2014 Advisory Committee Meeting Minutes

Lynda Roberts, Registrar of Voters, Elections


December 19, 2014

Registrar of Voters
Election Advisory Committee Meeting
Friday, December 19, 2014, 9:30 AM
Room 324A, Marin Civic Center


A meeting of the Election Advisory Committee was held on Friday, December 19, 2014 in Room 324A of the Marin Civic Center.The following members were present: Greg Brockbank, Veda Florez, Bonnie Glaser, Marcia Hagen, Ora Hatheway, Morgan Kelley, Mark Kyle, Jeanne Leoncini, Sean Peisert, Bob Richard, Maddy Ruvolo, Steve Silberstein.

Present from the CAO’s Office: Dan Eilerman
Present from the Elections Office: Lynda Roberts and Colleen Ksanda.


Lynda Roberts welcomed the committee and introduced new member, Maddy Ruvolo. As the Systems Change Advocate at the Marin Center for Independent Living, Ms. Ruvolo said she works on voter outreach and education for people with disabilities. She is interested in improving voter turnout and increasing accessibility of polling places.


Ms. Roberts distributed handouts and reviewed the following information:

  • List of the 2015 election dates and deadlines.
  • Copy of an article from the Marin Independent Journal talking about the March 3, 2015, Special Election. Ms. Roberts has incorporated suggestions made by the committee regarding the Voter Information Pamphlet; she will bring copies next time.
  • Following up a suggestion made at the last meeting, Ms. Roberts provided copies of a press release thanking Election Day workers.
  • The 2015 Election Advisory Committee meeting schedule. Members asked if the May and June meetings are usually cancelled in odd-numbered years, and wondered if the committee could meet in May and June rather than July and August. Ms. Roberts suggested reviewing the schedule again in March, after the June election deadline has passed.
  • Following up from the last meeting, the election staff will check into putting the Smart Voter logo link on the website.

Review November 4 Election

Ms. Roberts said the November election went very smoothly. Anne Layzer and Veda Florez came to the office on election night to observe. Dan Eilerman was also in the office observing and providing support, and Roy Given, Finance Director, provided assistance throughout the day.

Ms. Roberts distributed a copy of an article from the Marin IJ published in the Friday, November 21st issue, talking about turnout. Committee members addressed Ms. Roberts’ question about predicting turnout.

  • There does not seem to be any harm in predicting, and it does not necessarily dissuade voters. It could have the opposite effect; if people hear the turnout is expected to be low, it might motivate them to vote.
  • Predicting turnout is part of election coverage, and is viewed as part of what the Registrar does.
  • Prepare talking points in advance. Use the question as an opportunity to talk about why voting is still important, and factors that affect turnout.

Ms. Roberts distributed copies of the following handouts:

Voter Participation Statistics by County from the official Statement of Vote published by the Secretary of State, and County Reporting Status listing by county when vote totals were reported on election night; three charts showing, 1) counties with a 60% or higher turnout; 2) the turnout of 11 Bay Area counties; and 3) the percent of vote-by-mail ballots for 11 Bay Area counties; Vote-by-Mail and Provisional Ballot Report from the June and November 2014 elections.

Referring to the November Vote-by-Mail and Provisional Ballot Report, out of 148,976 voters, 89,536 voted (60.10%). The vote-by-mail turnout was 71.01%.

  • In reference to the meaning of “diff voter used env,” Ms. Roberts explained that sometimes voters in the same household use the other person’s return envelope, so the signature and name do not match. When the ballots come back, the elections staff watches for them so they can match up the correct signature with the correct envelope and count the ballot. If only one ballot is returned, staff can’t count it because of the wrong signature.
  • Regarding ballots rejected due to signatures not matching, does the elections department call the voters? Ms. Ksanda said staff members send a follow-up letter suggesting that the voter re-register in order to update their signature.
  • Members were interested in knowing which counties pay return postage on vote-by-mail ballots, and suggested doing so may lessen the number of ballots returned to polling places on election night. Perhaps having a poll worker stationed outside to collect the vote-by-mail ballots would ease parking problems. Ms. Roberts said return postage is paid for mail-only precincts, and she thought the new law, postmark +3, would help reduce the number of ballots left at polling places. The law takes effect January 1, and will allow vote-by-mail ballots to be counted if they are post-marked on Election Day and received in the department within 3 days after the election.
  • Ms. Roberts will follow-up on three questions: 1) How many vote-by-mail ballots were received each day for the November election? 2) Do campaigns have to complete a separate request form each time they request updated information about who has already voted? 3) When ballots are mailed in Marin County, are they processed in Oakland or San Francisco?

California Association of Voting Officials

The Committee discussed the presentation made by Brent Turner in September. Ms. Roberts distributed copies of information from CAVO’s website, a copy of the resolution provided by Mr. Turner in September, and a copy of a sample pledge recently received. Ms. Roberts clarified that when she was Registrar of Voters for Mono County, she did not formally join CAVO even though Mono County is listed as a member on their website. At that time she expressed an interest in being on the email list in order to gather information.

