I. In Focus This Week
Maryland conducts first statewide audit of election results
Audit gave counties confidence in numbers as they moved to certification
By M. Mindy Moretti
At a recent elections-related conference, when the topic of the reliability of the elections process came up, one Maryland county official remarked that local and county elections officials are always auditing.
They audit results, they audit registration databases, you name it, they audit it and they are doing it all the time.
This November Maryland took that one step further and became the first known state to conduct a statewide independent automated audit of their November general election.
According to Nikki Charlson, deputy state administrator, the audit provided local and state officials with a confidence in their results as they moved toward the certification process.
“I think that being able to, in a matter of a couple days, be able to be confident that the system used across the state accurately counts votes, and have that information for all the ballots before the locals certify, is terrific,” Charlson said.
Following a pilot program in June 2016 in two counties where the state tested three different post-election tabulation audit methodologies, the State Board of Elections decided that an independent automated tabulation audit was the best way to audit the state’s 2016.
The state contracted with Boston-based Clear Ballot to conduct the audit.
“We are confident that this is the first time a state has audited, by an independent, automated system, every ballot cast, for every contest, in every county,” said Hillary Lincoln, marketing and communications manager for Clear Ballot.
Charlson noted that all the types of audits validate the accuracy of election, but that with local elections officials straining under a massive workload in the days following an election, the independent, automated audit provided a confidence without that much additional work.
“It was quick enough that would there have been an issue we would have had time to look into it and we would have known where/what the discrepancy was,” Charlson said. “That makes our follow-up work more efficient.”
Clear Ballot provided all the counties and Baltimore City with hard drives that they then exported an image of every ballot cast onto. Charlson said that was probably the bulkiest part of the process, but it was also a process that didn’t need to be babysat so staff could start it and go home for the night.
Overall Charlson was happy with the process, but she did note that the uploading did take a bit longer than they had anticipated.
“We haven’t done a full-blown, lessons learned on this, but the process was smooth,” Charlson said, and it showed that “[t]he tabulation was perfect.” She added that the state will look to adjust some of their poll worker training to better explain to voters how to fill in the ballots though.
Clear Ballot, which has conducted partial audits in other states, was pleased with the process as well.
“We are very happy with the Maryland post-election audit project and consider it a great success based on the feedback we have received from the SBE,” Lincoln said. “We haven’t yet had time to sit down with the MD SBE to discuss whether the process should change, but we always try to improve and become more efficient with each election. Training for our next statewide audit will benefit greatly from our experience working with the Maryland SBE.”
The audit cost the state $275,000, which with about 2.7 million voters was approximately $.10 per ballot. The costs were split 50/50 between the state and counties, which is the case for all election costs in Maryland.
While Maryland did a statewide audit, Vermont is one of many states to do random audits of a select number of precincts/towns. The use of automated auditing has allowed Vermont to expand its audit process.
“With new technology, we have been able to increase the number of towns to audit from four to six and are now able to audit every race in each town, where previously we only audited two statewide races,” explained Chris Winters of the secretary of state’s office.
The future of audits
Some audit provisions are more than five decades old, so it’s not a new idea, but Pam Smith, president of Verified Voting hopes that the lessons learned from this election cycle — and the public support for audits — leads more states to follow in Maryland’s footsteps.
“The way we restore public confidence in elections is by showing them we do robust audits each time,” Smith said. “Audits are non-partisan, time-honored processes for examining evidence to learn what we can learn about correctness of outcomes and proper functioning of the equipment we depend upon for counting our votes.”
Smith said most states don’t do audits robust enough to confirm the correctness of the outcome so the advocacy arm of Verified Voting will be working in the coming months and years to encourage states to do just that.
Charlson said the state will most likely conduct such an audit for future elections and does recommend it for other states as well.
“I think that a software tabulation audit provides the level of confidence without the additional effort at crazy busy time for election officials,” Charlson said. “The manual ways validate the results, but you remove the strong likelihood of human error and I can tell in that 10-day post- election when we’re tired and we’re rushed, we’re going to make mistakes. With this, you take out the whole possibility of human error.”
Clarification: While Smith of Verified Voting strongly supports conducting audits, she wanted to make clear that she does not support the type of audit Maryland conducted because it uses electronic-only methods to review the ballots.
