July 20, 2017

I. In Focus This Week

King County, Washington offers grants to expand language access
$435,000 for 30 different organizations

By M. Mindy Moretti

Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Tagalog, Russian, Somali, Ukranian, Samoan, Japanese and Punjabi are just some of the at least 15 languages other than English spoken in King County, Washington.

While the county is only required by Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act to provide voting materials in Chinese and Vietnamese, county law also requires the King County Elections Department to also offer voting materials in Spanish and Korean.

The county also provides materials in non-mandated languages such as Japanese, Tagalog, Khmer and Somali. That still leaves no fewer than 10 languages county voters speak.

In order to maximize impact, King County Elections reached out to partner with the Seattle Foundation to create the Voter Education Fund, a granting program for community-based organizations to provide either a 9-month campaign or series of small events to expand voter education and access.

“The foundation’s voter outreach methods seemed like a natural fit,” explained Kafia Hosh, spokeswoman for King County Elections.

King County Elections and the Seattle Foundation conducted a pilot of the grant program in 2016, awarding $224,000 in grants to community-based organizations that reached 27,000 limited-English-speaking voters across the county.

According to Hosh, the elections department has three main goals for the program:

  • Increase the number of limited English-speaking voters requesting translated materials.
  • Increase new voter registrations in communities served.
  • Increase voter turnout and voter participation.

“We reached language groups and communities where we saw the most need,” Hosh said. “We were able to reach voters that primarily speak languages not currently translated into ballot materials, including Somali, Amharic, and Swahili.”

In 2017 the county received 59 grant applications and ended up granting $435,000 to 30 different organizations. Organizations receiving grants include Eritrean Association of Great Seattle, Ethiopian Community in Seattle, LGBTQ Allyship, NAACP, Somali Community Services of Seattle, and the Seattle/King County Coalition for Homelessness.

“I’m thrilled with the diversity of organizations being funded this year and the exciting plans to support voting in their communities,” said Julie Wise, Director of King County Elections. “We’re committed to improving voting access, especially in what is an important local election year for King County.” 

To qualify, organizations were required to be either a 501 C (3) or a Fiscal sponsored group. They were required to submit a completed application, a proposed field plan and a budget. The application period opened on April 3 and closed at 5 p.m. on May 2. 

A small team from the Seattle Foundation, King County Elections and the King County Office of Equity and Social Justice reviewed the applications. They took into consideration the geographic areas served in each proposal with an eye to serve small cities in south and north King County. They also conducted site visits for some organizations. 

Applications were scored on a point system based on five criteria:

  1. Target population community—showing the gap the organization’s project plans to fill and their role in doing so.
  2. The organization’s capacity and experience in doing voter education.
  3. The organization’s system for tracking progress, such as measures and metrics used for tracking.
  4. The proposed field plan: the scope, creativity and intended impact.
  5. The budget.

One organization receiving funds is Longhouse Media which produces media relating to Native issues and people. Longhouse Media will use their award to engage Native youth in the civic process.

“It’s imperative that Indigenous people, especially the youth, are invited to vote and made to feel that their voices matter to the future of our communities,” said Tracy Rector, Executive Director of Longhouse Media

The Seattle Foundation provided $205,260 and King County Elections provided $230,000.

According to Hosh, voter outreach, especially in historically underserved communities is a major priority for King County Elections and so they see the grant funding as an ongoing effort.

 II. Federal/ State Update

The Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity (PACEI) held its first meeting this week. While the focus in the weeks leading up to the first meeting seemed to be on voter fraud, when President Donald J. Trump addressed the commission, he said that no conclusions have been drawn.

“You will fairly and objectively follow the facts wherever they may lead,” he told the panel.

The panel touched upon a few other topics including voting machines, funding for the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, voter ID and cybersecurity.

Electionline Director Emeritus Doug Chapin provided his take on the meeting here.

In other PACEI news since last we wrote the commission released hundreds of emails it received from citizens concerned about the voter data request and what impacts that may have on their privacy. When the commission released the emails, it failed to redact any information including emails, addresses, and phone numbers.

Elections officials continue to express concern about how the data the commission may receive from states will be kept secure.

Seventy-five House Democrats signed a letter to the PACEI this week asking it to withdraw the data request. “At a time when the personally identifiable data of Americans is under constant attack from hackers and criminals seeking to engage in identity theft, the commission’s request to collect and centrally store the personal data of hundreds of millions of Americans poses risks that cannot be fully mitigated,” the letter states.

To-date there are at least seven pending federal lawsuits against the PACEI as well as a handful of suits at the state level.