Ms. Roberts said two key points came up during the September presentation: 1) using off-the-shelf hardware and creating open-source software in an effort to reduce costs; and 2) CAVO’s request that counties formally support the effort by having their Board of Supervisors adopt a resolution pledging financial support.

The Committee discussed the presentation.

  • CACEO is the recognized professional voice with the legislature and the Secretary of State. CAVO seems to be duplicative, and some of the officials do not have an elections background, or are from other states.
  • The substantive issue has to do with open-source software, which seems to be a good idea, and developing a system in common with other counties is worth pursuing. It appears, too, that the organization is interested in pursuing the use of internet voting.
  • Another group is also promoting open-source software, and other efforts will likely come forward.
  • Since L.A. County is developing their own voting system, they are the exemplar.
  • There is a lot of interest in developing systems from scratch; open-source software has admirable aspects, but open review doesn't necessarily happen. There may be better motivations in a closed system developed by trained professionals.
  • There are ways to rush out a technology versus slowly developing high-assurance software.
  • More people are voting by mail; what impact might this have?
  • It is advisable to take a wait-and-see approach. Don’t rush to replace technology.

Ms. Roberts outlined her approach to addressing this issue:

  • Watch what is happening at the state level, and how the new Secretary of State plans to address voting equipment.
  • In January, start attending the monthly CACEO legislative committee meetings to stay abreast of legislation.
  • Attend the Future of California Elections conference in February.
  • Contact other counties that have the same system as Marin County, and find out how they plan to approach the issue.
  • Discuss this issue within the Elections Department.
  • In the near future, form a subcommittee of key stakeholders to discuss the issue.

Committee members supported this approach. Other pertinent issues may include the move toward voting-by-mail and post office closures. The Committee decided to review new developments and CAVO updates at the September meeting.

Other business

  • None

There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 11:30 a.m. The next meeting will be held on Friday, January 16, 2015.

September 19, 2014

Registrar of Voters
Election Advisory Committee Meeting
Friday, September 19, 2014, 9:30 AM
Room 324A, Marin Civic Center


A meeting of the Election Advisory Committee was held on Friday, September 19, 2014 in Room 324A of the Marin Civic Center.

Present were Greg Brockbank, Ericka Erickson, Veda Florez, Barbara Gaman, Bonnie Glaser, Marcia Hagen, Ora Hatheway, Mark Kyle, Anne Layzer, Jeanne Leoncini, Sean Peisert, Bob Richards, Steve Silberstein, and Cat Woods.

Present from the Elections Office: Lynda Roberts and Colleen Ksanda.


Lynda Roberts thanked the members for attending, and for their interest in the election process.

California Association of Voting Officials (CAVO)

Brent Turner talked about voting equipment and sustainability issues, including the current vendor market and cost. Mr. Turner reviewed the following points and answered questions.

  • CAVO was formed to bring options to elections officials. Turner is the secretary of CAVO and the elected registrar of Inyo County is the president. Elected officials from California and other states are on the board.
  • The end of life for current voting systems creates market issues for counties. Unlike the first time, it does not appear that federal grant money will be available to purchase new systems.
  • CAVO will work with the next Secretary of State to involve counties and universities in the process of creating public (open source) technology that will cost less.
  • CAVO is separate from the current vendor market, and the technology they develop would be tested in California and owned collectively by the counties that participate.
  • Trustworthiness of hardware is a consideration and CAVO wants the hardware development to remain in the United States.
  • Mr. Turner distributed copies of a pledge he is asking counties to adopt. CAVO’s website; email Mr. Turner.

Sean Peisert spoke briefly about the concept of open-source technology, which is a way for software to be inspected and improved upon. Open inspection can help if knowledgeable people are dedicated to reviewing the software.

Process Modeling

Mr. Peisert gave an overview of his current research project that is looking at elections through a process model: A visual programming language with a subject, action, and object that are sequential and/or parallel.

  • Elections are a process in which problems arise, and a codified process model is a way to make improvements and identify potential problems.
  • Through process modeling, officials can focus on single points of failure that would lead to a hazard. Officials can then modify the model.
  • The model can address how changes will impact the process. For example how would new legislation change the steps? How would adding timings to the steps in the procedure impact the process?
  • This approach to elections could help clarify the tradeoffs between all vote-by-mail and voting at polling places, and can be used to compare processes between counties.
  • Computer analysis of the model could help with understanding checks and balances in the process.

Miscellaneous Reports

  • Precinct consolidation and polling places. Colleen Ksanda gave the following report for the November election:
    • There will be 139 voting precincts and 96 polling places; 59 polling places will be modified for voters with disabilities.
    • There will be 577 poll workers; there are still three openings, two are in West Marin.
    • 100 new poll workers were trained for the June election, and many of them signed up to work again. It is unlikely that a press release asking for help will be necessary in this election.
    • Two of the training classes will be held in Pt. Reyes to accommodate poll workers in West Marin.
  • Ms. Roberts distributed copies of the following reports:
    • 60-day voter registration report
    • Election facts and key dates
    • Information from the Secretary of State about the failure of Initiative #1648 related to statehood (aka 6 states)
  • Ms. Roberts distributed copies of the following legislation:
    • AB 2194, regarding statewide recounts, did not make it through the current session.
    • AB 2028, chaptered, adds San Mateo County to the Yolo County all-mail election pilot program.
    • AB 1873, enrolled, allows special mail ballot elections pilot program for San Diego County.
      • Ms. Roberts pointed out that AB 2028 is more limited than AB 1873, which will allow all-mailed ballot special elections to fill congressional or legislative vacancies under specified conditions.
    • SB 29 and companion bill AB 2530, both enrolled, will allow vote-by-mail ballots to count if postmarked Election Day and received within three days after the election.
  • Regarding vote-by-mail, Ms. Roberts reported that Mr. Silberstein had raised several questions in August that she would like to research and report at a future meeting.

