2016 Advisory Committee Meeting Minutes

Lynda Roberts, Registrar of Voters, Elections


December 16, 2016

Registrar of Voters
Election Advisory Committee Meeting
Friday, December 16, 2016, 9:30 a.m.
Room 324A, Marin Civic Center


A meeting of the Election Advisory Committee was held on Friday, December 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, Jeanne Leoncini, Tom Montgomery, Damian Morgan, Cat Woods.

Representing the Elections Office: Lynda Roberts, Colleen Ksanda

Representing the County Administrator’s Office: Dan Eilerman


Lynda Roberts opened the meeting and introduced Peter Mendoza, Director of Advocacy and Special Projects with Marin Center for Independent Living. He will be taking Maddy Ruvolo’s place on the committee. Mr. Mendoza introduced himself. He is interested in ensuring equal access to voting, and has worked at local, state and national levels as a disability rights advocate. Committee members introduced themselves.

Meeting Schedule for 2017

The meeting schedule for 2017 will remain the same, and as in past years the committee will not meet in May, June, October and November.

November Election

The committee reviewed several topics.

Impact of Presidential Campaigns
The tone of the presidential campaigns and national speculation about potential behavior at the polls on Election Day, raised concern for one Marin polling place about safety. The Registrar and Elections Department staff worked closely with the superintendent of the school district and the school principal to alleviate concerns and develop a plan to ensure a safe operation.

The California Association of Clerks and Election Officials issued a media release addressing allegations of voter fraud and illegal voting.

Outreach Efforts
Veda Florez continued providing voting reminder notices to food banks to be included in weekly food bags.

Starting with this election, the Elections Department included announcements on its homepage to give the public more notice about election processes. The Department also put election-specific links in a prominent location to make it easier for the public to access information.

Key Facts
Ms. Roberts provided the updated list of Election Facts and Key Dates.

Polls/Poll Workers—Colleen Ksanda
Training: Because of national media attention about voter fraud, during poll worker training Ms. Ksanda addressed the procedure for challenging voters. This was a positive addition to training and helped dispel rumors. She also made a point to address rules for polling place observers, electioneering, exit polls and news media. Regarding the topic of security, Ms. Ksanda answered questions that poll workers raised.

Exit Polls: Students from Dominican University conducted exit polls at two of the busiest polling places.

Poll Workers: This election had 718 poll workers—116 poll workers cancelled, and 162 poll workers were new (22%). Ms. Ksanda had no problem replacing poll workers who cancelled since she had a big pool of volunteers. Sixty high school students participated—30 or more were from Novato High. Some people said they did not want to participate because the election was too emotional.

As a result of meeting with Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Ms. Ksanda made an effort to recruit more Asian speaking poll workers by contacting Community Action Marin, including an announcement in poll worker notices, and attending a county event sponsored by the Asian-American employees’ group. A new multi-language welcome sign was used at the polling places so poll workers could list languages spoken in addition to English. Poll workers were also asked to write additional languages spoken on their name badge. Each precinct received a glossary of election terms translated into Spanish, Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese.

As mentioned earlier, one polling place was concerned about safety and indicated they may not want to be a polling place in the future. Ms. Ksanda received few complaints about poll workers.

Veda Florez noted that she attended an Asian American Alliance dinner and invited people to be poll workers.

Cat Woods circulated copies of polling place materials she uses to help make the poll workers’ job easier at her polling place. She will give these suggestions to Ms. Ksanda.


  • Dominican University and College of Marin may be good recruitment sources for Asian-language speakers.
  • Social media had an impact on negative campaign messaging.
  • Election Day ran smoothly in Marin City.
  • There is still some public perception that provisional ballots aren’t counted. Part of the problem may be that the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) does not allow for names of provisional voters to be disclosed to anyone other than the voter.

Statistics Handouts
Ms. Roberts provided copies of the following handouts:

Secretary of State County Reporting Status report—provides information about county updates of results and voter turnout statewide.

Vote-by-Mail/Provisional Ballot Report—provides information about turnout, number of vote-by-mail ballots issued, returned, counted and rejected, and number of provisional ballots received, counted and rejected.

Voter Turnout—graphs provide a comparison between elections.

Presidential General Elections—page one compares information for the last three presidential elections: number of registered voters, ballots cast, returned vote-by-mail ballots, military/overseas ballots, provisional ballots, and turnout. Page two provides statistics specific to November 2016 turnout at polling place precincts.

Youth Statistics—compares turnout in the 18-24 year-old age range for the last three presidential primary and general elections.

Vote-by-Mail—graphs show turnout by mail in the last seven primary and general elections.

CACEO Media Release—Post-Election Canvass
The president of the California Association of Clerks and Election Officials issued a media release describing the post-Election Day work performed by elections officials prior to certification.

International Observers
Observers from two international organizations visited the Marin Elections Department to review procedures: Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and Organization of American States (OAS). Ms. Roberts distributed copies of the OSCE preliminary report and the OAS preliminary report.

Other Business

Veda Florez announced that Mindy Romero, Center for Civic Engagement, will be speaking about the November election on January 9 at Noon.

