September 3, 2015

I. In Focus This Week

Polling place profile
Life’s a beach at this Los Angeles County polling place

By M. Mindy Moretti

Venice Beach Lifeguard Tower2

A few tables and chairs, voting equipment, signage and dedicated volunteers — polling places across the country all contain similar elements, but what makes them unique is where they are located.

With this weekend marking the unofficial end to summer, we thought we’d profile a polling place where summer never ends.

Los Angeles County is home to many unique polling places, from remote islands only accessible by boat toVenice Beach Lifeguard Tower1 garages to a hotel, but without out a doubt one of the most unique is at the lifeguard station in Venice Beach.

To be clear, the polling place isn’t located in the picturesque lifeguard tower [above], it’s in the lifeguard headquarters [at right], but it is still at the beach where voters cast their ballots with the sound of waves crashing in the background and the scent of suntan lotion lingering in the air.

Los Angeles County lifeguards are a division of the Los Angeles County Fire Department and while fire stations are used as polling places nationwide, this is the only polling place at a lifeguard station electionline is aware of.

According to Los Angeles County Registrar of Voters Dean Logan, the polling place has been in use for about 14 years now — some 40+ elections.

BaywatchOn average, there are approximately 2,600 registered voters eligible to vote at this polling place during major elections and voter turnout is typically 17 percent (on average).

Since the polling place is located at the beach does it have a different dress code than other polling places? Logan said no, so even if you’re not wearing shoes or a shirt, you’ll get service.

“Other than adhering to no ‘electioneering’ laws — e.g. visible display of candidate names, logos, ballot measures on shirts, buttons, etc. — there are no established rules about attire at the polling place,” Logan said.

Surprisingly, the Venice Beach polling place is actually one of the more difficult polling places to staff on Election Day.

“The precincts placed in this polling place are considered ‘hard to recruit’ precincts, which result in recruiting poll workers outside of precinct,” Logan said.

With a polling place located at the beach, one could think this is ripe for all sorts of problems. Sand in the voting machines, carnauba wax on ballots, the possibilities are endless, but Logan said they have not experienced any problems like that at the site and the only complaint they have on file was about a problem with a drain cover in the sidewalk leading up to the entrance of the polling place.

“There is nothing we can think of that is unique about this polling place other that its located at the beach,” Logan said.



 II. Election News This Week

  • The check is in the mail! And if you’re waiting for that, or anything else delivered by the U.S. Postal Service to show up in a timely fashion, you may be waiting for a while. The Postal Service’s Inspector General issued an urgent alert recommending that postal officials put all further closures of mail-sorting plants on hold until services — which has late-arriving mail up by almost 50 percent since January — stabilizes. From January through June, 494 million pieces of mail did not meet the standard for local or cross-country delivery, a 48 percent jump from the same period last year, investigators found.
  • Update on the News: Voters in five Utah County, Utah cities will only have to cast one ballot this fall after a compromise was reached on whether or not to allow those voters to vote-by-mail on a countywide sales tax increase. “I appreciate the willingness of all parties to work together on this important issue,” Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox said in a prepared statement. “Our focus must always be on what is best for voters, and I believe this resolution accomplishes that.”
  • Less than a week after launching the Commonwealth’s new online voter registration system, Pennsylvania Secretary of State Pedro Cortes announced that the system had already registered more than 5,000 new voters. In other online voter registration news Nebraska Secretary of State John Gale announced that his state will officially launch its new system on September 22 — National Voter Registration Day.
  • Voters in Hall County, Georgia have expressed their concerns about the county elections board’s decision to use a Sheriff’s Office for a new polling location. The board said they were forced to make the move because the area is growing so much and there is just nowhere else that could accommodate a large polling place. However representatives of the NAACP and the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials said the move could impact minority voters.
  • It’s that time of year when thoughts and emotions turn to the Gridiron and the Alabama Secretary of State’s office is taking advantage of that by enlisting the head coaches of Alabama and Auburn in an effort to get people to register vote. Coaches Nick Saban and Gus Malzahn will each appear in videos that will be shown at their respective stadiums. Roll Tide … War Eagle!
  • Personnel News: Polk County, North Carolina Elections Director Karen Lawrence has resigned. Longtime Lake County, Florida Supervisor of Elections Emogene Stegall announced that she will be retiring on January 2, 2017 — she’ll be in her 90s by then. Patrick J. Stenson will join the Perry County, Ohio board of elections. Oregon State Sen. Richard Devlin has said he intends to run for secretary of state. Alex Britt took office this week as the new Weakley County, Tennessee administrator of elections. Fran Wells has been hired by the Stark County, Ohio board of elections on a consultant basis to recruit poll workers. Karen Nelson, Smith County, Texas administrator of elections, was honored by the county’s League of Women Voters with the Making Democracy Work Award.
  • In Memoriam: June Condron, former senior deputy supervisor of elections in Orange County, Florida has died of complications from cancer. She was 79. Before joining the supervisor of election’s office, Condron served as the president of the League of Women Voters of Orange County. “Even in her retirement, she came back and worked only at election time,” Orange County Supervisor of Elections Bill Cowels told the Orlando Sentinel.


