I. In Focus This Week
Meet the Class of 2015
Fourteen new statewide chief elections officials take the helm
With the start of the New Year, more than a dozen statewide chief elections officials began taking office.
While most of the newly elected elections chiefs have already been sworn in and are hard at work, there are a couple still awaiting official swearing-in ceremonies and will be installed into office before the end of the month.
Here is a brief look at each new statewide elections chief and how to get in touch with them either on social media or otherwise.
John Merrill (R) will be sworn into office on January 19. Merrill, a former Democrat served as director of community relations and education for the Tuscaloosa County board of education before being elected to the Alabama House in 2010.
Byron Mallott (D) was sworn into office on December 1, 2014 as the Frontier State’s chief elections official. Mallott was first elected to office at the ripe age of 22. He first served as mayor of Yakutat and more recently as mayor of Juneau. Mallott, who is of Tlingit heritage, has also served as president of the Alaska Federation of Natives.
Michele Reagan (R) was sworn into office on January 5, 2015. A native of Illinois, Reagan moved to Arizona in 1991 and opened her own business. She served in both houses of the state Legislature and was on the chair of the commerce committee in the House and chair of the economic development and jobs creation committee in the Senate.
Alex Padilla (D) was sworn in as California’s newest secretary of state on January 5, 2015. Before being elected to statewide office as secretary, Padilla served in the Senate from 2006-2014. During his tenure in the Senate, Padilla introduced several pieces of elections legislation. Since taking office, he has spoken often about improving the technology surrounding elections and has started an online campaign to gather ideas about improving turnout (see Tech Thursday).
Wayne Williams, (R) former El Paso County clerk was sworn into office just this week. Williams was elected El Paso County clerk and recorder in 2010. In 2012 the National Association of Secretaries of state presented him with the Medallion Award for his efforts during the fire-plagued primary in 2012. Although just the early days in office, Williams has said he will make voter ID a priority on his agenda as secretary of state.
Lawerence Denney (R) was sworn into office on January 9, 2015, becoming Idaho’s first new secretary of state in decades. Before becoming secretary, Denney was a member of the state Legislature and served as assistant majority leader and majority leader.
Paul Pate (R) will be sworn in as the 32nd Iowa secretary of state. Before being elected secretary, Pate was a business owner and two-term mayor of Cedar Rapids. He also served in the Iowa Senate. In his early days in office, Pate has shown a commitment to implementing online voter registration The Hawkeye State.
Steve Simon (DFL) was sworn into office on January 5, 2015 as the 22nd secretary of state. Before his election to secretary of state, Simon served in the Minnesota House of Represented. He was first elected in 2004 at the age of 35. During his inaugural speech, Simon stressed the importance of expanding voting rights and opportunities.
Barbara Cegavske (R) was sworn into office on January 5, 2015. She was first elected to statewide office in 1996, representing Clark County for three terms. Following her stint in the Assembly, she then ran for Senate where she served three terms. In her early days in office Cegavske has indicated her support for a voter photo ID law in Nevada.
Twitter: @VoteBarbara and @NVSOS
Pedro Cortes will once again take office as Pennsylvania’s secretary of state when he is sworn in on January 20. Cortes previously served as secretary of state under Governor Ed Rendell from 2003 to 2010. Cortes resigned in 2010 to become executive vice president of Everyone Counts.
Nellie Gorbea (D) is the first Latina elected to statewide office in the Northeast. She was sworn in as Rhode Island’s secretary of state on January 6, 2015. Before running for statewide office, Gorbea served as deputy secretary of state from 2002 5o 2006. During her time as deputy, Gorbea worked to centralize the state’s voter registration system.
Twitter: @RISecState and @NellieGorbea
Shantel Krebs was sworn in about a week before the other statewide officials so she and her team could hit the ground running when the legislative session kicked off. Before running for secretary, Krebs was a business owner and served in the state Legislature for a decade with six years in the House and four in the Senate. Krebs has already put forth her legislative agenda for the year that includes changing the way petitions are circulated and allowing the secretary’s office to audit petition signatures.
Carlos Cascos will be sworn in as Texas secretary of state on January 20. Before being tapped by incoming Gov. Gregg Abbott, Cascos was a Cameron County judge. Cascos is a certified public accountant and before becoming a county judge in 2006 served for 12 years on the Texas Public Safety Commission. Cascos was born in Matamoros, Mexico and became a U.S. citizen when still a child.