Follow-up Reports

  • Report on the Voting Accessibility Advisory Committee (VAAC). Ms. Roberts distributed copies of the agenda and minutes from the September 11th meeting, and reported the following:
    • The VAAC met on Thursday, September 11, 2014
      • Maddy Ruvolo from Center for Independent Living, Bill Campagna from Marin County Disability Access Program, and Bill Hershon and Fred Nisen from Disability Rights California were in attendance, along with staff members Colleen Ksanda, Maureen Hogan, and Melvin Briones
    • VAAC members provided several suggestions
      • Emphasize the option of curbside voting in the voter information booklet
      • Advertise when the audio CD is available (Facebook; press release)
      • Provide more information on-line; for example, put the audio CD online
        • Mr. Briones thought this would be possible for the November election.
    • Accessibility Forum scheduled for Tuesday, September 30
      • The purpose is to raise awareness about various options for voting
      • Speakers will address:
        • right to vote independently/privately
        • civic participation
        • reaching out to the underserved
  • Sonoma County high vote-by-mail turnout in the June election
    • Checked with Gloria Colter, Registrar of Voters, Sonoma County
      • Prior to June, they mailed a card to voters reminding them about the vote-by-mail option.
    • Marin County elections usually does this prior to a November election, however, it was not possible this year because of time needed to conduct three back-to-back elections (April, May, June), and because of a change in department leadership.
  • Address the question about why it is hard to recruit poll workers
    • Ms. Roberts plans to make a suggestion about including this topic in next year’s annual CACEO conference in July 2015 (California Association of Clerks and Election Officials).
    • The conference will be held in Sonoma County, and the Marin Elections Office has volunteered to help with the plans.

    Some committee members suggested, 1) thanking poll workers with some type of recognition; 2) involving long-time poll workers in a discussion at the conference; 3) considering the possibility of offering split shifts so the day is not so long for poll workers.

Review of the communities that Committee Members represent

  • Review the demographics of the EAC
    • This item was deferred due to lack of time.
  • Strive for more diversity
    • Ms. Roberts said that Maddy Ruvolo with Center for Independent Living has agreed to participate on the committee.

Other business

  • A committee member suggested making the Smart Voter link more prominent on the website.

There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 11:30 a.m. The next meeting will be held on Friday, December 19, 2014.

August 15, 2014

Registrar of Voters
Election Advisory Committee Meeting
Friday, August 15, 2014, 9:30 AM
Room 324A, Marin Civic Center


A meeting of the Election Advisory Committee was held on Friday, August 15, 2014 in Room 324A of the Marin Civic Center. Present were Greg Brockbank, Veda Florez, Marcia Hagen, Anne Layzer, Sean Peisert, Steve Silberstein, Ora Hatheway, Morgan Kelley, and Barbara Gaman. Present from the Elections Office: Lynda Roberts; Dan Miller and Maureen Hogan gave presentations.

Opening Comments

Ms. Roberts reiterated her enthusiasm about working with the committee, and thanked them in advance for their patience while she is learning her new position.

Statistics from June 3, 2014

Ms. Roberts distributed copies of the Secretary of State’s Report of Registration as of May 19, 2014, and Voter Participation Statistics by County. Committee members noted that VBM turnout was higher in other counties (specifically Sonoma County). Some members suggested that fewer precincts or distances between precincts could be a factor. The types of races on a ballot (i.e. “exciting races”) also contribute to interest in an election. Ms. Roberts will follow-up with Sonoma County to find out what may have contributed to their high VBM turnout.

Copies of Voter Information Pamphlet cover and filler pages

Election Report

Dan Miller distributed information about the measures and candidates that will be on the November 4th ballot, and gave the following summary.

Measures: One County-wide measure (parcel tax for emergency radio); five school measures (4 bond and 1 parcel tax); seven municipal measures (1 sales tax, 5 parcel tax continuations, 1 special tax increase); five district measures (3 parcel tax continuations, 1 bond, 1 hospital lease agreement). The parcel tax continuation measures are for paramedic services, 7 of which are with the Ross Valley Paramedic Authority. Corte Madera is not a participant in the Ross Valley Paramedic Authority, so they are doing their own paramedic measure. The hospital measure is not countywide; a small portion of Novato won’t vote on it.

Candidates: There will be seven contests on the ballot: 3 contests are shared with Sonoma (no candidates from Marin); Sausalito City Council; Marin Municipal Water District, Division 3; Marin Healthcare District; Bolinas-Stinson Union School District. Mr. Miller said there is a process for the Board of Supervisors to appoint-in-lieu of election when there are not enough candidates for the ballot.

