4/21/2020 News Update - Update on Candidate Filings - including electronic filing rules, Ordering AV Envelopes for August/November and more

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April 21, 2020


Candidate Filings - UPDATE

On April 20, the U.S. District Court, Eastern District, ordered changes to the filing requirements for some candidates for some offices in the August Primary. For these offices, the filing deadline has been extended and additional options for collecting and submitting signatures are available. A vast majority of offices, candidates, and clerks will not be affected by this order. A portion of the order is currently being appealed. As noted below, only the required signature reduction is the subject of the appeal.

Only Some Offices Covered

The order only pertains to offices that do not include an option to file with a filing fee. This means that the order doesn’t apply to any county or township office, nor does it apply to the office of State Representative. The only offices affected are:

U.S. Senate

U.S. Congress

Wayne County Community College Trustee

All judicial offices (only for candidates who are not the incumbent)

Any city office for which the city charter does not allow the option to file with a fee

For all other offices, the filing deadline remains April 21.

Only Candidates who Filed by March 10, 2020 Covered

Only those candidates who filed a statement of organization with the Federal Election Commission or established a candidate committee under the Michigan Campaign Finance Act by March 10, 2020 (the date the Governor declared a state of emergency in Michigan), qualify for the filing deadline extension and other changes for the above-listed offices.

For the above-listed offices and candidates only, the order:

extends the filing deadline to May 8 at 5 p.m. The deadline for all other offices (those with the option to file a fee instead of petitions) remains April 21 at 4 p.m.

reduces the signature requirement by 50 percent. For example, under the court’s order, a Congressional candidate required by statute to provide at least 1,000 signatures would now have to provide at least 500. Note: The required signature reduction is currently the subject of an appeal.

Additional Filing Option for Covered Candidates

Additionally, the order allows candidates who qualify for the extended filing deadline to:

  • collect signature images electronically
  • submit petitions to the filing official via email

The Bureau of Elections has released complete regulations for digital signature collection for collecting and submitting signatures by e-mail as soon as possible. These include the following:

  • There are special blank countywide nominating partisan and countywide nominating non-partisan petitions for use in this election only, on the BOE website.
  • If a person wishes to download, print, and sign an electronic petition, any person in the household (including a signer) may be a witness and sign the circulator certificate, or the signature may be witnessed remotely using two-way audio and video technology between the signer and the circulator. For more information regarding remote witnessing, see the Governor’s Executive Order 2020-41 - issued April 8, 2020.
  • Petition signers/circulators may print and sign the petition, then photograph and scan the signature page to the candidate, as long as the complete sheet (including signatures) is visible.
  • Candidates who qualify may also file their petitions with the filing official via email. The petitions must be scanned into a single .pdf file. In limited instances multiple files may be allowed, if necessary due to for limits on file size transfer.
  • Whether candidates choose to file petitions in person or via email, their original submission must contain the minimum number of signatures to file for office. Candidates may combine sheets gathered on physical paper and sheets gathered through email to meet the minimum threshold.

BOE Permitting Remote Notary for All Candidates

Separately under Executive Order 2020-41, BOE is accepting remote notarization for all candidate filings. Because this is not related to the court order, this applies to all candidates, not just those covered by the order.

Michigan’s notary law currently allows for electronic/remote notarization of documents. The executive order has temporarily eased some of the law’s in person requirements and encourages the use of electronic/remote notarization as much as possible. BOE is accepting electronically/remotely notarized Affidavits of Identity. We have encouraged candidates needing a notarization to have their Affidavit of Identity remotely notarized prior to filing with us.

If you have any questions regarding the court order, please contact Lori Bourbonais at BourbonaisL@Michigan.gov.

March 10, 2020 Presidential Primary Risk-Limiting Audit

As mentioned previously, the Bureau of Elections has been exploring the option of conducting a Risk-Limiting Audit (RLA) on the Presidential Primary. An RLA is conducted by selecting a small number of ballots at random and tallying the results for a particular race. That tally is compared to the reported outcome of the race to add confidence that the reported result is accurate. We have developed a plan that we believe can now be efficiently and safely implemented. The audit pilot will begin in May.

