force and Air National Guard prior to going into politics. “I have had the fortune over the last couple of years to work with Secretary Heiskell on several occasions through the Secretary of State’s office, including his participation in our “Why I Vote” video series this September,” current West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant said in a statement. “I always enjoyed talking with him about the history of the state and of the Office. West Virginia has lost a true West Virginian and someone who loved the state dearly and gave of himself and his time to his state.”
Kathy Jaeger, wife of North Dakota Secretary of state Al Jaeger had died. She was 67. Kathy Jaeger was a graduate of Minnesota State University Moorhead. She and Al Jaeger married in 1986. According to Secretary Jaeger his wife was an avid quilter. In addition to her husband, Kathy Jaeger is survived by a son and two daughters. Our thoughts are with Secretary Jaeger and his family at this difficult time.
IV. Legislative Updates
Alabama: House Minority Leader Craig Ford is planning to introduce legislation that will allow voters in the Yellowhammer State to vote early. He already has the support of local elections leaders.
Florida: Sen. Jeff Clemens (D-Lake Worth) has filed legislation that would automatically register Floridians to vote when they apply for or renews a driver’s license.
Illinois: The House failed to overturn Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto of an automatic voter registration bill. The veto, which failed by 71 votes, saw quite a few Republican legislators who had supported the initial bill vote against the veto.
Even before the veto vote though, Sen. Sue Rezin (R- Morris) had introduced new automatic voter registration legislation.=. “This bill balances our desire to register to vote along with our need to ensure that only eligible voters are being registered,” Rezin said. The new bill would require the state to screen citizenship records before automatically registering an individual.
Michigan: Michigan legislators are reviewing several bills that would make voter ID laws in the state more stringent. Under the legislation, those without the proper ID would have to cast a provisional ballot and then would have 10-days to clarify the situation. Under current law a voter without the proper ID may sign an affidavit.
Nevada: An initiative petition to put automatic voter registration before the legislature has been submitted for verification. More than 125,000 signatures were submitted. The petition needs at least 55,234 signatures to be approved. The Automatic Voter Registration Initiative would amend state law to require the Department of Motor Vehicles to transmit information to the secretary of state’s office to register people to vote or update their information. People could opt out of the program.
Ohio: Sen. Frank LaRose (R-Copley) had introduced SB 347 that would remove uncontested races from primary ballots and would not require elections officials to hold special primaries to fill open congressional seats when only one candidate is on the ballot.
Texas: Three separate bills (S 186, S 231 and S 146) have all been pre-filed and all, in different ways, are aimed at getting the state’s Department of Public Safety to automatically register voters when they get a new or renew their license.
Utah: Legislators are drafting several bills following problems that cropped up during the November election. One bill would automatically update a voters records when they do a change of address at the DMV (currently it’s an opt-in change). Another bill would allow county clerks to add more last-minute vote centers if they didn’t think enough voters had returned ballots by mail prior to the election. Yet another bill under draft would require new voting machines statewide.
Virginia: Del. Mark Cole (R-Fredericksburg), GOP chairman of the House of Delegates elections committee has pre-filed a bill that would add stricter paperwork and reporting requirements for NGOs that conduct third-party voter registration events.
Wyoming: The Wyoming Legislature’s Joint Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee has forwarded a bill to the full Legislature that, if approved, would allow Wyoming voters to apply to become permanent absentee voters.
V. Legal Updates
Florida: Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has passed an initiative on to the Florida for Supreme Court. The proposed amendment would restore the voting rights of ex-felons after the completion of their sentences. The court will review to see if the language is clear and not misleading, and ensure the initiative has only one purpose. A hearing is expected by the end of the year. If approved and if the group supporting the initiative, Floridians for a Fair Democracy, can get enough signatures, it can go on the November 2018 ballot.
Illinois: An election judge accused of voter fraud in Madison County has pleaded not guilty. Audrey R. Cook, 88, of Alton, is accused of sending in an absentee ballot in her late husband’s name. She was charged a few days before the election with two felony counts of election fraud. Cook and her husband, Vic Cook, served as election judges for many years. She said she knew how he wanted to vote, and after he died, she filled out and sent in his absentee ballot.
New York: Hector Ramirez, a Bronx politician who fell two votes short of an Assembly seat has pleaded guilty to criminally tampering with ballots. According to The New York Post, victims testified that Ramirez and his allies tricked them into voting on their behalf during the 2014 Democratic party. Ramirez did not receive jail time as long as he promises not to run for office for three years.
