I. In Focus This Week
National organizations vote to merge
By M. Mindy Moretti
There’s something sort of meta about two elections organizations holding an election to determine whether or not to merge their organizations.
But that’s what happened recently when the International Association of Clerks, Recorders, Elections Officials and Treasurers (IACREOT) and the National Association County Recorders, Elections Officials and Clerks (NACRC) voted to merge their two organizations.
“This will help our industry and allow us to not only pool our resources, but more importantly to expand our reach,” said Neal Kelley, outgoing president of NACRC and Orange County, California registrar of voters. “I see a “snowball” effect – individuals who may have been sitting on the sidelines will now potentially join an organization that has the potential to really become a much stronger voice on the national stage — among legislators, civic groups, advocates, etc..”
Talks of the merger began more than two years ago and after the late June vote and more than another year of coordination and planning, there will be one organization representing almost all of the local elections officials in the county.
“Although there were previous discussion before, it was not until Neal and I became Presidents last year, we are friends and have great respect for one another,” said Michel Winn, president of IACREOT and director of elections in Travis County, Texas. “I think we both had the patience and temperament to deal with the rigors of discussions and keep people focused on the facts of why it was a good idea to try to do.”
Both men said they are very pleased with the decision to merge, both as leaders of their respective organizations, but also as local elections officials.
“I am pleased with the result not only as the President of IACREOT, but as an election administrator,” Winn said. “I think both organizations duplicated a lot of programs and now we are able to focus on one combined organization with a stronger voice and membership.”
There was no early voting, absentee voting or vote-by-mail. Just in-person voting for IACREOT members during their annual conference and the NACRC membership voted via Internet on a secure link that was emailed to eligible members.
Given what a sticky subject it can be, Kelley said there were surprisingly no concerns raised about NACRC membership voting online.
“…[T]he reason for that was because we viewed this as a private election (much in the same way the Academy of Motion Pictures, HOAs, labor, etc. cast ballots) – the stakes are not as high and the potential for fraud is well below the threshold of elections that are placing individuals in positions of power within our government,” Kelley said. “Despite this –we took strong precautions, such as secure tokens, extensive auditing, etc. during our e-election.”
Voting lasted for four hours on June 30th from 2 p.m. Eastern to 6 p.m. Eastern. There were no hanging chads and no need for runoffs or recounts. The decision was clear.
The NACRC membership voted 94.5 percent YES and 5.5 percent NO, while the IACREOT membership voted 62.21 percent YES and 37.7 percent NO.
“I think it was a pretty gut wrenching decision for IACREOT members,” Winn said. “I think we have considerably more base of members who are more hands on and they were passionate about the decision.”
Turnout for NACRC was 24.2 percent and for IACREOT 32 percent — these numbers might seem low, but they aren’t all that different from average voter turnout numbers nationally.
A committee will now spend the next year-plus hammering out the details about the merger with the new, as-yet-to-be-named group officially launching in September 2016, just two months before a presidential election.
Currently there are no plans to hire consultants or staff to help in the merger, it will all be done by the committee members. The merger committee was deliberately left small — nine members — so that decisions can be made without too much bureaucracy.
“I believe we can collaboratively work together to iron out the details,” Winn said. “We both have very capable individuals who can work together to join both organizations.”
Kelley thinks that how the bylaws and governance end up will be the biggest hurdle during the merger talks. He said both groups are contemplating a single annual meeting next year prior to the final merger to eliminate hurdles.
Interestingly enough, both Kelley and Winn think that one of the biggest hurdles — if not the biggest hurdle — to the merger will be sorting out a name for the new organization.
Kelley and Winn also agreed that the benefits of the merger — membership, vendor participation, no duplication of programs, and a single, national voice on election and clerk issues from a unified association — far outweigh any of the foreseeable obstacles.
Both men wanted to acknowledge the members of NACRC and IACREOT for working together to make a sound business decision for the survival of both organizations.
“As the outgoing president of NACRC I honestly thought that the prospect of getting this merger through was 20 percent likely, 80 percent unlikely, at best,” Kelley said. “But as the year wore on my hopes began to shift and although it was an incredible amount of work I am proud of our team as well as IACREOT’s – just getting to this point (given the history of both organizations) is a major accomplishment.”
II. Election News This Week
- As a way to boost turnout, elections officials in Alaska are considering a program that would automatically register Alaskans to vote when they apply for annual dividend funds. Kim Reitmeier, executive director of the ANCSA Regional Association is working on a ballot initiative that could merge Permanent Fund dividend applications with voter registration. We’re constantly watching what other states are doing and how we can adopt best practices, but obviously in Alaska we have this great thing called the PFD, which you know hits such a large number of Alaskans,” Reitmeier, told the Alaska Daily News.
