Registrar of Voters
Election Advisory Committee Meeting
Friday, September 16, 2016, 9:30 a.m.
Room 324A, Marin Civic Center
A meeting of the Election Advisory Committee was held on Friday, September 16, 2016, in Room 324A of the Marin Civic Center. The following members were present: Greg Brockbank, Cathleen Dorinson, Veda Florez, Bonnie Glaser, Marcia Hagen, Ora Hatheway, Anne Layzer, Damian Morgan, Bob Richard.
Representing the Elections Office: Lynda Roberts, Colleen Ksanda
Lynda Roberts opened the meeting. Morgan Kelley has resigned due to time conflicts, and has asked Tom Montgomery to take her place.
Mr. Montgomery introduced himself. He has been in Marin County for 18 years, and is chair of the Marin County Republican Party Central Committee.
EAC committee members introduced themselves.
Colleen Ksanda, Polling Place/Poll Worker Manager, completed her CERA credential (Certified Election and Registration Administrator) in June of 2016. This is a professional education program administered by The Election Center, whose members are almost exclusively government employees and election administrators. In addition to the CERA program, The Center hosts conferences and workshops, and publishes a monthly newsletter that provides updates about election issues.
CERA courses are college level, and are taught by professors from Auburn University. There are 12 courses (1½ days each), and the program takes 3 years to complete. This program provides the education necessary for administrators to develop greater professional skills in a changing environment.
National Voter Registration Day
Veda Florez reviewed events planned from September 25 to October 1 for National Voter Registration Day, which is Tuesday, September 27.
The Marin Asian Alliance is a new partner that is promoting voter registration door-to-door, and plans to host an event at an upcoming picnic. Main Street Moms and League of Women Voters of Marin will participate in an outreach event hosted by West Marin Community Services to focus on Latino voters. Marin Center for Independent Living won’t be participating in events this year since their contact person has changed organizations.
National Voter Registration Day efforts will be recognized by the offices of Congressman Huffman and Assemblyman Levine. The Secretary of State also recognized NVRD with a proclamation. The Marin County Elections Department will make announcements through two news releases.
Poll Workers and Polling Places
Colleen Ksanda gave a report about polling places and poll workers. There will be 92 polling places and 161 precincts, plus 21 mail-only precincts. Two new polling places: San Rafael High School will replace San Rafael Fire Station. This location will include a parking lot monitor and ballot drop box for vote-by-mail ballots. Whistlestop will replace the San Rafael Corporate Center. This location will also have a parking lot monitor and ballot drop box. Los Robles Mobile Home Park in Novato cancelled as a polling place, but precincts were merged with the Hamilton location.
This election will require approximately 700 poll workers. The average age of poll workers is 77. Assignment notices will be mailed next week. A location in West Marin still needs people, and Larkspur and Mill Valley still have openings. Typically about 100 people drop out before Election Day. About 30 students from Novato High have signed up for the student poll worker program; however, students tend to drop out.
EAC members suggested resources for recruiting potential poll workers: Marin Grassroots Boards and Leadership Training Commission; Next Door; League of Women Voters website; and City Councilmembers’ email lists.
Ora Hatheway asked about poll worker training, and the concept of training the precinct workers in teams. She said some clerks won’t listen to the deputy. Ms. Ksanda said experience has shown that workers need to be trained at their own level (i.e. inspectors with inspectors and clerks with clerks) or people drop out. When a policy question arises, she instructs people to look in the manuals to find answers and take away the argument. She talks about team work in the classes for new people.
Dates and Statistics
Ms. Roberts provided the Facts and Key Dates list for November. She noted that 60 days before the election, voter registration was 153,982—1,943 more than the total number of registered voters in the June primary election. The deadline to register for the November election is October 24, so registration will continue to increase.
The Committee also reviewed the 60-day report of district registration by party, the Statement of Vote from the November 4, 2008, General Election, and the Statement of Vote from the November 6, 2012, General Election. Ms. Roberts noted that turnout in 2008 was nearly 91% and turnout in 2012 was just over 87%.
Voter Participation Center: Media Releases
Ms. Roberts reviewed an issue with a statewide mailing sent by the Voter Participation Center. The letter and pre-filled registration form were intended to urge those not registered to vote to do so. Close to 18,000 letters were mailed in Marin County.
However, it caused a lot of confusion and the Elections Department received numerous phone calls from voters. The department has processed approximately 250 forms, and since they are generic, each form requires manual numbering. A minimal number of forms have included useful changes. Approximately 50 forms were returned indicating that the person was deceased, moved out of county, not a citizen, or the name on the form was a pet’s name. Many forms mailed back were from people already registered. This mailing caused extra work for Elections Department staff, and it would have been more useful for VPC to direct people to the online voter registration system.
Because of the confusion, the Secretary of State and California Association of Clerks and Election Officials published statewide media releases, and the Marin Elections Department published a local news release to alert voters about the mailing.
Cathleen Dorinson said Main Street Moms has been using VPC since 2005, and found them to be a reliable, non-partisan organization. The Center is based in Washington, D.C. and they started their mailing project to unregistered voters in 2012. They may have done a “sloppy” job with the data used for this recent mailing, but they are a good organization.
Tom Montgomery mentioned that people can purchase data from the Statewide Database for $30.
Transparency and Security
Transparency: Public trust is a critical component of elections, and the Elections Department ensures this trust through transparency, which is a key value included in its mission statement. Transparency is promoted in the following ways: Elections Department policies and procedures are posted on the web; the equipment logic and accuracy testing board includes members of the League of Women Voters and Grand Jury; city and town clerks post notices advising people of public procedures; anyone can go to a polling place and observe on Election Day and poll workers are reminded of this through a memo included with their supplies; and observers are welcome to watch processes that take place in the office.
Observers make good ambassadors since they take first-hand knowledge out into their communities. An example of this is Anne Layzer’s slide show that tracks the process on election night when equipment is returned to the Civic Center.
Security: There has been much concern in the news recently about cybersecurity and voter registration information. Members of the Elections Department met with the County’s Information Systems Technology security team to review security of computer information, including voter registration records. The IST team explained in detail the protections that include firewalls, active scanning for malicious email links, and working with a multi-state cyber security group to track malicious IP addresses and URLs. The IST security team monitors reports daily to watch for any suspicious activity. The Secretary of State’s Office also has multilayered security protocols in place for the election process, including voter registration, ballots and voting systems. No voting system in the State of California is connected to the internet, so there is no risk of outside forces hacking tally results.
Bob Richard pointed out that decentralized elections are harder to manipulate. And even though the State central voter registration database is the depository of records, counties still enter the data.
Bob Richard raised a concern about how statutes contribute to the problem of voting twice by allowing voters to request a second vote-by-mail ballot and offering No Party Preference voters a crossover party ballot.
Ora Hatheway said she attended a meeting of the Marin County Human Rights Commission, which may be an area of potential outreach.
Greg Brockbank suggested a website review since candidate information is not easy to find, and the site uses bureaucratic language.
The meeting adjourned at 11:30 a.m. The next meeting will be held on Friday, December 16, 2016.