I. In Focus This Week
First Person Singular: Minn. Secretary of State Steve Simon
It’s not enough just to register
By Steve Simon
Minnesota Secretary of State
(Editor’s Note: This piece originally appeared in the Rochester Post-Bulletin)
I once saw a t-shirt while walking in a parade in Rochester that caught my attention. It said, “Failure to vote is not an act of rebellion; it’s an act of surrender.”
That phrase has stuck with me as secretary of state, and it’s especially important for Tuesday as we celebrate National Voter Registration Day.
For those who don’t know, National Voter Registration Day is a nonpartisan voter registration awareness campaign to encourage voter participation and increase awareness about how to register to vote.
It was created in 2012, and this year, Minnesota is playing a bigger role than ever.
Not only is this the first year our state has officially proclaimed Voter Registration Day in Minnesota, but I’m one of two secretaries representing the nation’s secretaries of state on the National Voter Registration Day steering committee. I couldn’t be more honored and enthusiastic about the work ahead of us.
We all know Minnesotans are some of the most civically engaged citizens in the nation, and we are proud of that distinction.
But we still have work to do.
While Minnesota has more than 3.1 million registered voters, there are an additional 800,000 citizens who are eligible but have not yet registered to vote. In Olmsted County alone, there are more than 17,000 citizens who are eligible to vote but aren’t registered. Some of them may be your neighbors, co-workers, family or friends.
Why don’t people register to vote?
Many don’t register simply because they lead busy lives, or they face a foreign language barrier, or they believe the process is complicated and confusing. The list of reasons goes on.
But the voter registration process in Minnesota is actually easier and more convenient than ever.
Voter registration applications are available at every state agency, all 87 county offices throughout the state, and online in English, Hmong, Russian, Somali, Spanish and Vietnamese.
For Minnesotans who don’t want to deal with the hassle of filling out paperwork, they can register to vote from the comfort of their own home by going online to mnvotes.org.
In fact, Minnesotans can register to vote at the polls on Election Day or when applying for or renewing their driver’s license.
We should be doing everything we can to make sure our neighbors know they have these options, and we should keep working to make the voter registration process in Minnesota even easier.
One of my top priorities as secretary of state is to increase civic participation among young people, and that’s why I support what’s called pre-registration for high school-aged students.
Pre-registration would allow 16- and 17-year-olds the ability to pre-register to vote, so when they turn 18, they’re already registered. This is not only a great way to make the voter registration process easier for young people, but it will help get good habits started early.
Nearly half the states already allow some form of pre-registration for high school-aged students, and studies have shown that it can increase voter turnout anywhere from 8 to 13 percent. It just makes common sense.
Let’s remember what that T-shirt in Rochester said, “Failure to vote is not an act of rebellion; it’s an act of surrender.”
This year, our nation is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, which makes National Voter Registration Day 2015 even more significant.
Before the Voting Rights Act, many states openly suppressed the votes of millions of African-Americans and other communities of color. Barriers of all kinds existed to deny citizens the right to register to vote: poll taxes, “character tests,” literacy tests and intimidation.
The Voting Rights Act put an end to all of those barriers and guaranteed every eligible citizen the right to register to vote.
We must not surrender that right. We must stay restless until every eligible citizen is registered to vote and uses that vote as their voice.
If you do one thing on National Voter Registration Day — register to vote if you aren’t already and then ask your neighbor, your co-worker or your friend, “I’m registered to vote. Are you?”
II. Election News This Week
- Although Voter Registration Month doesn’t end until next week, the big event — National Voter Registration Day — was this week. So big in fact that the president and a Kardashian (well Jenner) got in on the act. President Barack Obama took to Twitter to encourage people to vote as well as issuing a proclamation declaring Sept. 22, 2015 as National Voter Registration Day. Also on Tuesday, Rock the Vote released a video featuring Kendall Jenner giving a mini lesson on suffrage and encouraging people to vote.
- Also as part of National Voter Registration Day celebrations, Bexar County, Texas officials trained six deaf residents to be voter registrars. The elections office teamed up with No Barriers to Communication a San Antonio-based nonprofit to train the volunteer registrars. “This was just magical. It doesn’t get any better than this,” Elections Administrator Jacque Callanen told the San Antonio Express.
- Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has issued a rule that will give “suspended” voter just 90 days to clarify their citizenship status before their voter registrations are canceled. The rule, which goes into effect on October 2, could delete about 30,000 suspended voters.
- Following the ouster of Registrar Phyllis Booze, dozens of poll workers told Botetourt County, Virginia officials that they would no longer be working the polls. Concerns were raised about the upcoming November election, but new Registrar Traci Clark said just shy of 100 people have indicated their ability to work the polls in November.
- Attention all you non-voters out there (we’re looking at you Millennials)! More than 103 residents of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania were recently inducted into the state’s Voter Hall of Fame. Induction into the elite group requires voting in at least 50 consecutive November elections. “I salute you for your patriotism,” Secretary of State Pedro Cortés said at the induction ceremony. “I salute for your belief in our democratic system of government.” According to Lancaster Online, almost 23,000 people are currently in the Voter Hall of Fame. Nearly 300 Berks County voters were also inducted into the Hall of Fame.