Mr. Brockbank distributed a copy of his report listing the candidate races and specifying those that would be on the ballot. His list includes the name, address and contact information for each candidate, and specifies incumbents, political party, and who filed a ballot statement. Mr. Brockbank pointed out that the designation of No Party Preference is increasing among registered voters.

Outreach Efforts

Maureen Hogan distributed copies of the Summary Reconciliation Report of Returned Registrations, July 1, 2103 to August 15, 2014. This report shows how many voter registration cards were issued to various locations and how many were completed and returned. Ms. Hogan tracks registration forms by their numbers in order to know the source of a completed form. The new California Health Benefit Exchange Association will provide another way for people to register to vote.

Ms. Hogan talked about a recent webinar she participated in regarding the National Voter Registration Act. She has contacted public assistance agencies and offered training.

Lastly, Ms. Hogan talked about current outreach efforts. She sent letters to residential facilities offering assistance with voter registration. She also sent letters and packets of voter registration cards to 30 high schools and colleges. In an effort to increase interest, the packets included a flyer showing the state races and propositions, and local races and measures that will be on the November 4th ballot. She is also working with Ms. Florez on National Voter Registration Day.

Mr. Silberstein asked if there are outreach efforts when mail is returned. Ms. Hogan does make outreach efforts. He also suggested putting a sign at the front desk of libraries asking people if they are registered.

National Voter Registration Day

Veda Florez, Communications Outreach Coordinator working for the Elections Department, talked about her planning efforts for National Voter Registration Day. She is organizing a voter-registration drive event from September 20-26 that will include several communities, and has designed the event to catch people at prime times. She is planning to be in each of the target communities twice.

This year Ms. Florez wants to focus on partnering with other organizations. Participants currently include Marin Grassroots, Latino Educational Community Forum, Young Democrats, and Center for Independent Living. Ms. Florez will provide a separate packet of information for organizations that can’t partner. She challenged the committee members to take one voter registration form and get someone to register. Ms. Hatheway volunteered to work with the public housing sector.

Ms. Florez is preparing a supply bag for each location that will contain everything necessary for the volunteers to set-up their tables (i.e. table decorations, information folders, brochures, and voter registration cards). The Elections Department will provide tables and chairs, brochures and voter registration cards; members of the department will also participate at the events.

Ms. Florez requested feedback about a flyer she wants to distribute. Members suggested she provide specific details about dates, times and locations. Ms. Roberts and Ms. Florez are planning to put out multiple press releases prior to the event. Ms. Florez showed a video from last year’s event.

Feedback from Committee Members about Registrar of Voters working with community citizens on door-to-door outreach

Ms. Roberts brought this issue to the committee as a result of a conversation with Mr. John Ortega. Mr. Ortega spoke with Ms. Roberts on August 4th about his concerns with low voter turnout, lack of participation by young people, and a lack of civic education in schools. One idea they discussed was going door-to-door in his community to talk with residents about voter registration. The committee members offered the following suggestions:

  • Similar outreach efforts have not been very successful.
  • Review the statistics and ask other counties what they are doing to increase turnout.
  • Participation seems to be higher among those who vote by mail.
  • Find ways to encourage target populations to participate in the process (i.e. working at the polls); perhaps give a short presentation to the target population.
  • People feel overwhelmed by all the information about issues, which may contribute to low turnout.

Review of the Communities that Committee Members Represent

Due to time constraints, this item will be deferred to the next meeting.

Other business

Regarding Mr. Brockbank’s suggestion from last month about reviewing recount laws, he withdrew the idea since the issue is currently being reviewed in proposed legislation.

Committee members suggested future topics:

  • Report on the Voting Accessibility Advisory Committee (VAAC)
  • Review the demographics of the EAC, and bring in more diversity.
  • Address the question about why it is hard to recruit poll workers. What kind of outreach would be possible?

Ms. Roberts will follow-up with Sonoma County to find out what may have contributed to their high VBM turnout.

There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 11:30 a.m. The next meeting will be held on Friday, September 19, 2014.

July18, 2014

Registrar of Voters
Election Advisory Committee Meeting
Friday, July 18, 2014, 9:30 AM
Room 324A, Marin Civic Center


A meeting of the Election Advisory Committee was held on Friday, July 18, 2014 in Room 324A of the Marin Civic Center. Present were Greg Brockbank, Ericka Erickson, Veda Florez, Bonnie Glaser, Marcia Hagen, Mark Kyle, Anne Layzer, Sean Peisert, Jeanne Leoncini, Steve Silberstein, Esther Beirne, Ora Hatheway, and Morgan Kelley. Present from the Elections Office: Elaine Ginnold, Lynda Roberts, and Colleen Ksanda.

Introduction of New Registrar—Lynda Roberts

Lynda gave a brief overview of her background. Prior to coming to Marin County, she worked in Mono County, California, for seven years as the Clerk-Recorder-Registrar and Clerk of the Board. She previously worked in the development office for a college prep school in Hawaii; worked in the Political Science Department at the University of Utah, where she earned her Master of Public Administration degree; and started her career in public service working for Salt Lake City municipal government, first in the personnel department and then as assistant city clerk.

