Registrar of Voters
Election Advisory Committee Meeting
Friday, December 19, 2008, 9:30 a.m.
Room 324A, Marin Civic Center
A meeting of the Election Advisory Committee was held on December 19, 2008 in Room 324A of the Civic Center.
Present were: Esther Beirne, Greg Brockbank, Steve Burdo, Carl Carter, Linda Bagneschi Dorrance, Ericka Erickson, Barbara Gaman, Marcia Hagen, Cris Jones, Morgan Kelley, Mark Kyle, Anne Layzer, Jeanne Leoncini, Bob Richard, Carlos Sanchez, Steve Silberstein, Cat Woods. Also present was Yvette Cashmere from Grassroots and Elaine Ginnold, Melvin Briones, and Colleen Ksanda from the Registrar of Voters.
Report on November 4, 2008 General Election
Ms. Ginnold distributed a report on the November 4, 2008 General Election. Turnout set a record for Marin County at 90.8%. 141,432 out of 155,640 registered voters voted in this election. The percentage of voters voting by mail continues to increase. 84,390 voters (59.71% of the total turnout) voted by mail. The post election manual tally showed no discrepancies.
Colleen Ksanda, Precinct Coordinator, reported that 772 Marin County voters volunteered to work at the polls. Almost all were experienced poll workers. There were no cancellations of Inspectors and there was a waiting list of over 100 voters. 27 high school students worked in the election.
Ms. Ksanda also reported on a survey of poll workers she did to see if there was interest in on-line training. 82% of the 772 poll workers responded to the survey. Of the clerks who responded to the survey, 83% reported that they had access to the Internet, and of those, 72% said they would take on line training.
Because on line training is expensive to set up and maintain, the committee discussed other options for giving clerks access to training. Options suggested included: putting the training video on line, taking the clerks’ class to West Marin; developing our own on line training program for clerks; using webinars; webcasts of training; video taping the clerks’ training class and putting it on line. The Registrar’s office plans to make a new training video this year and will look at all of the options for providing training for clerks.
Voter outreach for November 4
Ericka Erickson from Grassroots described the voter outreach to low turnout populations they had undertaken in cooperation with the Registrar of Voters’ Office and as part of their civic engagement program. The three target areas are: Marin City, the Canal area of San Rafael, and South Novato. Grassroots provided voter education at shelters and jails, through candidate forums, cable TV program, mailers and phone banking. They reached a total of 808 households.
Voter education was strictly non partisan and covered how to register to vote, deadlines, where to vote, what was on the ballot, and the voting process, including filling in the ovals on the ballot to make sure the votes on the ballot would be counted.
On Election Day, Grassroots conducted exit polls outside polling places at the three targeted areas and also at the B Street Community Center in San Rafael, where many of the homeless vote, to find out the number of and types of problems voters encountered with voting. One of the problems discussed was that of voters who are in domestic violence situations and don’t want to give the address where they are living. It is important for agencies that have contact with victims of domestic violence to provide information about the Secretary of State’s Safe at Home Program, which allows a domestic violence victim to register as confidential so that their address is not available to anyone except the Registrar of Voters office.
The Registrar of Voters also contracted with Lupita Figueredo, for media outreach to the Spanish speaking population of Marin County. She conducted media interviews and distributed press releases and public service information in Spanish to local media and also participated in outreach events sponsored by organizations in the Canal area.
Ms. Ginnold reported that there was an increase in voter turnout from 2004 to the 2008 election in the targeted precincts as a result of these outreach efforts and the interest generated in the 2008 election.
County Measure B
Ms. Ginnold reported that the County will be implementing Measure B during the next two years and during that time, a decision will be forthcoming about the status of the Registrar of Voters as a separate department and that there is no other information about the reorganization of the departments affected by Measure B at this time. Several committee members requested that the committee have an opportunity to provide input into the disposition of the ROV department.
Voting by mail
The committee discussed a report on vote by mail and provisional voting for the November 4, 2008 election as follows:
Out of 97,168 vote by mail ballots issued, 85,0121(87.47%) were returned. Of those returned, 84,390 (99.25%) were counted. Of the 631(.74%) ballots not counted, 311 (49.28) were rejected because they were too late; 244 (38.66%) because the signature on the return envelope didn't match the signature on the voter registration file; and 76 (12.04%) were rejected because there was no signature. The report also showed that 12,100 voters returned their ballots at the polls on Election Day, and the rest returned them either by mail or at the Registrar’s office.
Of the 3984 provisional ballots received, 3260 (81.82%) were counted. 445 (11.16%) of those received were not counted because the voter was not registered in Marin County. The remaining ballots were not counted because of one of the following reasons: no signature on the envelope; voter’s registration had been cancelled due to re-registration in another county; voter lived outside of the county; voter had returned a vote by mail ballot; voter had registered too late; miscellaneous reasons.
Voter registration and voter file maintenance
The committee discussed a report on voter file maintenance prepared by the Registrar of Voters. One of the issues discussed was “universal registration” where citizens are automatically registered at some point in their lives and the government takes responsibility for following them so that they can participate in elections. This idea is being discussed at the national level as a means of eliminating administrative barriers to voting, such as the current voter registration requirements with deadlines. A discussion of how the ROV maintains the voter file and what causes a voter’s registration to be cancelled will continue at the next meeting.
New election legislation legislation for 2009
AB 1808 – Candidates for federal offices can now purchase 250-word candidates statements for publication in the county Sample Ballot
AB 2758 – Requires that the source code for newly certified voting equipment be directly transferred from the EAC or testing lab by the vendor to an approved escrow facility.
AB 2786 - Extends authority to receive faxed ballots from overseas voters to 2011
AB 3026 – Prohibits any part of a voting system to be connected to the Internet
AB 3070 – Sets time of primary election on the 9th Tuesday preceding a special general election to fill a vacancy. Sets timetable for nomination period and VBM ballots in such an election.
SB 381 – allows online voter registration when statewide database is ready (2010)
The members of the Election Advisory Committee agreed to hold meetings according to the attached schedule in 2009. The committee will discuss the details of the annual meeting at its January meeting.
Cat Woods gave the committee feedback about her experience working at the polls on November 4. She was working in a school and the students were chanting Obama’s name periodically throughout the day. The Inspector told them to be quiet, but they would come back and continue their chanting. One voter put his AV ballot into a provisional envelope; and the Chief Inspector was somewhat abrupt. Bob Richard, who also worked at the polls, suggested finding a way to have a shorter day for poll workers since the current hours are very long.
Chris Jones mentioned that the Inspector at the B St. precinct in San Rafael was automatically giving homeless voters a provisional ballot. She said she spoke to the poll workers and the Inspector stopped doing this. The committee suggested that poll workers who handle special populations should be given more training on how to interact with them.
There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 11:30 a.m. The next meeting will be on Friday, January 23 from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.