Advisory Committee 2013 Annual Report

Lynda Roberts, Registrar of Voters, Elections

Marin County Registrar of Voters’ Election Advisory Committee
Annual Report for 2013

Elaine Ginnold, Marin County Registrar of Voters
Marin Civic Center, 3501 Civic Center Drive, Room 121,
San Rafael, CA 94903 • (415) 473-6456 • General email

Download a PDF version of the Election Advisory Committee Annual Report for 2013


The Marin County Registrar of Voters formed the Election Advisory Committee of Voters in July 2006. Its purpose is to provide advice and recommendations to the Registrar of Voters on voter participation and election integrity issues in Marin County. The Advisory Committee advocates for all voters:

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

This Annual Report includes Committee recommendations and actions taken by the Elections Department from January 1, 2013-December 31, 2013. The period covered in this report includes the following four elections in 2013: May 7 Special Vote By Mail Election, June 4 Special Election, August 27 Special Vote by Mail Election and November 5 Uniform District Election.

The Registrar of Voters thanks Election Advisory Committee members for their dedication to improving the election process in Marin County and for its valuable feedback to the Elections Office in 2013. Through its recommendations and feedback, the Election Advisory Committee has enhanced the election process for the benefit of all voters in Marin County.

The public is welcome to attend Advisory Committee meetings, which take place on the third Friday of most months, from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., in room 324A of the Marin Civic Center in San Rafael. In January, the Election Department posts the Committee’s annual meeting schedule. A membership application is also on the website. For more information about the Election Advisory Committee, please contact Elaine Ginnold, Registrar of Voters or call (415) 473-6401.


Voter Outreach and Education

  • May 7, 2013 vote by mail election
    The May 7, 2013 Vote by Mail Election, with 55,000 voters and a turnout of 39.43%, was the largest all mail election ever conducted in the county. The election included measures to consolidate for four sewer districts and parcel taxes for both the San Rafael High School and Elementary School Districts. Elections staff and the San Rafael City Clerk monitored drop boxes for vote by mail ballots at the Mill Valley Community Center and at San Rafael City Hall.
  • June 4, 2013 Special Election
    Piloted a wireless e-roster at the two polling places used in this election.
  • November 5, 2013 Uniform District Election
    This election had 151,308 registered voters with turnout of 57,172 voters (37.76%); 78% voted by mail and 22% voted at the polls. The County participated in Voter Registration Day on September 19.
  • Residential Care Facility Outreach
    Implemented a program in cooperation with UC Berkeley to take registration and voting to residential care facilities before the November 5, 2013 election. A team of two election staff visited 17 facilities and registered 90 voters. They delivered voter registration forms and ballots and assisted residents when requested.
  • High School Government Teacher Outreach
    Mailed voter registration forms and information about online voter registration to all high school government teachers before the November 2013 election. The Registrar visited Tomales High School and conducted a hands-on demonstration of registering and voting.
  • Trained all staff on writing in plain English to provide election information that is clear to voters.

Voter information review

The Election Advisory Committee reviewed and provided suggestions to clarify the language in many of the Department’s written communications to voters, including the Summary of Results; the Notice to Voters who had not voted in the past two federal general elections; letter to participants in the survey of voters with disabilities; vote by mail instructions; and role playing exercises for poll worker training classes.

Poll worker recruitment/training

541 Marin citizens volunteered to work at the polls in the November 5, 2013 election. All precinct boards were fully staffed on Election Day. The Department recruited 10 high school students to work as Clerks at the polls. Assigned Rovers to train poll workers on the Automark during their Election Day rounds for the November 5, 2013 General District Election.


With the Information Technology Services Department, redesigned the Elections website to offer more voter self-service options. In 2014, voters will be able to apply for a mail ballot online and can get their Voter Information Pamphlet online at Developed a new mobile app for voters to get election information including sample ballot and polling place location. Added a new service for elected officials and designated employees of the county, schools and special districts to fill out their Conflict of Interest Forms online.

Vote by Mail

In fall 2013, Professor Elizabeth Bergman conducted a survey of Marin residents who are eligible to vote to learn why voters with disabilities are not using the accessible AutoMark voting device at the polls and to find out if there are barriers to voting for Marin voters with disabilities. The survey showed that Marin voters with disabilities prefer to vote by mail rather than at the polls on accessible voting equipment and turn out to vote at the high rate of 92%.

Election integrity

The Elections Department used the formulas in the 2012 PEW Charitable Trust study of Election Administration to report on the performance of the November 2012 General Election. In January of 2014 the Committee heard a presentation on proportional voting by Steve Chessin, President of California for Electoral Reform.

Marin County Election Advisory Committee
Members who attended meetings in 2013
Name Area of County
Esther Beirne San Rafael
Greg Brockbank San Rafael
Ericka Omena Erickson Novato
Veda Florez Novato
Barbara Gaman Inverness
Bonnie Glaser Mill Valley & Corte Madera
Marcia Hagen Fairfax
Morgan Kelley San Rafael
Mark Kyle San Rafael
Anne Layzer Mill Valley
Jeanne Leoncini San Rafael
Sean Peisert San Rafael
Robert Richard Larkspur
Steve Silberstein Belvedere
Cat Woods Novato

Members of the Election Advisory Committee come from different cities and towns in Marin County and belong to different political parties. They have diverse backgrounds in business, politics, academics, labor, law, government and non-profit organizations, and possess different points of views about elections issues. They share an interest in transparent, fair, and honest elections and in making sure that all voters have the opportunity to register and vote.


Goal I: Voter Outreach and Education

Identify and eliminate barriers to registration and voting to maintain Marin County’s current high level of voter participation. Focus on young, low income and minority language voters because research suggests that these populations need more education on the mechanics of registration and voting (ROV survey of non-voters, 2012).

