“IWish Someone Had Told Me…”December 17, 2013
Brad KingCo-Director, Indiana Election Division2014 Election Administrators Conference
“Just Like Being County Treasurer”
HA!Clerks need to know about all sorts of things (not just elections). These include:Public Records and Retention LawsRelations with Candidates, Media, CampaignsNew laws (such as government employee restrictions)
Start by assuming that everything is a public record, unless you can point to something that says it is not. (IC 5-14-3-3)Some election records are restricted:Some absentee ballot applications (AttyGeneral Confidentiality Program participant; IC 5-26.2-5-5)Ballots (IC 3-10-1-31.1)
Public Records II
Some voter registration records are restricted:Information on agency where a person submitted a voter registration applicationDeclinations (person declined to apply to register) from a “full service” voter registration agencyAddress confidentiality participant voter registration record
Public Records III
Common questions about public records requests:Original voter registration application (is public record, except Confidentiality program member)Absentee application information (is public record, except Confidentiality program member)Electronic voter registration records (depends on “uniform,nondiscriminatory”countyelection board policy)
Some things last forever: County Election Board minutes, for example, including sample regular and provisional ballots used in each election.Voter Registration records: original voter registration records (until cancellation, + 2 years)Ballots (22 months, except if recount or court order). Unused ballots can be disposed of after recount deadline.
Miscellaneous precinct election material (22 months, unless recount or court order). Includes precinct oath books, paper poll lists.Don’t forget County Public Records Commission disposal procedures (IC 5-15-6)
The more eyes, the betterCounty election board members and county party chairs must be given chance to proofExample 1: You spell a candidate’s name incorrectly. What happens?Example 2: You leave a candidate’s name off the ballot completely. What happens?Balloterrors can mean special election.
Identify stakeholders:CandidatesPolitical parties and committeesMedia (newspaper, radio, television, social media)Citizen groups and service clubsPoll workers
How to communicate to stakeholders?Training for candidates (campaign finance, disclaimers)Training for poll workersPublic speaking at schools, community events, club meetingsSocial mediaPress releases throughout year (deadlines, new procedures that affect voters)
It’s OK if you don’t know answer!“I don’t know (or I’m not 100% sure). Let me check on that and get you more information.”Lots of resources:Election Division website and publicationsYour fellow county election administrators
Election laws change for several reasons:Policy decisions by Congress, State legislatureCourt decisions interpreting lawsNew technology and obsolete technology (in 2013, Indiana law repealed references to “ballotpasters” and microfilm of election records.Legislative Summaries in front of each edition of Indiana Election Code book
Example of new state law:
Use of Government Resources for Political activity by government employeesState, county, municipal employees prohibited from using money, equipment, goods, and materials of their government employer to solicit contributions or advocate election or defeat of candidate or approval or defeat of public question.
New Law on Campaign Activity
State, county, and municipal employees prohibited from distributing campaign materials advocating approval or defeat of public question:On real property belonging to the person’s government employer; andDuring regular working hours (IC 3-14-1-17)
Food for Thought(Thanks to Trent Deckard for discussion topics)
Tell us about you and your background. Why did you step up to the plate to be clerk?Tell us about your county. How many registered voters do you have? What is typical turnout? How many poll sites do you administer? What is the size of your office staff and what other duties are you responsible for?What is one thing you wish that someone had told you before you took office?
Food for Thought
A county clerk’s office must deal with campaigns for federal, state, and local offices (not to mention public questions) Many of these groups make public records requests.How does your office reach out to these candidates and campaigns, and to the general public?What have been some of the most effective outreach strategies?
Food for Thought
We have daily, weekly, television, radio, and internet media sources. What particular media outlets do you have in your county? How you do you work with media to provide information about the election? Have you had media challenges?Being clerk can be difficult enough, but being both clerk and a candidate on the ballot is even tougher. How do you balance those roles?How do you work with your bipartisan county election board? How involved are CEB members in administering the election? What challenges have you faced?