Advisory Committee 2007 Annual Report

Lynda Roberts, Registrar of Voters, Elections

Marin County Registrar of Voters’ Election Advisory Committee
Annual Report for 2006-07


The Marin County Registrar of Voters’ Election Advisory Committee was formed by the Registrar of Voters in July of 2006. The purpose of the Advisory Committee is to provide advice and recommendations to the Registrar of Voters on voter participation and election integrity issues as they affect elections held in Marin County. The Advisory Committee:

  • Provides a link between the voting public and the Registrar of Voters.
  • Advises the Registrar of Voters to ensure that every voter has the opportunity to vote knowledgeably, safely and effectively.

Members of the public are welcome to attend Advisory Committee meetings, which are generally held from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., on the third Friday of each month in room 324A of the Marin Civic Center in San Rafael. The Election Advisory Committee’s meeting schedule is posted on the Registrar of Voters’ website at

The Election Advisory Committee has established two subcommittees to explore issues more deeply. The Election Integrity/Voter Confidence Subcommittee focuses on ways to make the election process more secure and transparent to voters.

The Voter Education/Outreach to Low-Turnout Populations Subcommittee explores methods of educating voters in low-turnout communities about the election and voter registration process.

Applications for membership on the advisory committee are accepted year-round. The Registrar of Voters selects 20 voters from various geographic areas of the county and who have different points of view and interests in the elections process. Members must be willing to attend the meetings of the Committee or its subcommittees. The application for committee membership is posted on the Registrar of Voters’ website.

The Annual Report contains a complete description of Advisory Committee recommendations and actions taken as a result of those recommendations. It also includes a list of Committee members. In summary, the majority of the Advisory Committee’s recommendations have been carried out by the Election Office including:

  • New Registrar of Voters website with more information organized in an accessible format.
  • Expanded post election audit procedures by increasing the hand tally of randomly selected precincts from 1% to 3%. Sorted the absentee ballots by precinct and included them in the manual tally. Reduced the cost of recounts to make them more affordable to candidates.
  • Expanded outreach program in partnership with Grassroots to provide bilingual voter education to voters in the County.
  • Improved poll worker training by holding smaller classes, creating a training video and developing new poll worker training manuals.

The Registrar of Voters wishes to thank Election Advisory Committee members for their dedication to improving the election process in Marin County and for its valuable feedback to the Elections Office during the past year. Through its recommendations and feedback, the Election Advisory Committee has enhanced the conduct of elections in Marin County.

For more information about the Election Advisory Committee, please contact Elaine Ginnold, Registrar of Voters

Name Area of County
Greg Brockbank San Rafael
Linda Bagneschi Dorrance
Represented by Eva Waskell
Shirley Graves Novato
Julie Grantz Novato
Richard Hill Tiburon
Mark Kyle San Rafael
Anne Layzer Mill Valley
Donald Linker Tiburon
David O'Connor Forest Knolls
Donald Pino Tiburon
Sherry Reson Mill Valley
Carlos Sanchez Mill Valley
Cat Woods Novato
Patrick Connally San Rafael
John Young San Rafael
Carl Carter San Anselmo
Jeanne Leoncini San Rafael
Barbara Gaman Inverness
Robert Richard Kentfield
Steve Burdo San Rafael


