2010 Advisory Committee Meeting Minutes

Lynda Roberts, Registrar of Voters, Elections

 

December December 14, 2007

Registrar of Voters
Election Advisory Committee Meeting
Friday, December 14, 2007, 9:30 a.m.
Room 324A, Marin Civic Center

Minutes

A meeting of the Registrar of Voters’ Election Advisory Committee was held on Friday, December 14, 2007 at 9:30 a.m. in room 324A of the Civic Center. Present were: Anne Layzer, Greg Brockbank, Antonia Hollander, Barbara Gaman, Cat Woods, Jeanne Leoncini, Linda Bagneshi-Dorrance, Mark Kyle, Morgan Kelly, Bob Richard. Also present were Sherry Healy and Ken Jones. Elaine Ginnold and Colleen Ksanda were present from the Registrar of Voters.

The committee held a moment of silence to remember Julie Grantz, an Election Advisory Committee member who died in November.

Antonia Hollander presented a report on the outreach and education activities provided by Grassroots for the November 6, 2007 Election. The focus of outreach activities was in the following areas: Canal area of San Rafael, Marin City and South Novato. There was a discussion on the ways response to outreach efforts could be measured quantitatively. Although there have been studies on the effects of outreach efforts on voters nationwide, there have been no studies specific to Marin.

Elaine Ginnold reported on the feedback she received from Cris Jones on education and outreach activities for homeless voters in a partnership between St. Vincent’s, Dominican’s Social Justice Program and the Registrar of Voters. The polling place for voters living near St. Vincent’s Dining Room was located at the Community Center near Safeway in central San Rafael which was a more convenient location than the polling place at the more distant Methodist Church. Several Dominican students worked at the polls in the November election. Committee members

Ms. Ginnold distributed the report of the Registrar of Voters manual tally of precincts for the November 6, 2007 Election. 21 precincts, which covered all of the jurisdictions on the ballot were randomly selected and counted by hand. There was one discrepancy from one incorrectly marked oval in one precinct that was read as an under vote.

The Registrar of Voters hosted a demonstration audit conducted using the TrueBallot vote counting system in which all ballots cast in the Tiburon Sanitary District were scanned, projected on a screen and tallied. Present at the audit was Lowell Finley, Deputy Secretary of State for Voting Systems and Certification, and several observers. The results of the TrueBallot count closely matched those of the Accuvote with the exception of 4 ballots that had marks that may or may not have been recorded as votes. The count of all ballots cast in the district took about 4 hours and was much faster than a hand tally. TrueBallot is proposing its system as a means of recounting more precincts in the event that the hand count has to be escalated according to the Secretary of State’s new post election audit requirements.

Ms. Ginnold reported that the Secretary of State has given administrative certification to Marin County’s Automark accessible voting device on a one time basis so that it can be used for the Feb. 5, 2008 Presidential Primary Election.

There is new State legislation, AB 1243 – CH 508, that changes the term “absentee voter,” “absentee voting,” “absent voter application” to “vote by mail voter,” “vote by mail,” “vote by mail voter application” in the Elections Code, Government Code, Education Code and Revenue and Taxation Codes. The Registrar of Voters has begun making the changes for the February 5th Primary.

Ms. Ginnold distributed an Election Fact Sheet for the February 5, 2008 election. The fact sheet will be posted on the marinvotes.org website. Ms. Ginnold also explained “crossover voting” where non partisan voters can “cross over” and vote a partisan ballot if the party permits it. The only two parties that permit non partisan voters to vote for partisan candidates in the Feb. 5 election are the American Independent and Democratic parties. The Registrar of Voters will provide information about crossover voting on a sign at the polls and has included an information page about it in the sample ballot. The Registrar of Voters asked for the committee’s feedback on a plan to send a letter to all Non Partisan voters informing them of their choices and to let them know that if they want to vote the ballot of parties not permitting crossover voting, they will need to re-register to vote in that party. Feedback from the committee was that sending such a letter to non partisan voters was a good idea.

Linda Bagneschi-Dorrance and Sherry Healy presented their idea for “hand count audit” of the Feb. 5, 2008 presidential race in every precinct after the polls. They propose that performing the manual count at each polling place would be more accurate than doing it after the election. Committee members discussed the impact of a longer election day on poll workers, whose average age is 77, supervision of the count, and the cost and time it would take to do this. Ms. Ginnold has asked County Counsel for a legal opinion on the proposal and will be preparing a response to this request by the end of next week.

A chart of the Election Advisory Committee Meetings scheduled in 2008 was distributed.

There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 11:30 a.m. The next meeting will be held on Friday, February 29, 2008.

September 21, 2007

Registrar of Voters
Election Advisory Committee Meeting
Friday, September 21, 2007, 9:30 a.m.
Room 324A, Marin Civic Center

Minutes

A meeting of the Registrar of Voters Election Advisory Committee was held on Friday, September 21, 2007 at 9:00 a.m. in Room 324A of the Civic Center. Present were: Mark Kyle, Julie Grantz, Steve Burdo, Antonia Hollander, Carlos Sanchez, Barbara Tomber, Bob Richard, Cris Jones, Anne Layzer, Cat Woods, Linda Bagneschi Dorrance. Also present were Melvin Briones, Dan Miller, Colleen Ksanda and Elaine Ginnold from the Registrar of Voters’ office and Wendy Freifeld, District Director, Cong. Lynn Woolsey’s Office.