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III. Election News This Week
Recounts Update: At press-time, about 70 percent of Wisconsin jurisdictions had completed their presidential recounts. Although there were some changes to numbers, there were no major results changes, now were there any major problems to the process. Late on Wednesday U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith halted Michigan’s recount saying there was “no basis” for him to ignore a state court ruling that said the recount should have never started. It was unclear at press-time whether or not Goldsmith’s ruling would be appealed to the state Supreme Court. In the two days that recounting did occur, problems did arise in several jurisdictions including in Wayne County where ballot containers were improperly sealed with duct tape. In Pennsylvania, while several counties have denied recount requests from voters, U.S. District Judge Paul S. Diamond has scheduled a hearing for Friday in a lawsuit filed by the Green Party to force a forensic examination of voting machines and recount of paper ballots statewide. A recount of presidential ballots from select precincts across Nevada kicked off on Monday, with the recount not expected to be complete until late in the week. While North Carolina dodged one statewide recount in the governor’s race when incumbent Gov. Pat McCrory (R) conceded defeat the state was not able to dodge another statewide recount in the auditor’s race.
The U.S. Census Bureau released an updated list of jurisdictions must now comply with (or no longer comply with) Sec. 203 of the Voting Rights which requires language assistance in the affected jurisdictions. We’ll look more closely at the list in the coming weeks.
We’ve all made proofreading mistakes, but typically they don’t cost us $459,690.80. But that’s what happened in Alabama when the state was forced to reprint 2,917,201 general election ballots after it was discovered that the complete required language for a ballot measure was not included. When the mistake was discovered Secretary of State John Merrill had the vendor stop printing ballots and reprint the ones that had already been completed.
Thanks to YouTube, you can easily learn how to bake a cake, or put on make-up or how to properly flip a bottle, and now the residents of Contra Costa County, California can add ballot counting tutorial to the many things YouTube provides. The county’s Elections Department created at 2 minute, 55-second video that explains why it takes the county so long to count ballots, especially the provisional ballots at the end. “We put it together quickly; we’ve been getting a lot of calls about why the county wasn’t done counting (votes) yet,” Contra Costa County Registrar of Voters Joe Canciamilla told the East Bay Times. Canciamilla is the unidentified narrator of this video. “It just sort of happened.”
Personnel News: Texas Secretary of State Carlos Cascos has submitted his resignation to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. Abbott has appointed Rolando Pablos to replace him. In New Hampshire, Secretary of State William Gardner was appointed to his 21st term by the state Legislature. Dan Teed, Waller County, Texas election administrator is resigning effective December 23 after 2 ½ years on the job. Patricia Giblin, a 10-year employee at the Rockland County, New York Board of Elections, has been picked by the county’s GOP leadership to become the board’s new Republican commissioner. Doña Ana County Clerk-elect Scott Krahling says current County Clerk Lynn Ellins will stay on board in the office after Jan. 1 as chief deputy clerk, the job Krahling currently holds. Jodi Duck is the new Howard County, Texas election administrator. Vickie Koelman is retiring after 26 years on the job as Montgomery County, Tennessee’s election administrator. Coos County, Oregon Clerk Terri Turi is retiring after almost two decades on the job. Sarah Chapman has been sworn in as the newest member of the Coffee County, Alabama board of registrars.
IV. 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.
Evaluating Donald Trump’s Allegations of Voter Fraud in the 2016 Presidential Election – David Cottrell, Michael C. Herron, and Sean J. Westwood, Dartmouth College, Dec. 2, 2016: New research did not uncover evidence that any widespread voter fraud took place during the 2016 election. The authors do not claim the election was error-free or that there was zero fraud, but they found no rampant fraud in their examination.
V. Legislative Updates
Florida: Sen. Jeff Clemens (D-Palm Beach County) has introduced legislation that will automatically register Floridians to vote when they apply for or renew their driver’s license. “The reason is pretty simple – nobody should have to jump through an extra hoop to exercise their constitutional rights,” Clemens told Florida Politics. Clemens says this is either the third or fourth time he’s proposed such a bill.
Maryland: The Hyattsville City Council unanimously approved an amendment that will allow non-U.S. citizens to vote in city elections beginning in 2017. The amendment will also allow same-day registration beginning in 2019. According to recent Census numbers, about 35 percent of Hyattsville residents were born outside the United States.
Michigan: Three bills updating the state’s voter ID law have cleared the House Elections Committee late last week. The main bill in the three-bill package, HB 6066, would require voters without identification to fill out a provisional ballot, which would only be counted if the voter returned to their clerk’s office within 10 days to show a photo ID or present evidence they are indigent or have a religious objection to having their photo taken. The bills were approved by a 57-50 vote late (10pm) on Wednesday. The legislation, as approved Thursday, includes an $8 million appropriation to finance “election modernization, voter education and implementation” of the new rules, $2 million for free birth certificates and $1 million for the free ID program. The appropriations would effectively make the law immune to voter referendum.