Ed Murray was sworn in as Wyoming’s 21st secretary of state on January 5, 2015. Before being elected to office, Murray worked in the private sector for 30 years. This is his first stint as an elected official.
II. Election News This Week
- At least 26 voters in Hamilton County, Ohio cast two ballots in the November 2014 election. According to officials, the double ballots were caught before they were counted and officials are now trying to determine how it happened. According to The Cincinnati Enquirer, the officials believe most of the dual ballots were cast in error in part by elderly who cast an absentee ballot and then turned up at the polls. “The system worked the way it should,” said Tim Burke, chairman of the Board of Elections and leader of the county’s Democratic Party. “The appropriate number of votes were counted. Whether these particular voters acted properly, they did not impact the election because only one vote was counted.” In other news, Secretary of State Jon Husted announced that he is seeking a review of the 2014 election to look for any instances of voter fraud or voter suppression.
- Kevin Kennedy, director of the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board testified before the state Legislature’s audit committee this week about a recent audit that was critical of the nonpartisan board. Kennedy testified that the board has been struggling with an unprecedented workload in recent years due to multiple recall elections, the on-again, off-again implementation of voter ID and a statewide recount. Legislators are considering making the board partially partisan.
- According to the Kalamazoo County Clerk Tim Snow, the recent recount of a state senate race cost the county about $10,000 in direct and indirect costs. While the requesting candidate was required to pay a fee to the state for the recount, Snow told Michigan Live that the county won’t likely see any reimbursement of funds since the money sent to the state for the recount was used by state officials overseeing the recount.
- This week outgoing Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed legislation making same-day registration permanent in counties with populations of at least 100,000. However, Will County officials are rallying the troops to oppose the law citing nearly $1 million in start-up costs to purchase e-pollbooks and for training. County officials are planning to reach out to lawmakers to see if the implementation of the new law — March 2016 — can be delayed.
- Ouch. The Louisiana secretary of state’s office is facing a $3.8 million mid-year budget reduction that may force Secretary of State Tom Schedler to implement an agency-wide furlough. If there is an executive order to implement the cuts, Schedler will seek approval for all agency employees—including Schedler himself—to take one furlough day per pay period for the remainder of the fiscal year.
- Maybe it’s the tropical weather, but once again the police were called to an elections meeting in the U.S. Virgin Islands, this time it was to a meeting of the St. Thomas-St. John District BOE. It’s a long story, but in essence, one member of the BOE is suing the board and the remainder of the board passed a motion to ban members from executive session who are embroiled in a lawsuit with the board. Whether or not any of that is legal is up to the USVI AG, but the BOE sergeant-at-arms called the police to make sure board member Diane Magras was kept from the executive session where her lawsuit was being discussed.
- Personnel News: Larry Herrera-Cabrera, longtime Long Beach, California city clerk will retire this spring. Herrera-Cabrera has been with Long Beach fro 13 years and before that he was the assistant county clerk and recorder in Santa Barbara County. Pedro Cortes has been reappointed as the Pennsylvania secretary of state under new Gov. Tom Wolf. Florida Gov. Rick Scott has officially appointed Kaityln Lenhart to serve as the interim supervisor of elections for Flagler County. After more than 20 years on the job, Madison County, Mississippi Clerk Lee Westbrook is retiring this month. Worth County, Georgia Voter Registration Supervisor Brandi Roberts and Chief Registrar Sue Potts both submitted letters of resignation last week leaving the voter office vacant. The board of commissioners is currently working to fill the positions.
- In Memoriam: Nancy Dacek, former chair of the Montgomery County, Maryland Board of Elections died this week. She was 81. Dacek served as BOE director for four years following 12 years as a member of the county council. Dacek is survived by her husband Ray, five children and numerous grandchildren.
III. Legal Updates
Montana: This weekend, the state GOP voted to join a lawsuit seeking to close the state’s primaries to only those registered for their party. The suit has asked a federal judge to strike down as unconstitutional state laws allowing any registered voter to participate in any party primary.
New York: This week, a federal jury rejected a claim by a former administrator at the New York City board of elections who claimed she was fired from her job for political reasons. Marie Lynch claimed that she was fired after signing a nominating petition and the firing violated her First Amendment rights. The jury deliberated for less than an hour and agreed that signing the petition had nothing to do with Lynch’s firing.
