I. In Focus This Week
NASS New Voter Forum
One-day conference focused on best practices for young people and others
This week, the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) held a New Voter Forum in Washington, D.C. The forum focused on voter outreach, education and best practices geared towards young people, minorities, active duty military and the disabled communities.
Over the last year, Americans have seen the impacts of new, young adults becoming engaged in the issues this country faces as well as the electoral process. According to Maria Benson, director of communications, NASS and its members believe it should embrace and assist them in becoming registered voters. It is also important to reach all voters to ensure that they understand where to vote, the mechanics of voting and when to vote.
“The NASS New Voter Forum was an exciting and significant conversation to have because it focused on some of the hardest constituencies for secretaries of state and stakeholder groups to reach including overseas, military, first-time, disabled, minority and young voters,” said Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos. Condos is also the current president-elect of NASS. “Voting is the very core of our democracy and reaching out to new voters is so important, especially as we approach the 2018 mid-term elections.”
The five panels of the day discussed best practices and experiences from across the country in reaching the new voters that have unique challenges when it comes to registering and ultimately voting. The panels included: Accessible Voting Initiatives, Improving the Voting Process for Overseas Voters, Active Duty Military and Veterans, How Social Media and Technology Can Aid in Registering and Educating New voters, Outreach to Minority Voters, Modernizing our Democracy to Engage First-time Voters and Students; and INSPIRE U.S.-Making an Impact on Youth Voting Across the Country.
C-Span carried three of the panels live and they are still viewable with transcription available. The links to the recorded panels are above.
“It was great that C-SPAN was able to cover a portion of this event and archive it for all interested state and local election officials and other stakeholders to review who were unable to attend this important meeting in person,” said Michelle Shafer, a long-time elections technology consultant.
One of the sessions available for viewing is the Improving the Voting Process for Overseas Voters, Active Duty Military and veterans. The session was moderated by David Beirne, director of the Federal Voting Assistance Program. Speakers included Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate, Mike Queen, deputy chief of staff and communications director in the West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office and Kamanzi Kalisa, director of the Overseas Voting Initiative at the Council of State Governments.
“I believe our ‘Helping Iowans and Veterans with Disabilities Vote’ initiative is a model that every state can follow,” Pate said. “Those that defended our country and our freedoms deserve every opportunity to make their voices heard by voting, so we should do everything possible to make sure that happens. I hope to see widespread implementation across the country of our efforts to help active duty military and veterans vote.”
Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett moderated the session on social media and kicked the session off with talking about what efforts his state is making to reach potential voters including creating a video, using social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter, and purchasing Google Ads.
Mike Hogan, product manager for Facebook, talked about the social networking sites attempts to focus on engagement.
“Facebook last year rewrote our mission to be more about inclusive communities,” Hogan said. “One community we are trying to build is civic communities. We see that when people can connect with their government and have a voice in the way they are run, these are happy, thriving communities.”
Hogan said his team made big investments begging in 2016 to make sure that people get registered to vote and in turn get out there and cast a ballot. Hogan noted that Facebook has seen a pretty significant increase in the number of people registered to vote because their friends are asking them to vote, not because Facebook is.
Bridget Coyne from Twitter’s policy team was also on hand to talk about the efforts that social media platform is taking to minimize disinformation.
“Combating misinformation is the number one priority, and part of that is investing in machine learning” Coyne said. “We don’t look at individual people, we look at the signals, at the patterns of behavior and we look at somebody tweeting too many times. Maybe they’re not human.”
Coyne said by asking people to verify their accounts with real phone numbers, they are able to remove bot Twitter accounts faster than ever before.
“Sharing best practices with other states is part NASS’ mission. The discussions were robust, productive and informative,” said Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate. “The New Voter Forum will hopefully lead to increased outreach, partnerships and collaboration across the country.”
(The Democracy Fund provided support for the New Voter Forum.)
II. Primary Updates
The 2018 primary elections are in the books in four more states this week after voters went to the polls in Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky and Texas for several runoffs.
Arkansas: In the Natural State, early voting was on the rise this year and there were few reported problems with the state’s voter ID law. In Crawford County, some voters mistakenly turned up at the wrong polling places. Local elections officials seemed to pin the mistake on two issues: One, the nearby counties of Benton, Sebastian and Washington all have vote centers and Crawford does not and vote centers are used for early voting so some voters may have voted early in the past not realizing they needed to return to neighborhood polling places. Lonoke County experienced several problems including a delayed start in some polling places and a late finish when aging voting machines had issues during the counting process. In the secretary of state race, State Land Commissioner John Thurston will represent the GOP in November and a runoff is needed to determine who will face Thurston.
