I. In Focus This Week
The best laid plans
Court ruling once again splits North Carolina primaries
By M. Mindy Moretti
On September 30, 2015 North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory signed legislation into law moving the state’s presidential primary to March 15, 2016. The House and Senate worked together to move all the state’s primaries to March 15 in an effort to cuts costs and increase turnout.
But then, with ballots already printed, on February 5, 2016 a federal court ruled that the state had to redraw Congressional maps–maps that had just been approved by the U.S. Department of Justice.
While the presidential primary is still a go for next week, county elections officials will now be forced to conduct a Congressional primary in June and deal with the confusion and extra work that may come from that.
In Alamance County, Director of Elections Kathy Holland said the added primary will require extra staff time to field voter questions, concerns and confusion as well as time to contact polling places in an effort secure sites that were not asked for on the yearly committal form.
“The State Board has not given specifics yet regarding requirements for conducting the election but there is a great possibility I will need to request additional funding,” Holland said. “The initial information indicates we will need to have matching early voting hours for 2010 which would mean we would have to open two one stop sites to match those hours. Most likely one site will be quite sufficient.”
Michael Perry, director of elections in Durham County said that fortunately the impact of a June primary has been minimal on his office so far.
“It’s possible that we will not need to conduct the June primary in our county or it could be just a few precincts,” Perry said. “After the March primary we will prepare for the June primary.”
While Perry might not be thinking ahead to June just yet, some counties are getting ready, whether they meant to or not. In a fortunate turn of events, officials in Gaston County had already prepared for two primaries.
“Originally when we prepared our budget request to the county last year, the General Assembly had planned for having two separate elections — a Presidential Preference Primary in March and the regular Primary Election in May,” explained Adam Ragan, director of elections for the Gaston County Board of Elections.” Because of this, my office had budgeted for two elections so even though the General Assembly combined the Presidential Preference Primary and May Primary Election into a single election in March, we had the funds that were originally budgeted for the May Election for use for the June Congressional Primary.
Ragan said he will not need to request additional funds and will cost the county approximately $215,000 if there are party primaries for both major parties and around $185 if they only have one primary.
Other counties like Mecklenburg had also budgeted for a second primary all along so additional costs aren’t necessarily a major factor for all counties.
One thing that most counties are working on is voter education. Although attention is still very much focused on next week’s primary, elections officials are thinking ahead to June.
Michael Dickerson, director of the Mecklenburg County board of elections said he is currently focusing on media interviews and social media to get the word out.
“Currently it is media interviews. And the use of social media. We have also placed a flyer at each Early Voting location with the State Board’s explanation and the date of the June 7th Congressional primary,” Dickerson said.
Ragan too said that he is relying on social media to get the word out as well as partnering with local political parties and the media to inform voters of the changes. Despite that, Ragan is certain voter turnout will be low for the June primary.
“I’m sure voter turnout will be low for the June election. It’s similar to a second primary that we have on occasion,” Ragan said. “In 2016, with the addition of the June Primary, the General Assembly cancelled any Second Primary this year but, as it relates to voter turnout, it will be similar.”
Holland said that there has been some confusion for poll workers and voters during early voting who wonder why the Congressional races still appear on the ballots, but she said early voting has been an opportunity for voter education.
II. Election News This Week
- Primary Update: Voters in three states went to the polls on Tuesday with Michigan and Mississippi hosting costs for both parties and Idaho conducting a GOP primary. In Michigan, the biggest issues that arose were ballot shortages. Many counties and townships reported shortages including in Grand Rapids, Flint, Ingham County and Redford Township. In Detroit, the problem was the voting machines. Wayne County Board of Canvassers officials discovered that a handful of Detroit precincts registered zero votes during balloting. Memory cards for three precincts showed no votes cast, while five absentee ballot precincts were uploaded Wednesday as zero, acknowledged Daniel Baxter, director of Detroit elections. Canvassers will have to review the ballots in those precincts, but Baxter said they’re unlikely to change the results. According to published reports, the state broke a 1972 voter turnout record. In Mississippi, state officials said things went well and everyone had enough ballots but there were some issues in Hinds and Madison counties. And in DeSoto County, some voters were confused by new precincts and polling places. In Idaho, turnout was hit or miss with some counties seeing lines out the door and others the meagerest of turnouts. Officials in Bannock County were prepared to a huge turnout and were annoyed by the low turnout and money spent in preparation for a large turnout. Twin Falls County saw long lines and some polling places were forced to stay open to accommodate the crowds. One Garden City polling site had voters waiting outside the doors at the 8 a.m. opening and a polling place in Namba had to call in additional workers to deal with the crowds.