Ms. Ginnold reported on the Voter Outreach and Education Subcommittee meeting which was held on September 12. She described the Registrar of Voters’ efforts to implement the Voter Outreach and Education Plan for 2007-08 by partnering with community organizations to provide voter education services to low-turnout populations in the county. Members of the committee suggested that voter education effort stress the importance of voting and the reasons for voting.

Cris Jones described the partnership between St. Vincent’s, Dominican University’s Social Justice Program, and the Registrar of Voters to register homeless voters and recruit poll workers for downtown San Rafael precincts.

Steve Burdo described the voter education activities of Grassroots in partnership with the Registrar of Voters at venues such as the Salsa Festival, and the Blues and Soul festival. He announced that October 13 is the official kickoff of the Grassroots Equal Voices for Healthy Communities week long campaign of civic engagement and education activities which will include a forum for San Rafael candidates on October 16.

Ms. Ginnold reported on the Election Integrity/Voter Confidence Subcommittee meeting held on September 17. The subcommittee has been looking at the Secretary of State’s new requirements for post election auditing. The ROV department plans to implement these requirements for the November 6th election. The department also plans to work with TrueBallot to audit additional precincts using a scanner, projector and screen.

The subcommittee has also been working through a list of questions about the security of absentee voting provided by Linda Bagneschi Dorrance. The goal is to identify the elements that provide for security of the ballots and the voting process and incorporate best practices into the ROV procedures.

Wendy Friefeld, District Director from Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey’s office, spoke about the Federal legislative process with focus on H.R. 811. She distributed booklets, How Our Laws Are Made. Ms. Friefeld said letters from constituents, especially the governing bodies within the district, are effective in influencing a legislator’s position on legislation. H.R. 811 has not yet been voted out of the House.

Election legislation update

  • AB 1294 Instant Runoff Voting/Ranked Choice Voting – bill is enrolled and awaiting signature by the Governor.
  • AB 183 Voter registration as condition of HS graduation – bill is enrolled and awaiting signature by the Governor.
  • SCA 12 – property related fees – no status report

Ms. Ginnold distributed a 1-page fact sheet about the November 6, 2007 Election and list of Election Observation opportunities for the election. Both documents will be posted on the ROV website.

Status of Automark ballot marking device: the Registrar of Voters must borrow 115 Automark devices from Contra Costa County for the November election. Our existing automarks have a certification issue because ES&S changed its Automark manufacturing process without notifying the SOS of the change. Therefore, the machines are not considered by the SOS to be certified and can’t be used in elections until they are certified. The machines affected by this change are located in 5 counties, including Marin. We are hopeful that this issue will be resolved before the Feb. 5th election.

Other business

The committee discussed the time of meetings and all agreed that 9:30 was a better time for everyone. Future meetings will start at 9:30. Committee suggested having a speaker on the state ballot initiatives on the ballot for the Feb. 5th election at the next meeting.

There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 11:00 a.m. The next meeting will be on Friday, December 14 at 9:30 a.m. in room 324A of the Civic Center.

August 17, 2007

Registrar of Voters
Election Advisory Committee Meeting
Friday, August 17, 2007, 9:30 a.m.
Room 324A, Marin Civic Center

Minutes

A meeting of the Registrar of Voters Election Advisory Committee was held on Friday, August 17, 2007 at 9:30 am. Members present were: Steve Burdo, Linda Bagneschi Dorrance, Anne Layzer, Sherry Reson, Bob Richard, and Barbara Tomber. Also present were Kenny Mostern, from TrueBallot, Ziad Hamdun and Conrad Kloh from the Grand Jury, Michael Smith, Treasurer-Tax Collector, and Elaine Ginnold and Colleen Ksanda from the Registrar of Voters’ Office.

Secretary of State’s Top to Bottom Review of Voting Systems and Impact on Marin County’s voting system

Elaine Ginnold reported on the Secretary of State directives withdrawing approval of the voting equipment produced by three companies and distributed a copy of the directives. The directives included the Accuvote optical scanners used in Marin County. At the same time, she issued directives to re-approve the equipment with conditions. Some of the conditions refer to existing state law and others are new. The new conditions that will have the most impact on Marin County are:

  • Prohibition against the use of modems to transmit unofficial election night results from the precincts. After the polls close, the optical scanners will be brought back to the office where the memory cards will be removed and uploaded. This process could delay election results from the polls by one to two hours.
  • Increased post election audit requirements that are yet to be announced. This requirement could mean that we will need to use the entire 28-day canvass period to complete all tasks required to certify the election.

Marin County is fortunate that we can continue to use our voting equipment, unlike other counties who rely on touch screens as their main voting system. These other counties are limited to the use of only one DRE per precinct and must find another way for voters to vote at the polls. Ms. Ginnold reported that the Secretary of State directives can serve to strengthen our election process, tighten procedures, increase the confidence of voters in Marin County and encourage election equipment vendors to incorporate security features into the design of their voting machines.

Ms. Ginnold will write a report about the SOS directives and their impact after she can do a more complete assessment of their impact on Marin County.