Greg Brockbank
Steve Burdo
Shirley Graves
Anne Layzer
Jeanne Leoncini


Carl Carter
Linda Bagneschi Dorrance
Sherry Reson
Robert Richard
Cat Woods


Voter Outreach Recommendations Action Taken Impact
Provide voter outreach and education in low income and minority communities Formed the Voter Outreach and Education to Low Turnout Populations Subcommittee to look at ways to encourage voter registration and participation in communities where turnout is lower than average.
Registrar of voters entered into a partnership with the community organization, Grassroots, to provide voter education in low turnout communities before the November 2006 General Election.
Subcommittee members meet monthly to discuss outreach projects and materials and to provide feedback and recommendations to ROV.
Grassroots provided bilingual Spanish/Vietnamese information on voters’ rights, how to mark the ballot, and the voting process to voters in Marin City, the Canal area in San Rafael and South Novato.
Provide election materials in other languages Registrar of Voters translated the ballot measures into Spanish.
Grassroots provided bilingual Spanish/Vietnamese materials on voters’ rights, how to mark the ballot, and the voting process to low turnout communities.
Translated ballot measures were sent to voters who requested bilingual material and to all polling places.
Grassroots reached over 1500 county residents with voter education forums, surveys and bilingual materials.
Poll Worker Recruitment and Training Recommendations Action Taken Impact
Improve training for poll workers ROV took following actions to improve poll worker training:
• Reduced size of classes and redesigned training program to include video and exercises in addition to power point.
• Created a poll worker training video.
• Revised instructions to include flip guides for polling place procedures and a What to do If… booklet for various situations that can occur on Election Day.
Received positive feedback about training and new instruction manuals from poll workers.
Improved election day performance of poll workers by improving their training and resources
Provide reference materials to poll workers Copies of video and training guides were given to poll workers at class to take home. Resulted in fewer calls about unresolved problems from poll workers on election day.
Recruit youth and poll workers that speak other languages ROV recruits high school students to work at the polls in all elections. ROV currently working to recruit more bilingual poll workers where needed. Student poll workers get first hand experience of the election process and help staff precinct boards.
Recruit more poll workers from within local communities, such as the Canal area and Marin City ROV recruited poll workers from every community for the November 2006 General Election. Goal of ROV is to place poll workers at polls in their own communities. All precinct boards were filled and there were few cancellations.
Offer split shifts to poll workers Split shifts are available to election clerks who find a partner with whom to split the shift. Helps to maintain fully staffed precinct boards on election day.
Website Recommendations Action Taken Impact
Revisit the design and feel of the election information on the website for voters and for potential and existing candidates. Update content. ROV website has been completely redesigned and content has been updated. Visit the new Registrar of Voters’ website at New website is organized for accessible and easier retrieval of information. More information is provided on the site.
Make website more accessible to vision impaired voters and minority language voters. Website is created in an accessible format, which includes the option to enlarge fonts and change the contrast.
ROV plans to translate website into Spanish.
Persons with vision impairments will be able to read information on the site more easily.
Provide information and diagram explaining the election process and chain of custody procedures. Post more written procedures on the Web. ROV developed procedures for the website, including procedures on recount, 1% random drawing and tally of precincts; chain of custody of election equipment, absentee voting process, and post election canvass. Visitors to the website can now find procedures that help explain the election process. Flowcharts of election processes are being added to the website.
Provide more frequent updating of candidate filing on the site Fair Political Practices financial filing forms will be posted on the site.
ROV plans to provide regular updates on candidates who have taken out nominations papers and filed them during the nominations period.
Provides the ability for persons to access information about candidates on their computers at home or at office.
Absentee Voting Recommendations Action Taken Impact
Look at the impact on the elections process in the increase the number of voters voting by mail. Election Integrity/Voter Confidence subcommittee is exploring issues surrounding the increase in mail ballot voting in Marin County Number of voters who vote by mail has increased from 21% in November 1996 to 58% in November 2006.
Educate absentee voters to return their ballots earlier than on election day Notice in the Voter Information Pamphlet and in each absentee ballot mailed for the Nov. General Election has information about how and when to return the ballot. The number of absentee ballots rejected as too late decreased by 5% from 647 in the 2006 Primary Election to 555 in the in the November 2006 General Election.
Audit the absentee votes by precinct. Absentee ballots were included in the manual tally after the Nov. 2006 Election and counted with the randomly selected precincts. Increased voter confidence when the hand tally includes absentee ballots from the randomly selected precincts.
Compare costs for AV vs. polling place voting Cost comparison of mail ballot election vs. polling place with mail ballot was prepared for the Marin County Grand Jury. Comparison showed that the cost of a mail ballot only election is approximately $4.55 per registered voter while a hybrid election (polling places and mail ballots) costs approximately $6.63 per registered voter.
Look into using HAVA funds to buy equipment to sort AV ballots by precinct. ROV is planning to purchase an automatic sorter to sort AV ballots by precinct for the November 2007 election. Sorter will decrease the time needed to sort absentee ballots, which will result in more ballots counted by 8:00 p.m. on election night.
