December 27, 2012

I. In Focus This Week

In and Out 2013
What’s out and what’s in for 2013 in elections

You’ve waited all year for it, so without further ado, here is electionlineWeekly’s annual list of what’s in and what’s out in election administration for 2013.

And as always, a hat-tip to The Washington Post that began their version of the In and Out List in 1978 and inspired us to start ours.

Happy New Year!

OUT: Hanging Chads
IN: Long lines

OUT: Decade-old voting machines purchased in wake of 2002’s HAVA
IN: New voting machines (if counties can afford them)

OUT: Voter fraud/voter suppression
IN: Panels, task forces and committees to review election process

OUT: Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed
IN: Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman

OUT: Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan
IN: Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander

OUT: Maine Secretary of State Charlie Summers
IN (again): Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap

OUT: Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White (see 2012’s In and Out list)
IN: Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson

OUT: Guessing about problems
IN: Evaluating elections with data

OUT: Winging it
IN: Actually planning for disasters

OUT: (well, not quite as In): Election research on the effect of Voter ID laws
IN: (really In): Election research on what causes long lines at precinct polling places

OUT: “Us vs. them” thinking
IN: Collaboration among stakeholders

OUT: Voter ID in Pennsylvania and South Carolina
IN: Voter ID in Pennsylvania and South Carolina

OUT: Same-day registration in Wisconsin
IN: Same-day registration in Wisconsin

OUT: Traditional polling places for most California voters
IN: Vote-by-mail for a majority of California voters

OUT: Any pollster who isn’t Nate Silver
IN: Nate Silver

OUT: Tens of thousands of True the Vote poll watchers
IN: Tens of True the Vote poll watchers

OUT: Traditional voter registration drives that collect paper applications
IN: Advance, secure online tools that link official state online voter registration to Web sites like Facebook and Rock the Vote.

OUT: Hand-wringing and chaos over new voting machines in New York
IN: Hand-wringing and chaos over ongoing election problems in New York City

OUT: Early voting in Florida
IN: Early voting in Florida

Special thanks go to: Pam Smith, Thad Hall, Sean Greene and Sam Derheimer who all contributed to this year’s In and Out list.

II. Election News This Week

  • While localities continue to debate the length of lines and vote tallies from the November 6 election, officials in Minneapolis are trying to figure out what, if anything, they can do to shorten the tally time for the upcoming 2013 city elections. The city uses ranked-choice voting and because their tally software is older, it takes longer to tally the RCV votes — it took the city 18-days in 2009 to complete the vote count. If the city is not able to purchase new software, it will have to hand-count the RCV ballots, which it estimated could cost an additional $113,000. Hennepin County, which purchases the voting equipment for its cities, has set aside $5 million to purchase new equipment and hopes to work with Minneapolis to get that equipment purchased and up and running in time, but isn’t certain at this point.

  • The Commission to Study the Conduct of Elections in Maine met for the first time late last week to begin drafting a set of recommendations to improve the state’s voting system. Following their first meeting, a majority of the five-member panel said they oppose including a voter photo ID requirement in their list of recommendations. “It really comes down to the fact that there isn’t any need in Maine at this time, and there isn’t the will for it,” former U.S. Attorney Paula Silsby, one of the commission members told the Bangor Daily News. The commission held a series of public hearings throughout the state in the summer and fall months and is expected to present its complete report by the first of February.
  • Rensselaer County, NY Democratic Elections Commissioner Edward McDonough was found not guilty on 61 counts in a ballot-fraud trial that last six weeks. This was the second time McDonough faced a jury on these counts. The trial ended in a mistrial. McDonough was found not guilty on 33 counts of second-degree forgery and 28 counts of second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument.

  • Virginia State Sen. Chap Petersen (Fairfax) filed legislation that would restore voting rights to all felons upon the completion of their sentence. Under the proposed bill, rights would be restore automatically, which would eliminate the governor’s authority to determine who gets their rights restored and who doesn’t.

  • Personnel News: Missouri Secretary of State-elect Jason Kander announced three hires in his office including Abe Rakov as chief of staff, Barbara Wood as general counsel and Casey Clark as senior counsel. Edward “Butch” Dzwonkowski, Democratic registrar of voters in New Britain, Conn. is set to retire next week after more than three decades of political service. He’ll still be on the job for a while, but Steve Weir, Contra Costa County, Calif.’s registrar of voters for almost 25 years is set to retire in the New Year. Jill Van Buren has been overseeing the elections in Benton County, Ore. for 15 years, but the Nov. 6 was her last and the 31st will be her last day on the job for this elections veteran.

III. Opinions

National News: Saturday voting; Universal registration;

Arizona: Election reform;

Florida: Special election, II; Election reform, II; Election laws, II, III; Voter fraud; Early voting

Iowa: Voting concerns

Kansas: Vote tally; Election accountability

Kentucky: Early voting

Michigan: Recall elections

Minnesota: Voter ID

Mississippi: Voter ID

New York: Election reform

North Carolina: Voter ID; Voting system; Election chaos

Pennsylvania: Voter ID

South Carolina: Voting laws; Richland County

Tennessee: Poll workers

Texas: Court battles

Wisconsin: Same-day registration, II, III, IV, V, VI

**Some sites may require registration.

IV. 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.

Elections Manager, Jefferson County, Texas—performs administrative work of a managerial nature to ensure that elections are carried out properly. Duties involve managing the conduct of federal, state and local elections in accordance with state and county laws, regulations, and policies. Education: Bachelor’s degree or minimum six years of experience in related field, Certified Elections Registration Administrator (CERA) preferred. Requirements include: Thorough knowledge of state and county election laws, regulations and procedures; general knowledge of the common requirements, policies and procedures of the news media regarding information pertaining to elections; ability to repair, develop or install complex software or management information systems; and ability to supervise employees. Salary: $45,276-$60,000. Deadline: Applications will be accepted Jan. 1, 2013 through Jan. 15, 2013. For more information and to apply, click here.