Annual Report

Ms. Ginnold distributed copies of the Election Advisory Committee 2013 Annual Report.

Election reports

June 3, 2014 Primary Election—Vote by Mail and Provisional Report
Ms. Ginnold distributed a copy of the report and reviewed the information. Out of 148,777 registered voters, the turnout was 60,800 (40.87%), which was lower than anticipated. Of those who voted, 47,089 (77.45%) voted by mail. The committee discussed the possible reasons for a low turnout (i.e. no controversial or close local races, Governor uncontested). Ms. Ginnold pointed out that Election Day was also graduation day for many of the area high schools, and that our 2012 survey of non-voters showed that the main reason Marin voters don’t vote is that it is “inconvenient to my schedule.”

Ms. Ginnold noted the increase of vote-by-mail ballots that were returned too late to be counted. She attributed this to the recent closure of the Petaluma processing center. Steve Silberstein asked about rejections due to signature. Ms. Ginnold said signatures are triple checked, and those with any degree of a match are counted in keeping with the law that favors the voter. Those with questionable signatures are sent a letter suggesting they re-register to update their signature. If ballots without signatures are received early enough, the Elections Office will notify the voter so they can come to the office and sign their envelopes.

Regarding provisional voting, a registration card is automatically mailed to those who are not registered. A company by the name of Political Data recently provided information about voting-aged citizens who are not registered to vote. Professor Elizabeth Bergman will analyze the data and may have a report by the September meeting.

November election—Offices up for election/candidate filing period
Ms. Ginnold distributed copies of the November candidate guidebook, which includes the offices up for election and provides a time table of key dates.

Elizabeth Bergman—Presentation on Survey of Voters with Disabilities

Professor Bergman reviewed her April 2014 survey of Marin voting-aged residents with disabilities. The survey has generated a lot of discussion. There have not been many surveys done about the impacts of ADA because of a lack of data. Survey questions compiled by the Secretary of State’s VAAC committee were the starting point for Professor Bergman’s survey. A total of 8,400 surveys were distributed to both abled and disabled people: 5,000 paper surveys mailed to registered voters over the age of 80; 2,000 distributed through groups such as Meals on Wheels; and 1,400 email invitations. There was a 15% response rate—17% responded using the paper survey and 10% responded using the online survey. This survey reached more people than any other research on this population being conducted. Her methodology is discussed in the survey results.

Professor Bergman asked a particular question in this survey that was very important: “What is the functional limitation that impacts your ability to vote?” This has never been asked on surveys before. She also asked questions about how people vote, how often, and why not.

Bonnie Glaser reported that the Federal Election Assistance Commission website shows technologies and methods that have been developed to assist people with disabilities to vote.

Mark Kyle suggested that going forward it would be helpful for the Election Advisory Committee to include a member from the disability community to provide perspective.

Professor Bergman mentioned that voting advocacy for people with disabilities stresses the importance of voting privately and independently. She also mentioned that the best way to mobilize people is still through personal contact and suggested a book by Melissa Michaelson titled Mobilizing Inclusion.

Poll worker recruitment notice in voter pamphlet—Revision

Ms. Ksanda distributed a copy of the revised ad that will be published in the November voter pamphlet asking people to consider being a poll worker. Greg Brockbank suggested clarifying the title by adding “be a poll worker”, so it reads: WE NEED YOUR HELP ON ELECTION DAY—BE A POLL WORKER. If the typeset version is ready by the next meeting, Ms. Ksanda will bring a copy.

Requirements for new voting equipment—Discussion

Sean Peisert is part of a research team that will look at processes involved in counting ballots at polling places vs. counting ballots at a central count location, and will compare these processes in Marin and Yolo Counties. The Board of Supervisors has raised the issue of the need for counting equipment at each polling location since more people are voting by mail. The study will help provide important information about these processes to the Board of Supervisors and this committee.

Other business

In light of the current re-count of the State Controller race, a suggestion was made to include a discussion about the California recount laws and procedures at a future meeting.

There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 11:30 a.m. The next meeting will be held on Friday, August 15, 2014.

April 18, 2014

Registrar of Voters
Election Advisory Committee Meeting
Friday, April 18, 2014, 9:30 AM
Room 324A, Marin Civic Center


A meeting of the Election Advisory Committee was held on Friday, April 18, 2014 in Room 324A of the Marin Civic Center. Present were: Greg Brockbank, Ericka Erickson, Veda Florez, Bonnie Glaser, Marcia Hagen, Mark Kyle, Anne Layzer, Sean Peisert, Jeanne Leoncini, Bob Richard, Steve Silberstein. Present from the Elections Office: Elaine Ginnold and Colleen Ksanda.

Election reports

April 8, 2014 Special Election in Novato. This election had a large turnout of 75.98%. Of the 626 vote by mail ballots issued, 500 were returned and counted. There were 9 provisional ballots of which 8 were counted. The measure to purchase open space in Pacheco Valle in Novato passed with 95.17% of the vote.

