Brian Newby, the former Johnson County Elections commissioner who has been executive director at the federal Elections Assistance Commission, has left that agency and recently started working for the North Dakota Secretary of State’s office.
Newby started work Monday as that state’s election director. Officials in Bismarck said he will work remotely until January, when he will move to the state offices.
The federal office oversees certification of election machinery and broader questions about how elections are run. Newby got that job in 2015, but soon after attracted controversy after agreeing to some states’ requests to require proof of citizenship with voter registration.
Newby’s term at the EAC ran out this year, and he was not reappointed after what was reported to be a split decision along party lines. A story in Politico also said Newby’s management style alienated employees. Before the federal job, Newby served 10 years as Johnson County commissioner, appointed by both Democratic and Republican Secretaries of State. However his last appointment, by Kris Kobach, also attracted suspicion because of Kobach’s controversial claims of widespread voter fraud. Shortly after Newby left his job in Johnson County, officials released an audit critical of the election commission’s management.
In an email to the Post, Newby noted that only five of the 18 people appointed to statutory positions served longer at the EAC. And he said he is encouraged that the funding bill headed into the Senate includes $5 million in budget increases that he advocated for.
His work in North Dakota will allow him to work to ensure voting access at the state level, he said.
“North Dakota appealed to me because of the terrific reputation the state has running elections and because of a unique accessibility issue that many western states face. Specifically, voters who are Native American often face issues with accessibility to polling places and vote by mail options,” Newby wrote. “I became very aware of this issue in Colorado, Montana, and Washington when participating in a conference at the Carter Center in Atlanta last December, and it’s a particular accessibility issue that I would like to see if I can help.”