I. In Focus This Week
The House (and the Senate) shall come to order
Legislators head back to work in statehouses across the country
By M. Mindy Moretti
From Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. to Springfield, Missouri, many federal and state legislators headed back to work this week with the legislatures in all states (and the District of Columbia) but Louisiana being at work by the first week in February.
With the 2017 legislative season just kicking off, it’s hard to say what will be the hot topics for this “off-year” but some of the already filed or pre-filed legislation covers everything from early voting to automatic voter registration to vote-by-mail. Given the change in many statehouses, it looks to be a very busy legislative year.
And even though many folks are trying to forget 2016, a lot of elections-administration legislation made it’s way through statehouses and The Canvass, the monthly newsletter from the National Conference of State Legislatures has a great round up of all it.
Here is a quick round up of some of the bills we’ve already seen filed/pre-filed at the state level.
Although it’s just early days, so far early voting seems to be getting the most attention. Bills have been pre-filed, or legislators have stated their intentions to file early voting legislation in Alabama, Connecticut, and South Carolina which would allow those states to have early voting and in Wisconsin, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos has said he would like to see changes to the state’s existing early voting law. Currently 37 states and the District of Columbia allow some form of early voting.
Automatic voter registration is making waves in statehouses across the country. So far legislation has been filed/pre-filed to allow for automatic registration in Georgia, Florida, Missouri, Texas and Washington.
Washington’s proposal comes from Secretary of State Kim Wyman and is supported by county election leaders. The proposed legislation would make it possible for elections officials to check the citizenship of people registering to vote in Washington. The proposal would tie-in with the state finally adopting REAL ID — Washington is one of only three states that has not made a move to comply with the REAL ID Act. The package also includes a plan for automatic voter registration of those who provide documentation of citizenship, with an opt-out provision.
Turning the calendar to a new year doesn’t mean we’ll stop talking about ballot selfies — every election geeks “favorite” topic. Although Tennessee’s attorney general has ruled that the state’s ballot selfie ban is in fact legal, a Memphis legislator has announced his intentions to introduce legislation making them legal. And in Florida, State Sen. Frank Artiles has introduced a bill (SB 224) that would make it a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by 1 year in jail and/or a $1,000 fine if a voter takes a ballot selfie.
Elements of vote-by-mail are also already on the agenda in some states. In Wyoming, a bill has been introduced that would give county clerks more time to count mail ballots. In Utah, Rep. Craig Hall (R-West Valley City) has said he will introduce legislation that will repeal the state’s new universal vote-by-mail system. In other Utah vote-by-mail news, Sen. Daniel Thatcher (R-West Valley City) has plans to introduce legislation that will allow county clerks to set up additional polling places in the days leading up to an election if fewer mailed ballots are being returned than expected. In Florida, Rep. Janet Cruz (D-Tampa) has filed legislation that will allow voters to fix mismatching signatures on their vote-by-mail ballots so they can be counted.
In Virginia, Senate Majority Leader Thomas K. Norment Jr. announced his plans to introduce a constitutional amendment to automatically restore voting rights for some nonviolent felons, create new barriers for others, and strip future governors of the power to restore political rights. Under the amendment, violent felons would be permanently barred from voting. At the same time, De. Greg
Also Del. Mark Cole (R-Fredericksburg), GOP chairman of the House of Delegates elections committee has pre-filed a bill that would add stricter paperwork and reporting requirements for NGOs that conduct third-party voter registration events.
In odds-and-ends, two legislators in Oregon 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. In Georgia, legislators will consider changing how the Bibb County elections board members are chosen. In Utah, one legislator wants voters to decide if their information may be sold or not. In Texas, in addition to automatic voter registration several other bills have been pre-filed on pre-registration for 15-year-olds and voter ID.
And finally, legislators in New Hampshire are anticipating so much election administration related legislation that during the Senate’s organizing week, they voted to create a new legislative committee to deal specifically with election-related legislation.