 III. Election News This Week

The Georgia Secretary of State’s office has decided to move all of its elections work in-house, ending a decade-long partnership with Kennesaw State University. “Today my office and Kennesaw State University executed what will be the final contract between our two entities related to the Center for Election Systems,” Secretary of State Brian Kemp said in a statement to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “The Secretary of State’s office is equipped, trained and tested to handle these operations in-house. I am confident that this move will ensure Georgia continues to have secure, accessible and fair elections for years to come.”

Robby Mook who managed Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign and Matt Rhoades who managed Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign have joined forces to create a new initiative called Defending Digital Democracy in the hopes of preventing any future Russian interference in U.S. elections. According to The Washington Post, the bipartisan project aims to develop ways to share key threat information with political campaigns and state and local election offices; create “playbooks” for election officials to improve cybersecurity; and forge strategies for the United States to deter adversaries from engaging in hacks and information operations, among other things.

The war of words continued in Montana this week between the secretary of state’s office and county elections officials. Corey Stapleton (R), who took office in January has focused his attention on investigating and eliminating voter fraud, which according to the Helena Independent Record, is the first such crack down in memory. “Some of the questions I’ve asked or points I’ve raised, nobody has ever bothered to discuss,” Stapleton told the paper. “We have not convicted anyone of voter fraud in Montana this century… If you question it like I am, it’s almost heresy. They take it as an affront to the job they’re doing.” Regina Plettenberg, president of the Montana Association of Clerk and Recorders, said members of her organization were caught off guard by Stapleton’s press release critical of Missoula County, wishing he would have first talked to the professional organization about what he thought had been done wrong. “If Missoula’s doing it wrong then we’re all doing it wrong,” Plettenberg told the paper. “Maybe there is a change of direction that his office wants us to take. “I’m hopeful he’ll get some solutions and bring that to our group and train our group on how he’d like to see us to proceed in future elections.”

Lately, the news in election administration can seem a bit overwhelming so that’s why we love this story even more because it shows how awesome local elections officials are. This week, in order to show off the county’s new $560,000 voting and to hopefully allay some fears about election security Flagler County, Florida Supervisor of Elections Kaiti Lenhart conducted a mock election. “Most people don’t know what happens behind the scenes, so that’s really the whole point is to bring you guys in, and for the transparency, which is so important, especially in light of recent news, negative news items, which undermine the trust in democracy,” Lenhart explained. About 129 people took part in the mock election and although Lenhart’s goal was to provide transparency and trust in the system, the mock election was not without controversy. Voters got to choose their favorite way of preparing potatoes — the county’s lead crop — and the shocking winner was baked potatoes, with mashed coming in second and fried third. Seems a bit half-baked to us.

Personnel News: Pam Frejosky is the new Cheatham County, Tennessee elections administrator. Gayle Trotter has been appointed the Malheur County, Oregon clerk. William J. Cadigan has been named the chairman of the Illinois State Board of Elections. Melinda Luedecke is the new Bell County, Tennessee election administrator. Valerie Crafard has retired as the Clatsop County, Oregon clerk. Victor Wonk has stepped down as the Ulster County, New York Democratic elections commissioner. Tina Edwards has resigned as the Glynn County, Georgia supervisor of elections and registration. And lastly, but most importantly, a very hearty congratulations to Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman who announced this week that she is cancer-free.


 IV. Legislative Updates

Illinois: Senate Bill 1479 has been approved by both chambers and is awaiting the governor’s signature. Under the legislation the grace period for voter registration and changes of address for eligible residents at nursing homes would be enhanced.

Maine: After state lawmakers were unable to agree on modifying or killing voter-approved ranked choice voting, the voting method will remain on the books for the time being.

New Mexico: The Santa Fe City Council will consider whether or not to rescind its decision to postpone trying to implement ranked choice voting. The issue will be revisited at the council’s meeting on July 26.

Rhode Island: This week, Rhode Island became the ninth state to legalize automatic voter registration. Gov. Gina M. Raimondo signed a bill into law that will automatically register voters doing business with the state’s Division of Motor Vehicles unless they decline.

Texas: Senate Bill 5, filed by Sen. Kelly Hancock (R-North Richland Hills), would elevate the seriousness of some voter fraud crimes, raising them from Class B to Class A misdemeanors. A companion bill has been filed in the House during this special session.


 V. Legal Updates

Georgia: The American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia has filed a federal lawsuit against Fulton County arguing that the county violated state requirements when the county voted to move several polling places out of predominantly black neighborhoods.