We’ve been successfully piloting RLAs since November 2018 and scaling up is a priority for further securing our elections. We’ve found that, at this time, practicing a statewide RLA on the Presidential Primary will prove much easier and lighter than the traditional audit and can be done while complying with social distancing best practices. For the March election, we will proceed with this RLA pilot, while we wait to see whether and when we will be able to conduct our traditional audits.

Proposal 18-3 requires an audit of the results of statewide elections. The RLA process is an effective and efficient way to meet the requirement and provides us a unique opportunity to show the nation that despite difficult times, Michigan is still able to confirm the outcomes of an election through an auditing process. This is especially important as concerns about election security and skepticism about voting results grow in times of uncertainty. Continuing with audits will help ensure the security and integrity of our elections does not waver.

In March, almost 2.3 million voters cast ballots in the Presidential Primary. To perform an RLA for this election, we will need to sample only 670 ballots statewide. Approximately 340 jurisdictions will be asked to retrieve between one and 45 voted ballots and report the votes cast on them for the Presidential Primary race, with the larger numbers being retrieved by the jurisdictions with the most ballots.  

Less than 25 percent of all jurisdictions in the state will be selected to participate and the majority of jurisdictions and precincts randomly selected will only need to retrieve a single ballot. Most counties will only have five or fewer ballots selected countywide.  

What do we need to do?

The following list outlines the various tasks for county and local clerks throughout the process, and the approximate amount of time needed for each task. Support and training (including instructions) will be provided for every step of this process. The vast majority of clerks will not need to do anything. It’s important to note that selection is completely random so we won’t know exactly who is selected to retrieve a ballot or ballots until the week of the audit.

County tasks:

Create a ballot manifest - an hour or less depending on the size of the county

This task requires counties to provide BOE with the number of ballots in each ballot container throughout the county. Generally, this is as simple as providing us with a list of each precinct and AVCB and the number of ballots cast according to the final canvass. If a jurisdiction ran an AVCB and used more than one ballot container, we will need to know how many ballots are stored in each AVCB container. This task is completed in the weeks leading up to the audit.

Distributing ballot retrieval information to local clerks - 10 minutes

The week of the audit, BOE will send each county a list of ballots that need to be retrieved throughout the county. Some counties will not have to retrieve ballots at all while most will need to retrieve fewer than 10. 

Enter the tallies - 15 minutes to an hour depending on number of ballots

After local clerks have retrieved the ballots, counties will need to enter the vote cast on each ballot back into the audit system.

Local tasks:

Assist the county in creating the ballot manifestminimal - likely a few minutes - but varies by use of AVCB

As mentioned above, if you used an AVCB and used more than one ballot container, the county will need to know how many ballots are in each container.

Retrieve ballots - 10 minutes per ballot 

If a ballot from your jurisdiction is randomly selected, you’ll need to retrieve the ballot or ballots. Clerks will receive information about which ballot container(s) to open and the ballot to retrieve on the Monday afternoon of the audit week and have until the end of the day on Thursday to retrieve the ballot(s).

Handling ballots is typically completed by two people, sitting at a table, which may need to be modified to confirm with social distancing guidelines. When possible, one person should pull the ballots out of the container and count off the ballots until reaching the ballot being retrieved while someone else observes from at least six feet away. As this is a practice pilot, it’s ok for only one person to retrieve the ballot when two is not practical. A video conferencing method could also be used to allow a second person to observe the retrieval and count.

Send ballot tally to the countya few minutes

After you’ve retrieved the ballot(s), you’ll tally up the votes from each and send a summary to the county.

The Bureau of Elections has partnered with VotingWorks, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, to manage and support the entire audit. The results of the Presidential Primary are the perfect election to scale this new auditing process up and work toward the goal of conducting RLAs for all statewide elections. Proposal 18-3 requires an audit of the results of statewide elections. The process is effective and efficient and provides us a unique opportunity to show the nation that despite difficult times, Michigan is still able to confirm the outcomes of an election through an auditing process. We can help ensure that we maintain confidence in our election processes even during challenging times. For more information on risk limiting audits and how they work, please see this short video.