- Following what sometimes proved to raucous events, several states that held caucuses for their presidential election process are now considering moving back to a primary system. Officials in Minnesota, Colorado, Maine and Kentucky have all called for their states to revert to a primary system for presidential elections.
- In other primary vs. caucus news, the state of Utah is spending nearly $150,000 to send almost 1 million postcards to registered voters to remind them that the state has switched from a primary process to a caucus system. The move came when the state Legislature failed to provide funds for the 2016 primaries.
- The Elections Division of the Oregon Secretary of State’s Office have released the first monthly report since introducing automatic voter registration and the report shows that 15,502 new voters have been registered since Jan. 1. According to Secretary of State Jeanne P. Atkins, prior to the implementation of automatic voter registration the average monthly number of new registered voters–through all forms–was 2,000.
- The ACLU of Virginia has sent Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) a letter calling on him to restore the voting rights of hundreds of thousands of Virginians who are ex-felons. “Now that the General Assembly is on the eve of adjourning once again without addressing this important issue, we renew our request that you issue an executive order immediately that restores in full the voting rights of the hundreds of thousands of Virginians still waiting for the renewed opportunity to exercise this fundamental,” the letter stated.
- Indian People’s Action has sent a letter to Montana Secretary of State Linda McCullough saying that many of the state’s counties are not complying equally with her directive to set up satellite voting offices on reservations.
- Ooops. Due to a glitch at the U.S. Postal Service, some voters in Bend, Oregon got their gas-tax ballots returned to them and now it’s too late to put them back in the mail. According to Deschutes County Clerk Nancy Blankenship, equipment at the USPS was reading both sides of the return envelope and returning the ballots. “We also have taken the extra step, if they slip through and get to Portland (where Central Oregon mail is processed), they are watching for them at the Portland post office,” she told KTVZ. “Any they get there would be delivered to (the) Multnomah County (Clerk’s Office), which is an official drop site, and then get back to us.”
- Personnel News:James M. Huntley has been appointed to the Lucas County, Ohio BOE. Michael Casto has been elected chair of the Richland County, Ohio BOE. Amy Roberts is the new Montgomery County, North Carolina board of elections director. And a very special HAPPY BIRTHDAY (and get well in advance) to our founder, the guy who can rock a democracy sweater vest like no one else…Doug Chapin! Happy Birthday Dough!
III. Legislative Updates
Alabama: A bill introduced by Rep. Laura Hall (D-Huntsville) would allow for automatic voter registration for anyone applying for a new license or renewing an existing one. Secretary of State John Merrill said automatic voter registration is not part of his office’s legislative agenda for 2016.
Alaska: This week, Lt. Gov. Byron Mallett signed the certification documents for a ballot initiative that would link voter registration to applications for Permanent Dividend Funds. Petitioners gathered 36,000 signatures, almost 10,000 more than necessary. Baring a special election, the initiative will appear on the August 16 primary ballot.
Arizona: Legislation that would make it a felony for non-family members to collect and submit absentee ballots has been signed into law by Gov. Doug Ducey. HB 2023 will allow judges to impose a presumptive one-year prison term and potential $150,000 fine for the practice by civic and political groups of ballot harvesting.
Florida: By the slimmest of margins (58-54), the Senate has approved legislation that will give all 58 supervisors of elections in the Sunshine State a pay raise. The raises will average about $20,000 and are based on county population.
Idaho: Legislation to allow for online voter registration has cleared the House State Affairs Committee and now moves to the full House for consideration.
Iowa: Senate File 2142 would give 17-year-olds the right to vote in primary elections if they will be 18 by the date of the general election. Secretary of State Paul Pate supports the legislation.
Kentucky: A bill filed in the Senate this week would put the question of whether ex-felons should have their voting rights restored or not before the voters.
Also in Kentucky, legislation that would allow for early voting for up to 12 days before an election including two Saturdays was approved by the House.
New York: A bill before the New York City Council would require the city board of elections to come up with an emergency elections plan. The bill would mandate that the BOE be prepared for extreme situations by working with the Mayor’s Office of Emergency Management to create a reasonable plan to conduct an election amid a crisis.