The Marin County Voter Outreach plan

The Marin County Voter Outreach plan was distributed to committee members. This plan was developed in cooperation with the Voter Outreach and Education Subcommittee. The goals of the plan include:

  • Educate voters about the importance of voting,
  • Educate voters about keeping their voter record up-to-date,
  • Educate voters about what to expect in the voting process, whether they are voting at the polls or by mail
  • Provide outreach and voter education materials in various formats to meet the requirements of voters with special needs.

Ms. Ginnold announced that the Registrar of Voters’ Office is working with St. Vincent de Paul and Dominican College on a program to provide voter outreach to homeless and low income voters and to recruit members of this population to work at the polls in their neighborhoods. The office also plans to work with Grassroots on a voter education program for low income and minority language voters for upcoming elections. Ms. Ginnold will speak to the Youth Commission at their August 27th on developing a cooperative venture to provide voter outreach services to youth and, perhaps, on a student poll worker program. The next meeting of the Voter Outreach and Education Subcommittee will be on Wednesday, September 12 at 4:30 p.m. at the Registrar of Voters’ Office.

Election legislation update

  • AB 1294 Instant Runoff Voting/Ranked Choice Voting: There is a hearing scheduled for August 20 in and it appears that the legislation is on track to get to the Governor’s desk.
  • AB 183 Voter registration as condition of HS graduation – on Senate floor for a 3rd reading
  • AB 583 Clean money bill: this bill is now a 2-year bill which means that the author will carry it over to the next legislative session.
  • SCA 12 – property related fees – on Senate floor for a 3rd reading.

Demonstration of TrueBallot

An optically scanned ballot with the potential to be used as a post election audit tool.
Kenny Mostern of TrueBallot gave a demonstration of how his voting system could be used as a post election audit tool to enable more efficient and transparent counting of ballots in randomly selected precincts during the post election audit. Committee members asked questions and discussed the possibility of using this for the upcoming election. Ms. Ginnold will follow up with the Secretary of State to see if there is any reason why we can’t use TrueBallot as a pilot as part of the post election audit after the November election.

Other business

Ms. Ginnold reported that the Election Integrity Sub-Committee had met yesterday and agreed to focus on two main issues: security of mail voting and the SOS directives on Marin’s voting system. The next meeting of the subcommittee will be on Monday, September 17 at 4:30 at the Registrar of Voters’ Office.

Sherry Reson asked if the meeting time of the Advisory Committee could be moved to 9:00 a.m. Ms. Ginnold to e-mail members to see if changing the time would be acceptable to all.

There was discussion of adding new members to the committee. As it appears that some committee members were on vacation in July and August, Ms. Ginnold will wait until the September meeting and will poll members who have missed meetings to determine the number of vacancies on the committee. She will provide an updated list of members at the September meeting.

Committee members suggested topics for future meetings, including:

  • Invite a congressional staff person speak to the committee about the federal legislative process. In particular, discuss status of H.R. 811.
  • Report on poll worker recruiting and training changes
  • Provide information about election observation opportunities for upcoming elections

There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 11:20 a.m. The next meeting will be on Friday, September 21, in room 324A of the Civic Center. Look for the time of the meeting on the agenda.

June 21, 2007 Annual Meeting

May 18, 2007

Registrar of Voters
Election Advisory Committee Meeting
Friday, May 18, 2007, 9:30 a.m.
Room 324A, Marin Civic Center

Minutes

A meeting of the Registrar of Voters’ Election Advisory Committee was held on Friday, May 18, 2007 at 9:30 in Room 324A of the Marin Civic Center. Present were: Greg Brockbank, Bob Richard, Barbara Gaman, Linda Bagneschi Dorrance, Steve Burdo, Julie Grantz, and Morgan Kelly. Also present were: Melvin Briones, Colleen Ksanda and Elaine Ginnold from the Registrar of Voters’ Office.

The first item on the agenda was a review of the annual report for the June 21st annual meeting. Elaine Ginnold distributed the meeting announcement, and the annual report which included an introduction, list of Advisory Committee Members, and a report of committee recommendations and actions taken. Committee members suggested that page numbers be added, that the headings in the recommendations section be highlighted and that the first section on absentee voting be revised to say that the committee is studying the increase in absentee voting. Members will review the information and get back to Ms. Ginnold with additional corrections. Also recommended was that there be a sign-in sheet with space for names and contact information and that nametags be available. Ms. Ginnold to send committee members a list of the organizations to notify of the annual meeting and members will get back to her with additional organizations to notify.

As of this time, the Secretary of State’s appointment secretary in unable to confirm that the Secretary of State will speak at the meeting. Other speaker options include Lowell Finley, Deputy Secretary of State for Voting Systems Technology and Policy, David Wagner, UC Berkeley Associate Professor of Computer Science, or that we invite a person from Lynne Woolsey’s staff at either the annual meeting or the meeting in July to discuss the steps in the Federal legislative process and include a brief update on pending federal and state election legislation.

Members also requested that the annual report be put on the ROV website when it is final.

The status of the following election bills was discussed:

  • AB 1294 Instant Runoff Voting/Ranked Choice Voting bill is still active and has moved out of the Appropriations Committee and onto the Assembly Floor.
  • AB 183 Voter registration as condition of HS graduation bill is in the suspense file
  • AB 583 Clean money bill – is in the suspense file
  • Federal Election bills – HR 811 will be sent to the House, where passage is expected. Both Hillary Clinton and Dianne Feinstein are working on different Senate bills dealing with election reform.