Nevada: An initiative petition that would automatically register motorists to vote unless they opt out will head to the Legislature next year after election officials in Nevada’s 17 counties certified that the signature gathered more than that 55, 234 valid signatures needed. 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 who obtain, renew or change an address on a driver’s license or identification card. People could opt out of the program.
New Hampshire: During an organizing day this week, New Hampshire senators will decide whether or not to create a new legislative committee to deal specifically with election law. The Republican-controlled Senate proposes creating a Committee on Election Law and Internal Affairs. In past session, many election law related bills have started in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
New Jersey: This week Gov. Chris Christie (R) vetoed a bill that would have expanded the definition of overseas voters to include spouses, civil union partners, domestic partners and dependents of military service members as well as foreign-born U.S. citizens. In is veto statement, Christie said the bill would have allowed overseas voters to participate in elections on state and local issues “when they have no intention of ever returning to the United States (or, in the case of U.S. citizens born abroad, have never resided in the United States and never intend to do so) makes little sense and is inconsistent with how most other states address this issue.”
Ohio: A bill that would require a special primary election only if more than one candidate is certified to appear on the ballot is headed to the full House for a vote. The Senate unanimously approved the bill in November.
Oregon: Two Republican representatives have filed a proposed constitutional amendment that would require all of the state’s 2.5 million voters to re-register within two years and provide proof-of-citizenship to re-register.
VI. Legal Updates
Florida: Three voters have filed a lawsuit in Leon Circuity Court claiming that the state’s official election results were off because malfunctioning voting machines. They are seeking a recount of all paper ballots.
Kentucky: Gary “Rooster” Risner, a Magoffin Co. magistrate convicted in a vote-buying conspiracy, has been sentenced to two years and nine months in federal prison. Risner must also complete 550 hours of community service following his release.
Mississippi: U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves heard arguments last week about whether or not to dismiss a 2015 election that ended in a tie, was decided by the drawing of lots (straws in this case) and then was ultimately overturned by the Republican-controlled House in favor of the losing GOP candidate. Five voters who filed suit early this year are demanding that former Rep. Bo Eaton, D-Taylorsville, be reinstated as a House member in place of Rep. Mark Tullos, R-Raleigh.
New York: Acting state Supreme Court Justice Denise Hartman will hear arguments that could end a power struggle over who will be the Albany County Democratic elections commissioner.
Ohio: Secretary of State Jon Husted will appeal a lower-court’s ruling that the state was improperly purging voters from its rolls to the U.S. Supreme Court. “The current status of this case leaves one of our most important election safeguards in limbo,” Husted said in a statement. “I will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse this unnecessary intrusion into our state’s elections process.”
Texas: A judge has ordered a new election for a Hidalgo city council position after lawsuit claiming illegal assistance with mail-in ballots in the June 2016 runoff election was filed. The lawsuit also claimed that non-residents and ineligible people cast ballots in the race.
VI. Tech Thursday
Ohio: Officials in Henry County have notified about 17,000 voters that their personal information submitted through voter registration may have been compromised in a hack of the county’s voter registration database. According to The Toledo Blade, the hack was discovered when a window popped up randomly on an employee’s computer. The incident led officials to discover that someone had once opened a file in the system that contained voter information, but authorities do not believe information was copied from the file. The attack occurred October 31.
VII. Opinions This Week
Alabama: Voter fraud claims
Arizona: Automatic voter registration
Georgia: Election fraud
Kansas: Voter fraud
Maine: Voter fraud
Minnesota: Ranked choice voting
Rhode Island: Voter ID
Texas: Straight-ticket voting
Utah: Ranked choice voting
Virginia: Voting system
VIII. Upcoming Events
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.
IX. 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 Elections/General Registrar, Fredericksburg, Virginia — the Electoral Board is seeking a qualified individual to lead and direct the administration of elections in Fredericksburg, Virginia. This position reports to and is accountable to the Fredericksburg Electoral Board. Work encompasses all aspects of running city elections. Duties are specified in Code of Virginia, § 24.2-114 and basic qualifications in § 24.2-110. Salary: $50,058-$55,590. Deadline: December 22, 2016. Application: For the complete 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.
Senior Technical Trainer, Clear Ballot, Boston, Massachusetts — our small and growing documentation and training team has an immediate need for a new member with intermediate-to-senior experience in: Instructional design, development of learning curricula, production of training materials, and hands-on, customer facing training. Generally, the training department, technical staff, and operations staff provide training at the customer’s site. We need an instructional designer and trainer who can analyze the learners and materials, and establish an appropriately targeted learning program. The opportunity exists to develop computer based training as an enhancement to our learning curriculum. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
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