This is of course not a complete round up of every piece of election administration legislation that has been filed/pre-filed and we know that there will be a lot more to come, so check back each week and also sign up for NCSL’s The Canvass!
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III. Election News This Week
Recount Update: A review by the Wisconsin State Journal has found that while there were numerous mistakes found during Wisconsin’s recount of the 2016 presidential election, there were no major flaws with the state’s election system. According to the review, at least 9,039 presidential votes weren’t counted correctly on Election Night, and only were added to the official results because of the recount. Another 2,161 votes were originally counted but later tossed out for reasons including to square vote totals with the number of voters who signed the poll book. State election officials, told the paper the changes are mostly the result of human error, not a problem with the voting equipment. “Is an election ever perfect? Are there voters that mark their ballots incorrectly?” Eau Claire County Clerk Janet Loomis said. “But is anything ever intentional by either side, I’d say no.” In addition, although the final numbers aren’t quite in yet, it appears that the cost of the statewide presidential recount will come in about half of what was estimated before it began.
Barre Town, Vermont is getting ready to be the first town to test out the state’s new same day voter registration law later this month. According to the Argus Leader, because of a revote on a school unification proposal the town will test the new law on the 31st instead of in March for Town Meeting Day. “I don’t know what to expect at all,” Town Clerk Donna Kelty told the paper. “Something could happen at the last minute where all of a sudden you have a lot of people who want to vote who hadn’t registered and something that didn’t appear to be a very big election could be a big election.”
Although Tennessee broke early voting records in November, the Hamilton County election commission voted this week to limit early voting sites for the upcoming elections in Chattanooga to three, instead of the five that the city council had requested. According to The Chattanoogan, Chairman Mike Walden said the city had not provided any data on why other early voting sites were needed. He also said the request came too late. While those seeking the additional sites pointed to long lines in November, election administrator Kerry Steelman noted that turnout in city elections in 2009 and 2013 was only around 17 percent. The upcoming election will cost the city $192,000. It would have been $222,000 with the three extra sites.
A Republican elector in Texas claims that while he was able to cast a vote in the Electoral College, he wasn’t able to do so at the polls in Texas on Election Day because of confusion over the state’s voter ID law. Chris Suprun told KUOW that he tried to vote, but poll workers denied him because he lacked a photo ID. He sent a letter to U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzalez Romas in late December. “I write this because after not being able to cast a ballot I was disheartened,” the letter said. “I never missed an election in my life until this one.” Suprun, who didn’t have an ID with him, but did have a water bill, cable bill and voter registration card with him, was denied even a provisional ballot. “It needs to be clear, so it’s enforced clearly,” Suprun said.
Personnel News:Joyce Watts, Allegan County, Michigan’s clerk and register has retired after 40 years on the job. At the time of her retirement, she was the longest-serving elected county clerk in the state. Dennis Richardson has been sworn in as Oregon’s new secretary of state. Juan Verdu will finish his four-year run as the New Britain, Connecticut Democratic registrar this week. He will be replaced by Lucian Pawlak. Venerable Leon County, Florida Elections Supervisor Ion Sancho officially ended his tenure in office this week. He is being replaced by Mark Earley. Paul Wilson has resigned as the Miami County, Indiana voter registration clerk. Rick Stream has been tapped to serve as the St. Louis county Republican elections director. Nancy Kimble has retired as the Lee County, North Carolina board of elections director. George Matthews, Victoria County Texas’ first-ever election administrator is set to retire at the end of January after overseeing six presidential elections and seven gubernatorial contests. Sharon Vecchiolla is stepping down as the longtime Democratic registrar of voters in Greenwich, Connecticut. Tommy Doyle was sworn in as the new Lee County, Florida supervisor of elections. Kim Barton has been sworn in as the new Alachua County, Florida supervisor of elections. Alan Hays is the new Lake County, Florida supervisor of elections. Lori Edwards was sworn in to another term as the Polk County, Florida supervisor of elections. Carol Rudd was sworn-in to her sixth, four-year term as the Washington County, Florida supervisor of elections. Deborah Clark was sworn in for another term as the Pinellas County, Florida supervisor of elections. Brenda Snipes has been sworn in for another term as Broward County, Florida supervisor of elections. Peter Handwork has resigned from the Lucas County, Ohio board of elections two months before the end of his term.