Kansas: According to Courthouse News Service, The Kansas Supreme Court’s disciplinary office has launched aa probe on claims of misconduct by Secretary of State Kris Kobach in voting rights cases.

Mississippi: Special Judge Barry W. Ford has denied a motion to dismiss a legal challenge to the May Democratic mayoral primary runoff in Starkville. The ruling allows the challenge to proceed, but according to The Dispatch, a timetable for resolution is not clear.

North Carolina: The State Supreme Court announced on Wednesday that it will take up Gov. Roy Cooper’s lawsuit against the state Legislature over a new law dictating how county boards of elections are selected. The decision by the State Supreme Court bypasses an intermediate appeals court.

Texas: According to court filings, minority groups have asked the court to scrap the state’s voter ID law and place the state under the court’s supervision for at least a decade.


 VI. Tech Thursday

Pennsylvania: According to Secretary of State Pedro Cortes, 100,000 more people used the state’s online voter registration system than applied for registration through traditional paper methods through the end of 2016. Overall the online system has registered more than 950,000 people since its launch in August 2015.

South Carolina: According to a report, hackers tried to infiltrate the state’s voter registration system nearly 150,000 times on Election Day in 2016. The report did not find that any of the attempted breaches were successful and most of the hacking attempts came from automated bots. The South Carolina State Election Commission is pushing back against the report. “We can’t assign motives to any of them, whether benign or bad or whether someone tried to hack the system,” Chris Whitmire, a spokesman for the commission told WSPA. “I’m not saying that they could have been that, we just can’t say any of them were.”


 VII. Opinions This Week

National Opinions: Presidential election commission, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI | Election security | Hack-proof-elections | Democracy | Voting Rights Act | U.S. Election Assistance Commission | Voting rights | Voter purges | Hacking

Arizona: Voter data| Election integrity

Arkansas: Voting machines | Secretary of state

California: Voter data | Voter’s Choice Act | Voters with disabilities

Colorado: Voter fraud

Florida: Election system, II | Presidential election commission, II, III

Idaho: Voter data

Indiana: Making voting easier | Voter ID

Kansas: Voting rights

Louisiana: Presidential election commission

Massachusetts: Automatic voter registration

Montana: Secretary of state

Nebraska: Voter data

New York: Election reform

Oregon: Voting system

Tennessee: Presidential election commission

Texas: Voting machines | Voter fraud, II | Vote-by-mail

Virginia: Early voting

Washington: Ballot drop boxes

West Virginia: Voter data


 VIII. Upcoming Events

Summer Conference on Election Science, Reform and Administration — Hosted by Reed College and Portland State University the goals of the conference are, first, to provide a forum for scholars in political science, public administration, law, computer science, statistics, and other fields who are working to develop rigorous empirical approaches to the study of how laws and administrative procedures affect the quality of elections in the United States; and, second, to build scientific capacity by identifying major questions in the field, fostering collaboration, and connecting senior and junior scholars. When: July 26-27. Where: Portland, Oregon.

National Association of Election Officials 33rd Annual Conference —This year’s Conference attendees will be inspired and energized as we share trending elections and voter registration issues including The 2016 Elections in Review, Technology Advances in Voter Registration and Elections and Polling Place Line Management, to name a few, Also, crucial information from federal agencies to local election officials sharing practical information for day to day election administration operations. This is the also the time to honor and celebrate the winners of the Election Center’s acclaimed Professional Practices Papers’ Program. You will hear the winning presentations and you will take home all of the innovative programs and ideas that were submitted by your colleagues in other jurisdictions around the country. When: August 19-23. Where: Orange County, California.

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 to mmoretti@electionline.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.

Associate Components Engineer, Clear Ballot, Boston — our growing team has an immediate need in our Boston office for an entry-level/early career Associate Components Engineer in our Product Management organization. As an Associate Components Engineer, you will be at the center of maintaining Clear Ballot as the leader of commercial-off-the-shelf based voting systems.  The list of materials in our voting systems is broad and dynamic; and you will be accountable for staying ahead of vendor product roadmaps, leading the identification and evaluation of new technologies and products from those vendors, identifying new sources of components, then managing new models and products through introduction, test, internal training and deployment.  You may also perform manufacturing engineering duties and vendor surveys.  The successful candidate will be managing finished goods and subassemblies such as computers, printers, and scanners- not board level components. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Director of Communications, National Association of Secretaries of State — The National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS), the nation’s oldest nonpartisan professional association for state government officials, is currently seeking a full-time Director of Communications for its Washington, D.C. office. Candidates must have bachelor’s degree (a Masters in Communications or Journalism a plus) and at least 8 years of professional experience in the field of communications. Candidates must have extensive experience working with media and possess strong oral and written communication skills. Familiarity with Congress and/or state government is a plus. Candidates should have experience with web design and content management. Strong editorial and proofing skills are imperative. Salary: Association provides generous benefits and salary is commensurate with experience. Application: Please send resume, salary requirements and multiple writing samples to reynolds@sso.org.