 III. Legislative Updates

Alaska: According to the Alaska Dispatch News, the Elections Division has issued petition books for an initiative aims to make applications for Permanent Fund dividends double as voter registration forms. The release clears the way for organizers to begin gathering the 28,545 signatures necessary to place the measure on an upcoming ballot.

Arizona: Residents in Chandler, Arizona have voted (by mail) to keep the city’s election cycle in August and November instead of moving the elections to the spring. The vote was necessary because 2012 legislation requiring cities to move their elections to August and November was overruled by the Arizona Court of Appeals. The ruling meant Chandler had to ask residents to reaffirm the city’s charter. Unofficial results have Prop. 484 winning with 20,115 votes in favor and 1,859 against.

California: The Senate Appropriations Committee has approvedAB1461, the California New Motor Voter Act that would register every eligible citizen who goes to the DMV for a new, or to renew their license. The bill now heads to the Senate floor.

Gov. Jerry Brown has signed SB 505 into law. The new law will require that all elections materials be written in plain, accessible and easily understandable language effective January 1, 2016.

Also signed into law was Senate Bill 415 that will prohibit jurisdictions from holding elections that aren’t aligned with a state voting date if a previous non-concurrent vote has resulted in a 25 percent turnout decline from the average participation figures in the locality over the previous four statewide general elections.

Florida: Sen. Jeff Clemens (D-Lake Worth) has proposed a constitutional amendment (SJR 192) that would restore the voting rights of felons who have completed their sentences. Under the proposal, automatic restoration would not apply to felons convicted of sexual offenses or homicide.

New Jersey: A group of New Jersey Democrats, including Senate President Stephen Sweeney, are urging Gov. Chris Christie to sign the Democracy Act. “We’re going to give the governor an opportunity to sign the legislation. Or we’re going to get it done one way or another. It’s his choice,” Sweeny said at a press conference.

North Carolina: Legislators are considering moving all the of the state’s primaries to March instead of just the presidential primary. A decision to move the primaries must be official by October 1.

U.S. Virgin Islands: During a recent budget hearing, numerous senators voiced their support for merging the St. Croix and the St. Thomas-St. John elections boards into one board. The senators suggested that by merging the boards it would reduce conflict and confusion. “It is obvious not just here but to the people of the Virgin Islands it is time for one board,” Sen. Kenneth Gittens, chairman of the Rules and Judiciary Committee said during the hearing.


 IV. Legal Updates

Alabama: The U.S. Court of Appeals for Washington, D.C. has ruled that Alabama cannot collect $2 million in legal fees for its successful fight to get a portion of the Voting Rights Act voided. The court rule that Shelby County was not entitled to reimbursement because its victory did not advance any of the goals Congress meant to promote by making fees available.

Indiana: The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana filed a lawsuit last week challenging the state’s new law that would prohibit voters from taking ballot selfies. The suit alleges that the law infringes on a person’s First Amendment rights.

New Mexico: Attorney General Hector Balderas (D) has filed a complaint in district court accusing Secretary of State Dianna Duran (R) of embezzlement, money laundering and other campaign finance violations. The complaint claims that Duran had electronic debts at eight casinos throughout the state withdrawing more than half a million dollars in two years.

Texas: Attorney General Ken Paxton has asked that the full bench of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals review the state’s voter ID case. In August, a three-judge panel of the court issued a complicated ruling that essentially struck down the state’s ID law.


 V. Tech Thursday

California: San Bernardino County has won the 2015 Eagles Award from the Election Center for the county’s My Elections Gateway app that delivers personalized election information to registered voters.

Colorado: This fall, Routt County plans on testing a program that will allow voters to track their mail-in ballots through voicemail, text or email. The system, being offered to the county by a company called BallotTrax will notify the voter when their ballot has been received at the courthouse and when it has been counted. Three other Colorado localities are using the service.

Ohio: All 88 Ohio counties should have electronic poll books in place for the 2016 election cycle. According to local media, the new state budget included a $12.7 million appropriation for e-books, which will be distributed to the 88 counties based on percentage of registered voters.


