I. In Focus This Week
Impact data shows who votes with automatic voter registration
Automatic Voter Registration is a necessary, common sense reform whose time has come. Since Oregon adopted it in 2015 and implemented it in 2016 several other states have moved to modernize their systems with automatic voter registration (AVR).
AVR strengthens democracy by expanding the electorate. AVR’s streamlined systems can save states and localities significant costs, make the voter registration lists more accurate and up to date, and increase the security of the voting system. AVR is the next logical step in creating an efficient, secure, and modern voter registration system for the 21st century.
Oregon provides strong evidence in favor of automatic voter registration. We recently released a new report from the Center for American Progress providing a demographic and geographic portrait of how Oregon’s Automatic Voter Registration system has worked to register hundreds of thousands of eligible citizens to vote. This is the first time the question is being answered about which populations actually used AVR and if the program is working to expand the electorate. The answer is a resounding yes.
How it works
What is so special about AVR? AVR transforms the voter registration paradigm. Traditionally the voter registration process has put the full burden on the individual to get themselves registered to vote and keep their registration updated every time they move if they wanted to be able to cast a vote and have their voices heard.
Under Oregon’s AVR system, eligible citizens are automatically registered to vote through records collected by the Office of Motor Vehicles. All the information necessary to determine voting eligibility for general elections is already required by the agency in its applications for driver’s licenses, learner’s permits, and identification cards.
The AVR Effect
In less than a year, AVR registered over 270,000 new registrations, and more than 98,000 of them voted in the 2016 election. We also wanted to know how many of those 270,000 are people who probably wouldn’t have registered themselves. Using a number of data points, we estimated that about 116,000 people were registered who were unlikely to have registered themselves. Of those, over 40,000 voted. By election day, OMV registrants made up 8.7 percent of people registered to vote and constituted 4.7 percent of all voters in Oregon.
Oregon’s electorate is now more representative of the state’s population since citizens registered through OMV are younger, more rural, lower-income, and more ethnically diverse. For example, 40 percent of AVR registrants were 18-29 years old compared to just 18 percent of those registered through traditional means; 18-29 year olds make up 20 percent of Oregon’s population. Compared with traditional registrants and voters, AVR registrants and voters were more likely to live in: areas that are suburban; in low- and middle-income areas, in lower-education areas, and in racially diverse areas.
While turnout was up across the country in the 2016 election cycle, Oregon experienced the largest surge of any state—a 4.1 point increase compared with 2012. It is reasonable to say that AVR played a large part in that increase.
Several states have adopted AVR programs since Oregon and are on their way to implementation, including California; Alaskans adopted AVR last year at the ballot box. Just last month there was a unanimous, bi-partisan support in both houses in Illinois to adopt AVR, and the bill awaits the governor’s signature. In Rhode Island the AVR bill recently passed the House unanimously. Federal AVR legislation has also been introduced.
Evidence shows that AVR broadens the electorate and increases voter participation while leading to a more efficient, streamlined, and secure voter registration system. Americans deserve the convenience of automatic voter registration without delay.
II. Election News This Week
Despite a report saying the county would save more than $10 million by adopting a new mail-ballot/vote center voting system, the Orange County Board of Supervisors voted down the proposal citing concerns about increased voter fraud. California Secretary of State Alex Padilla told the Orange County Register he was “surprised … shocked and deeply disappointed” by Orange County’s decision. Supervisors directed Registrar Neal Kelley—who supported the switch to the new system—to provide them with a proposal to replace the voting machines in all of the county’s 1,000 polling places. The paper said that could cost as much as $40 million.