March Presidential Primary Data Series - Registration within 14 Days and Residency Verification by Age

Leading up to the March 2020 Presidential Primary and including Election Day, we saw a total of 21,564 registrations that were processed during the 14-day residency verification window before Election Day. Younger voters were particularly likely to register in this window. More than 70 percent of these registrations were for voters under age 30. Below you can see a graph displaying the breakdown of registration activity during the residency verification window by age.


* these voters were all under the “not registering for this election” category

** two applications were rejected for age and therefore not counted above

Table of Contents

  • UPDATE - Court Order Regarding Some Candidate Filings - including electronic filing rules
  • Ordering AV Envelopes for August/November
  • Multifactor Authentication Update
  • Presidential Primary Risk-Limiting Audit
  • QVF Software Release
  • Presidential Primary Data Series


Ordering AV Envelopes for August/November

Some clerks have reported that vendors are requesting clerks place their orders for the remainder of the election year now. Understanding that some orders may need to placed soon, the Bureau recommends that clerks wait to finalize their orders for the rest of the year, especially for absent voter ballot outgoing and return envelopes. Following the March 10 election, the United States Postal Service recommended changes to envelope design to improve mail processing. The Bureau is assessing what changes are feasible prior to August and November, and what changes can be incorporated into existing stock. Additionally, because of uncertainty related to COVID-19 and its effect on future elections, it is difficult to project the percentage of ballots that will be cast by mail in August and November. If you have specific questions about your AV envelope supply or vendor requests for orders, please contact Charamy Clearly at ClearyC@Michigan.gov.


Multifactor Authentication Update  

As communicated in previous News Updates, all QVF users soon will be required to use Multifactor Authentication (MFA) to access QVF. This will provide added protection against improper access to QVF information. The Qualified Voter File has been programmed to allow users to begin using MFA. In order to use MFA, users may use either a smartphone application or a YubiKey which as a secondary authentication device. You can read more about YubiKeys on the manufacturer’s website: https://www.yubico.com/. The Bureau has begun piloting both the smartphone authenticator and the YubiKey in our office. We also began piloting these tools with clerks, who have been giving initial training and materials as they test out MFA.

We are now prepared to start rolling out MFA statewide. We will begin with smartphone users only and roll out YubiKeys as staff return to the office more regularly. The rollout will begin with county users. These users will receive an email with the following documents, which can also be found in the eLearning Center under the key words Multifactor Authentication¸ and under the QVF Help Menu:

  • Multifactor Authentication PowerPoint Training. Provides a brief training on the set up and use of MFA.
  • User Admin Lookup manual. Outlines the new module provided for only clerks or their designated staff to administer the MFA process and authenticate current users.
  • MFA FAQ’s: Presents the most frequently asked questions we receive about MFA.
  • MFA Instructions: Provides instructions on how to establish MFA depending upon your chosen method of either a smartphone device or a YubiKey.

We look forward to working with you as we begin rolling out this process to continue to make QVF secure.


QVF Software Release for April 10 and 17, 2020

Voter Registration.

  • New Reprint Notice button is now located on the Status tab and allows a user to reprint a notice in case of printer jams, etc.
  • Residency extension is automatically cleared when the house number or street name is changed.
  • Added time stamp to the Change History tab of Voter Registration

Reports. Added Multifactor Authentication (MFA) report for clerks to view as we embark on rolling out multifactor authentication in the coming months.

Banner. Removed Chrome browser banner when logging in using this browser as it is now approved.

Voting History. Allowed for additional 15 days to upload voting history given our current situation.

MOVE Ballot Survey. Changed MOVE Ballot Survey questions to offer additional feedback.

User Admin Lookup. Created a new screen that will be used by clerks or their designated staff to administer the multifactor authentication rollout by tracking the type of device that will be used.