I. In Focus This Week
electionline returns with a little help from our friends
February 13, 2014 marks the return of electionline!
Thanks to the generosity of the Democracy Fund and the Hewlett Foundation, and with the support of TurboVote and ELECTricity at the New Organizing Institute, electionline.org is back and better than ever.
Our newsletter and website have a new look which we hope is more streamlined and easier to read!
We’ve included a new search function on the website as well as ways to make it easier to share electionline on Facebook and Twitter.
There is now a Resources page that provides links to some of the most vital election reform websites and in the coming weeks we’ll be updating the 2014 elections calendar, and by popular demand, we’ll be adding all the old electionline reports and briefings for your viewing pleasure.
Like everything, it’s a work in progress so please, if you’ve got any feedback — good, bad, ugly — let us know!
On a personal note, I would like to thank Adam Ambrogi at Democracy Fund for his tenacity, Michael Caudell-Feagan, David Becker, Sean Greene and the entire Pew elections teams for their past and continued support, Wendy Underhill at NCSL for her support and being willing to think outside the box, Dave Ammons in the Washington Secretary of State’s Office for his support, Rokey Suleman for being a great sounding board (travel safe Rokey!) and as always Doug Chapin for being the best boss.
We are so looking forward to bringing you all the election administration news and information in the coming year that’s fit to print!
An elections love story
Because they love what they do
With the return of electionline and Valentine’s Day both falling in the same week, we thought we’d find out why those who work in the elections field love what they do. We put out a call here is what you had to say.
I love elections because they have something for everyone:
- Like people? Elections are an intensely human activity, requiring people to work together despite the fact that politics often divides them.
- Love process? Elections are ALL ABOUT process – laws, regulations, rules, procedures – a Type A’s dream.
- Love technology? Elections give you a chance to work and play with all kinds of technology – whether made with bits of information or bits of plastic and metal.
- Love design? There is no shortage of things and places to imagine, re-imagine and layout – ballots, brochures, polling places, etc.
- Love government? Election administration is a huge public service challenge (dwindling budgets, uncertain legal environment, etc.) – but Election Day still has to happen.
- Love America? Love democracy? This is how we do it – resolving our biggest (and smallest) questions with ballots, not bullets.
But most of all, I love the people who “do” elections because they love it. Happy Valentine’s Day, election geeks <3 — Doug Chapin, director, Program for Excellence in Election Administration, Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota.
I love elections for the following reasons (in roughly this order): (1) They provide an opportunity for regular people to engage with their government and to make a difference in the world. (2) Despite the challenges (or perhaps, because of the challenges), the non-professional poll workers who staff the polls represent one of the great expressions of civic engagement in America and a respite from cynicism. (3) The data generated by elections keeps me busy trying to figure out what Americans are thinking. — Charles Stewart III, Kenan Sahin Distinguished Professor of Political Science, The Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
I love elections because…..as Californians, voters in my state hold enormous power to make public policy and change society through our initiative process. Love it or hate it, there is no doubt that the initiative process can be a powerful tool for change. Kim Alexander, president and founder The California Voter Foundation.
I love that elections empower us and give voice to our aspirations for our communities, our state and our country. Elections inspire conversation and collective decisions. Elections really are a great equalizer – Bill Gates’ vote is worth no more than a factory worker or waitress. We owe it to all of them, each of them, to have elections that are transparent and accurate and fair – and fun! — Kim Wyman, Washington Secretary of State.
When we think of love, we think of passion. It is passion that describes my drive to support the enfranchisement of U.S. voters across all continents – those who cannot make it to the polls, and need an absentee ballot to voice their vote. As with true love, the passion only grows as I get to know the greater community of people who work together to make elections happen. Supporting voters to engage and participate is the most rewarding work I have ever done. Like love, it’s sometimes unpredictable, but remains passionate. — Susan Dzieduszycka-Suinat, president & CEO U.S. and Overseas Vote Foundation.
I work in elections to ensure that they continue to offer the best opportunity for the voice of the people to be heard in American government. — David C. Kimball, professor and graduate director, University of Missouri-St. Louis.
I love working with election people because election administrators get stuff done. Maybe it’s the type of work, or the type of worker, but deadlines are real in elections and are always hit. The ability to execute a plan is the most coveted of business competencies, and that competency is in abundance in the election community. You never bump into an election administrator who is a slacker. You just don’t. — Brian D. Newby, CERA, election commissioner, Johnson County, Kansas.
I love administering elections. The elections bug bit me in 1995 and it’s been in my blood ever since. I love the cyclical nature of our work. I love the goose bumps I get on election eve. I love the professional staff that dedicate countless hours to our elections process. But most of all I love working hard to ensure our elections are accurate, transparent, and accessible to all. I’ve got the best gig in the world! — Lori Augino, Washington Director of Elections.
My “elections love story” is like any good love story – early attraction, a getting-to-know-you phase and eventually falling more deeply in love over time. And like so many election love stories, it was the 2000 presidential election that brought us together. — Alysoun McLaughlin, deputy director, Montgomery County, Md. board of elections.
And last, but most certainly not ever least, an elections haiku!
I’ve heard it be said
That one size does not fit all…
“I voted” sticker? — Tammy Patrick, federal compliance officer, Maricopa County, Ariz. elections.