Committee will continue to follow AB 1294, federal and state election - related bills that are still active in July.

Report on Election Integrity/Voter Confidence Subcommittee Meeting Ms. Ginnold reported that the Election Integrity/Voter confidence Subcommittee is exploring security issues that arise with absentee voting. The Subcommittee is reviewing election procedures and flowcharts prepared by Election Office for areas where security could be strengthened or explained. Subcommittee also discussed information about this topic provided by Linda Bagneschi Dorrance. See next item.

Linda Bagneschi-Dorrance distributed a draft of a “white paper” outlining some of her security concerns with the increase in voting by mail. One of the greatest concerns is with the difficulty in observing all aspects of the absentee voting process vs. observing voting at the polls. Another is the potential for insiders to corrupt the election process. She feels that the risks of absentee voting outweigh its benefits and that it would be preferable for all voters to vote at the polls unless they were unable to get there. Linda also explained the concept of auditing 10% of the ballots at the polls after they close to increase confidence in the election results. These suggestions would require a change in the elections code.

Members discussed the possibility of holding elections on weekends so that there would be more time for people to vote. Changing the election date would require changing federal and state laws. Steve Burdo explained the origin of the Tuesday election day that is written in the US Constitution as follows: When elections were first held in the US, Wednesday was market day and Saturday and Sunday were Sabbath days. Tuesday was chosen as Election Day so that voters, who had to travel by horse and buggy to get to the market and the polls, would have Monday as a travel day, Tuesday as voting day, Wednesday as market day, Thursday as a travel day so that they would be home by Friday and in time for the Sabbath.

Report on Voter Outreach/Education to Low Turnout Populations Subcommittee Meeting Ms. Ginnold reported that the Voter Outreach Subcommittee was working on developing messages to stress the importance of and procedures for registering to vote and voting. She distributed a draft brochure, A Guide to Voting in Marin County, and asked for feedback from committee members. When it is finished, the brochure will be distributed to libraries, city clerks’ offices, and at outreach events.

Steve Burdo described a proposal for a non-partisan voter survey which would be conducted by Grassroots in partnership with the Registrar of Voters. The survey would be conducted door to door in neighborhoods where large numbers of minority language voters live. The purpose of the survey would be to get a better idea of the numbers of persons who are eligible but not registered to vote and to find out if and what the barriers to registering and voting are with these populations.

Ms. Ginnold distributed and reviewed the 2007-08 budget for the Registrar of Voters’ Office.

Under Other Business the following items were discussed:

  • Secretary of State’s review of voting systems – find the latest questions and answers on the SOS website. www.sos.ca.gov.
  • Accurate Center annual report is on their website at www.accurate-voting.org. This organization is composed of researchers at universities throughout the U.S. who have received funding from the National Science Institute to do basic research into voting, voting equipment, and other election related issues. The annual report contains a description of their activities and mentions Marin County as one of the counties they had worked with to develop a paper on using dice to randomly select precincts for the post election audit.
  • There was a discussion about including information about political parties of nonpartisan officeholders on the ROV website. Julie Grantz conveyed a message from the League of Women Voters that this is an issue needs to be carefully thought through. An argument against publishing the parties is that, though information about the party of an office holder is public information, political party affiliation is not a requirement for a non partisan office and therefore the party affiliation should not be published on the website as candidate information. An argument for publishing the parties of these officeholders is that this information should be made available to anyone instead of having two classes of people – those with information and those without and therefore, the information should be published on the website. Issue will be discussed again at the July meeting.

April 20, 2007

Registrar of Voters
Election Advisory Committee Meeting
Friday, April 20, 2007, 9:30 a.m.
Room 324A, Marin Civic Center

Minutes

A meeting of the Election Advisory Committee was held on Friday, April 20, 2007 at 9:30 a.m. Present were: Linda Bagneschi Dorrance, Greg Brockbank, Barbara Gaman, Julie Grantz, Anne Layzer, Jeanne Leoncini, Sherry Reson, Bob Richard, and Cat Woods. Also present were: Tony Aquilino, Melvin Briones, Jane Crownover, Colleen Ksanda and Elaine Ginnold from the Registrar of Voters’ Office and Roy Given, Assistant Treasurer.

Webpage update and feedback.

Tony Aquilino presented the latest version of the Registrar of Voters’ new website and received feedback from the committee on the site. Tony will make the changes suggested and expects to launch the site by the end of April. The Committee suggested that the new website be publicized in the IJ and that the address of the site be printed on cards that can be distributed at meetings held in the community.

