I. In Focus This Week
Director’s Note: Resolutions for 2013
By Doug Chapin
Happy New Year, everyone!
2012 was exciting, but I’m really looking forward to 2013 and the opportunity to work in the field of election policy outside of a presidential election year.
In that spirit, I have a series of resolutions that I will TRY to stick to throughout the year.
Resolved: Stop saying “turnout doesn’t matter”
I have been an advocate over the years of ignoring voter turnout, mostly because it seems to me that election officials really don’t have much impact on how many people turn out to vote. But one thing that 2012 really hammered home to me was the reality that misjudging turnout was a common factor in many local election controversies.
Consequently, this year I resolve to talk to folks across the country about how they estimate turnout in advance of Election Day and what data they use to do it. I still don’t think election officials can be held responsible for turnout – but they can and should be held responsible for being able to handle the voters who do show up on Election Day.
Resolved: Focus less on disagreements and more on what will work
Too much of the current debate on election policy centers on sharp disagreements over key issues in the field such as voter ID, Election Day registration and Internet voting. The temptation (and I’ll admit I’ve fallen prey more often than I’d like) is to focus on the debate instead of the issue.
At the risk of letting my Pollyanna flag fly, I really do believe that most of the problems facing the field are capable of resolution – and so I resolve to put my attention where my optimism is and look for solutions instead of just rehashing the arguments.
Resolved: Grow the field
The field of election administration is full of incredibly smart and talented people – but I believe we could use a LOT more. As the work of managing elections evolves, we are seeing the need for many new skills like design, information security and forecasting – some of which could be acquired by existing professionals but more likely will come from new entrants to the field.
Moreover, as the nation’s electorate becomes more diverse, it creates an opportunity for the field to follow suit by attracting and retaining individuals with a broader set of skills from a wider range of communities. That’s why I resolve to look for new opportunities to bring new (and not just young) people into the profession.
I have other resolutions – use a standing desk, lay off the cookies, etc. – but those are the big ones.
I don’t need a resolution, however, to remember to appreciate electionline’s faithful readers. We really enjoy bringing you the latest news and information in the field of elections – and are thankful for your continued support in our twelfth(!) year. Best wishes to all of you for a safe, successful and happy 2013.
II. Election News This Week
- In the waning days of 2012, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad agreed to streamline the application for ex-felons to have their voting rights restored. According to The Gazette, the updates to the application follow complaints from the NAACP that the application was cumbersome and invasive. The old application to restore voting rights used to, among other things, require a credit history check.
- A recent poll by the Tampa Bay Times/Bay News 9/AM820 found that despite the much publicized controversy over early voting in Florida in 2012, just under half of those questioned thought the number of days for early voting was adequate. According to the poll, about 35 percent of respondents said there should be more early voting days and 8 percent said there should be fewer early voting days. Less than a third of those responding to the poll actually voted early.
- Don’t look for New Mexico to join the growing list of states to require photo ID to vote. Two legislators who last year lead the charge to require photo ID or a social security number to cast ballots have said that it would be futile to try and introduce similar legislation this year. “We don’t have the votes to pass anything,” Rep. Cathrynn Brown told The Deming Headlight. Brown and Rep. Dianne Hamilton have made several attempts to get photo ID legislation approve, and now with Democrats controlling even more seats, the two don’t even plan on introducing legislation. “It’s never passed before,” Hamilton told the paper. “It wouldn’t pass this time.
- Personnel News: Susan Kirk, is out as the Vanderburgh County, Ind. clerk, but is in as the county’s treasurer. Kirk has been working in various rolls in elections in Vanderburgh County for more than 20 years, but her dream was always to follow in her father’s footsteps as treasurer and this year, she will. Tuscola County, Mich. Clerk Margie A White’s 20-year tenure as chief elections official will come to an end this month. Longtime Genesee County, Mich. Clerk Michael J. Carr has run his last election and will retire after four decades in public service including multiple terms as the county’s clerk. Tina M. Bledsoe has been appointed interim director of the Robeson County board of elections to replace the retiring Dock Locklear. Bledsoe has been with the board since 1994. It is expected that Kelly Beach will be appointed as the Muskogee County, Okla. election board secretary to replace outgoing secretary Bill Bull. Incoming Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander has made several more key hirings including Julie Allen to serve director of elections. Most recently Allen served as the executive director of the Missouri Ethics Commission. Nicholas Gasparovic, assistant director and ranking Republican on the Lake County, Ind. elections board will retire later this month. He will be replaced by Patrick Gabrione. After 37 years on the job, St. John the Baptist Parish, La. Registrar of Voters Betty T. Madere is retiring. Another long-term election official retiring this month is Sue Rhode, the Presque Isle County, Mich. clerk for 16 years and a county employee for 38 years.
California: Ranked-choice voting
New Hampshire: Voter ID
New Mexico: Voting changes
Pennsylvania: Poll workers
South Carolina: Election reform
Washington: Secretary of state
Wisconsin: Poll workers
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IV. Job Openings
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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.