Georgia: Turnout was light throughout the Peach State on Tuesday, which was not helped by bad weather. Polling place changes caused confusion for some voters in Chatham County. Some Catoosa County voting machines were timing out while voters were casting ballots which caused a delay in the process. A woman who has just finished voting committed suicide outside an Atlanta-area polling place. The site remained open and voting was not impacted. Things seemed to go smoothly with Gwinnett County’s first bilingual election and the county even had fancy new bilingual “I Voted” stickers available for voters. Fulton County, which has often had issues with delayed election results, seemed to solve that problem this time around by assigning election night assistants to precincts all over the county. In Floyd County a ballot error lead to the late reporting of election results. ADA advocates cited concerns with non-compliant polling places in Augusta-Richmond County. And in the race for secretary of state, Rep. Brad Raffensperger will compete in a runoff against Alpharetta Mayor David Belle Isle. And former Congressman John Barrow will represent the Democrats.
Kentucky: In the Bluegrass State, a few “hiccups” impacted voting in McCracken County, things like a poll workers showing up at the wrong location and poll workers not being able to locate certain equipment as the polls prepared to open. Polls opened late in a few locations in Pike County including one where no one could find the right key for the building. But overall, Secretary of State Allison Lundergan Grimes said voting went smoothly. Madison County had some issued with electioneering. And in Hazard County the police were investigating vote buying.
III. Federal-State Updates
After Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) postponed a briefing for members of Congress with the heads of the Department of Homeland Security, FBI and National Intelligence after Democratic leaders urged him to make the briefing classified, the officials finally got together on Tuesday behind closed doors. According to The Hill, only about 40 to 50 members of Congress attended the meeting and most were unwilling to speak on the record about it.
“What I was primarily interested in is whether there will be real-time communication with the states if their elections are probed or interfered with or hacked in any way so that we don’t have what we did in 2016 where a year goes by before the states are notified of what the Russians have done,” Rep. Adam Schiff (Calif.), the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, told reporters according to The Hill.
House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) described it as a comprehensive discussion that gave him confidence in Homeland Security’s efforts to guard state voting systems from cyber sabotage.
“It was a very full discussion, answering all the questions,” McCaul told the paper.
IV. Election News This Week
Things aren’t always what they seem. At a recent auditors’ candidate forum in Pennington County, South Dakota, one candidate claimed that hundreds of people were illegally registered to vote at the local Wal-Mart. The Rapid City Journal looked into the claims and found 162 people registered to vote at the Wal-Mart. Forty-one of those voters were considered inactive. Many of the rest however, are RVers who use the Wal-Mart or mail-forwarding companies to register to vote. Voters are allowed to remain registered there because the state constitution allows it. It says, “Each elector who qualified to vote within a precinct shall be entitled to vote in that precinct until he establishes another voting residence. An elector shall never lose his residency for voting solely by reason of his absence from the state.”
Elections officials are prepared for and have to deal with all sorts of natural phenomena from hurricanes to tornadoes to the occasional earthquake. And in Hawaii, they aren’t going to let any historic lava flows get in the way of democracy! On the Big Island, elections officials are mailing out absentee voting applications to 6,000 residents assigned to polling places in the pathway of the lava flow. Officials are also visiting shelters for displaced residents to make sure that they know how to get an absentee ballot.
This week, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) issued conditional pardons restoring the voting rights to more than 24,000 Empire State parolees. The original executive order, issued last month, covered all parolees. Cuomo’s actions this week raised concerns because one of the parolees with restored voting rights is Herman Bell, a parolee who service more than 40 years in prison for killing two NYPD police officers. According to The New York Post, Cuomo said those who’ve served their punishment in prison deserve their voting rights restored upon release and that it was “unconscionable” not to do so. “The right to vote is fundamental and it is unconscionable to deny that basic right of citizenship to New Yorkers who have paid their debt to society,” Cuomo said.
Barbershops have a long history of voting activism in the black community and now The Post and Courier in South Carolina has a story about how beauty shops are stepping up their game for the ladies. Brittany Mathis has launched the Soul to Sol Salon Project. Mathis works with beauty salons that allow her hang posters and leave information about registering to vote, update voter information or request and absentee ballot. The information in in English and in Spanish. “Not all of us go to church, but we all get a haircut,” she told the paper.