Caledonia, Mississippi is taking a mulligan on its recent mayoral and alderman elections after the election commission voted 4-0 to toss the results of the election when questions arose about the handling of ballot boxes. One election commissioner allegedly took home a ballot box that was not properly sealed. That election commissioner — Ken Byars — has since resigned. “I’m good with that,” Byars told the Commercial Dispatch. “I know that I didn’t do anything intentionally wrong. To tell you the truth, we didn’t even know we had the seals and I didn’t know there was anything wrong with taking the ballot box with me. I had to take it somewhere when we left at midnight Tuesday. I put it in my locked truck and the box was padlocked and I had the key. In the past, we never had a situation where the election carried over until the next day. I regret what happened. It wasn’t intentional.” The new election is scheduled for July 18, but now there is a new wrinkle. One member of the election commission is the aunt of one of the candidates and that commissioner has chosen to resign so unless one of the three remaining election commissioners is able to get off of work, there will not be enough election commissioners to legally conduct the election.
One Illinois school district is on a mission to eliminate county elections officials from using schools as polling places. The Indian Prairie District 204 School Board wants the counties to pay for the security the schools require on election day — about $10,000 each election day. The board agreed to charge the counties the money and then leave it up to elections officials whether or not they wanted to pay for the security and therefore be able to use their buildings.
On the move: Several elections offices are making moves this week. In Monterey County, California’s elections office is moving to a new, bigger facility. The new facility is 20,000 square feet, while the old space was 14,000 square feet. The Schenectady County, New York board of elections is moving into the county’s unified communications center to avoid problems with flooding that the BOE experienced in the past. And in Ohio, the Muskingum County board of elections is moving to a new 6,500-square-foot building that also includes a 6,000-square-foot warehouse.
Congratulations to the Jackson County, Missouri Board of Elections that on June 18th will celebrate its 100th year. The BOE is hosting a centennial celebration with a century’s worth of elections memorabilia on display. Director Tammy Brown told KSHB that she hopes the celebration will encourage people to participate in the process. “It’s amazing what people went through for the right to vote. Minorities, women, I mean there’s so much history out there,” Brown told the station. “People have fought for this right and it gets really depressing when you see election results coming in at fifteen percent.”
Personnel News: Kelly Arnold, Sedgwick County, Kansas clerk is considering a run for secretary of state. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has announced his candidacy for governor. Rossie Ross has been voted out as the Stewart County, Georgia board of elections chair. Dr. Anthony Bland has announced his campaign to run for Arkansas secretary of state.
In Memoriam: Marilyn Bensman, Democratic supervisor for the Lucas County, Ohio board of elections for 25 years died June 10. She was 84. Bensman spent her career at the board of elections, where she had a reputation as an efficient and well-organized supervisor whose petite frame belied a strong will, co-workers said. In the late 1980s, she oversaw the board’s transition to a digital system for verifying petition signatures. “Marilyn was always a pleasant person, always happy, but she was always worrying about the election,” Gary Byers, a municipal judge who worked with her at the board of elections told The Toledo Blade. “She always worried about getting it right. She would check and re-check and double check again. She was the kind of person you’d want overseeing elections.”
III. VIP Update
Request for Applications Signals Next Step in Voting Information Project Transition
Today, that transition takes another major step with the release of a request for applications (RFA) by The Pew Charitable Trusts. The RFA encourages entities to indicate their interest in and qualifications for taking on VIP’s work serving voters across the nation.
Applicants will have an opportunity to demonstrate how they will:
- Adhere to the key VIP principles set out by a group of stakeholders from the fields of election administration, technology (including civic technology), and academia.
- Manage the current and future technical challenges of aggregating official election data in the VIP form and ensuring the success of voter-facing tools established by VIP and its collaborative partners.
- Maintain and nurture the strong relationships with state and local election officials that are instrumental to VIP’s success.
At the end of the RFA process, Pew hopes to identify a new home for VIP, which will assume responsibility in early 2018 and commit to its long-term success.
Expressions of interest are due Tuesday, July 11, 2017, and full responses are due Monday, Aug. 21. Pew and VIP will host an informational conference Tuesday, July 18, to further explain the RFA process and answer any questions that prospective applicants may have.
All of us associated with VIP are excited about this next stage and look forward to thoughtful and skilled responses from a variety of leaders in the field.