- A report released by the Florida auditor general this week criticizes the Department of State for its handling of the voter registration database in the Sunshine State. According to the Tampa Bay Times, the review of the state’s management of the Florida Voter Registration System, or FVRS, which contains data on all voters, found that maintenance and performance controls need to be improved; disaster recovery plans have not been tested for four years; 14 workers had “inappropriate” access to the database; employees on the job for less than a year received no security training; and protection of confidential data on voters has to be more secure.
- Election administration is once again taking center stage in the 2016 presidential election this time with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) targeting the state’s nonpartisan Government Accountability Board for elimination. Kevin Kennedy, director of the GAB recently told a Sunday morning talk show that the accusations against the board were “absolutely ridiculous.” “I think most of the work we do takes place outside of all the political dramas, and it’s not unusual that the referees can make calls that the people in power don’t like,” Kennedy said according to The Cap Times.
- The Virginia State Board of Elections is considering allowing people registering to vote to skip several questions on the application including those that ask about citizenship and felony convictions. Needless to say, this has sparked some partisan consternation. “We’re opening up huge, huge doors for opportunity for fraud,” Charlie Judd, chairman of the Virginia State Board of Elections during the term of Gov. Bob McDonnell told The Washington Post.
- Commissioners at the New York state board of elections are asking New York City election commissioner to develop a specific plan to combat the long lines that have occurred during recent elections.
- Personnel News: Democracy Live has hired Paul Caranci, former Deputy Secretary of State from Rhode Island and winner of the NASS Margaret Chase Smith award to represent Democracy Live in the Northeast. Timothy Thompson is the new Muskingum County, Ohio director of elections. Raymond Lembke has been appointed to the Clermont County, Ohio board of elections. Constance Messick is the new general registrar in Augusta County, Virginia. Richard H. Pierce, chairman of the Rhode Island board of election has resigned. Mac Butner has joined the Rowan County board of elections. Longtime Alaska elections director Gail Fenumiai was forced to resign by Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott late last week. Fenumiai had been with the department for 15 years and director since 2008. “He’d like it to be the best in the nation, so he was looking for some new leadership,” a spokesperson for Mallott told the Alaska Daily News. Josie Bahnke, Nome city manager, has replaced Fenumiai as elections director.
III. Legislative Updates
Louisiana: A House and Governmental Affairs subcommittee is looking into changing the rules that govern lifetime appointments of parish voter registrars. Current law governing registrars says the local parish council or police jury appoints them, but can’t remove them once appointed. That takes conviction of malfeasance or another felony. While there haven’t been any egregious incidents of misbehavior by registrars recently, there have been numerous complaints.
IV. Legal Updates
Arizona: The Arizona Court of Appeals ruled that there was evidence that a Bullhead City woman cast a ballot in both Arizona and Colorado on Nov. 2, 2010, but that the evidence was insufficient that she voted more than once in any election and there was no evidence that any candidate appeared on both ballots. The 2010 election was not a presidential election. The Appeals court ruling invalidated a lower court ruling that found the woman guilty of illegal voting.
Minnesota: A ballot-burning trial in Wanamingo Township, Minnesota got under way this week. A township supervisor is accused of burning ballots in 2014 and while he admits destroying the ballots, he said he was doing so on the advice of an election judge that was present at the time.
Mississippi: The Public Legal Foundation has filed a lawsuit in federal court against the Clark County election commission because according to the suit, the county has more voters on the rolls than living citizens.
North Carolina: After almost three weeks of testimony both sides are set for closing arguments in the federal voting rights trial in North Carolina. According to the News & Observer, attorneys are expected to argue for four hours — two hours to each side — as to why the 2013 overhaul to North Carolina’s election laws should or should not stand.
Pennsylvania: U.S. District Judge Lawrence Stengel threw out provisions in Pennsylvania law that he said make it unconstitutionally difficult for independent and minor political party candidates to get onto ballots because of the threat of costly court challenges.
Tennessee: The Tennessee election commission has ordered all county election commission to extract all of the November 2014 election data and store it on external devices. The order to store the data stems from a pending legal challenge to the passage of Amendment 1 in 2014.
Texas: A state judge has order a losing candidate to pay $100,000 in sanctions after failing to back up key arguments in their contest to the December 2014 runoff for the North Austin District 4 seat.
Virginia: Former Botetourt County registrar Phyllis Booze has filed a federal lawsuit claiming that she was let go for partisan reasons. Because she is a Republican, Booze claimed, the two Democrats on the three-member board voted not to reappoint her in June to another four-year term. According to The Roanoke Times, in her lawsuit, filed in Roanoke’s federal court against electoral board members William “Buck” Heartwell and Paul Fitzgerald, Booze seeks lost wages, compensation for emotional suffering and her job back.