II. Election News This Week
- Although those of us in the elections world have always known this, Politico has an article out this week about the importance of secretary of state races. The article notes that the “sleepy administrative offices” have recently captured national attention and that major political players are setting up PACs to fund the races. “I’m certainly not surprised. We’ve seen an increased attention over the last number of years because if you can influence how the votes are cast you could certainly influence the results thereof,” Colorado GOP Chairman Ryan Call told POlitico. “And the truth is, here in Colorado and throughout the nation, with the changes enacted to our elections laws, who the secretary of state is really matters.”
- A challenge to Oklahoma’s voter ID law will move forward after the state’s Supreme Court ruled that the Tulsa woman who filed the suit has legal standing. The suit, which was filed by the Tulsa chapter of the League of Women Voters will now head back to District court. The suit alleges that the ID requirement raises a new barrier for residents to vote.
- The Arkansas Attorney General has written an advisory opinion that says voters who fail to provide an ID when submitting their absentee ballot should not be given additional time to submit the required ID. The opinion, which conflicts with the advice of Secretary of State Mark Martin notes that absentee voters should not be offered the same allowances as those casting a provisional ballot.
- In more voter ID news, it’s been slow, super slow going in Mississippi where only about 100 voter ID cards have been distributed. According to The Associated Press, that’s about three-one thousandth’s of the state’s population.
- Personnel News: John Ihle is retiring from the Meigs County, Ohio board of elections after 24 years of service. Brenda Bourdon is the new city clerk for Whitehall, Mich. Carl Bowen has been appointed to the Lawrence County, Ohio board of elections. Michael Gilmore was recently hired by the Scotland County, N.C. board of elections to serve as assistant director.
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.
Expanding California’s Electorate: Will Recent Reforms Increase Voter Turnout?, Eric McGhee, January 2014: Analysis of current or proposed reforms in California including online voter registration, same-day registration process, and a more relaxed deadline for submitting vote-by-mail finds that none of these will have a significant impact on turnout. Online voter registration will likely save counties a good deal of time and money, same-day registration may slightly increase turnout but could be costly for counties, and changing the vote-by mail deadline would reduce the number of rejected mail ballots.
Cost-Benefit Analysis of Implementing an Online Voter Registration System in Wisconsin, Iseul Choi, Josef Dvorak, Steven Kulig, Katie Lorenze, and Amanda Wilmarth, prepared for Brian Bell, Elections Data Manager Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, Dec. 20 2013: This analysis of proposed legislation allowing online voter registration in Wisconsin estimates the system would save $2.4 million over ten years. It recommends that the state Government Accountability Board support online voter registration.
Voter List Maintenance in Wisconsin: A Cost-Benefit Analysis, Dorothy Cheng, Brett Halverson, John Magnino, Daniel Marlin, Matthew Mayeshiba, and Mai Choua Thao, prepared for Brian Bell, Elections Data Manager Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, Dec. 20 2013: This report examines different options that state could undertake to perform voter list maintenance, identifying registered voters who have moved following each general election. It finds that using the US Postal Service’s National Change of Address (NCOA) database as the most cost-effective option for the state to use.
The California Association of Clerks and Election Officials is seeking proposals for an Irvine-funded project to create an elections cost database as part of CACEO’s participation in the Future of California Elections (scope of work starts on page 19). Deadline is 3pm PST Monday March 3, 2014. Lead contact is Neal Kelley, Orange County Registrar.
V. Upcoming Events
Please email upcoming event — conferences, symposiums, seminars, webinars, etc. to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Arkansas: Voter ID
Kentucky: Ex-felon voting rights
Michigan: Voting procedures
Missouri: Voting restrictions
New Jersey: Voting machines
South Dakota: Vote centers
Virginia: Voter rolls
Wisconsin: Election reform
VII. 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 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 postings.
Director of Elections, Forsyth County, N.C. —position is the department head appointed by the Forsyth County Board of Elections. The position works in a fast-paced environment and utilizes a thorough knowledge of procedures and policies set forth by the State Board of Elections and the General Statutes for registration, voting, and reporting the results of elections. The position requires the ability to interpret and apply election laws and regulations; the ability to train and supervise others effectively and to maintain an effective working relationship with employees; the ability to establish and maintain good working relationships with precinct officials and representatives of news services and the ability to deal courteously with the general public. Responsibilities include preparing the ballots for Board approval and arranging for the distribution of all essential materials to all precincts; preparing budget proposals and administering the budget for the department. The Director obtains legal opinions from the State Board of Elections on election procedures and advises municipalities, proposed new municipalities, and attorneys on various election procedures. Qualifications: Experience in election administration through several presidential elections is preferred. Previous experience in supervising employees is preferred. Graduation from a four-year college or university in public administration, or related field and three years management experience. A higher education level may be considered as a substitution for all or part of the experience requirement. A four-year degree outside of the relevant academic field plus additional years of relevant experience may also be considered. Deadline: March 11, 2014. Application: For the complete listing and to apply, click here.
Elections Administrator, Tarrant County, Texas — shall perform the duties and functions of the Voter Registrar; the duties and functions placed on the County Clerk by the Election Code or by statutes outside the Election Code. Provides executive strategic and tactical direction and support to directors, managers, and supervisors in the operations of their department or division. This level of support and direction is achieved by delegating and/or reviewing the management of work assignments, service delivery, resources provided, and budget required; ensuring the training, evaluation and personal development of their employees; handling difficult problems; managing the development, implementation, and oversight of applicable unit products and services; monitoring department resources; and ensuring compliance with policies and laws. Salary: $3,283.96 – $3,612.36 biweekly. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job posting and to apply, click here.