May 6, 2014 Vote by Mail School election. The Elections Office mailed ballots to 42,024 voters on April 7. There are 8853 ballots (21%) returned to date. Greg Brockbank requested information about the percentages of ballots that are returned on a daily or weekly basis. For the May election, 21% of the ballots were returned during the second week after the initial mailing on April 7. Ms. Ginnold will bring a report of ballots returned daily for the June election to the July meeting

June 3, 2014 Primary Election. Ms. Ginnold distributed a revised Election Facts and Key Dates report on the June Election. The Voter Pamphlets will be mailed on April 24 and the vote by mail ballots will be mailed on May 5. Committee members reviewed the Voter Information Pamphlet and suggested that the inside back cover be revised to promote some of the advantages of working at the polls, such as, “working at the polls can be a rewarding way to support the community,” and that it can be fun and a good way to meet neighbors. They also suggested changing the term “precinct boards” to “polling places.” Ms. Ginnold will bring the revised page to the July meeting.

The Committee discussed the assignment of measure letters with some members favoring the current system of beginning with the letter A for every election and others favoring assigning the letters sequentially throughout the alphabet. There are pros and cons for each system of lettering. The Committee agreed to take up this topic again at a future meeting. Committee members supported the idea of adding neutral key words to measure titles when possible, as was done for the Primary Election for the Marin County Library Measure, and the Marin County Civic Center Measure.

Colleen Ksanda discussed her outreach to voters in West Marin to let them know of our need for poll workers. She sent cards to all households in West Marin and received one response. She received another response from an article published in the Pt. Reyes Light. She also recruited poll workers to work at Stinson Beach and Inverness from Fairfax and Mill Valley. Ms. Ksanda reported that she will hold a pilot poll worker training class on Thursday, May 22, at the Dance Palace at Pt. Reyes Station for the Primary so that West Marin poll workers don’t have to come all the way to San Rafael for the classes. Committee members reported that the West Marin Citizen is also a news outlet in that area.

Ms. Ksanda reported that the poll worker training classes will be from Tuesday, May 27 through Friday, May 30 and that there are openings for at least 9 people. Poll workers need to be registered voters or legal residents. Steve Silberstein suggested putting an announcement at the unemployment office.

Review Goals for 2014

Committee members reviewed the Goals and Objectives for 2014 from the March meeting. Members suggested the following additions to Goal 1 voter outreach and education:

  • Educate voters about their option to vote by mail.
  • Inform voters that they can track their ballots to make sure the Elections Office has received them.

Add objective to goal 2: Develop effective methods for recruiting poll workers.

Sean Peisert raised the question of whether increasing vote by mail voters was a goal or an outcome. Members discussed the fact that voting by mail is a trend in the entire state and that there is a financial consideration for counties that are conducting two elections at the same time (mail and polls). A benefit is that voters can take their time with the ballot. Steve Silberstein pointed out that the Elections Office has an obligation to let voters know that they can vote by mail. Therefore, increasing the number of voters voting by mail is not a goal, but rather the outcome of letting voters know about their option to vote by mail. As an objective under Goal 1, we will add, “Inform voters of their right to vote by mail.”

Brainstorm requirements for new voting system

Ms. Ginnold explained that the department will have to replace its voting system because it is 15 years old and has end of life issues. For example, memory cards are no longer available. New systems should be certified in California within the next two years. The department wants to begin addressing questions about the type of system that would be best for the County. One of the main issues is whether ballots should be counted at the polls on a precinct scanner as they are now, or counted centrally at the office on high-speed scanners. Sean Peisert offered to ask his election process group to study the issue. The Committee will continue discussing the features of a new voting system in future meetings.

Report on new ways to apply for a vote by mail ballot

Ms. Ginnold reported that there are two new ways for a voter to apply for a vote by mail ballot: an online application and application by phone. Both will be available for the June election.

Update on lawsuit against SOS regarding felon voting

The lawsuit was heard in Alameda County in early April when the judge ruled in favor of the plaintiffs. After hearing oral arguments, the judge will re-writing his decision, but a date for the decision has not been established yet.

There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 11:30 a.m. The next meeting will be on Friday, July 18.

March 21, 2014

Registrar of Voters
Election Advisory Committee Meeting
Friday, March 21, 2014, 9:30 AM
Room 324A, Marin Civic Center


A meeting of the Election Advisory Committee was held on Friday, March 21, 2014 in Room 324A of the Marin Civic Center. Present were: Greg Brockbank, Veda Florez, Barbara Gaman, Bonnie Glaser, Marcia Hagen, Ora Hathaway, Morgan Kelley, Anne Layzer, Sean Peisert, Jeanne Leoncini, Bob Richard, Steve Silberstein and Cat Woods. Present from the Elections Office: Elaine Ginnold, Melvin Briones, Maureen Hogan, and Colleen Ksanda.

Ms. Ginnold welcomed new member Ora Hathaway from Mill Valley. Ms. Hathaway is President of the Marin Resident Housing Council, Daughter of the American Revolution and a Deputy Inspector at the polling place at the Log Cabin in San Anselmo. Her interest is in voter outreach services to low income and non-English speaking residents of Marin.