V. Tech Thursday
New York: Just when we thought we may have finally heard the last about New York’s lever voting machine other than in history class Newsday reports this week that Nassau County is getting $2 million from the state to replace the much beloved lever-voting machines that are still in use for special district elections.
Oregon: Multnomah and Josephine counties will begin using a new ballot scanning system by Clear Ballot that will allow larger counties like Multnomah to process up to 4,000 ballots per hour. The county’s old system only allowed about 1,000 ballots per hour. According to The Oregonian, the system allows the machines to identify voter intent and set aside instances where a human needs to review ballots through a digital image. “It’s really hard to put a finger on how much time we’ll save,” Tim Scott, director of elections for Multnomah told the paper. “We may use the same amount of bodies but for less time.”
VI. Opinions This Week
Arizona: Mohave County;
Louisiana: Voter equality
Ohio: Voter access
Pennsylvania: Ballot access
Virginia: Voter forms
Wisconsin: Government Accountability Board
VII. Available Funding
U.S. Election Assistance Commission Grants
EAC Grants Management Division is responsible for distributing, monitoring, providing technical assistance to states and grantees on the use of funds, and reporting on requirements payments and discretionary grants to improve administration of elections for federal office. The office also negotiates indirect cost rates with grantees and resolves audit findings on the use of HAVA funds.
VIII. Upcoming Events
Please email upcoming events — conferences, symposiums, seminars, webinars, etc. to email@example.com.
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.
EAC Election Data Summit — EAC will host an election data summit to discuss how good data can help elections run better. Attendees will include a broad spectrum of election researchers, state and local government election officials and representatives from leading non-profit election organizations. Agenda details will soon be posted here. Where: American University, Washington, D.C. When: August 12 and 13. For more information, click here.
Election Center 31st Annual Conference— The Election Center 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.
MEOC Conference — The Midwest Election Officials Conference is back! Following a several-year hiatus, Brian Newby, Johnson County, Kansas election commissioner is bringing back the regional conference for elections officials. There are still a lot of details to work out, but if you’re an elections official in the Midwest, mark your calendars now! Where: Kansas City area. When: September 30-October 2. For more information, stay tuned to electionline and Brian Newby’s Election Diary.
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 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.
Administrative Assistant, Rhode Island Secretary of State’s Office — Administrative Assistant in the Elections Division is part of an Elections team charged with the fair, fast and accurate conduct of elections in the State of Rhode Island. The successful candidate will be a hard working individual, with a passion for excellence, who is dedicated to making it easier for people to exercise their fundamental right to vote. The Administrative Assistant is responsible for ensuring all administrative aspects of the elections process are effectively completed. The primary duty of this position is the performance of office work directly related to the general operations of the Elections Division at the Department of State. The Administrative Assistant provides administrative support for the Director of Elections and assists with the daily functions of the Elections Division. Salary: $37,328-$40,893. Deadline: Aug. 5. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
California Program Coordinator, Civic Engagement, NALEO, Los Angeles — California Program Coordinator for Civic Engagement will provide support to the NALEO Educational Fund’s Civic Engagement program work across California. This includes providing program, logistical and administrative support as needed for the implementation of the department’s naturalization promotion and assistance, voter engagement, and capacity building programs. The Program Coordinator will be responsible for oversight of community-focused initiatives; organization of and responsibility for NALEO Educational Fund technical trainings and community events; development/use of program assessment tools and implementation of program improvements; management, training, and engagement of regional volunteers; reporting on California-based civic engagement activities; effective and professional management of external partner relationships; and other programmatic and administrative support for the team as needed. Salary: $16.00-$18.00 per hour. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Deputy Director of Elections, Rhode Island Secretary of State’s Office — deputy director in the Elections Division is part of an Elections team charged with the fair, fast and accurate conduct of elections in the State of Rhode Island. The successful candidate will be a hard working individual, with a passion for excellence, who is dedicated to making it easier for people to exercise their fundamental right to vote. The Deputy Director is responsible for ensuring all administrative aspects of the elections process are effectively completed. The primary duty of this position is the performance of office work directly related to the general operations of the Elections Division at the Department of State. The Deputy Director of Elections works under the direction of the Director of Elections with considerable latitude for the exercise of discretion and independent judgment with respect to matters involving elections administration. The administration of elections requires high competency in proof-reading and dedication to accuracy. Salary: $67,885-$76,954 annually. Deadline: August 5. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Elections Technology Specialist III, Boulder County, Colorado — position will perform a variety of complex and specialized tasks associated with elections management, elections processing systems and the statewide voter registration system. The position is responsible for the implementation and results of related processes, as well as related procedural development, training and technology support, while ensuring compliance with elections rules, laws and policies. This role requires varying degrees of process management and supervisory support of temporary employees, as well as a high level of initiative, attention to detail, collaboration, problem-solving and analytical ability. Ability to work effectively under pressure while remaining positive and flexible is also key to success. This position requires additional hours; evenings, weekends, and some county holidays as needed during election cycles. Salary: $52,572-$75,696. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