ELECTION ADVISORY COMMITTEE FEEDBACK ON WEBSITE 4/20/07

  • Tab of Candidates should say “candidate information”
  • Add on election advisory committee page: “applications for membership on the committee are accepted continuously.”
  • Change the wording about applying for voter registration information to “applying to purchase information about registered voters”. You also mentioned that you would put in a statement that individual voters could check their own information by coming to our office.
  • Change the word “alpha” to “alphabetical”
  • On the absentee voting landing page, put a statement that says, “MAIL YOUR BALLOT EARLY…If you vote by mail, be sure to mail your ballot early – at least five days before the election – so that your votes can be included in the first report of absentee ballots at 8:00 p.m. on Election Night.”
  • Revise report on turnout to highlight presidential elections and explain the difference between November even and odd year elections.
  • Change heading on the page that had the addresses of the election officials to “ELECTION DEPARTMENTS IN CALIFORNIA COUNTIES”
  • Can you put our report of the elected officials with the dates of their terms (the one from Dan) on the website?
  • Create a means for voters to provide feedback on the website and on elections.
  • Find a better word to name the procedure for sending equipment to the polls rather than using the word “deploying” in the procedures section
  • On the schedule of elections, write, “no election scheduled at this time” . Also include a statement that says: “The following dates are dates when jurisdictions in California may schedule elections. These dates are specified in California Elections Code Sec. 1000 and 1500 and are known as “established election dates.” The list below will indicate whether or not an election has been scheduled in Marin County on one of the established election dates.
  • On the smart voter link description, add “candidates” to the list of information contained on the site.
  • Put link to the CA Elections Code and the county code, if possible.
  • Fix the spelling errors in links section – league and general.

Secretary of State’s review of voting systems

The Secretary of State has issued draft criteria on her proposed review of voting systems and expects to issue final criteria by the end of April. Both the draft criteria and public comments are posted on the Secretary of State’s website at www.sos.ca.gov. Click on the Voting Systems button. Marin’s optical scan voting system and its AutoMark ballot marking device will also be included in the review.

Planning for June 21st annual meeting

The appointments person at the Secretary of State’s office has changed and there is no word yet whether Debra Bowen or her designee will be available to speak at our annual meeting. We should hear by the end of April and at that time will e-mail an announcement of the annual meeting to committee members and begin publicizing it. Suggestions included asking members of the Board of Supervisors to publish the meeting announcement in their newsletters

Elaine Ginnold distributed a draft report of Advisory Committee recommendations with the actions that have been taken by the Registrar of Voters’ Office and asked for feedback from the Committee. The Committee recommended changing the word, “suggestions” to “recommendations” and to clarify that state legislation for Instant Runoff/Ranked Choice voting is pending. Put improvements resulting from committee suggestions in boldface type on the grid.

Committee members will review the grid between now and the May meeting and forward recommendations on it to Elaine Ginnold. The grid will become part of an annual report that will be prepared by the Registrar of Voters for the annual meeting in June. Ms. Ginnold will work with the subcommittees to develop additional information the annual report and will bring a draft of the Annual Report to the May meeting.

The committee approved the draft agenda for the annual meeting with the following changes: Add Election Advisory before the word Committee in the first item. Change item three to “Registrar of Voters’ report.”

Other suggestions for the annual meeting were to set up computers so that people could look at the website and project the main webpage on a screen during the meeting and to put the annual report on the ROV website. Committee also suggested that the ROV write an article about the work of the advisory committee and the ROV’s office for the IJ.

Updates were provided on the following State Assembly bills:

Bob Richard reported that AB 1294, Instant Runoff Voting/Choice Voting, which allows general law cities the option to conduct their elections using IRV and choice voting, had been approved by the Assembly Elections Committee and is now in Appropriations. Proponents and authors accepted two amendments as follows:
1. the bill no longer includes school or district elections due to the concern that because counties are required to conduct these elections, they would be left paying the bill for conversions to IVR elections if schools and districts so requested; and
2. Language will be added that if a city votes to have IRV elections, it will be with the condition that the voting system will be certified to handle it.

AB 1654 Mail ballot elections – the author has made this a 2-year bill.

AB 183 Voter registration as condition of HS graduation – Bill was amended to provide ways of encouraging HS seniors to register to vote, but not make voter registration a condition of graduation. This bill passed the Assembly Elections Committee and is now in Appropriations.

Federal Election bills – Ms. Ginnold will e-mail a summary of federal election bills that have been introduced.

It was requested that AB 583 – the clean money bill – be added to the list of bills the Committee is following.

Other business

Linda Bagneschi Dorrance explained some of her concerns about the movement towards absentee voting. These will be discussed in more detail at the Election Integrity/Voter Confidence Subcommittee meeting on April 24 at 4:30, and will be on the agenda for the next Election Advisory Committee Meeting.

Greg Brockbank distributed a report he had prepared on the incumbent candidates up for reelection in the November election, their political parties, addresses, and the likelihood of them running.

There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 11:30 a.m. The next meeting will be on Friday, May 18th at 9:30 in Room 324A of the Civic Center.

March 16, 2007

Registrar of Voters
Election Advisory Committee Meeting
Friday, March 16, 2007, 9:30 a.m.
Room 324A, Marin Civic Center

Minutes

A meeting of the Election Advisory Committee was held on Friday, March 16, 2007 at 9:30 a.m. in Room 324A of the Marin Civic Center. Members present were: Lottie Stein, Julie Grantz, Jeanne Leoncini, Carols Sanchez, Anne Layzer, Greg Brockbank, Steve Burdo, Cat Woods and Linda Bagneschi Dorrance. Also present were: Jason Chung and David Guerro from the US Postal Inspection Service; Maureen Geneste, UPSP Account Manager for the Marin County; Marty Winner, from Assembly member Jared Huffman’s office; Elaine Ginnold, Colleen Ksanda, and Tony Aquilino from the Registrar of Voters’ Office.