Personnel News: After 27 years at the Oregon Elections Division, Deputy Director Brenda Bayes is set to retire May 31. Dennis Taylor, former secretary of the Kansas Dept. of Administration has announced that he will seek the GOP nomination for secretary of state. Jevon Williams has joined the St. John-St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands board of elections. William Gardner, the GOP nominee for secretary of state in North Dakota has withdrawn from the race leaving Democrat Josh Boschee to face Libertarian Roland Riemers in November. On Monday Incumbent Secretary of State Al Jaeger announced that he would run as an independent in the November general election. R. Kyle Ardoin has officially been sworn in as the Louisiana secretary of state. Diane Magra has announced her resignation from the St. Thomas-St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands board of elections.
V. Legislative Updates
Illinois: The Illinois Senate has unanimously approved legislation to dissolve the DuPage County election commission and turn all election-related duties over to the county clerk’s office. The House approved the measure last month. Gov. Rauner is expected to sign the bill which would take effect Jan. 1, 2019.
Iowa: A provision in a bill approved last week, and goes into effect immediately, will allow Iowa residents choosing to register and vote on the same day to provide electronic proof-of-residence. Secretary of State Paul Pate said the change would benefit college students and younger residents who often don’t have hard copies of proof-of-residence, but do have it available on a cell phone or other device.
Minnesota: The Wilkin County board of commissioners has approved a resolution allowing dozens of townships in the county, with populations of less than 400 registered voters, to begin conducting elections by mail immediately
New Hampshire: Although lawmakers had given tentative approval to Senate Bill 438 that would officially give the secretary of state the power to postpone elections due to bad weather conditions, a committee of conference recommended modified bill to the House which rejected it. The town moderators are opposed to the bill because they believe they should make the ultimate decision about canceling elections based on the conditions in their area.
New Mexico: By a 7-0 vote, the Las Cruces city council has voted to approve the first step in an election-consolidation measure. The measure will combine city elections with school and special-district elections.
Wyoming: The Wyoming Legislature is considering creating a voting machine trust fund so that there will always be money available for the repair and replacement of the state’s voting systems.
VI. Legal Updates
Florida: The League of Women Voters has filed suit against the state of Florida accusing Gov. Rick Scott’s administration of making it more difficult for young people to vote by preventing early voting at public buildings on state university campuses.
Kansas: The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled this week that Judge Julie Robinson’s order holding Secretary of State Kris Kobach in contempt is not yet final and therefore Kobach’s appeal was dismissed as premature.
Missouri: The ACLU of Missouri has asked U.S. District Judge Brian Wimes to issue an injunction in connection with their April 17 lawsuit that alleges the state has failed to comply with Motor Voter. The request for a preliminary injunction argues the “defendants’ failure to update the voter registration information of DOR customers who submit a change-of-address form online or by mail violates the NVRA and, absent immediate relief, will deny qualified Missourians their right to vote and burden others.”
New Hampshire: The New Hampshire Supreme Court is giving interested parties until May 31 to submit their views on eliminating the distinction between “residency” and “domicile” for voting purposes.
Also in New Hampshire Supreme Court news, the high court is reviewing the legality of a bill approved by the state Legislature that would allow for the release of the state’s private centralized voter registration database.
Texas: U.S. District Judge Orland Garcia had given the state of Texas until May 17 to submit plans for how the state will comply with the National Voter Registration Act (Motor Voter). Instead of submitting plans, Attorney General Ken Paxton submitted a list of objections to the plaintiff’s proposals saying they were unworkable and go beyond what the federal law requires. The judge in the case was having none of it and has given the Texas Dept. of Safety 45 days to implement a plan. The state vows to appeal.
Wisconsin: The U.S. Department of Justice has sent a letter to the Wisconsin Election Commission warning the commission that DOJ may sue because Wisconsin law does not allow temporary overseas voters obtain ballots electronically or file unofficial ballots.
VII. Tech Thursday
California: A software error has affected approximately 77,000 voter records generated through the Department of Motor Vehicles. Some, although it’s unclear how many, of those 77,000 affected records show a voter being registered more than once. County elections officials are reaching out to the affected voters. “We believe it’s fixed,” Secretary of State Alex Padilla told The Los Angeles Times. “We feel we have our arms around it. We’ve rectified it, and we’ve given proper guidance to the counties.”