 VI. Opinions This Week

National Opinions: Election integrity | Voter suppression

California: Turnout | Motor voter

Colorado: Secretary of state

Florida: St. Petersburg elections | Emogene Stegal

Illinois: Voter fraud

Iowa: Election dates

Kansas: Voting machine audit

Minnesota: Ranked choice voting

New Jersey: Messenger ballots

Pennsylvania: Voting procedures | Online voter registration, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII

Texas: Voting rights

West Virginia: Turnout


 VII. 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.


 VIII. Upcoming Events
Please email upcoming events — conferences, symposiums, seminars, webinars, etc. to

America’s Voting Technology Crisis: Preparing for 2016 and Beyond— NPR Correspondent Pam Fessler and the Brennan Center’s Lawrence Norden will discuss the current state of voting machines in America with Edgardo Cortes, Neal Kelley, and Doug Lewis. When: Thursday September 17 at 12pm. Where: National Press Club, Washington, D.C. For more information and to register, click here.

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.


 IX. Job Postings This Week
electionlineWeekly publishes election administration job postings each week as a free service to our readers. To have your job listed in the newsletter, please send a copy of the job description, including a web link to 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.

Agency Information Technology Manager, Hartford, Connecticut — directs staff and operations of an agency technology system; coordinates, plans and manages division activities; formulates program goals and objectives; develops or assists in development of related policy; interprets and administers pertinent laws; evaluates staff; prepares or assists in preparation of division budget; maintains contacts with individuals both within and outside the division who might impact on program activities. Salary: $93,896. Deadline: September 11. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

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.

Communications Specialist II, King County, Washington — position reports to the Department of Elections’ Communication and Strategic Planning Manager under minimal supervision and is responsible for researching, writing, designing and creating communication to inform voters, stakeholders and others about all aspects of elections in King County.  This includes media contacts, public relations and/or public involvement, as well as the design and development of information for the website, social media, and other communications materials for both internal and external audiences. As a Communications Specialist, you will work on a team to provide high profile communications by inspiring and capturing creative ideas, continually improving customer satisfaction and lead responsibilities for supporting the communication needs of alternate language populations.  The person in this position must also be capable of working collaboratively maneuvering through sensitive situations effectively, relating well to customers at all levels both internal and external to the organization.Salary: $28.87-$37.87 hourly. Deadline: September 14. 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 unit filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Elections Technology Specialist III, Boulder County, Colorado — position will perform a variety of complex and specialized tasks associated with elections management, elections processing systems and the statewide voter registration system. The position is responsible for the implementation and results of related processes, as well as related procedural development, training and technology support, while ensuring compliance with elections rules, laws and policies. This role requires varying degrees of process management and supervisory support of temporary employees, as well as a high level of initiative, attention to detail, collaboration, problem-solving and analytical ability. Ability to work effectively under pressure while remaining positive and flexible is also key to success. This position requires additional hours; evenings, weekends, and some county holidays as needed during election cycles. Salary: $52,572-$75,696. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

Director of Elections, Forsyth County, North Carolina — position is the department head appointed by the Forsyth County Board of Elections. The position works in a fast-paced environment and utilizes a thorough knowledge of procedures and policies set forth by the State Board of Elections and the General Statutes for registration, voting and reporting the results elections. The position requires the ability to interpret and apply election laws and regulations; the ability to train and supervise others effectively and to maintain an effective working relationship with employees; the ability to establish and maintain good working relationships with precinct officials and representatives of news services and the ability to deal courteously with the general public. Deadline: September 17. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.

IT Coordinator, Bowen Center for Public Affairs, Dept. of Political Science, Ball State University — administer and coordinate all activities related to the computer operations and databases created and maintained by the Voting system Technical Oversight Program (VSTOP) in the Bowen Center for Public Affairs; work with the co-directors and other staff of the project; provide professional and technical advice in the areas of maintaining and integrating databases and web-based interfaces; maintain responsibility for all database operations; update protocols used in the testing of voting equipment and related peripherals and provide oversight on field tests of voting equipment. 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.

Trial Attorney, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, D.C.— trial attorneys selected for these positions will be responsible for developing investigations and litigation addressing all aspects of the Voting Section’s enforcement duties. Responsibilities include: (1) planning and conducting investigations to assess potential violations of the federal laws enforced by the Voting Section; (2) analyzing and evaluating data and evidence, including witness statements, documents, electronic databases and records, demographic and geographic data, election records, historical evidence and statistical studies; (3) researching factual and legal issues, including likely defenses and counter-arguments; (4) preparing written recommendations for further investigation and/or litigation and drafting pleadings; (5) litigating cases, including conducting pre-trial written discovery, electronic discovery and depositions, drafting motions, briefs, and other court filings, working with expert witnesses, trial preparation and conducting hearings and trials; and (6) drafting settlement proposals, preparing for and participating in settlement negotiations, and monitoring compliance with consent decrees and other settlements. In addition, trial attorneys participate in monitoring elections around the country and may conduct administrative reviews of voting changes under the Voting Rights Act. Salary: $76,378-$158,700. Deadline: September 18. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.


 X. Marketplace
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