There was no report from the Voter Outreach and Education subcommittee because it did not have another meeting since the last report

Ms. Ginnold gave a report on the March 7th visit to the N. Bay Petaluma Postal Processing Center. See attached report. There was discussion about the ROV absentee return envelope. Committee members made the following suggestions:

  • Consider including a secrecy envelope with personal information inside the return envelope.
  • Amount of postage required on the return envelope needs to be clearer so that voters know how much postage to use on the envelope.
  • Print “your ballot” in the return address section of the envelope, instead of “your voted absentee ballot”.

Other information:

  • Beginning 1/1/08, absentee voters will be able to check on line to see if their ballot was received by the ROV.
  • The ROV is planning to use the USPS “planet barcode” to track the progress of AV ballots through the mail stream after they are mailed to voters.

Tony Aquilino gave the committee on a virtual tour of the Registrar of Voters’ new website. The website is organized to make it easier to find information. It has drop-down boxes with various topics and it is designed in a left-to-right format so that blind voters will be able to use their automated reading equipment without difficulty. The text can be enlarged for easier reading. Tony will see if the county will allow him to provide committee members with a link to the development site so that they can look at the website and give feedback to Elaine Ginnold. Tony and ROV staff are working on a way to provide frequent updates of candidate filings. The challenge is to find a way to easily update information on all candidates and at the same time not publish address information that some candidates do not want on the Internet. We expect to make the new site public in April. Our goal is to provide all of the information that the public needs in an easy-to-locate format. Suggestions are always welcome. Suggestions made by committee members at the meeting include:

  • Add EAC to the title of Our Mission
  • Write out the words for IST
  • Add link to Smart Voter.org for candidate information
  • Provide better access to past election results by district – drop down of candidate, date of election.
  • Provide results by polls and AV by precinct instead of the 1600 page document (ROV is working on this).
  • Provide information about when the next election is and when the terms of elected officeholders are up

Ms. Ginnold distributed the revised Provisional Voting FAQs and asked for feedback. This information will be posted on the new website.

Cat Woods gave a presentation of AB 1294, a bill allowing a local option for Instant Runoff Voting and Ranked Choice voting. Currently, only charter cities can adopt these methods of voting. If the bill passes, all local jurisdictions could vote to adopt these methods of voting for their elections without having to pass charter amendments. Instant runoff voting is used when there is one candidate to be elected to an office. Ranked choice voting is used when there is more than one candidate to be elected to an office. This method of voting eliminates vote splitting and ensures that the winner of an election has the support of the majority of voters. The bill would provide state standards for conducting such elections. Currently, there are no state standards in the Elections Code for jurisdictions to follow to conduct such elections. The lack of standards forces every jurisdiction that wishes to use these methods of voting to develop its own rules for it. Jurisdictions that adopt this form of voting would need an educational campaign for voters before the election.

Marty Winner, from Assemblyman Jared Huffman’s office explained AB 1654, which allows a local option for all mail ballot elections. The idea for the bill came from a Marin County constituent. The bill permits counties, cities, school and special districts to conduct their elections by all mail ballot upon a vote of the governing body. The bill also requires that the election official set up a sufficient number of polling places for voters to mark their ballots in person and to set up drop off sites for voters to drop off their ballots for the ballots during the voting period. Mr. Winner explained that the polling places envisioned in the bill would cover larger areas than they do now. The purpose of the bill is to help increase turnout and lower election costs for jurisdictions. So far it has support of the Association of CA cities and the letter carriers union.

Linda Bagnashi Dorrance stated that from an election integrity perspective, she was not supportive of the bill and wanted to discuss some of the issues with it. Mr. Winner said that Assembly Huffman is also interested in hearing the concerns about all mail ballot elections and about the types of safeguards that could be instituted to enhance election integrity in these types of elections.

Ms. Ginnold reported that the Grand Jury is preparing a report on absentee voting in Marin County and is comparing the costs of a mail ballot election vs. polling place election.

Steve Burdo suggested adding AB 183 to the agenda of the next meeting. This is a bill that requires all HS seniors to register to vote in order to graduate.

David R. Guerra, Postal Inspector and team leader on the Homeland Security in the US Postal Service’ Northern District spoke to Committee about mail security. Postal Inspectors are the law enforcement and security arm of the US Postal Service. The postal service was founded in 1737 by Ben Franklin. In the 1870’s the Mail Fraud Protection Act was passed which was the first consumer protection law. The USPS is now an independent agency with its funding coming from postage fees and products. An important security aspect of the USPS is the sanctity of the seal in that mail is protected from tampering from the time it is deposited at the post office to the time it is delivered to the recipient. The Postal Inspection Dept. investigates a variety of crimes such as mail theft and mail fraud. Mail that is attractive to thieves involves government checks, money (sometimes to fund narcotics abuse). Absentee ballots do not fit into this category. Committee members discussed the following issues with Mr. Guerra:

  • Is election mail treated differently from other mail? Elaine Ginnold explained that it is different in that election mail (absentee and sample ballots) cannot be forwarded by law.
  • Is mail ever misdirected? Mr. Guerra mentioned that there was the possibility that mail could be put on the wrong truck, but it is rare. It would be noticed by workers, but could cause a delay of one or two days. At issue was a past election in Fairfax where mail got lost. There was also a problem with mail from the social justice center that was lost around the election. Need to follow up on and find an explanation for these issues when they happen. Maureen Geneste suggested that mail problems with election mail be reported to the ROV who will contact her for investigation.
  • Where does mail theft occur? In neighborhoods where people put out their mail for pick up by the carrier, from cluster boxes and boxes in rural areas. Theft from delivery trucks is rare due to the anti-theft design of the trucks.
  • What type of screening is given postal employees? Every postal employee and contractor goes through a criminal background and fingerprint check. The USPS “seeds” the mail to check delivery standards. Different facilities have different physical security requirements depending on its level of risk.
  • How much does the government snoop into the mail? Mr. Guerra said that the idea of the sanctity of the seal that the USPS stresses to its employees prevents the opening of letters. It takes a federal search warrant to open letters in the event of a bomb threat. Packages are only opened if it appears that they contain something dangerous. Smells, the appearance of wires, powder and oily stains tip off inspectors to packages containing dangerous materials.
  • Who hires the inspectors? Could politics be played at a high level in the USPS that would result in less enforcement? The USPS is an agency that has been an independent branch of the Federal Government since 1969 and it is not part of the president’s cabinet. It was designed this way to get politics out of the USPS. The Postmaster General reports to an independent board of governors that is appointed by the president and serves 9- year terms.
  • What is the role of the FBI? FBI teams will bring cases and often the US Attorney will prosecute using the mail fraud statue; however, USPS law enforcement is primarily associated with the postal inspectors.
  • What are USPS trends? Workload is growing at the rate of 3 million new addresses/year with fewer employees than 20 years ago. The types of crimes are changing, and much more tracking is available.

Other business

Elaine Ginnold will reschedule April Election Integrity/Voter Confidence Subcommittee meeting and schedule Voter Outreach and Education Meeting via e- mail.

We still have not heard whether Debra Bowen will be the speaker for our community meeting on June 21.

There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 11:45. The next meeting will be on Friday, April 20 at 9:30 a.m. in Room 324A of the Marin Civic Center.

February 16, 2007

Registrar of Voters
Election Advisory Committee Meeting
Friday, February 16, 2007, 9:30 a.m.
Room 324A, Marin Civic Center

Minutes

A meeting of the Election Advisory Committee was held on Friday, February 16, 2007 at 9:30 a.m. in room 324A of the Marin Civic Center.

Present were: Mark Kyle, Lottie Stein (for Barbara Gaman), Jeanne Leoncini, Steve Burdo, Bob Richard, Linda Bagneschi Dorrance, Cat Woods, and Julie Grantz. Also present were Elaine Ginnold and Colleen Ksanda from the Registrar of Voters’ Office.

Report on the activities of the Voter Outreach and Education Subcommittee meeting of February 13

Ms. Ginnold reported that the subcommittee met to share ideas on messages about the importance of local elections on individual voters. John Ortega attended the meeting to share his ideas and concerns. There was discussion on the number of voters needing language assistance in Marin County. Steve Burdo, from Grassroots, explained that census data is inaccurate because groups of people in some areas of the county rent in shifts so that not the entire household is available when the census taker comes to the door. Also, relying on Spanish surnames to identify voters is like “shooting at the ocean” and leaves out large populations since many people who may need language assistance do not have Spanish surnames. Based on his experience, Steve recommends that the most effective outreach is to go door to door in the actual community. He further explained that his organization goes to other organizations to register voters on the staff and then asks them to register their families. He suggests finding things that draw people, such as mobile vendors, to provide information about registering to vote and voting to customers. He also suggested that the US Postal Service could be helpful in identifying voters who may need language assistance by providing a list of new residents in the community.

Report from the voting Integrity/Voter Confidence Subcommittee February 14th meeting

Cat Woods described the TrueBallot computer assisted hand count program, which was demonstrated to the Subcommittee at its February 13 meeting. Ballots are digitally scanned so that they can be hand counted by looking at the digital images of the ballots and confirming the votes. This system has the potential of being used by counties to assist with the manual tally of precincts after an election. Also, the digital ballot images could be put released to the public. Issues to be resolved before this can happen are the question of whether certification of the equipment by the SOS is necessary, whether or not state law, which requires that the ballots be sealed after an election, would have to be changed, and whether state law would permit ballot images to be released to the public before and/or after the election has been certified.

Another issue discussed by the Subcommittee was the risks and benefits of mail voting. Subcommittee members asked for more information about security at the Post Office. Ms. Ginnold agreed to arrange for a Postal Inspector to speak to the entire Advisory Committee at its March 16 meeting and she will also work with the Post Office to schedule a field trip to the North Bay Petaluma processing facility in March (this field trip has been scheduled for Wed., March 7 at 5:00 p.m.).

Other issues discussed by the Subcommittee and also by the Advisory Committee were: the pros and cons of having an elected vs. appointed Registrar of Voters; voting by mail and notice of agenda items. The Registrar of Voters will notify committee members of Registrar of Voter’s items that are on the Board agenda. The agendas of the board meetings are posted on the County’s website the week before the board meeting and people can e- mail the board to request an electronic copy of the agendas.