Pennsylvania: Margaret Vernon, 61, of Springdale has been charged with a misdemeanor for failing to show up and open the polls on time on November 8th. Polls did not open until 9:40am when Vernon was brought to the polls by sheriff’s deputies.
Texas: A trial got underway in mid-November between the City of Pasadena, Texas and a group of Latino voters who argue that the city is discriminating against them through a voter- approved redistricting plan that changed the city council form eight single-member districts to a hybrid of six single-member districts and two at-large seats. This is the first challenge of a local redistricting plan under the Voting Rights Act since Shelby v. Holder.
Wisconsin: A 3-judge panel of the U.S. District Court of the Western District of Wisconsin ruled that redistricting done by the state Legislature in 2011 violated both the First Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment because the redistricting aimed to deprive Democratic voters for their rights to be represented.
VI. Opinions This Week
Alabama: Early voting
Indiana: Voter registration
Louisiana; Early voting
Missouri: Voter ID
Nevada: Voter fraud
North Dakota: Turnout
Ohio: Voting laws
Rhode Island: Board of elections
South Carolina: Early voting
South Dakota: Elections run locally
Vermont: Ranked choice voting
Washington: Voter fraud claims
West Virginia: Early voting
VII. Upcoming Events
2016 NCSL Capitol Forum — Join NCSL for a pre-con on Legislative Lessons from Election 2016 (December 6) and NCSL’s Capitol Forum (December 6 – 9), where the redistricting and elections track is robust. The pre-con is free. When: December 6-9. Where: Washington, D.C. For more information and to register, click here or contact Wendy Underhill at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Joint Election Official Liaison Committee Meeting — This annual meeting, which is open to current members of The Election Center, NASS, NASED, IaGO, IIMC, NCSL and NACo, will feature a report from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission as well as discussions on proposed and pending legislation, cyber security, U.S. Postal Service issues, state voter registration issues, DOJ issues and concerns, the Federal Voting Assistance Program and new Election Center security resources. When: January 5-6, 2017. Where: Ritz Carlton Hotel, Arlington, Virginia.
IaoGO 2017 Mid-Winter Conference —join the International Association of Government Officials at their mid-winter conference with the theme of Success Through Education. A tentative agenda can be found here. When: January 8-11, 2017. Where: Tucson, Arizona. For more information and to register, click here.
NASS 2017 Winter Conference — Mark your calendars now and stay tuned for more information and registration details on the National Association of Secretaries of State 2017 Winter Conference. When: February 15-18, 2017. Where: Washington, D.C.
Election Center Special Workshop — the Election Center will host a special winter workshop featuring courses in facilitating voter participation (Course 7), implementation of new programs (Course 8) and resources management (Renewal Course 26). When: February 15-19. Where: Savanah, Georgia.
NASED 2017 Winter Meeting — Mark your calendars now and stay tuned for more information and registration details on the National Association of State Election Directors 2017 Winter Meeting. When: February 15-18, 2017. Where: Washington, D.C.
IaoGO 2017 Annual Conference — Mark your calendars now and stay tuned for more information and registration details on the International Association of Government Officials 2017 Annual Conference. When: July 6-13, 2017. Where: Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin.
NASS 2017 Summer Conference — Mark your calendars now and stay tuned for more information and registration details on the National Association of Secretaries of State 2017 Summer Conference. When: July 7-10, 2017. Where: Indianapolis, Indiana.
NASED 2017 Summer Meeting— Mark your calendars now and stay tuned for more information and registration details on the National Association of State Election Directors 2017 Summer Meeting. When: August 22-25, 2017. Where: Anaheim, California.
VIII. 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.
Ballot Production Services Consultant, Hart InterCivic — BPS Consultants at Hart work with our customers to design ballots and to provide printed ballots and voting media for customers. This is a customer-service position, and applicants must have exceptional customer service skills. This is a part-time hourly positon with opportunities for overtime pay during peak periods. This is not a replacement position, but a net new position at Hart. This is an ideal position for someone who wants to work varying hours, depending on the calendar. Preference is for this position to be Austin-based, but that is open to negotiation. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, please click here.
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.