In Memoriam: Douglas Hamilton, Republican registrar of voters in Windsor Locks, Connecticut has died. He was 70. Hamilton was a retired vice president of TransAct Technologies, a Republican Town Committee member, and a veteran office holder who won the Board of Education seat running unopposed in November 2015. He was filling the remaining three years of the term won by Gerard Weatherby, who resigned to run — unsuccessfully — for the Police Commission. Hamilton served on the board several years earlier. He also served on the Planning and Zoning Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals and Board of Selectmen, was a trustee of the public library, a longtime Little League baseball coach, and member of the American Legion. He had been named Republican of the Year in 2016.
IV. Legislative Updates
Florida: State Sen. Frank Artiles has introduced a bill (SB 224) that would make it a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by 1 year in jail and/or a $1,000 fine if a voter takes a ballot selfie.
Georgia: Rep. Roger Bruce (D-Atlanta) has pre-filed HB 22 which would allow voters to cast ballots in any precinct in their home county on Election Day.
North Dakota: Secretary of State Al Jaeger is asking the state Legislature for the funds to purchase new voting equipment for the state as well as e-pollbooks. He has asked for a $9 million appropriation. The state’s voting system is about 13 years old. “Even at that time, though the equipment came in fancy new boxes, the technology was already aged,” Jaeger told Prairie Public Radio. “We’re now at a point where the voting system is not being supported any more.”
Virginia: Del. Greg Habeed is proposing legislation that would automatically restore the voting rights non-violent ex-offenders. “It’s streamlining the process for those people who deserve streamlining,” Habeeb told WBDJ. “It’s putting some more rigor in place where we think that is important, more accountability and it’s also addressing all rights, not just political rights, but constitutional rights specifically the second amendment rights.”
Wyoming: Rep. Dan Zwonitzer (R-Cheyenne) has introduced House Bill 68 that would give county clerks additional time to count mail-in absentee ballots. HB68 would allow county clerks to accept and count the ballots until the canvassing board certifies the election as long as the ballots are postmarked on Election Day. Currently all ballots must be in the clerk’s office by the time polls close.
V. Legal Updates
New York: State Supreme Court Justice Alan Scheinkman on Tuesday ruled that county GOP Chairman Lawrence Garvey and the party’s executive committee had properly selected Patricia Giblin to replace Louis “Butch” Babcock as the Rockland County GOP election commissioner.
North Carolina: The North Carolina GOP has appealed a lower court’s ruling overturning the state’s 2013 election overhaul to the U.S. Supreme Court. According to WFAE, attorneys for North Carolina say in the eyes of those appeals judges, “It is always 1965.” In the state’s petition asking the Supreme Court to take the case, attorneys argue the lower court jumped to racial conclusions over fairly standard election practices. They point out the Republican changes would’ve put North Carolina’s election policies in the mainstream of other states. They warn the ruling provides a roadmap for invalidating many other state laws.
U.S. Virgin Islands: A sitting member of the St. Thomas-St. John Elections Board and three others have filed a lawsuit seeking access to the V.I. Elections System’s server, which the board’s chairman has criticized as frivolous.
Wisconsin: Prosecutors in Onalaska have charged a convicted felon with voter fraud. According to the Courier Life, Mark Fisher, who is currently serving probation, admitting to voting in both the presidential primary and general election. He told officials that he knew he was ineligible to vote, but did so because he “felt that his election was important.”