Director of Policy Development and Programming, The American Constitution Society for Law & Policy, Washington, D.C. — the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy (ACS), one of the nation’s leading progressive legal organizations, seeks an experienced, creative, and detail-oriented Director of Policy Development and Programming based in Washington, D.C. to lead ACS’s “Democracy and Voting” and “Equality and Liberty” efforts. The first portfolio focuses on developing a comprehensive vision of the right to vote and to participate in our political process. The second addresses means of combating inequality resulting from race, color, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability, age and other factors. The Director plays a central role in coordinating and facilitating ACS’s substantive legal and public policy work in the areas described above and will: Work closely with constitutional scholars, practitioners, advocates, public officials and law students to formulate and advance a progressive vision of the law that is intellectually sound, practically relevant, and faithful to our constitutional values and heritage; Develop and oversee execution of conferences, symposia and other live programming; and Work with authors to publish ACS Issue Briefs and other publications. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Election Processing Supervisor, Contra Costa County, California — election processing supervisors are responsible for overseeing and monitoring election services clerical and technical support staff, systems and programs in one of the major functional units of the Elections Division: Candidate and Voter Services; Voter Registration/Absentee Services and File Maintenance; Precinct/Poll Worker/Mapping Services; Warehouse and Equipment Services and Ballot/Tally/Reporting Systems and Services.  The Ideal candidates must possess knowledge and understanding of the entire election process cycle and the relationship between each unit of the Elections Division. Salary: $57,566-$69,972. Deadline: August 4. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Election Specialist, Whitman County, Washington Auditor’s Office— the Election Specialists within the Whitman County Auditor Office assist in the preparation and operation of County elections by processing voter registration applications and election ballots. This position is also tasked with maintaining voter registration files, selection and training of election extra help staff and education programs and have a significant amount of public contact requiring effective communication and service to customers. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Full Stack Software Engineer, Clear Ballot, Boston— Clear Ballot is looking for a talented Software Engineer who wants to bring their technical skills to bear on a hugely consequential problem – to modernize America’s voting systems and to bring transparency to democratic elections.  The successful candidate will build and enhance enterprise-level, highly available applications using primarily Python and MySQL that interface with frontend web applications implemented in JavaScript, Node.js and HTML5.  The ideal candidate should have strong technical skills and a good working knowledge of the latest concepts in performance, security and resilience. One of the hallmarks of our system is its emphasis on new visualization techniques made possible by sophisticated data structures that enable high-performance in a multi-user environment. You will be working with a small team of highly skilled individuals to build and enhance a platform that is changing the elections industry. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Project Manager, Dominion Voting Systems — Dominion Voting Systems is seeking an experienced and passionate Project Manager to be based in our Toronto office! This position will be responsible will be responsible for the effective project management of assigned projects throughout the Operations, North territory which includes but is not limited to, scheduling, budgeting, quality, staffing, communication, risk, supply chain, integration and customer communication. Salary: Negotiable base + bonus target & benefits. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Regional Sales Manager (West), Dominion Voting Systems — Dominion Voting Systems is seeking is highly-motivated and accomplished Regional Sales Manager to work remotely and be based in the Western United States; preferably California. The Regional Sales Manager is responsible for long term sales (3-5 years) of the company’s election products and services in a specified geographic region to governmental agencies. This position uses technical, organizational and customer knowledge to influence customers and assist them in applying the products and services to their needs, resulting in revenue generation. In addition, the position provides input and participates in the marketing, planning and development of products and services. Salary: Negotiable base + commission & benefits. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Research Associate, Democracy Works — we’re seeking a researcher to help us know as much as possible about elections, and use that knowledge to inform our software design, operations, and customer service for more than 1 million voters across 50 states. You’ll: Learn the ins-and-outs of election rules across 50 states, and apply that big-picture understanding to the smallest details of how we serve individual voters; Track when every election is happening, using your wits, charm, and deft Google Alert-wrangling skills (plus the occasional temp staffer); Solve problems, answer questions, and ensure that even our most confused voter gets the information they need; and Break things, hunt bugs, and help prioritize new features for our developer team. Salary: $48,000 to $53,000. 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.