I. In Focus This Week
Class is in session in Connecticut
Registrars begin new certification program
By M. Mindy Moretti
They may not have had new lunchboxes or backpacks. Odds are they didn’t get a new outfit and we certainly doubt their parents posted a first day of school photo of them on Facebook, but dozens of registrars in Connecticut recently headed back to the classroom.
This week marks the launch of Connecticut’s new voter registrar certification program mandated by Senate Bill 1051.
Senate Bill 1051 — introduced after a series of Election Day mishaps in 2014 — “establishes qualification standards and certification for registrars of voters in charge of local election administration, requires yearly training and also provides for the removal from office for registrars in extreme cases of negligence or dereliction of duty.”
The bill — “An Act Strengthening Connecticut’s Elections” was championed by Secretary of State Denise Merrill and was overwhelmingly approved by both chambers of the Legislature. After some amendments to address initial concerns the Registrars of Voters Association of Connecticut (ROVAC) also signed off on the legislation.
“I think this is going to make a real difference in the way we are able to standardize election administration in our state,” Merrill said.
Following an early summer bill signing by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, a bipartisan task force spent the remainder of the summer completing the structure of the certification program and finalizing coursework.
Because the committee had been working on this for years before the legislation was introduced they were able to move quickly once the bill was signed.
“It was not a new idea,” Merrill said. “The committee has been around for years, but it had sort of languished because there was no real push for it. The registrars were really the ones that wanted to professionalize what they do, but there had been no real impetus for it because it wasn’t a requirement.”
Registrars are now required to be a certified election moderator and attend eight training classes. The registrars must pass those classes with a score of 80 percent or better and then pass a final exam with a score of 90 percent or better. Registrars have up to two years to complete the coursework.
The University of Connecticut’s School of Business has partnered with the secretary of state’s office and will oversee the program. Registrars will be able to attend classes at one of five UConn campuses.
“We are prepared to deliver these programs … using sophisticated technology that is already in place for distance learning…,” said John A. Elliot, dean of the School of Business.
In addition to conducting the classes, UConn will track all student grades and which requirements they have met.
“There is a lot of administration to this and that is something they routinely do with their distance learning program,” Merrill said.
UConn professor Karen Fassuliotis, who is also an attorney and has served as a poll worker will conduct the classes.
While online learning is all the rage these days, Merrill said that they felt the classroom experience was very important with the certification program because there is a lot to demonstrate. She also pointed out that Connecticut is a small enough state that it will not be that difficult for the registrars to reach any one of the university’s five campuses.
Most of the classes are four hours long and subject matter ranges from office management to election laws to post-election audits, just to name a few.
After their initial concerns about the legislation were addressed, the state’s registrars appear to be on board with the final law and the certification program.
“ROVAC has long been an advocate for increasing education opportunities for registrars across the state,” said Melissa Russell, President of ROVAC. “We are excited to see the certification program kick off and are looking forward to our registrars’ participation.”
Merrill said that she and some of her staff have gone to sample what the classes are like and they are confident that the registrars will be able to complete the coursework.
“We’re not looking at this as a punitive thing, Merrill said. “We’re going to try very hard to help them get through.”
In addition to introducing new accountability measures, SB 1051 also quickens election results reporting by separating results from other statistics that often take longer to gather and report. The bill unifies voter registration deadlines to one week prior to Election Day, and permits local election officials to use the online voter registration system to enroll residents who are participating in Election Day Registration (EDR), which should help reduce EDR waiting times on Election Day.
II. Election News This Week
- Following complaints from clerks in the cities of Sacramento, Galt and Ranch Cordova, Sacramento County plans to hire a consultant to review the elections office. “We want to see what we can do to improve,” County Chief Deputy Executive Paul Lake told The Sacramento Bee. “We want to have good customer service.” According to the paper, the county also wants to make sure the office is working effectively by next year’s presidential election.
- Last week, members of the St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands district board voted to boycott the joint board of elections meeting over what they say is unfair treatment. Members of the St. Croix board said that several of most recent meetings have taken place on St. Thomas, when they should alternate between locations. The St. Croix members said they have depleted their budget since they are being forced to travel more frequently.
- In the three weeks since it launched, Pennsylvania’s new online voter registration system has registered more than 10,000 new voters according to Secretary of State Pedro Cortes. “We’re seeing a use that is steady and every day hundreds are taking to the application,” Cortes told a Philadelphia CBS outlet. “We believe that the pace will continue and we also anticipate that once we get to the drive for voter registration for next year’s presidential election, we’ll see a significant use of the application.”
- Now this is dedication. Even though a veteran’s home in Quincy, Illinois was being tested for a possible outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease, that didn’t stop it from being used as a polling place during the Sept. 10 special election. County elections officials told WHOI that although the home was still being tested, that health officials given them the all-clear to use the building.
- Personnel News: Sen. Richard Devlin, co-chair of Oregon’s joint budget committee, has announced his intentions to run for secretary of state. Michael Michel, president of the New York City Board Of Elections has been fined $10,000 for helping the boyfriend of his daughter get several jobs with the board. In a follow-up to news from last week, the Brown County, Ohio BOE has promoted clerk Connie Ayers to the position of deputy director. In addition Brittany Phillips was hired to serve as clerk. Stacy Brown is the new Jefferson County, Arkansas election coordinator. Debra Ellen Myers has pre-filed the necessary paperwork to run for Hernando County, Florida supervisor of elections.