Wyoming: The Laramie County clerk’s office has forwarded 27 potential cases of local voter registration fraud to the district attorney’s office. Of the potential cases, 11 were flagged for potentially being felons and 16 were flagged for potentially being non-citizens.
VI. Tech Thursday
Illinois: Although we tend to steer away from candidate ballot access procedures at electionline, we thought this new app from Cook County was worth a mention. The county has created the Running for Office (RFO) Starter Kit app. The app allows prospective candidates to view the elected offices they are eligible for and gather and submit all the necessary paperwork to run for office. The app was designed in-house by Cook County elections staff.
Tennessee: The Shelby County election commission is working on request for proposals for a new voter registration system that they want installed by June 30. “Mostly, we really need a system that I don’t fear is going to crash and burn,” elections administrator Linda Phillips told the Memphis Daily News. Phillips said the new voter registration system needs to be in place before the county can consider a new voting system.
VII. Opinions This Week
National Opinions: Voting rights
California: Voting system
Florida: Ex-felon voting rights
Guam: Voting rights
Montana: Linda McCulloch
New York: Voting system
Oregon: Secretary of state
Pennsylvania: Voting system
Rhode Island: Early voting
South Carolina: New model for elections
Texas: Voter fraud
West Virginia: Secretary of state
VIII. Upcoming Events
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 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.
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.
Chief, Departmental Operations, San Diego County Registrar of Voters — the County of San Diego, Registrar of Voters (ROV) invites résumés from qualified candidates for Chief, Departmental Operations to fill a vacancy in the Precinct Services Division. The Chief, Departmental Operations is an unclassified management position reporting directly to executive management and oversees a major functional area or several small programs including creating program policy and supervision of staff. This position provides leadership and oversight over the functions and activities of the Department’s Precinct Services Division. The primary responsibilities are to direct precinct planning; securing poll facilities; survey and retrofit polls to meet accessibility requirements; print requests; GIS/cartographic functions; oversee candidate filing and candidate services, manage campaign finance disclosure reporting and oversee the overall direction of the language services program. The Chief, Departmental Operations provides leadership, supervision, and management of staff responsible for precinct service activities. These responsibilities are accomplished through a balanced, yet continually shifting combination of in-house resources. Salary: $95,000 to $110,000. Deadline: January 9, 2017. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, 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.
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.
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.
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.
Systems Engineer, Clear Ballot, Boston, Massachusetts — we are looking for a talented Systems Engineer who has both a technical and services/support background which enables them to quickly assess customer needs and offer value to Clear Ballot’s customers. The Systems Engineer will gain a deep understanding of how Clear Ballot’s products operate and their optimal configuration to build a streamlined installation process of the Clear Vote election system. The ideal candidate for this position can prioritize mission critical tasks and coordinate the implementation and expansion of our systems. They will be able to work directly with customers, display innovation, think conceptually and act tactically to build consensus around system installation and enhancement and meet deadlines. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Voter Registration Specialist II, Yavapai County, Arizona — under minimal supervision, supervises temporary employees and performs all forms of customer service and office procedures. Also performs technical work of increasing difficulty in the operation of Voter Registration and specialized mailing and printing equipment. Major Duties and Responsibilities: Maintains complex voter registration database; manage all phases of printing and mailing of voter materials. Helps manage all phases of mailing and receiving ballots; purchases and maintains inventory of stock; accounts for beginning and ending inventory of ballots. Assists the Registrar of Voters in planning, organizing and preparing for upcoming Elections. Oversees day-to-day office duties; supervises and provides clerical operational support to assigned staff; maintains daily and monthly reports; monitors and performs the maintenance of voter registration records and lists. Prepares periodic and special reports including statistical reports to the Parties, statutory reports to Secretary of State’s office and audit reports to election for canvass. Provides information to the public by answering questions and resolving complaints regarding election/VR laws and procedures. Orders supplies for the Voter Registration department. Performs other job related duties as assigned. Salary: $17.18-$19.75/hour. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
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