June 3, 2014 Primary Election

Ms. Ginnold distributed Facts and Key Dates for the June 3, 2014 Primary Election. There are 148,108 registered voters sofa. The number of vote by mail voters is 100, 379, or 68% of registered voters.

The Logic and Accuracy Test will be on Thursday, May 22 at 3:00 p.m. Anne Layzer will participate if she is in town and Sean Piesert and Veda Florez also volunteered to participate.

Colleen Ksanda reported that there are 138 voting precincts and 96 polling places. We have lost two polling places: Olive School lacks space and can no longer be a polling place. Voters will go to the Novato Fire Station. Park School in Mill Valley is unavailable because it scheduled an art show at the same time as the election. Voters will go to the Sewerage Agency for this election. Ms. Ksanda will notify voters in these precincts of the changes. Ms. Ksanda also reported that we need poll workers in West Marin at Stinson Beach and Inverness. Barbara Gaman said that our pink recruiting cards are visible in the community. She will help spread the word about our need for poll workers. We will send a press release to the Pt. Reyes Light next week. The Committee reviewed information about the Primary for the Voter Pamphlet and agreed that the information in the FAQ format was most complete and a better option to print in the Voter Pamphlet than the shorter version that does not cover all of the issues completely. Ms. Ginnold asked committee members to email her their recommendations for changes to this form by next week.

Annual Report on Goals and Objectives for 2013

Ms. Ginnold distributed the revised Goals and Objectives report and committee members suggested several revisions. Ms. Ginnold will make the revisions and distribute the final report at the next meeting.

Report on long term care outreach project

Bonnie Glaser, who wrote the grant that funded the residential care facility voter outreach project, reported that the idea came from a physician in one of the Eastern states who found that residents in these types of facilities were capable of voting, but needed assistance and weren't getting any. The Elections Department sent letters describing voter outreach services to twenty-five residential care facilities in Marin. Maureen Hogan, Voter Registration and Outreach Technician, reported that Veda Florez followed up with the facilities to schedule appointments. Then, she and Veda Florez visited seventeen of the sites and registered ninety voters. During the week before the November 2013 election, they returned to five facilities to read the candidates ‘statements and measures to residents, collect vote by mail ballots and assist voters who needed help to mark their ballots. Maureen reported that residents were appreciative of their services and the management staff at the facilities was largely supportive of their efforts. Ora Hathaway suggested that we include the low-income complexes for seniors and people with disabilities in voter education programs in future elections.

Goal setting for 2014-15

The Committee recommended keeping the general goals from 2013 and suggested objectives for 2014. Ms. Ginnold will prepare a list of objectives suggested by Committee members for discussion at the next meeting.

Report on lawsuit against SOS regarding felon voting

The lawsuit is Scott ET. Al v Bowen. It challenges a Secretary of State memo from December 2011. The memo advised county election officials that felons who are in county jails or on post release community supervision because of the State's prison realignment program were not eligible to register to vote. There is a hearing scheduled for the first week in April in Sacramento Superior Court. Ms. Ginnold will provide an update at the April meeting.

Other business

Sean Peisert reported that the National Institute of Standards and Technology will fund a study on internet voting.

There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 11:30 a.m. The next meeting will be on Friday, April 18 at 9:30 a.m.

February 21, 2014

Registrar of Voters
Election Advisory Committee Meeting
Friday, February 21, 2014, 9:30 AM
Room 324A, Marin Civic Center


A meeting of the Election Advisory Committee was held on Friday, February 21, 2014. Present were: Greg Brockbank, Veda Florez, Barbara Gaman, Bonnie Glaser, Marcia Hagen, Mark Kyle, Anne Layzer, Sean Peisert, Jeanne Leoncini, and Cat Woods. Present from the Elections Office: Elaine Ginnold and Colleen Ksanda.

Upcoming elections

  • April 8th Special Election in Novato. This election will have one polling place at the Novato Oaks Hotel. It will be staffed by employees from the Election Department. There are 847 voters in this election. 595 are permanent vote by mail voters. Copies of the Voter Information Pamphlet were passed around the table. It will be mailed on February 27. Ballots will go into the mail on March 10.
  • May 6, 2014 Special Vote by Mail Election. This election is for the Novato Unified and the Reed Union school districts. There are 42,146 voters in this election and all will receive their ballots in the mail beginning April 7. The Elections Office has established two Election Day ballot drop-off locations. These locations are at the Tiburon Town Hall in the Reed Union School District and at the United Methodist Church in Novato.
  • June 3, 2014 Primary Election: Committee members reviewed the language in the Top Two Primary Information page for Voter Information Pamphlet and recommended revisions. Ms. Ginnold will revise the page and email it to committee members for their comments.

Annual Report on Goals and Objectives for 2013-14

Ms. Ginnold distributed and reviewed the 2013-14 Annual Report for the Committee. Members suggested that the following information be added to the report:

  • How the Election Advisory Committee advocates for all voters
  • Use of the mobile app of the voter pamphlet in the 2012 elections
  • The work of the committee in reviewing and updating written material produced by the Elections Office for voters (includes handouts, fliers, sample ballot information pages, brochures, review of the website)
  • Training staff in the techniques of writing in plain English to better communicate with voters.
  • Elections Department work with nonprofit organizations such as Smart Voter and Grassroots.