III. Research and Report Summaries
electionline provides brief summaries of recent research and reports in the field of election administration. The summaries are courtesy of the research staff of The Pew Charitable Trusts Elections Initiatives. Please email links to research to Sean Greene at Pew.
America’s Voting Machines at Risk – By Lawrence Norden and Christopher Famighetti, Brennan Center for Justice at New York University of Law, September 2015: This report examines the challenges faced by many jurisdictions of aging voting machines, what problems this can lead to, what new technologies could help going forward, and recommendations for what can be done in the short and long term.
Why Voting Matters: Large Disparities in Turnout Benefit Donor Class – By Sean McElwee, Demos, September 2015: Turnout gaps between different demographic groups are examined, focusing on the impact these gaps have on policy debates and decisions.
IV. Legislative Updates
Federal Legislation: Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), is the first Republican member of Congress to cosponsor legislation introduced by Democrats that would restore the Voting Rights Act. Under the proposed legislation, states with well-documented history of recent voting discrimination to clear future voting changes with the federal government.
California: A bill that would move California to a system of automatic voter registration has been sent to the desk of Gov. Jerry Brown.
Minnesota: A Minneapolis city council committee gave unanimous support to a proposal that would require landlords to provide new tenants with voter registration information upon signing a lease. The proposal goes before the full city council next week.
Wisconsin: The state’s nonpartisan Government Accountability Board may be a focus of the fall session of the Legislature. According to The Associated Press one closely watched piece of legislation will be a bill to restructure the GAB. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) has told local media that he wants to replace the judges that make up the GAB with partisans.
V. Legal Updates
Alaska: Late last week the State of Alaska and the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) announced a settlement in a lawsuit that will require the state to provide language assistance to Native Alaskans who speak Gwich’in or Yup’ik.
Maryland: The U.S. District Court has approved a redistricting plan recently finalized by the Salisbury city council. The plan replaces the city’s two election districts with five single-member districts.
New Mexico: Secretary of State Dianna Duran appeared in a District Court this week and plead not guilty to 64 charges ranging from fraud to embezzlement to money laundering. A preliminary hearing will be held within 45 days.
Texas: According to several reports, Texas is on the hook for $8 million (and counting) to defend the state’s voter ID law and new redistricting maps in court. The San Antonio Express-News is reporting that state officials are defending the costs because the Attorney General’s office is required defend the laws approved by the Legislature.
Virginia: A third lawsuit was filed by group of Virginia residents charging that 11 legislative districts violate the state Constitution because they too easily protect incumbents. According to The Washington Post, the plaintiffs argue that during the last round of redistricting, in 2011, the General Assembly drew the districts to give incumbents the best chance at holding on to their seats at the expense of geographical compactness, which the Constitution requires.
VI. Tech Thursday
North Carolina: The Geauga County elections has launched a new and improved website. The new site will allow voters to look up their registration information and find their polling place.
Ohio: Secretary of State Jon Husted announced this week that counties may begin purchasing e-poll books in advance of the 2016 election season. In June the Legislature approved $12.7 million to spend on the devices. The state funding should cover about 85 percent of the purchase cost.
VII. Opinions This Week
Alabama: Secretary of state
Alaska: Voting lawsuit
Kansas: Dual system
Massachusetts: Boston election rules
Minnesota: Instant runoff voting
Nebraska: Online voter registration
Oregon: Motor voter
South Carolina: Election dates
Tennessee: Ballot selfies
VIII. 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.
IX. Upcoming Events
Please email upcoming events — conferences, symposiums, seminars, webinars, etc. to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
Give Us the Ballot: A Book Talk with Ari Berman — The Brennan Center will host a book talk with Ari Berman, discussing his new book, “Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America.” Where: Lipton Hall, NYU School of Law-New York City. When: October 15. For more information and to RSVP, click here.
NASS Winter Conference: The National Association of Secretaries of State will hold its 2016 Winter Conference at the JW Marriott in Washington, D.C. February 10-13, 2016. Details are still in the works, so be sure to check the NASS website for more information.
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.