U.S. Virgin Islands: Not happy with how things are going for her at the local level, Sen. Alicia Hansen announced that she plans to petition the U.S. Supreme Court to hear her vote recount case. The move comes after the U.S.V.I. Supreme Court affirmed a lower court ruling to stop the recount.
IV. Legislative Updates
Federal Legislation: At a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor, Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Virginia), head of the House Judiciary Committee said that it is doubtful Congress will move forward with legislation to strengthen the Voting Rights Act. “There are still very, very strong protections in the Voting Rights Act in the area that the Supreme Court ruled on,” Goodlatte reportedly said. “To this point, we have not seen a process forward that is necessary to protect people because we think the Voting Rights Act is providing substantial protection in this area right now.”
Alaska: HB 14 has been pre-filed by Rep. Bob Lynn (R-Anchorage) and Les Gara (D-Anchorage). The legislation notice of the postage needed to mail an absentee ballot on the envelope provided by the Division of Elections and prohibits political parties from advertising in the state-produced election pamphlet.
Florida: Lawmakers in both chambers have filed legislation that will institute online voter registration in the Sunshine State. The legislation would require the Department of State to develop the OVR system and require the Dept. of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to verify registration information.
Kansas: This week, Secretary of State Kris Kobach told the House Elections Committee that he plans to offer bills both in the House and Senate that will give the secretary of state’s office the power to prosecute election fraud.
In addition to the prosecution powers, Kobach also said he intends to provide legislation that will change the rules for election-withdraw procedure and reinstates straight-ticket voting.
Minnesota: A bipartisan group of lawmakers made known their intentions to move forward with early voting legislation this year. Lawmakers indicated they were encouraged by the popularity in absentee voting in 2014 and would like to expand it to early voting.
Montana: Secretary of State Linda McCulloch is asking legislators to pass a bill requiring all Montana elections, other than school elections, be vote-by-mail. In addition to vote-by-mail, McCulloch is also supporting legislation that would allow 16- and 17-year olds to serve as election judges, create online voter registration, and a final piece of legislation that would allow voters to choose Senatorial vacancies instead of by appointment.
Nebraska: Among the 113 pieces of legislation introduced on the second day of the legislative session, two were elections related. One would require voters to show a photo ID in order to vote and another would move the state to winner-take-all system of awarding electoral votes.
In other legislation, LB214 would allow petition circulators to gather signatures online instead of just with pen and paper. The legislation requires the secretary of state’s office to provide a way for residents to sign an initiative or referendum petition electronically.
Ohio: Secretary of State Jon Husted announced his intentions this week to move forward with legislation that will allow Ohioans to register online to vote as well as create a ballot tracking system for those casting their ballots via absentee.
Oklahoma: State Sen. Nathan Dahm (R-Broken Arrow) has filed legislation that would allow voters to use expired driver’s licenses and passports as a valid form of photo ID. Dahm told Fox 23 that he offered the legislation after hearing from several of his elderly constituents that were turned away from the polls in 2014 because they did not have a current ID.
Rhode Island: Sen. Frank Lombardi (D-Cranston) has introduced legislation that will allow bake sales to occur at polling places on election day. The legislation stems from a kerfuffle in 2014 when the state board of elections ordered the Cranston parent-teacher organization to stop holding bake sales at school polling places. According to the Providence Journal, the bill has more than a dozen co-sponsors.
South Dakota: Sen. Craig Tieszen (R-Rapid City) plans to introduce legislation that would allow parolees to vote. The legislation would reinstate a convicted felon’s voting rights as soon as they are released from prison, whether they have completed the terms of their sentence or not. Tieszen said allowing parolees to vote would give them a chance to be good citizens. “I know it will be hard concept for people to come forward and support, but I’m going to keep pushing it forward,” he told The Argus Leader.
Vermont: Selectboard members in the town of Brattleboro have agreed to put an article on the upcoming Representative Town Meeting Warning that would change the town’s charter to allow absentee voters to put their ballots directly into a voting tabulation machine. Town Clerk Annette Cappy supports the proposal saying it could encourage more absentee voting.