Director of Operations, West, Western United States — Dominion Voting Systems is looking for a talented and passionate Director of Operations, West to join our team! This position can be based in either Northern California or Nevada and will work remotely. This position will direct the day-to-day operations in the Western United States for Dominion Voting in order to meet and exceed business objectives for growth and profitability. This position will formulate and enact policies and strategies; work with leadership to set and achieve goals; forecast, set and manage budgets; hire, mentor and manage staff; and establish and maintain professional and positive business relationships with our customers. Salary: Negotiable base + bonus target & benefits. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Elections & Special Districts Director, Cochise County, Arizona — under general direction of the County Administrator, provides professional level project planning in all functions related to the conduct of voting and election activities for the County. Under limited supervision, 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. Sound judgment and considerable communication and interpersonal skills are required in this position. Salary: $60,000-$90,000. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Elections Services Manager, Contra Costa County, California — Contra Costa County’s Clerk-Recorder’s office is offering an excellent career opportunity for individuals interested in an Election Services Manager Position for their downtown Martinez location. This management position reports to the Assistant Registrar in the Elections Division of the Clerk-Recorder’s Office and acts in the place of the Assistant Registrar during his/her absence. This position is responsible for assisting the Assistant Registrar in planning, organizing and directing the day to day activities of the Elections Division; the development, establishment, implementation and evaluation of County elections policies and procedures according to Election and Government Codes, applicable laws, rules, procedures, court cases, regulations and ordinances that affect the preparation and conduct of elections and registration of voters. The ideal candidate will possess knowledge and understanding of the election process, cycle and Election law as well as knowledge and understanding of the interrelationships of each unit of the Election Department. This classification will supervise Elections Division administrative, technical and supervisory staff. Strong management and administrative skills are required as the incumbent will have primary responsibility for day-to-day direction and coordination of the Election Division activities. Excellent Interpersonal skills are required, as the incumbent will interface with staff on all levels as well as county officials, news media, and the public. Salary: $6718-$8166 (monthly). Deadline: December 30. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Executive Director, ERIC, Washington, D.C.— Reporting to the Board of Directors, the Executive Director has overall strategic and operational responsibility for ERIC’s staff, programs, expansion, and execution of its mission. The Executive Director will be thoroughly committed to ERIC’s mission. S/he will develop a deep knowledge of ERIC’s core program, operations, budget and business plans. This is a full-time position that requires a motivated self-starter who is capable of working independently and productively in a home office environment and supervising staff and contractors from a distance. Frequent and effective communication with ERIC staff, board members and contractors is essential. Deadline: December 31. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Policy Analyst, Virginia Department of Elections, Richmond, Va.— analyze and interpret state, federal and local laws and policies in order to ensure uniformity in their interpretation and application to ensure legality and purity in all elections. Preferred Qualifications: Demonstrated experience in legislative and policy analysis and program evaluation, the ability to work under pressure, give exacting attention to detail and meet deadlines. Degree in public administration, political science, law or related area preferred, and/or equivalent relevant training and experience. Salary: $42,614-$62,000. Deadline: December 16, 2016. 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.
Product Specialist, Denver, Colorado — Dominion Voting Systems is seeking a tech-savvy, passionate Product Specialist to join our team in downtown Denver! This position will be responsible for providing technical support on all Dominion Voting Systems products both on-site, via the telephone or via email; write detailed, technical documentation for distribution internally and externally; and interface 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.
Product Specialist, Toronto, Ontario — Dominion Voting Systems is seeking a tech-savvy and passionate, Product Specialist, to be based in our downtown Toronto, Ontario 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.
Purchasing Manager, Toronto, Ontario — Dominion Voting Systems is seeking a technical and strategic Purchasing Manager to join our team in downtown Toronto! This is a new position on our Supply Chain team and it will be responsible for managing our contract manufacturers and the purchasing function for our global organization. This hybrid role will be focused on both, technical manufacturing engineering projects, and supply chain, purchasing, and procurement projects. If you enjoy being challenged, enjoy working in a fast-paced and high-growth company, and want to make a direct impact on the success of an organization – this position is for you! Salary: Negotiable base + bonus target & benefits. 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 Product Manager, Denver, Colorado — Dominion Voting Systems is seeking an experienced Senior Product Manager to join our team in downtown Denver! This position will be responsible for end to-end product planning for the DVS portfolio including hardware, software and packaging components. Salary: Negotiable base + bonus target & benefits. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
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