Alexis Schuler is a senior director at The Pew Charitable Trusts.
IV. Legislative Updates
Federal Legislation: Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) has introduced the Automatic Voter Registration Act of 2017 that would require states to automatically register eligible voters when they interact with certain state and federal agencies unless they opt-out.
California: A bill has been introduced that would change the rules governing recall elections. Under the proposal, people who sign a recall petition would have 30 days to rescind their signatures after the signatures have been submitted to election officials. It would also give lawmakers an additional 30 days to consider costs of a recall.
Maryland: The College Park city council has introduced a possible amendment to the city’s charter that would allow noncitizens who are legal, permanent residents to vote in local elections.
Massachusetts: The Joint Committee on Elections Laws heard testimony last week on legislation that would allow for automatic voter registration in the Commonwealth.
Also in the Commonwealth, Amherst Rep. Solomon Goldstein-Rose has submitted legislation that would allow noncitizens to vote in town elections. The bill would only apply to legal permanent residents and only to Amherst elections.
New Jersey: The Assembly has approved a bill that would allow voters to take and post on social media ballot selfies. The Senate has not taken action on the bill yet.
Oregon: This week the Oregon Legislature approved a bill allowing 16-year-olds to pre-register at the DMV when getting their first license. Approximately 20,000 16-year-olds get their license for each year.
V. Legal Updates
Louisiana: The Advancement Project filed notice with the Louisiana 4th Circuit Court of Appeal with their intention to appeal a March ruling that rejected a lawsuit seeking to restore voting rights to people on probation parole for felony crimes.
Missouri: The American Civil Liberties Union and other civil rights groups have filed suit in the Cole County Circuit Court seeking to stop the implementation of the state’s new photo ID law.
North Carolina: A case has been filed in the Middle District of North Carolina arguing that the state’s new Bipartisan State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement because it discriminates against unaffiliated voters by denying an unaffiliated member on the state board.
U.S. Virgin Islands: The Third Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that it’s up to the Virgin Islands Legislature to determine whether or not seat a senator-elect in a contested election.
VI. Tech Thursday
National: A report by Bloomberg News says that the Russian hack into the U.S.’s voting system was more widespread than originally reported. According to unnamed sources in the piece, voting systems in as many as 39 states may have been breached. Breaches allegedly include attempts to delete or alter voter information in registration datatbases and the breach of at least one campaign finance system. Once again, many states were forced to put out statements backing the security of their systems (California, Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Washington). Maryland’s State Board of Elections said that they detected “suspicious activity” and called in cybersecurity experts to evaluate the situation although it’s unclear if the attempted breach was from Russian hackers or some other source.
Iowa: The Iowa Secretary of State’s office has launched a new webpage to help inform voters about the state’s new voter ID law, in place July 1. “This page will be a one-stop shop for any voter looking for information regarding the electoral process and how Voter ID will work,” Secretary of State Paul Pate said. “This page will be continuously updated. It is one component of the extensive outreach we will be conducting all across the state to make sure it is easy for every eligible Iowan to vote.”
Mississippi: The state’s voter information center Y’all Vote has been recognized by the Academy of Interactive and Visual Arts’ 23rd Annual Communicator Awards. The website earned Awards of Distinction in the Features, Visual Appeal and Function categories. Congratulations!
Ohio: A candidate running for an at-large seat on the Toledo City Council has created a new website, ToledoGo.tv provides a link to the state’s voter registration page and lists the dates of the upcoming primary and general elections. A web form allows voters to find their polling location and receive email reminders in the days leading up to an election.
VII. Opinions This Week
Illinois: Automatic voter registration
Indiana: Voter registration fraud
Kentucky: Voting system
Missouri: Voter ID
Nevada: Voting laws
Pennsylvania: Voting machines
Tennessee: Voter suppression
Utah: Ranked choice voting
Virginia: Ex-felon voting rights
VIII. Upcoming Events
IaoGO 2017 Annual Conference — The iGO Annual Conference is packed with over 24 hours of education specifically for government officials with sessions for election officials, clerks, recorders and treasurers. Get knowledge and concrete learning you can bring back to your office. Visit the iGO website for full info and register by June 23 for the lowest rates. 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.