OBJECTIVES Action Taken Impact
Provide information about election process in places where target population is (bus stops, grocery stores, apartment complexes, leadership classes) Grassroots, Marin League of Women Voters and Spanish language outreach specialist distributed registration forms throughout the county and at voter registration drives held at various locations in the community. 4,824 voters were added to the voter rolls in 2013. Sources were as follows: DMV: 2,830, Online: 1,121, public assistance agencies: 71, community groups: 186, political parties: 13, Elections Dept: 133, other, unidentified sources: 470. 5,250 registrations were cancelled because the voter died or moved out of Marin County.
Partner with Grassroots, League of Women Voters and Smart Voter to reach out to target populations. Contracted with Grassroots to provide voter outreach and education; with the Marin League of Women Voters to distribute Voter Registration forms; Arranged with Smart Voter to provide polling place and sample ballot look-up on Elections website. These organizations leverage the resources of the Elections Department to reach target populations. Smart Voter helps voters find their polling places and become familiar with the contests and candidates on their ballots.
Explore developing an outreach program to High Schools. Mailed voter registration forms and information to the government teachers in 26 high schools and 4 community colleges. Presented information about mechanics of registration and voting to Civics class at Tomales HS before Nov. 5th election.
Survey non-registered but eligible to register voters to find out what prevents their participation in the electoral process. Decided to do demographic analysis of non-registered individuals rather than a survey. Postponed to 2014 Plan to send voter registration forms and information to approximately 25,000 non-registered individuals in 2014.
Report voter registration statistics by city. Statistics on eligible population from 2010 census data. Prepared draft report of voter registration statistics by city.

Goal 2: Poll worker recruiting and training

Implement poll worker recruiting methods that maintain current high level of poll worker participation. Continually review and update poll worker training methods and materials.

OBJECTIVES Action Taken Impact
Conduct role-playing exercises in classes. Try to pair experienced with inexperienced workers. Created two role-playing exercises for poll worker classes. Assigned Election Day Rovers to train poll workers to assist voters use the Automark accessible voting machine. Found that Rovers are effective poll worker trainers on Election Day because they can instruct poll workers on procedures and observe their hands-on performance at the polls. In the Nov. 5th election, rovers provided hands-on training to Chiefs, Deputies and Clerks on how to assist voters use the Automark.
Develop a poll worker evaluation system to identify and correct poor performance. Election Office records information on poll worker performance based on observations from Elections Department staff, voters and rovers. Electronic recordkeeping prevents Election Dept. from hiring poll workers that have had multiple complaints about their performance in past elections.
Continue the e-poll book pilots. Conducted pilot of Election Administrators wireless e-pollbook at the June 4 election in Bolinas and Stinson Beach. This e-poll book required little training and was convenient due to its wireless features. While useful in finding voters who are not on the Roster, the e-poll book can create a single point of failure if it malfunctions and stops the voting process. Until the technology improves, the e-poll book can be useful as a supplement to, but not as a replacement for the paper roster.
Provide checklist of helpful hints to poll workers for Election Day that covers information about what to wear, food, breaks, and expectations. Printed answers to frequently asked questions about what to wear, food, breaks and expectations on the outside back cover of the What to do if Manual. Provides helpful information to poll workers and answers their questions about issues that are not covered in the Elections Code or in other training materials.

Goal 3: Communication

Continue to review and update the website to improve services to the public.

OBJECTIVES Action Taken Impact
Update Elections Website with County web features (IST). Department worked with IST to update the Elections website with County web features Created more user-friendly website. Continuing to update site based on feedback from staff and public.
Provide online voter information pamphlet and opt-out of paper subscription service (IST). Worked with IST to develop online voter information pamphlet with opt-out of paper feature. The opt-out feature will be added pending upgrade of DFM Election Management System software. Online sample ballot with opt out feature now scheduled for June 2014 Primary.
Continue to provide mobile app of voter information pamphlet, polling place look-up and online voter registration (IST). IST developed a web-based app to look up the sample ballot, polling place location, registration and more for use with mobile devices. Provides convenient way for voters to get information about the election.
Use Facebook, Twitter and email messages to communicate with voters. Posted press releases and other election information on County Facebook and Twitter pages and on the Elections Facebook page. Provides accessible and convenient way for voters to get election information.
Post ballot facsimile in polling places where 3% of voters speak a language other than English. (State requirement) Posted Spanish translation of the ballot at all polling places for the November 2013 election and the Vietnamese and Korean translations at the Albert J. Boro Community Center in San Rafael. Provides access to the ballot to voters who do not speak English.

Goal 4: Election Integrity and Voter Confidence

Identify methods and practices that enhance the integrity of the voting process and increase voter confidence.

OBJECTIVES Action Taken Impact
Use the formulas in the 2013 PEW Charitable Trust study of Election Administration to report on election performance. Prepared report with formulas from the 2013 PEW study of Election Administration. Presented report at February 2012 Election Advisory Committee meeting. Committee members prefer registration and turnout statistics based on the number of registered rather than on eligible-to-register voters as in the PEW study. The number of eligible to register voters is an estimate available from the Secretary of State only for statewide elections.
Provide voter self-service options online such as VBM application, sample ballot look-up. Department worked with IST Dept. to develop online sample ballot and an online application for a vote by mail ballot. Both options should be available to voters before the June 3, 2014 Primary Election.
Identify features that are important to have in a new voting system Several voting systems are going through the Federal and State certification process. The Election Advisory Committee began to identify features of a new voting system at their January meeting. Heard presentation on proportional voting by Steve Chessin, President of Californians for Electoral Reform.
Plan to develop a list of voting system features by July 2014.