SB 113

The Committee discussed Senate Bill 113 that establishes a February 5, 2008 Primary Election in addition to the Primary Election scheduled for June 5, 2008. There are problems with overlapping timeframes for the Elections Dept. Committee members expressed serious concerns about the cost of an additional statewide election to the County and about the motivating interests behind the bill.

Annual Community meeting

The Annual Community Meeting is scheduled for Thursday, June 21st from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. Secretary of State Debra Bowen has been invited to speak at the meeting and we are waiting to hear if she will accept our invitation.

Frequently Asked Questions

The Committee reviewed Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) that are planned for the Registrar of Voters’ web page and made suggestions on the wording and organization of the information. The Registering to Vote and Vote-by-Mail FAQs documents with the changes made are attached to these minutes. The revised documents will be put on the web page; however, changes to the wording that make the information clearer will be continuously accepted. Please send comments about these documents directly to Elaine Ginnold. The Provisional Ballot FAQs need more revision and will be on the agenda at the next meeting.

There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 11:30 a.m. The next meeting will be on Friday, March 16th at 9:30 a.m. Please let Elaine Ginnold know if you plan to be at the tour of the Post Office on March 7.

January 19, 2007

Registrar of Voters
Election Advisory Committee Meeting
Friday, January 19, 2007, 9:30 a.m.
Room 324A, Marin Civic Center

Minutes

The Marin County Registrar of Voters Election Advisory Committee met on Friday, January 19, 2007 at 9:30 a.m. in Room 324A of the Marin Civic Center. Members present were: Greg Brockbank, Bob Richard, Anne Layzer, Linda Bagneschi Dorrance, Barbara Gaman, Jeanne Leoncini, Dave O’Connor and Julie Grantz. Also present were: Elaine Ginnold, Melvin Briones, Colleen Ksanda and Tony Aquilino from the Registrar of Voters’ Office. Bill Cyders, county’s web developer joined the meeting at 11:00 a.m.

The minutes of the meeting of December 15th were approved with corrections to the following names of persons attending the meeting: Bob Richard, Tom Pattinson and Dagmar Zakim.

Report from the Voter Outreach and Education subcommittee

The Voter Outreach and Education subcommittee met on January 10 and heard a report from Steve Burdo, from Grassroots Leadership Network, about the voter education and outreach activities conducted by Grassroots in partnership with the Registrar of Voters for the November 7, 2006 General Election. Grassroots engaged in many voter education activities with the goal of engaging new voters in the County and teaching them about about the voting process, including how to mark a ballot. Populations targeted were in communities with traditionally lower numbers of registered voters and lower voter turnout percentages that that of the county as a whole. On election day, Grassroots conducted exit polls of voters at three polling places - Marin City Community Center, Pickleweed Park, and the United Methodist Church in S. Novato and compiled feedback. Most voters felt the ballot was too long and they also wanted to receive more election information from the County.

In addition, the Registrar of Voters has a contract with the League of Women Voters to keep voter registration forms stocked in display boxes at libraries, fire stations and other public buildings.

One of the projects of the subcommittee for 2007 is to develop messaging to educate voters about the impact of local elections on their daily lives. Minutes of the subcommittee meeting were available at the meeting and are attached.

Committee suggested making the public more aware of Language Line, which the ROV uses to assist voters who speak other languages.

Report from the Voting Integrity/Voter Confidence subcommittee

The Voting Integrity/voter Confidence Subcommittee met on January 16. The focus of the meeting was feedback on security issues from the November election. One of these issues was the need to put tamper-evident tape on the serial port and the modem line on the back of the Accuvote OS. Ms. Ginnold demonstrated the areas on the AccuVote that will be sealed and distributed the tamper-evident seals that are used to seal them. When the seals are peeled off, the word VOID appears on them. Another issue discussed by the subcommittee was the reason for the use of indelible pencils for signing the Roster. Indelible pencils are supposed to resist being erased and signatures made with indelible pencil don’t smear if they get wet. Members of the Committee tried erasing the writing of the indelible pencils used at the polls and, depending on the paper used, it could be erased in varying degrees. Ms. Ginnold to check on election code requirements regarding use of these types of pencils.

Development of Mission Statement for Election Advisory Committee

Committee members brainstormed on the development of a mission statement for the Advisory Committee that would be included on the ROV website. It was decided to focus on the development of a statement of purpose rather then on mission since the Committee is advisory and is not performing election activities. Ms. Ginnold to gather the comments made by committee members and develop a statement of purpose to be approved at the next meeting.

Speaker - suggestions for annual meeting

Committee members suggested that Debra Bowen, Secretary of State, or one of her deputies be invited to speak at the annual meeting at 7:00 p.m. on a date in the Spring, depending on the Secretary’s schedule. ROV to send letter to invite the SOS on behalf of the Advisory Committee and to locate place for the meeting.

Update on Webpage

Tony Aquilino gave a presentation on the status of the ROV web page development. He is categorizing existing information on the ROV website and putting it under one of several general headings on the webpage. Bill Cyders, the County’s web developer, who is working with the ROV on this project, arrived at 11:00 to answer questions. Members made suggestions on the information to be included on the site such as to put candidate filing status and contact information on the website on a daily basis. There will be updates on the website with opportunity for committee members to provide feedback at future meetings.

There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 11:30 a.m. The next meeting will be on Friday, February 16, at 9:30 a.m. in Room 324A of the Civic Center.