Ms. Ginnold will update the Annual Report and bring it to the March meeting for the Committee to review.

Goals and Objectives for 2014-15

Ms. Ginnold asked committee members to think about what they would like to include in the Committee goals and objectives for 2014 and bring their ideas the next meeting.

Requirements for new voting system

Ms. Ginnold and Ms. Ksanda and described their impressions of the Dominion voting system which they saw demonstrated in Alameda County on Feb. 13. The ballot layout and central count system looks promising; however, the precinct scanner is quite large and bulky. This system is currently in State certification testing and should be approved (or not) by the Secretary of State by this summer. Ms. Ginnold asked committee members to continue thinking of the features important to them in a new voting system. Discussions about voting system requirements will continue for the next several months with the goal of developing a list of requirements by July.

Disability survey - update

Ms. Ginnold distributed a draft press release about the survey of voters with disabilities and asked for comments from the Committee. She will email the survey report separately as it is too large to copy and distribute. Committee members agreed to look at the survey and press release and email their comments to her.

Professor Elizabeth Bergman will present the survey findings at the March meeting of the Committee.

Other business

Recruitment for a new Registrar. Ms. Ginnold reported that the recruiter has scheduled phone interviews with several of the approximately 12 candidates who applied for the position. After the phone interviews, the recruiter will recommend individuals for in-person interviews with a team led by the County Administrator.

Agenda for next meeting

Committee requested that, in addition 6+the following items be placed on the agenda for the March meeting: Report on the long term care outreach project; Goals for 2014-15; Annual Report; report on lawsuit against Secretary of State regarding felon voting; June election information

There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 11:30 a.m. The next meeting will be on Friday, March 21, at 9:30 a.m. in Room 324A of the Civic Center.

January 17, 2014

Registrar of Voters
Election Advisory Committee Meeting
Friday, January 17, 2014, 9:30 AM
Room 324A, Marin Civic Center


A meeting of the Election Advisory Committee was held on Friday, January 17, 2014. Present were: Greg Brockbank, Veda Florez, Barbara Gaman, Bonnie Glaser, Marcia Hagen, Morgan Kelley, Anne Layzer, Sean Peisert, Jeanne Leoncini, Bob Richard and Cat Woods. Also present were Joseph Rice and Steve Chessin, President, Californians for Electoral Reform. Present from the Elections Office: Elaine Ginnold and Melvin Briones.

Upcoming elections

Ms. Ginnold announced that there would be a special election in the City of Novato, Pacheco Valle, on April 8, 2014. The purpose of the election is to raise funds to preserve open space lands. There are approximately 800 voters in the area.

Ms. Ginnold distributed a timetable of key deadlines for the candidate filing period and list of offices on the ballot for the June 3, 2014 Primary Election. The filing period for all candidates is from February 10 to March 8. Greg Brockbank pointed out that the term, “primary election” is a misnomer and really should be called a nominating election. However, the term primary election is embedded in the Elections Code and is unlikely to change any time soon.

Proportional voting presentation

Steve Chessin, President of Californians for Electoral Reform, gave an informative and interesting presentation on proportional voting. He used charts and diagrams to explain how proportional voting produces election results that reflect the interests of a diverse population more fairly than the “first past the post” voting system used in Marin County and in most of the US. A proportional voting system elects multiple candidates in proportion to the votes they receive thereby giving minority interests a voice on the legislative body. When jurisdictions are unhappy with plurality at large elections, they often decide to move to district elections. However, district elections are still not as fair as proportional voting because even fairly drawn districts can still be represented by only one point of view. Charter cities, such as San Rafael, can decide which voting system to use. For example, the charter cities of San Francisco, Oakland and San Leandro use ranked choice voting. Mr. Chessin recommended that any future Request for Proposal for a new voting system for Marin include a requirement that the system has the capacity to count ballots used with alternative voting systems such as single transferable vote and cumulative voting. Thank you to Bob Richard and Cat Woods for arranging this presentation.

Instructions for vote by mail voters

Ms. Ginnold distributed the most recent voting instructions for vote by mail voters and asked committee members to email her with changes.

Voting equipment

Ms. Ginnold reported that there are four companies that have voting equipment in the various stages of the voting equipment certification process and some may be finished by the end of the year. She asked Committee members to think of the features they would like to have in a new voting system for Marin County. We will develop a list of requirements during the next few months and use them to prepare a Request for Proposal for a new voting system. We hope to have a new voting system ready to test in the November 2015 Uniform District Election.

New election laws for 2014 – highlights

  • AB 530: Voters can apply for a vote by mail ballot by phone
  • AB 817: Legal residents can be election clerks at the polls
  • SB 213: Petition circulators don’t have to live in district or state
  • AB 1135: VBM ballots – ROV can use other documents besides registration affidavit to compare voter signature on VBM ballot

Other business

Request to have information about the Signature in Lieu process on the agenda for the February meeting.

There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 11:40 a.m. The next meeting will be on Friday, February 21.