Oklahoma: Oklahoma House of Representatives will vote on Bill 2277 to clarify voting rights for ex-felons. The proposal authored by State Representative Regina Goodwin passed committee in a 6-0 vote. Current Oklahoma law states a completed prison sentence also completes a ban from voting.
Vermont: By a unanimous 137-0 vote, the House has approved automatic voter registration legislation. Vermonters could opt out of voter registration by checking a box on the application or renewal form for a driver’s license or nondriver identification card. Otherwise, the Department of Motor Vehicles would assume applicants met the legal requirements for voting and would send their information to the Vermont Secretary of State’s Office.
Wisconsin: Gov. Scott Walker (R) wants the state’s voter ID law amended so that veterans may use their veteran ID as a form of acceptable ID in order to cast a ballot.
West Virginia: A Senate committee has approved voter ID legislation albeit with many changes to what types of ID are acceptable. Under the House version, government-issued IDs, Social Security cards and Medicaid cards would have been accepted, but under the amended version in the Senate, birth certificates, voter registration cards, hunting and fishing licenses, Medicaid cards, debit cards, credit cards, health insurance cards, utility bills, bank statements, paychecks, SNAP cards and TANF cards would also be included as acceptable forms of ID to vote.
Also in West Virginia, the House has approved legislation that will make it possible for the state to join ERIC.
IV. Legal Updates
Maine: Maine’s attorney general says a citizen initiative that would establish ranked-choice voting must go to voters, but the bill raises “significant constitutional concerns” and may be impossible to implement without amending the Maine Constitution.
Maryland: A candidate running for Congress has filed a temporary restraining order against the state in an effort to prevent Maryland from printing paper ballots for early voting. Due to a change in voting systems and a lengthy ballot, all voters voting early must cast a ballot paper and candidate Michael Trone argues in his suit that that is unfair to voters with disabilities.
Nevada: Attorneys representing Mi Familia Vota Education Fund and Nevada resident Eleanor Newell sent a pre-litigation letter to Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske and Terri L. Albertson, director of the DMV saying that the state Department of Motor Vehicles is not meeting its federally mandated voter registration obligations. The letter states that the DMV is violating federal law by requiring applicants to complete an entirely separate voter registration application, one that requests much of the same information already provided on the driver’s license application.
Ohio: Nine 17-year-olds have sued Secretary of State Jon Husted over his interpretation of a 1908 law that allows 17-year-olds to cast a ballot in primary elections if they will be 18 at the time of the general election. Under Husted’s interpretation, the law does not apply to presidential primaries–although 17-year-olds have long been allowed to vote in them under other secretaries of state–because the law talks about electing candidates, not nominating delegates.
Texas: The 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals announced this week that the full bench will review whether Texas’ voter ID law violates the Voting Rights Act and the U.S. Constitution. Last August, a three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling that the voter ID measure violated the Voting Rights Act because it had a discriminatory effect on African-Americans and Latinos. Texas asked the 5th Circuit to hear the case “en banc,” and civil rights groups and the Justice Department urged the court not to rehear the case.
U.S. Virgin Islands: In a letter late last week, the Attorney General for the U.S. Virgin Islands wrote that he would no longer provide legal counsel to the boards of elections.
V. Tech Thursday
Pennsylvania: The Pennsylvania Department of State announced this week that for the first time it was introduced, more people have registered vote using online voter registration than using the traditional paper forms.
Clarification: Last week we reported that Votem purchased Konnech, Inc., but Votem only purchased ABVote product line.
VI. Opinions This Week
Our apologies again this week for no opinions. They were all formatted and ready to go, but then our computer died. We’ll do our best to recreate them for next week. Thank you for your understanding.
VII. Available Funding/Awards
Charles T. Manatt Democracy Award
The International Foundation for Electoral Systems’ (IFES) Charles T. Manatt Democracy Award recognizes the exceptional work of individuals who demonstrate unwavering commitment to freedom and democracy. IFES presents the Democracy Award annually to three individuals: a Republican, a Democrat and a member of the international community.
The recipients of the Democracy Award embody the character and spirit of former U.S. Ambassador and IFES Board of Directors Chairman Charles T. Manatt. Manatt served as Chairman of IFES’ Board of Directors from 1993 to 1999 and was a distinct leader, dedicated to spreading democracy around the world and nurturing the next generation of political leaders.
The three Democracy Awards are presented in a single ceremony each year. To nominate someone, click here.
Innovation in American Government Awards
Applications are now being accepted for the $100,000 Innovations in American Government Awards. Offered by Harvard Kennedy School’s Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, the Innovations Award is the nation’s premier award for the public sector. It recognizes programs that demonstrate creative and effective government at its best.