Address vulnerabilities in the absentee voting process, especially for those living in institutions. Election Integrity/Voter Confidence Subcommittee is currently addressing vulnerabilities in AV voting process. Any reported cases of voter fraud would be referred to the Secretary of State’s Voter Fraud Unit.
Cost and Budget Recommendations Action Taken Impact
Look at cost of recounts and ballot statements and ways to reduce them. Reduced cost of recounts to cover the direct costs of publishing the Notice of Recount and paying and supervising the recount board members. Recounts will now be more affordable to candidates
Look at poll worker stipends Compared poll worker stipends paid by other counties. Stipends paid to Inspectors were comparable with that paid in other counties. However, clerks in Marin were paid less. Therefore, stipend paid to clerks is increased from $95 to $100 in the 2007-08 budget Higher stipend may attract more poll workers to work as clerks.
Look at funding which is available for election equipment purchase and upgrade and voter outreach Prepared funding plans for Proposition 41 funds (voting equipment) and a plan for funding covered items from Help America Vote Act funds. Purchase of sorter and other election equipment is covered by the Help America Vote Act.
Election Integrity Recommendations Action Taken Impact
Look at the integrity of the election process for ways to augment current practices. Election Advisory Committee formed the Election Integrity/Voter Confidence Subcommittee to study and make recommendations. ROV has implemented key recommendations made by subcommittee
Look at the recommendations from the Brennan Center Reports on voting system security and implement them in time for Nov. election. These include random selection of precincts to audit, expanding the number of precincts audited, and developing chain of custody procedures for election equipment. • ROV implemented random selection of precincts for post election manual tally using the dice method.
• Committee set goal of recounting 3% of the precincts used in the election.
• ROV Developed chain of custody procedures for election equipment and posted it on the website.
Expectation is that measures taken will increase confidence in the election process. Given deadline to certify results and long ballot in statewide elections, it may not always be possible to hand tally 3% of precincts. To date, the manual tally has not disclosed any irregularities in the functioning of the voting equipment.
Explore whether valid voters are being purged from central database. What can be done to double check the list before the election? The Registrar of Voters’ voter file cleanup (purge) processes will be presented to committee for discussion at the August 2007 meeting.
Look at requirements of the Elections Code and consider lobbying state for changes to improve the integrity of elections. The Election Advisory Committee follows the progress of election- related legislation through the legislature, but does not lobby for or against legislation.
Provide information about how and where to report violations of election law on election day and at other times? ROV Posted the Voters’ Bill of Rights in Spanish and English at all polling places and also published it in the Voter Information Pamphlet. People can find a toll free number on poster and use it to call the Secretary of State’s Office to report violations of election law.
Conduct outreach to increase participation in election observation. ROV announced observation opportunities for the public to observe election activities. Observers were present both on election night and on every day of the canvass period after the election.
Ballot Counting Recommendations Action Taken Impact
Count absentee ballots by precinct Absentee ballots were sorted and counted by precinct for the November 2006 General Election. Sorting the absentee ballots by precinct doubled the time required to process absentee ballots. ROV will purchase an automatic sorter to speed up the process.
Expand percent of precincts to be manually recounted after the election. ROV adopted goal of recounting 3% of the precincts for the November 2006 General Election Due to the length of the ballot and the limited time of the canvass period, ROV was able to recount 2% of the precincts for the November election.
Use random method of selecting precincts for the 1% manual tally ROV randomly selected the precincts for the manual tally using the dice method (three 10-sided die) described by UCBerkeley researchers. Observers participated in the random drawing of precincts and could see that the method of selecting precincts was random.
Provide statement of vote in a format that can be analyzed (Excel) ROV currently working on a way to provide the Statement of Vote in Excel. Will improve ability for public to analyze the Statement of Vote.
Provide information about the checks and balances in counting ballots ROV has developed procedures and flowcharts that show the checks and balances of the ballot counting process. Procedures and flowcharts to be published on ROV website for public viewing.
Explore use of volunteers to do recounts and post election audits if these are expanded beyond the 1% requirement. Expand pool of extra hire personnel to help with the manual tally. Four teams of 3 people were used to perform the manual tally. Due to length of ballot and limited timeframe of the canvass, ROV recounted 2% of the precincts.
Voting Equipment Recommendations Action Taken Impact
Continue upgrading voting equipment to meet ADA requirements. Purchased and deployed AutoMark accessible voting equipment in each precinct. Voters with disabilities are now able to vote in private and without assistance at every precinct.
Ranked Choice Voting – equipment should be able to handle this type of voting State legislation would be required to permit this type of voting and require software and hardware to handle it. AB 1294, which was introduced in the current legislative session, sets forth the rules for conducting this type of election.
Look at possibility of using open source software or hardware Use of open source hardware or software is dependent on state law changes and SOS certification.