Wisconsin: Rep. Dean Knudson said he plans to introduce legislation that would create a hybrid entity, with both partisan and nonpartisan appointees to oversee the state’s elections. Knudson has lead the charge against the current, nonpartisan Government Accountability Board.
V. Tech Thursday
California: New Secretary of State Alex Padilla has launched a public social media campaign to gather ideas for increasing voter turnout. #BoostTheVote is the hashtag Padilla is asking people to use to share their thoughts and ideas about voter participation.
VI. Opinions This Week
National Opinions: Voting system
Connecticut: Election reform
District of Columbia: Instant runoff voting
Georgia: Easier voting
Maine: Instant runoff voting
Ohio: Early voting
VII. Upcoming Events
Please email upcoming events — conferences, symposiums, seminars, webinars, etc. to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Voting and Elections Summit— The U.S. and Overseas Vote Foundation, FairVote and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights will host the Ninth Annual Voting and Elections Summit that will examine the profound and persistent issues surrounding U.S. voter participation, engagement in our democracy and what can be done about it. Where: Washington, D.C. When: February 5-6, 2015. For more information and to register, click here.
NASS 2015 Winter Conference — The National Association of Secretaries of State Winter Conference will bring together government and industry leaders to showcase secretary of state initiatives and highlight all the latest developments in state and federal policymaking. The conference will include a special new member orientation session for newly-elected or appointed secretaries of state. Where: Washington, D.C. When: February 10-13. For more information and to register, click here.
NASED 2015 Winter Meeting —The National Association of State Election Directors will hold its 2015 Winter Meeting in Washington, D.C. in February. Topics at the meeting will include new voter registration systems, state election legislation, a voting system panel report, and a variety of speakers including Congressional staff and members of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. Where: Washington, D.C. When: February 11-13. For more information and to register, click here.
Working Together for a More Inclusive Democracy— The Future of California Elections is hosting a conference that reflects the successes and innovations that have resulted from the collaborations in the field of elections in California and across the nation. The conference program focuses on the needs of California’s diverse voters and the importance of working in partnerships to ensure all voters can participate in California’s democracy Additionally, the conference provides opportunities to learn about the best practices for relaying voter information. Participants of the conference should expect to listen to dynamic panel discussions, engage with their peers in the election field, as well as meet other election stakeholders that are working toward the collective effort of modernizing elections and expanding participation in California’s democracy. Where: Sacramento, California. When: February 18-19. For more information and to register, click here.
Elections Policy & Technology: A Conference for Lawmakers and Practitioners — NCSL is hosting a national meeting to bring together legislators, legislative staff, election officials, voting technology and computer security experts, legal experts, advocates, federal agency staff and other interested parties to discuss the future of elections technology. Sessions will cover: voting technology 101; the Presidential Commission on Election Administration’s recommendations for voting technology; online voter registration and electronic poll books; testing and certifying voting systems; the use of technology for post-election audits, recounts and resolving disputes; accessibility and usability of voting systems; and Internet-assisted voting.Where: Santa Fe, New Mexico When: June 3 – 5. Contact: Katy Owens Hubler, email@example.com, 303-856-1656.
IACREOT Annual Conference — The International Association of Clerks, Recorders, Elections Officials and Treasurers will hold its annual conference in Vail, Colorado this year in June and July. Planning is still in the early stages, but be sure to mark your calendar. Where: Vail, Colorado. When: June 27-July 2. For more information and to register, click here.
NASS 2015 Summer Conference — The National Association of Secretaries of State Annual Summer Conference is set for July this year. Planning is still in the early stages, but be sure to mark your calendar. Where: Portland, Maine. When: July 9-12. For more information and to register, click here.
NACo Annual Conference and Exposition— The 80th Annual Conference and Exposition of the National Association of Counties will be in Mecklenburg County (Charlotte), North Carolina. Registration opens February 9th. Where: Charlotte, North Carolina. When: July 10-13. For more information and to register, click here.
NCSL Legislative Summit 2015 — The National Conference of State Legislators will hold their 2015 Legislative Summit in August. Planning is still in the early stages, but be sure to mark your calendar. Where: Seattle. When: August 3-6. For more information when it becomes available and to register, click here.
Election Center 31st Annual Conference— The National Association of State Election Directors will 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.
