August 2018

(Geek)Town-Gown Relationships: electionlineWeekly on College/University Programs for Elections

With students (including the University of Minnesota!) heading back to school next week (if not already), electionlineWeekly’s Mindy Moretti has a look at how the nation’s institutions of higher learning are partnering with election officials to help them get the training and research assistance they need. [Happy Labor Day weekend – see you back here Tuesday, September 4.]

Florida’s Leon County Relents, Will Add Early Voting at University Site

Leon County (Tallahassee) Florida’s election supervisor has reversed course and agreed to put early voting for November at a location accessible to students from local universities. Every election has one issue that pushes its way onto the front page; while cybersecurity is likely with us for several cycles to come, it seems that the drive to make voting more accessible to students on campus (while not a new issue) is the Hot Topic of 2018.

EAC Releases Details on States’ Plans for Spending New $380M in HAVA Funds

Last week was an eventful one for election cybersecurity, with a planned – then cancelled – Senate markup of the Secure Elections Act. But there was also news last week from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) about how states intend to spend the new Help America Vote Act funds they received as part of $380 million included in the recent federal budget omnibus. I suspect this latest batch of data will get extra attention given the current debate on Capitol Hill and across the nation on what, if anything, should be done next.

Summer Blogging Break

The blog and I are on a summer vacation … we’ll both be back on Monday, August 27th for the 2018 election homestretch (and beyond) – see you then!

Some Personal News: A New Gig (But the Old One Will Continue)

After seven years with the University of Minnesota, I will be joining Fors Marsh Group in Northern Virginia on Monday, August 20th as their Director of Election Research. The good news, however, is that both my teaching work (and this blog!) will continue … though the blog will be taking a short vacation/transition break until Monday August 27th. Thanks to all of you for making this work so interesting – and so much fun!

NC State Board of Elections Referees County Disputes on Early Voting

Over the weekend, the North Carolina State Board of Elections (NCSBE) stepped in to resolve county disputes regarding timing and location of early voting – generally approving plans that keep Sunday voting and preserve on-campus options for students. It’s remarkable how important the NCSBE and its tiebreaking procedures has become in refereeing these disputes, given the parties’ apparently very different views on early voting.

Square Peg, Round Hole: Incompatible File Formats at Root of Recent LA County List Problems

About two months ago, Los Angeles County, CA experienced an issue with precinct rosters for its June 5 primary that resulted in over 118,000 voters’ names being omitted from the roster. Now, an analysis of those problems reveals that incompatible file formats were a key underlying cause. Problems like this one highlight the importance of common data format work; ensuring that various systems talk to one another – especially when different levels of government with separate vendors are involved – becomes increasingly vital as voter data is collected, verified and prepared for Election Day.