Neal Kelley, Registrar of Voters (Ret.), Orange County, CA

Neal Kelley is the retired Registrar of Voters for Orange County, California, the fifth largest voting jurisdiction in the United States, serving more than 1.9 million registered voters.

Kelley served as the Registrar of Voters 2005 through 2022 and led the office through the largest cycle of elections since Orange County was founded in 1889. In his role as the County’s chief election official, he led an organization responsible for conducting elections, verifying petitions, and maintaining voter records.

Prior to joining Orange County, Kelley developed and grew several companies of his own, employing hundreds of people from 1989 to 2004. He was also an adjunct professor with Riverside Community College’s Business Administration Department, and served as a police officer in Southern California during the mid 1980’s.

He has been the recipient of numerous state and national awards for election administration and is a past recipient of the “Public Official of the Year” award by the National Association of County Recorders, Election Officials and Clerks (iGO). Kelley was named as one of “OC’s 100 Most Influential” individuals by the Orange County Register in 2016, 2019, 2020 and 2021.

Kelley is a former appointee and founding member of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Election Security Task Force (Government Coordinating Council (GCC), where he helped to oversee the protection of the nation’s election infrastructure. He also served as a member and past chair of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) Board of Advisors, is a former member of the EAC Voting Systems Standards Board and a former member of the EAC Technical Guidelines Development Committee (TGDC). In addition, he served as a member of the 2018 National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Committee on the Future of Voting.

Kelley has been invited to testify before committees of the U.S. House, the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, the Presidential Commission on Election Administration, several state legislative bodies, and both federal and state courts.

He is the past president of the California Association of Clerks and Election Officials (CACEO) and is the past president for the National Association of County Recorders, Election Officials and Clerks (iGO).
Kelley earned a Bachelor of Science degree in business and management from the University of Redlands and an M.B.A. from the University of Southern California.

Why Neal joined CSSE:

“In recent years, election officials and their families have been the targets of a surge in threats and violence. I know firsthand what a surreal and scary experience it is to wake up one day and have local law enforcement contact you because people are angry that you did your job and simply counted votes. As a country, we must protect election officials to keep our elections secure and fair. Particularly with the midterms approaching, law enforcement and election officials must work together to keep this new threat from interfering in our elections.”

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    “Election officials are the heroes of our democracy, working harder than almost anyone I know to ensure that every one of us can exercise our fundamental right to vote. The intimidation and threats against these dedicated officials and their families must stop."

    Kathy Boockvar
    Vice President of Election Operations and Support, Center for Internet Security
    Kathy Boockvar
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    “Democracy can only survive and thrive if we respect and protect its values and principles. Elected officials must respect those they serve, freely act within their elected authority and act on behalf of a nation that ensures their safety so they may make decisions without fear or intimidation. That is a true democracy."

    Sheriff Paul Penzone
    Maricopa County, Arizona
    Sheriff Paul Penzone
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    “Access to the ballot should not be stymied in any manner, nor should we ever lose valuable election officials because they are worn down from harassment, fear, threats and undue job hardships created to alter public faith in the electoral process. "

    Kathy Holland
    Director of Elections, Alamance County North Carolina (Ret.)
    Kathy Holland
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    “I joined the committee because I took an oath, along with my law enforcement colleagues, to protect and serve all persons, which is in alignment with my personal values and morals. "

    Captain Harold Love
    Michigan State Police (Ret.), Owner and Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), Harold L. Love & Associates
    Captain Harold Love
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    “The 2020 election cycle brought many challenges for election officials, but the most shocking for me were the death threats, verbal assaults, intimidation, and scare tactics. I am one of the election officials that had my life and the lives of my family members threatened, and the threats have not ceased."

    Tina Barton
    Senior Elections Expert, The Elections Group
    Tina Barton
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    “There are many issues that have become politicized, but ensuring the safety of election workers should never be. These are the people responsible for overseeing the democratic process that serves as the foundation of our republic."

    Jonathan Bydlak
    Director, Governance Program, R Street Institute
    Jonathan Bydlak
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    “My dad was a city clerk. Elections were a central and cherished part of his job. I joined this committee to ensure that today’s election officials can keep America’s elections running safely and securely, just like he did."

    Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian
    Middlesex County, Massachusetts
    Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian
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    “Election officials are unsung heroes of American democracy—they make sure our system operates as intended. Threats to these public servants are an attack on democracy itself. Law enforcement and election officials working together can help chart a safer and more secure path forward for future elections."

    Orion Danjuma
    Counsel, Protect Democracy
    Orion Danjuma
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    “As a country, we must protect election officials to keep our elections secure and fair. Law enforcement and election officials must work together to keep this new threat from interfering in our elections."

    Neal Kelley
    Registrar of Voters (Ret.) Orange County, California
    Neal Kelley
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    “As an election official who experienced the verbal threats and intimidation directed at me and my staff I feel I must be a voice on this committee to work with law enforcement to address this issue."

    Joseph Gloria
    Registrar of Voters, Clark County, Nevada
    Joseph Gloria
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    “Election workers are the guardians of our democracy, and attacks on them for doing their jobs are unacceptable. I’m proud to stand with and in support of this group of law enforcement and election officials, who are working on practical solutions to keep our elections safe and secure."

    Larry Norden
    Senior Director, Elections & Government, Brennan Center for Justice
    Larry Norden
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    “I have joined this committee because I believe in the mission and have full confidence that we will develop practices that are results driven and further strengthen the pipeline between law enforcement and election officials."

    Derek Bowens
    Director of Elections, Durham County, North Carolina
    Derek Bowens