- Personnel News: Cameron Sasnett has been appointed the new general registrar of Fairfax County, Virginia. He begins Oct. 5. Electionline would like to wish a speedy recovery to Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and will begin radiation treatment this week. She’s doesn’t anticipate taking much time off from her duties and will be working from home throughout the week. Jim Baker has been sworn in to the North Carolina Board 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.
Improving Elections in the United States: Voices from the Field – Tova Wang and Maria Peralta, National Commission on Voting Rights, September 2015: Based on testimony from more than two dozen hearings around the country listening to people about the voting process, this report highlights the key takeaways, including:
- Improving voter registration through reforms such as online registration;
- Looking at ways to streamline the voting process on Election Day to avoid long lines; and
- Making the voting process more accessible to voters with disabilities, students, and people with felony convictions
IV. Legislative Updates
Michigan: The Board of State Canvassers has approved the petition form for the Let’s Vote Michigan ballot committee that wants to alter Michigan’s constitution to allow for all vote-by-mail. The organizers now have until July 2016 to gather 315,000 valid signatures.
New York: State legislators are pushing the Voter Empowerment Act that would coordinate the state Board of Elections and the Department of Motor Vehicles, Department of Education, Department of Labor, Department of Military and Naval Affairs and the state’s public universities by automatically registering anyone that has contact with these groups.
North Carolina: With the clock ticking, the Senate proposed a detailed plan to combine the state’s primaries into one primary on March 15.
North Dakota: An interim Judiciary Committee tasked with studying the issue of whether or not to implement voter registration in North Dakota found little support for the idea among committee members when the committee met last week. This is the third time since voter registration was eliminated in 1951 that there are have been studies of whether or not to bring it back.
Wisconsin: Democrats are proposing the Election Modernization Act that would create system of automatic voter registration for anyone who does business at the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles.
V. Legal Updates
New Hampshire: The secretary of state’s office has appealed a lower court’s ruling regarding ballot selfies. The secretary of state’s office appealed the ruling that allows voters to take pictures of their own voted ballots and post them on social media to the First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston.
North Carolina: This week, Superior Court Judge Michael Morgan denied a motion seeking to toss out a lawsuit challenging the state’s voter ID law. According to WRAL, in his order, Morgan said the situation was different from two other legal cases in the stat when legislation was passed to repeal laws that were the subject of lawsuits. The challenged continued existence of a statutory photo identification requirement to vote in person in North Carolina … is therefore distinguishable from” the other cases, Morgan wrote. He also granted the request of the plaintiffs to amend their lawsuit to reflect the amended law.
VI. Tech Thursday
Colorado — Although largely vote-by-mail, Colorado does still need voting machines and 11 counties will be piloting new machines from Dominion Voting Systems that allow voters to mark their ballots on a tablet, print them and then the printed ballots will be counted.
Maryland — Officials in several counties launched a public education campaign about the state’s new voting system this week. Voters in the Old Line State will now be able to choose between a paper ballot or ballot-marking device.
Online Voter Registration: On Tuesday, Nebraska became the 24th state to implement online voter registration. The state registered 870 new voters on the first day the system was live. West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tenant announced that OVR will be live in the Mountain State by the end of September. And in nearby Kentucky, Secretary of State Allison Lundergan Grimes announced that the Bluegrass State will have OVR in place late this year or early in 2016. And in IowaSecretary of State Paul Pate recently announced that the state’s online voter registration system, originally set to go live in November 2016 will now be live effective January 1, 2016.
VII. Opinions This Week
Alabama: National Voter Registration Day
Alaska: Election dates
Illinois: Cook County
Kentucky: Online voter registration
Louisiana: Voter registration
New York: Polling places
Washington: Non-citizen voting rights
Wisconsin: Voter registration
VIII. Request for Information/Proposals
If you would like to have your Request for Information or Request for Proposal listed in electionlineWeekly, please email it to email@example.com.
Request for Information — E poll books
The Rhode Island Department of Administration/Division of Purchases, on behalf of the Rhode Island Office of the Secretary of State is soliciting responses from qualified vendors to offer electronic poll books for the State of Rhode Island. The Department of State is interested in acquiring electronic poll books for use in the 2016 election cycle beginning with the April 26, 2016 Presidential Preference Primary in order to achieve the following goals:
- Accurate and up-to-date voter rolls on Election Day
- Shorter wait times at polling places on Election Day
- User-friendly check-in process for both voters and poll workers
- Reduced provisional voting
- Reduced printing costs
- An overall more modern check-in system at polling places on Election Day
For the complete Request For Information, please click here.
IX. 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.
X. 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.
XI. 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 Compliance Officer, New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office — position will work as an independent professional under the oversight of the State Elections Director to plan, implement, and oversee elections and election related activities in accordance with election law. This position will work with a broad constituency including political candidates/incumbents, county clerk staff, and the general public. This position is responsible for administering the Election Code in its statewide application and ensuring compliance with federal National Voter Registration Act, the Help America Vote Act and the Voting Rights Act. The employee will lead election related activities such as results canvass, clerk training, and process development and improvement. The employee is expected to work during all emergency/disaster situations and on all election daysnights, candidate filing days, and during canvass or recounts which may include significant and extended overtime hours. Salary: $31,782-$55,307. Deadline: October 8. 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.