Tennessee: According to Knox County IT Director Dick Moran, the election night attack on the county’s elections website was an effort to distract the county while another, simultaneous attack was happening behind the scenes assessing county information. The attackers had hacked into a county server and looked around. No personal or confidential information was in the server, only publicly available information like court dockets, Moran told the Knoxville News. Once Sword and Shield, a cyber consultant, found the other attack, they performed, with the county’s permission, a similar attack to see if they could replicate it. They, too, were successful. “They (did it) and brought us right to our knees (even) with all of the resources we had,” Moran told the paper. A patch has been created for the problem.
VIII. Opinions This Week
Alabama: Automatic voter registration;
Georgia: Voting machines
Maine: Ranked choice voting
Maryland: Election laws
New York: Election reform
U.S. Virgin Islands: Board of elections
Utah: Utah County
Washington: Prepaid postage
IX. Upcoming Events
Cybersecurity Online Training Series — The Center for Technology and Civic Life (CTCL) is partnering with the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) to deliver a new cybersecurity training series designed for election officials this July. The series will include 3 courses that will empower your election office to manage cyber threats and communicate with the public about cybersecurity. After completing the series, you’ll have more confidence to safeguard against and respond to cyber threats in your election office. When: July 10, July 24 and July 31. Where: Online.
NASS 2018 Summer Conference — Mark your calendars now for the National Association of Secretaries of State 2018 summer conference in the City of Brotherly Love. Check back soon for more information about the agenda. When: July 13-16. Where: Philadelphia.
2018 NASED Summer Meeting — Mark your calendars now for the National Association of State Election Directors’ 2018 summer meeting in the City of Brotherly Love. Check back soon for more information about the agenda. When: July 13-16. Where: Philadelphia.
NACo Annual Conference and Exposition — Mark your calendars now for the National Association of Counties Annual Conference and Exposition in Music City. Check back soon for more information about the agenda. When: July 13-16. Where: Nashville, Tennessee.
2018 iGo Annual Conference — Mark your calendars now for the International Association of Government Officials 2018 Annual Conference in The Biggest Little City in the World! Check back soon for more information about the agenda. When: July 16-21. Where: Reno, Nevada.
Election Sciences Reform and Administration (ESRA) — The conference brings together political scientists and other experts in election administration to develop rigorous empirical approaches to the study of how law and administrative procedures affect the quality of elections in the United States. Participants will identify major questions in the field, share new insights, foster collaboration between election administrators and election scientists, and connect senior and junior scholars. When: July 26 and 27. Where: University of Wisconsin-Madison.
X. 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.
Chief Information Officer, U.S. Election Assistance Commission — the Chief Information Officer (CIO) establishes strategic direction and oversees EAC’s information and information technology (IT) programs and services through IT policies, strategic plans, and the development and procurement of IT services and equipment. As a senior management official, the CIO shares overall responsibility with the Executive Director on matters involving leadership and direction in the formulation, development and execution of EAC’s IT management program. The CIO is also tasked with ensuring the security and reliability of EAC systems and information. Salary: $126,148 to $148,267. Deadline: May 29. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Customer Support Consultant, Hart InterCivic— Hart InterCivic is looking to add a Customer Support Consultant to our team. A Hart Customer Support Consultant is a great listener and communicator who responds to requests for assistance from Hart InterCivic customers for all Hart InterCivic products. The primary responsibilities for this position are to answer, resolve and route customer queries (usually by phone or email), work with customers in a professional manner and read and interpret documents such as user guides and training manuals and translate the information to the customer in a manner which they can understand. We are looking for individuals who have technical skills, have been in support roles in the past and, preferably, have elections experience. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Data Manager, The New York City Campaign Finance Board — the New York City Campaign Finance Board seeks a Data Manager to collect and maintain data related to voter participation, election administration, and campaign finance and serve as the agency’s Open Data Coordinator. This position will report to the Deputy Director of Public Affairs. Responsibilities include: Maintain and document data management policies and practices for Public Affairs; Serve as the agency’s Open Data Coordinator and ensure compliance with the NYC Open Data Law; Manage acquisition and collection of data both internally and from external sources; Evaluate federal, state, local, and community data sources to incorporate into internal data research; Oversee data entry with the Document Processing Unit and ensure quality assurance of all internally-collected voting data; Create visualizations and dashboards from campaign finance and voting data; Work with Public Affairs and agency staff to supply data for decision-making or project needs; Assist in developing an overall data strategy. Salary: $65,000-$75,000. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Elections and Voter Services Manager, Montana Secretary of State’s Office — this position serves as the Manager of the Elections and Voter Services Division and reports to the Elections and Voter Services Director for the Office of the Secretary of State. This position is responsible for ensuring the integrity of elections, aligning resources with the strategic direction of the Elections and Voter Services Division, interpreting state election laws and ensuring implementation uniformly throughout the state, and interpreting, analyzing, drawing conclusions, identifying trends, and presenting voting data. This position supervises three positions within the Division and is responsible for all aspects of performance management. Salary: $75,000. Deadline: Open until filled: Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Field Sales Director, Hart InterCivic — the Field Sales Director works primarily on the road and from a home office when he/she is not on business travel. The Field Sales Director is responsible for creating news sales with prospects and existing clients in a defined region. Today, this role is a single contributor and does not directly manage people. This position will report to the VP of Sales. Application: For the complete job listing an to apply, click here.