All units of government — federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial — from all policy areas are eligible to apply for recognition.
This year, the Ash Center is also once again offering the Roy and Lila Ash Innovations Award for Public Engagement in Government, a special Innovations Award that will recognize government-led programs that demonstrate novel and effective approaches to increasing public engagement and participation in the governance of towns, cities, states, and the nation.
The winners of the Innovations in American Government Award and the Roy and Lila Ash Award will each receive a $100,000 grant to support replication and dissemination activities in 2017. Top finalists will also receive monetary grants.
Applications and additional information is available here. Applications are due April 15.
VIII. Upcoming Events
NACRC/IACREOT Annual Conference — the 2016 annual conference—the last to be held under the NACRC/IACREOT banner will feature plenary sessions, a trade show, committee and board meeting, awards breakfast, annual banquet and a ballgame. When: June 25-30. Where: Memphis, Tennessee. For more information and to register, click here.
National Association of Secretaries of State Summer Conference — NASS will hold its annual summer meeting in Nashville this year. Agenda programming will include: policy discussions on important issues facing secretaries of state, idea-sharing panels highlighting best practices in state programming, sessions designed for professional development and networking, induction of national officers for the 2016-2017 cycle and excursions to explore Tennessee and learn more about the culture and state government. When: July 14-17. Where: Nashville, Tennessee. For more information and to register, click here.
National Association of State Election Directors Summer Conference— the 2016 NASED summer conference will be held in Nashville, Tennessee. Details about the event are still being hammered out, so be sure to check the website often. When: July 14-17. Where: Nashville, Tennessee. For more information, click here.
National Association of Counties Annual Conference — NACo’s Annual Conference and Exposition provides an opportunity for all county leaders and staff to learn, network and guide the direction of the association. The 2016 Annual Conference is hosted by Los Angeles County. The conference will be held at the Long Beach Convention Center. Attending the Annual Conference provides member county officials with the opportunity to vote on NACo’s policies related to federal legislation and regulation; elect officers; network with colleagues; learn about innovative county programs; learn more about issues impacting counties across the country; and view products and services from participating companies and exhibitors. When: July 22-25. Where: Long Beach, California. For more information and to register, click here.
National Conference of State Legislators Summer Meeting — the 2016 Legislative Summit will be held in Chicago and will feature standing committee/issue meetings, genera sessions, programming for legislative staff, the NCSL Business Meeting, a prayer breakfast, a walk for wellness and a bipartisan bike ride. When: Aug. 8-11. Where: Chicago. For more information and to register, click here.
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.
Assistant Registrar, City of Manassas, Virginia— this is a part-time, “as needed” position involving registering voters; answering concerns of citizens; assisting with administration of absentee voting; and preparing, updating, and maintaining voter registration records. requirements include a valid State driver’s license, high school diploma or GED, and proficiency with general office practices, including basic computer skills. Knowledge of laws, ordinances, practices, and procedures related to elections and voter registration is a plus. Applicant must be a registered voter.Work schedule will vary throughout the year and intensify in the weeks preceding elections, and may include some weekend hours. Applicant must be available from 5:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m. or later on all election days. Salary: $15.26 per hour. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply,click here.
Customer Relations Association, Albuquerque, New Mexico–Dominion Voting is searching for a highly motivated, enthusiastic, and hands-on Customer Relations Associate for our Albuquerque, NM office. The key responsibilities for this role will be to manage one or more customer accounts to include product support, problem resolution, and placing product and service orders. In addition, this role will be responsible for managing customer projects such as election support, new product implementations, upgrades, and providing superior customer service. Salary: Negotiable base + bonus target & benefits. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Customer Relations Manager, Dominion Voting Systems, San Leandro, California— Dominion Voting Systems is seeking a highly motivated and enthusiastic, Customer Relations Manager, to be based in our San Leandro, California office! This position will be responsible for supporting customers by partnering with the sales and operations teams to exceed customer needs and requirements; addressing and resolving customer concerns; and, identifying ways to implement preventive measures for continuous process improvement. Salary: Negotiable base + bonus target & benefits. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply,click here.