EO & Training Manager, Fairfax County, Virginia — Manages elections officer support for the Fairfax County Office of Elections. Duties include recruiting and onboarding, developing and implementing effective training, tracking training completions, deployment logistics, and measuring and evaluating election officer performance. Work accomplished utilizes project management principles, techniques, and effective change management processes. Sets project goals and formally monitors progress and quality of outcomes to ensure delivery of results, while providing leadership for internal and external change management. Ensures compliance with all state, federal and county laws, regulations and policies affecting departmental function. Responsible for the recruitment, on-boarding, and training of election officers to support the election process across the county. Manages all aspects of election officer training and related scheduling and logistics. Manages the election officer recruiting process to ensure an adequate pool of election officers to support the election process and develop a deep pool of election officers to serve the diverse communities that are represented in Fairfax County. Develops election officer staffing needs reports and forecasting, as well as related plans for Office of Elections staff needs. Manages the election officer support staff and related election support activities, including ensuring election officers and other election support staff all have appropriate training, materials, and direction. Oversees the development and management of all related logistics issues for election officer deployment to polling places during elections. Processes election payroll to make sure all election officer staff is paid in a timely manner after each election cycle. Salary: $56,415-$94,026. Deadline: August 5. Application. For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
General Registrar, Fairfax County, Virginia — The Fairfax County Electoral Board, serving Fairfax County (population 1.1 million), the largest locality in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and a suburb of Washington, D.C., is currently recruiting qualified candidates with exceptional senior leadership and management experience for the position of General Registrar to serve a four-year term. With close to 700,000 registered voters, and using advanced technology, the incumbent will be responsible for the oversight of a large and complex non-partisan voter registration and election administration agency. Duties include adherence to Virginia Code Sec. 24.2, and other federal, state and local codes; and management of the Office of Elections, an office with approximately 28 full-time, 200 temporary and 3,700 Election Officer employees. This is an executive management position that reports to the Fairfax County Electoral Board. Specifically, the General Registrar oversees the day-to-day operations of the Office, which is responsible for the registration of voters, the conduct of elections, and other related activities. The General Registrar is also responsible for formulating policies and procedures for carrying out the Office’s goals and objectives, and suggesting and implementing changes in methods and procedures to improve operations. Salary: Negotiable. Deadline: July 31. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
General Registrar, Winchester County, Virginia — assists eligible citizens of Winchester, Virginia to register and vote in fair and accurate elections for all Federal, State, and local offices and measures; provides access to the information needed to utilize the initiative, referendum, and recall petition processes; and to perform related duties. Work is performed under the supervision of the Winchester Electoral Board. Salary is based upon the number of registered voters in Winchester City. Salary: $49,076 annually. Deadline: July 31. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Hotline Operator, Civic Engagement, NALEO, Los Angeles, California — NALEO Educational Fund seeks motivated individuals to staff its national bilingual hotline. The Hotline Operator will be responsible for answering calls, documenting calls and assisting individuals with basic non-legal information and local referrals related to U.S. citizenship, elections and administrative relief programs. Duties also include, but are not limited to recording all call details in a simple database, following up on pending calls and retrieving voicemail as instructed. This is an entry-level, part-time/temporary position. Work hours will vary and may range from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. (PST) Monday through Friday. Salary: $12.00 per hour. Application. For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
IT Coordinator, Bowen Center for Public Affairs, Dept. of Political Science, Ball State University — administer and coordinate all activities related to the computer operations and databases created and maintained by the Voting system Technical Oversight Program (VSTOP) in the Bowen Center for Public Affairs; work with the co-directors and other staff of the project; provide professional and technical advice in the areas of maintaining and integrating databases and web-based interfaces; maintain responsibility for all database operations; update protocols used in the testing of voting equipment and related peripherals and provide oversight on field tests of voting equipment. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
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There are still items available for purchase from Yavapai County Arizona’s previous Diebold system. Most notably, Accu-Vote Precinct Packages, which are $35.00 and include 1 Scanner w/ key, transfer case & power cord. This is good news for Jurisdictions who may be interested in AVOS central count machines, as vendors have indicated that they are still selling the EPROMS that turn AVOS precinct counters into central count machines (see vendor for details). Other items still available for purchase include: 128K Accu-Vote Memory cards ($25.00), 32K Accu-Vote Memory cards ($25.00), and TSx PCMCIA Memory cards ($25.00). Equipment is being sold as-is on a first come, first served basis until all items have been liquidated. Interested parties may send a request for more information to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Please be sure to include in your email: Contact Name, State, County, and phone number.