Assistant Executive Director, Campaign Finance Administration, New York City Campaign Finance Board — position reports directly to the Executive Director and manages the units charged with administering the agency’s nationally recognized small donor matching funds program. Responsibilities: Supervise the heads of the Auditing and Accounting, Candidate Services, and Special Compliance units. These units provide guidance to candidates, make recommendations to the Board for public matching funds payments, audit campaigns’ compliance with the Campaign Finance Act, oversee investigations into complex compliance issues, process complaints, and administer NYC’s doing business law and independent expenditure disclosure requirements. As supervisor, the Assistant ED; sets and oversees standards and goals for each supervised unit; ensures each supervised unit has the resources to meet agency’s business needs; assists unit heads with day-to-day management and staffing issues; support and facilitate inter and intra-unit communications and interactions; systematically build the capacity of the supervised units and promote a continuous improvement culture; participate in agency-wide strategic planning and decision-making as part of the executive team; and provide support to the Executive Director in dealings with the Board, as needed. Salary: $135K-$150K. Deadline: September 30. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Candidate & Voter Services Manager, Orange County, California — position is responsible for the overall and day-to-day planning, organizing and execution of all the candidate and voter services functions within the agency. The position requires a vision for the future, the ability to develop strong teams and an individual well versed in strategic planning and working in a multidisciplinary organization. This interesting and challenging position is responsible for managing the candidate filing process; services to the public such as vote-by-mail and military/overseas ballots; filing of recall, referendum and countywide initiatives petitions; acts as the filing officer for county, school district and special district measure documents for the sample ballot pamphlet and official ballot; supervises retirement board, Mello-Roos and LAFCO elections; acts as a liaison with Orange Co. city clerks, school districts and special districts; manages the compilation of the sample ballot pamphlet and proofreading the official ballot; supervises the handling of damaged or spoiled ballots. Position reports to the Registrar of Voters (executive), works closely with six managers on the operational team, and leads a team of six dedicated and skilled professional staff that assist in accomplishing the ROV mission and vision. Salary: $73,777- $131,123. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Elections Manager, Cowlitz County, Washington — position manages voter registration and administers all elections in Cowlitz County, Washington. The Elections Manager trains and supervises permanent and temporary staff responsible for preparing and conducting elections, voter registration maintenance and other duties needed to comply with statutes and deadlines. The Elections Manager resolves election issues, whenever they occur, to ensure elections and voter registration activities are not obstructed. Salary: $4,156. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Program Manager II, Medford County, Oregon — career opportunity for an experienced manager with a background in Elections Administration to join our team. The ideal candidate will be a confident team leader who possesses a proven track record of integrity and a commitment to excellence. Plans, organizes, and manages the development, implementation, and on-going operation of moderately sized program or several small specialized programs. Initiates and implements management activities within program area; prepares and administers budget for the program; and provides leadership and support to staff. Salary: $65,603-$83,720. Deadline: Open Until Filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Senior Associate, Election Initiatives, Pew Trusts, Washington, D.C. — Pew Charitable Trusts is seeking to hire a Senior Associate to work on the Voting Information Project (VIP) initiative. The Senior Associate will be expected to contribute at multiple levels, such as implementing VIP’s state assistance strategies, managing technology vendors, and leading outreach to state partners. This position will require autonomous work and creative thinking in managing relationships with our state partners. The position will be based in Pew’s Washington, DC office and will report to the Election Initiatives Project Director. It is expected that this position is for a term period through June 30, 2017, with the possibility of an extension pending the success of the program, funding sources and board decisions on continued support. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Senior Program Analyst, Clark County, Nevada — provides lead direction, training and work review to a programming project team; organized and assigns work, sets priorities, and follows-up and controls project status to ensure coordination and completion of assigned work. Provides input into selection, evaluation, disciplinary and other personnel matters. Gathers and analyzes information regarding customer systems and requirements and develops or modifies automated systems to fulfill these needs. Conducts feasibility studies and develops system, time, equipment and cost requirements. Using computer generated techniques, simulates hardware and software problems, tests and evaluates alternative solutions, and recommends and implements appropriate applications design. Develops program logic and processing steps; codes programs in varied languages. Plans and develops test data to validate new or modified programs; designs input and output forms and documents. Troubleshoots hardware and software problems, as needed, for customers, other agencies and information systems personnel. Writes program documentation and customer procedures and instructions and assists user departments and staff in implementing new or modified programs and applications; tracks and evaluates project and systems progress. Writes utility programs to support and validate adopted systems and programs. Confers with customer department staff regarding assigned functional program areas. Maintains records and prepares periodic and special reports of work performed. Maintains current knowledge of technology and new computer customer applications. Contributes to the efficiency and effectiveness of the unit’s service to its customers by offering suggestions and directing or participating as an active member of a work team. Uses standard office equipment in the course of the work; may drive a personal or County motor vehicle or be able to arrange for appropriate transportation in order to travel between various job sites depending upon departments and/or projects assigned. Salary: $58,760-$91,104 annually. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
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Konnech, Inc. is offering free use of the ABVote Voter Information Platform to any United States election jurisdiction that wants to participate. hThis free service is used by the Lieutenant Governor of Alaska to serve the State’s voters and it has also been deployed for several large counties and cities in the lower 48 States. The Platform works on computer browsers as well as iOS and Android smart phones and tablets. Using a residential address, it calculates the precinct and ballot style, reminds voters upon request of election day via email or push notices, displays their sample ballots, lists their polling place/vote center with hours, ID requirements, address, and Google route map, provides the jurisdiction contact information, and provides the forms to request voter registration, absentee ballot, and/or FPCA. Since the free voter information platform calculates this information based on the residential address, it does not interface to the voter registration database and does not require the voter to enter any personal identifying information.The site carries no advertising, does not sell any information to anyone, and does not collect user information. There is no cost to administrators or to voters.Contact Laura Potter at Konnech, email@example.com, 517-381-1830.