Democracy Fellowship, IFES, Washington, D.C.— The International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) annually awards two to four Democracy Studies Fellowships to bring outstanding graduate students to Washington, D.C. to engage in democracy development research. Based at IFES’ Center for Applied Research and Learning, fellows have access to IFES experts and conduct independent research with IFES mentors for six to eight weeks. At the end of the program, fellows must complete a paper for presentation to the public or IFES colleagues. The William and Kathy Hybl Fellowship, funded by William Hybl, a former Chair and current member of IFES’ Board of Directors, and wife Kathy awards one grant to bring an outstanding U.S. or international graduate student from a university in the Rocky Mountain region to Washington to conduct research in democracy-building. The Charles and Kathleen Manatt Fellowship, funded by the late U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic and former Chair of IFES’ Board of Directors, Charles Manatt, and his wife Kathleen awards a student from the American Midwest the opportunity to work with IFES experts and conduct research on democracy and governance. IFES’ Election Administration Residency is a professional enrichment program for Humphrey Fellows. This program brings one outstanding Humphrey Fellow to Washington, D.C. each year to learn more about democracy development, election administration and civic participation in the political process. Deadline: March 15. Application: For the complete listing and to apply,click here.
Deputy Registrar, City of Manassas, Virginia— Conducts local, state and federal elections and performs the duties of the General Registrar in his or her absence. Executes and supervises the recruitment, appointment, oaths, official policies, training and payroll of election officials who work the polls. Processes voter registration applications and administers absentee voting both in person and by mail, email, and fax. Creates Voter Photo IDs; programs electronic poll books for precinct use and trains election officials on their operation. Produces reports and statistics as assigned; creates official advertisements for upcoming elections and registration deadlines; prepares City election results for news media and the public. Assists the General Registrar and Electoral Board in ascertaining election results. Salary: $44,574.40-$59,072. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply,click here.
Junior Product Support Specialist,Toronto, Ontario— Dominion Voting Systems is seeking an out-going, technology savvy, Junior Product Support Specialist, to be based in our downtown Toronto office. This position is responsible for supporting installation, operation, repair, and maintenance of all Dominion Voting Systems products; as well as developing and executing training sessions; and assisting with warehousing and logistics. Salary: Negotiable base + bonus target & benefits. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply,click here
Network & Systems Specialist, Denver, Colorado — Dominion Voting Systems is seeking a tech-savvy and detail oriented, Network & Systems Specialist, to be based in our downtown Denver, Colorado office. This role is responsible for assisting with the deployment and troubleshooting of advanced elections hardware and software system configurations; providing support to the logistics associated with procuring elections systems and equipment; performing tests and evaluations of various voting solutions; and providing election support to customers both remotely and/or on-site. Salary: Negotiable base + bonus target & benefits. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply,click here.
Product Support Specialist, Toronto, Ontario — Dominion Voting Systems is seeking an experienced and motivated, Product Support Specialist, to be based in our downtown Toronto office. This position is responsible for supporting installation, operation, repair, and maintenance of all Dominion Voting Systems products; as well as developing and executing training sessions; and working closely with the Operations and Development Teams on a number of critical projects. Salary: Negotiable base + bonus target & benefits. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply,click here.
Program Associate, Governance Program, Democracy Fund— The Democracy Fund seeks to hire a Program Associate to support our Governance Initiative, which is focused on how we can help major governing institutions to work more effectively in the face of increasing polarization. We are looking for candidates who are passionate about making our political system work better and have a strong understanding about how Congress and other governing institutions work. Strong candidates will be excellent writers, have strong research skills, work well with others, have an ability to think systemically, and have a proven track record of being able to get things done in a complex professional environment. As a bipartisan organization, we welcome applications from Republicans, Democrats, and Independents – a willingness to work across the aisle is essential. A major area of responsibility for the Program Associate will be to work with the Program Director of our Governance Initiative in sourcing and evaluating grant opportunities, as well as working with our portfolio of grantee organizations to help them succeed. Among our existing grantees within this initiative are the Bipartisan Policy Center, the Congressional Institute, the No Labels Foundation, the Aspen Institute’s Congressional Program, and the Faith & Politics Institute. Beyond grant making, Program Associates will work with the Democracy Fund team to design and implement strategies to more directly advance our goals through research, convening, and advocacy. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply,click here.
Programming Specialist, Toronto, Ontario — Dominion Voting Systems is seeking a highly-driven and detail-oriented, Programming Specialist, to be based in our downtown Toronto office. This position is responsible for elections design and programming; ensuring elections systems meet all performance criteria, standards and requirements; developing and executing trainings; implementing Dominion Voting System products; and providing technical support to 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.
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