Hardware Engineer (Toronto, ON) – Dominion Voting Systems — Dominion Voting Systems is seeking a an experienced Hardware Engineer to join our team in Toronto, Ontario! This position will work in a fast paced engineering, design, development and technical support environment with many variables and challenges. This position will be accountable for provisioning of electronics and providing software and mechanical engineering support to new product development, manufacturing and field support teams. Salary: Negotiable base + bonus & benefits. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Python Developer, Clear Ballot — Clear Ballot seeks a talented python developer in the Boston area to assume responsibility for an existing suite of python scripts to create files for use with ClearVote(TM) digital voting system. Job responsibilities: Maintain and enhance existing python scripts that read PDF formatted ballot styles and produce the files needed by ClearVote (TM) digital voting system to tabulate said ballot; Run existing python scripts to generate marked test ballots for use in testing ClearVote(TM); Develop and execute test plans to guarantee ClearVote tabulates marked ballots correctly; Expand PDF parsing capabilities as new customer’s ballot styles are introduced; Leverage analytics you gather to improve performance through script and/or hardware changes; Must perform these duties within aggressive timelines that often require working outside of normal business hours. Application: For the complete listing and to apply, click here.
Research Associate, Center for Election Innovation & Research — the Research Associate will conduct original research and provide written quantitative and qualitative analyses. The Research Associate will work full-time in the Washington, DC Metro Area, usually in CEIR’s office, although sometimes working from home may be possible. Job Duties include: Conduct original research covering a variety of election-related issues pertinent to CEIR’s mission; Draft papers, blog posts, and other writings, to be published by CEIR and/or other outlets; Attend convenings, hearings, and other meetings; and Interact with election officials and other election experts. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Software Product Specialist (Chicago, IL) – Dominion Voting Systems — Dominion Voting Systems is seeking a data-savvy and passionate Software Product Specialist to join our team in Chicago, IL! This position is responsible for the precise data entry and formatting of election information for our customers in order to style, proof, and finalize ballots which are utilized in elections. This position requires a high degree of accuracy and attention to detail as well as experience with Microsoft Excel including formulas and macros. Salary: Negotiable base + bonus & benefits. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
State Election Technology Associate, Clear Ballot— our growing team has an immediate need for a new member to manage testing, approval and certification campaigns of election technology in new states. This position works directly with State Government to test and approve voting systems. Certification and approval is key to success in the election systems domain. Diplomacy and empathy alongside professional and tactful communications are key contributors to smooth state certification campaigns of new election technology. All voting system components (ballot layout, in-person voting, absentee voting, results reporting and audit) and their associated documentation are certified by state agencies; evaluation is performed by demanding government laboratories. Requirements vary across the States; and these requirements are found in statute, Rule, by written and oral tradition, and sometimes are ambiguous and even unwritten. Attention to detail is paramount to success. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Systems Engineer, Clear Ballot — 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. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Systems Manager (Chicago, IL) – Dominion Voting Systems — Dominion Voting Systems is seeking a tech-savvy, customer focused Systems Manager to join our team in Chicago, IL! This position will be responsible for the readiness of Dominion’s voting systems to perform properly in the assigned jurisdictions which includes defining the functionality of the D-Suite system, monitoring the development of the system in accordance with the required functionality, and managing its testing and preparation for delivery to the market. Salary: Negotiable base + bonus & benefits. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Systems Specialist – Advanced Field Support (Toronto, ON) – Dominion Voting Systems — Dominion Voting Systems is seeking an experienced & passionate Systems Specialist – Advanced Field Support to join our team in Toronto, Ontario! This position provides highly skilled and technical support in the testing, implementing and triaging of election systems both pre and post deployment. This includes providing functionality requirements of the system, monitoring the development of the system in accordance with the required functionality, and participating in its testing and preparation for delivery to the market. Salary: Negotiable base + bonus & benefits. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
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