VIII. Job Postings
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
Absentee Supervisor, Collier County, Florida — leads and supervises 2 absentee team members. Assigns tasks among staff and self. As a player-coach, executes and contributes to all tasks assigned to staff. Directs, coaches and evaluates staff. Demonstrates the ability to learn and function in voter registration, absentee and address research software. Provides leadership for continuous database quality improvement. Develops links with vendors, other elections jurisdictions and agencies. Designs and operates procedures for communicating with voters. Assists voters by phone, email and in-person meetings. Operates large inbound mail equipment. Prepares records, reports and forms. Establishes, updates and maintains data in automated information systems. Salary: $42,000-$48,000. Deadline: Open until filled. For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Assistant to the Elections Coordinator, Boulder County, Colo.— position is instrumental in our office’s duty to implement successful elections for Boulder County’s voters. The objective of this position is to coordinate and manage the mail-in ballot and replacement ballot processes; manage the voter registration process and workflow; oversee the coordination and implementation of Voter Services Polling Centers, and supervise 1-3 full time staff. We are passionate about the work we do for democracy and the citizens of Boulder County and we’re looking for someone who’s equally passionate about this work. The ideal candidate must have the ability and desire to serve the public and Boulder County. He or she is experienced in supervision and motivating employees to success. Other skills include the ability to implement ideas and processes that are forward thinking; being self-motivated and collaborative with excellent communication skills in both verbal and written form. He or she is willing to learn and has the capacity to set clear goals, prioritize tasks, manage time efficiently, and effectively work with others for completion of projects. Additionally, he or she demonstrates excellent organizational skills and the ability to manage a project and people in order to meet tight deadlines. This position will require overtime, nights and weekends during election season. This is a non-exempt position, eligible for overtime pay. Salary: $41,016-$59,076. Deadline: Open until filled. For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Elections Administrator, Williamson Co., Texas — responsible for setting up, administering, and managing elections held in WilliamsonCounty, whether they are for federal, state offices and amendments, countywide races, orfor any of the 110-political jurisdictions such as school districts, community college, cities, MUDs, SUDs, road districts, etc. and primary elections.Works successfully with political parties, candidates, political jurisdictions, staff, mediaand other County departments.Responsible for managing voter registration for Williamson County that consists of over 273,000 registered voters and 88 election precincts.Provides supervision and management to staff members and poll workers.Managesfive budgets, two of which contain discretionary funds.Interprets and applies the provisions of the Texas Election Code to the County voting process. Experience: Combination of education and experience equivalent to a Bachelor’s degree in management, government, public administration or relevant field; five years of management experience; experience with developing and writing procedures, reading legal codes, working with electronic equipment and software and managing a staff of diverse duties is essential; excellent customer service; ability to work effectively with co-workers, employees and supervisors; strong organizational skills; and experience with Windows, Microsoft Word, 10-key character by touch, fax and copy machines. Salary: $3,071.54-$4,607.31 biweekly. Deadline: January 18, 2015. For more information and to apply please click here.
Electronic Voting Consultant, IFES Iraq— IFES is planning a two-day workshop to assist the Independent High Electoral Commission of Iraq (IHEC) in its decision-making processes in regards to electronic voting. IFES is seeking a consultant to lead some of the session and prepare relevant workshop materials. The consultant will be required to present 3 discussions at the workshop and prepare relevant workshop materials/handouts: E-voting implementation — case study, and e-Voting presentation (2 parts). The consultant will be expected to bring a sample voting device for a demonstration to the participants. During this session, actual usage of the device will be demonstrated, and questions answered. For the complete listing and now to apply, click here.
Network Administrator, Collier County, Florida — administration of computer network to include servers, design, setup, installation, configuration and troubleshooting. Monitors network operations and ensures network connectivity. Ensure network is operating effectively and efficiently. Researches new technology and developments in systems network. Manages network security. Administration of print and switch environments. Identifies users’ needs and prepares users by designing and conducting training programs. Provides network training to internal IT staff. Salary: $58,000-$65,000. Deadline: Open until filled. For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Project Manager, Hart InterCivic, Austin, Texas — project manager plans, directs, and coordinates project activities to ensure that project goals are completed efficiently and on schedule. As a member of the Professional Services Team, the Project Manager works with other team members to manage delivery of the full scope of Hart Voting System implementation and support services. The Project Manager is responsible for ensuring that project goals and deliverables are met, and is directly accountable for the success or failure of projects he or she manages. For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.