National Association of Election Officials Professional Education Program — Program includes Course I (Introduction to Election and Voter Registration Systems Administration); Course II (Management and Leadership Concepts in Election and Voter Registration Administration); Course III (Planning and Budgeting for Elections and Voter Registration); Course IV (Election and Voter Registration Information Management and Technology); Course V (Ethics in Elections and Voter Registration Administration). Where: Sanibel Harbour Hotel, Fort Meyers, Florida. When: July 8-15.
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 email@example.com. 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.
Data Reporting Supervisor, Orange County, Florida — The Office of the Supervisor of Elections is seeking an experienced GIS Data Reporting Supervisor to join our dynamic team. With minimal supervision, this position maintains accurate street index, precinct map, municipal and district boundaries for the elections office. The position coordinates all activities related to management of census data and redistricting. The ideal candidate would have experience managing GIS data for a government agency, developing and maintaining data reporting for internal and external parties and experience working with Oracle database, forms and reports including development of SQL queries and stored procedures. Preference will be given to candidates with strong supervisory skills, project management experience and prior experience utilizing MapInfo. Employment with the Orange County Supervisor of Elections Office is contingent upon successfully passing a criminal background check, health screening and verification of work history, academic credentials, licenses and certifications, as applicable. Salary: Grade 14-Minimum $56,998, Maximum $85,486. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Program Specialist 4, Washington Secretary of State’s Office — this position is the Election Review Program lead within the Election Certification and Training program. The Election Certification and Training program oversees, directs, and advises county auditors in interpretations of federal and state election law and the correct administration of voter registration and elections throughout the state. The certification and training program reviews county practices for adherence to election law and best practices, provides essential tools for election administrators through official communications and training, and acts as liaisons for the Office of the Secretary of State. This position reports to the certification and training program manager and is responsible for overseeing, reviewing and advising county auditors on the federal and state elections laws and the administration of voter registration. Salary: $4,109-$5,385. 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.
System Specialist, Dominion Voting Systems — Dominion Voting Systems is seeking tech-savvy, passionate System Specialist to be based in our Toronto office! This position will be responsible for a wide range of projects to include end-to-end election simulations, identifying new features for development, coming up with creative solutions to meet customer needs; and documenting procedures and solutions. Salary: Negotiable base + bonus target & benefits. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Voting Rights Associate/Attorney, The American Civil Liberties Union, San Francisco— the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California (ACLU-NC) seeks an advocate with two to three years of relevant experience to help advance voting rights across California. The Voting Rights Associate is a critical member of the ACLU of California’s Voting Rights Project team, which works to protect and promote the voting rights of Californians by utilizing a range of advocacy strategies, including collaborative work with other advocates and election officials, legislative and administrative advocacy, strategic communications/media, and litigation. The position will be based in our San Francisco office and reports to the Voting Rights Project Manager & Attorney, who is based in the Sacramento office. Your focus will be on advancing voting rights and reforming campaign finance in California. Specifically, you will work to improve California’s compliance with the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), a federal law that is a critical vehicle to ensure that historically disenfranchised communities, including people of color, people with disabilities, and low-income people have access to engage in our democracy. You will also focus on advancing publicly financed elections in the Bay Area to help create a more level playing field for candidates. You are responsible for evaluating existing policies and best practices, crafting recommendations, and establishing relationships with stakeholders. You may also write reports and will serve as a resource for community groups and organize local events and meetings. You will support other Voting Rights Project work, including helping to implement new reforms such as California’s new vote center model and automated registration, while seeking opportunities to improve accessibility for voters with disabilities and voters with limited English proficiency. Deadline: July 7. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
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