The meeting adjourned at 11:30 a.m. The next meeting will be held on Friday, January 20, 2017.

September 16, 2016

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.

November Election

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.

Other Business

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.

August 19, 2016

Registrar of Voters
Election Advisory Committee Meeting
Friday, August 19, 2016, 9:30 a.m.
Room 324A, Marin Civic Center


A meeting of the Election Advisory Committee was held on Friday, August 19, 2016, in Room 324A of the Marin Civic Center. The following members were present: Greg Brockbank, Cathleen Dorinson, Veda Florez, Bonnie Glaser, Marcia Hagen, Mark Kyle, Anne Layzer, Jeanne Leoncini, Sean Peisert, Steve Silberstein, Cat Woods.

Representing the Elections Office: Lynda Roberts, Colleen Ksanda

Note: The meeting of July 22, 2016 was cancelled.


Lynda Roberts opened the meeting and introduced Mary Anne Beauchamp, who is interested in joining the committee to represent the homeless community. Each member introduced themselves. As an advocate for homeless people, Ms. Beauchamp said the homeless need to know they have rights. She worked in Marin at St. Vincent de Paul Society when they had their program and she now works independently.

Other Business

Greg Brockbank distributed an outline showing Marin’s nonpartisan races on the November 8, 2016 ballot. The list also shows races that will not be on the ballot due to insufficient number of candidates. The list gave names and contact information of those who filed candidacy papers.

Ms. Roberts distributed a copy of key dates for the November election.

June Election Discussion

The committee reviewed the following topics.

Veda Florez talked about outreach to food banks. For several weeks before the election, she gave informational flyers to area food banks so they could include them in the weekly food bags. The program has been met with great enthusiasm.

Regarding outreach to people with vision disabilities, Ms. Roberts said this was the first election they uploaded the audio recordings of local measures to the Elections Department’s website in addition to mailing CDs to over 40 organizations and libraries.

Concurrent Project
In the middle of April, the Department of Justice sent a letter requesting documentation about polling places and ADA compliance, to be provided by May 5. This project came during a peak time of election preparations and required the full three weeks to gather and organize the documents. During this same time period, the department was running a special May election.

The committee reviewed the Vote-By-Mail and Provisional Ballot Report, and suggested seeing data over time in a graph would be interesting. Members also reviewed the Report of Registration and Statement of Vote published by the Secretary of State. Members noted the high number of voters registered as No Party Preference and asked about registration statistics by age categories. Ms. Roberts can run a report that gives this information.

Voter Information Pamphlet/Sample Ballot Booklet
Since the crossover process is confusing to voters (i.e. the ability for No Party Preference voters to select the ballot of a party that allows this), the first page of the Voter Information Pamphlet was dedicated to explaining the process. Even so, voters called to get information because they said they didn’t read the booklet or they threw it away. The cost to print the pamphlets was $260,000. In addition, voters were calling about information and/or misinformation they heard in the media.

Polling Places and Poll Workers
One Election Day rover reported that poll workers felt intimidated by voters who were adamant about getting their way regardless of election rules. One voter tried to vote twice.

One polling place called to complain about electioneering in regard to placement of a sign.

Colleen Ksanda reported the following:

  1. This election had 161 precincts, 93 polling places, and 675 poll workers. She based precinct consolidation on the 2008 presidential election to avoid lines at polling places.
  2. Prior to the election, 129 poll workers dropped out. It is difficult to retain poll workers for a June election since it is vacation time and presidential primary elections are difficult.
  3. Thirty-two percent of the poll workers were new; 19 high school students participated. Students are very enthusiastic and typically poll workers want to work with them. Students from Terra Linda High were allowed to use the experience as their final exam.
  4. All but 3 of the 11 standby poll workers were called upon. Some polling places had to get by with just the poll workers they had available.
  5. Since vote-by-mail reduces the number of people voting at the polls, she staffs a polling place so workers don’t feel either overwhelmed or bored. Some of the polls were busier than usual.
  6. Split shifts are available if the person recruits their own partner.
  7. Ms. Ksanda conducted 15 training classes; 2 of the classes were for new inspectors. She stressed the crossover procedures for the party ballots and also provisional voting.
  8. The Voter Information Pamphlet/Sample Ballot booklet is still the best tool to recruit poll workers.
  9. Vote-by-mail ballots surrendered at the polls were no more than usual. Typically the number one reason people vote provisionally is because they can’t surrender their vote-by-mail ballot. Another reason for provisional ballots in this election was due to people wanting to vote on a party ballot for which they were not eligible.

Additional Information
The Department received positive feedback about the postage-paid return envelopes for vote-by-mail.

The Department received many emails and phone calls from people (particularly Sanders supporters) concerned about fraud and whether their provisional ballot was counted. There was misinformation in the media that fueled this concern.

Voter Outreach
Concern that some polling place ballots were not returned on election night. Ms. Roberts explained that staff does not leave until accounting for all the equipment and ballots from polling places. The “late” ballots were delivered around 11:45 p.m.

It seemed to take longer for polling places to close. Ms. Ksanda explained that it takes longer to account for all the party ballots at the end of the night.

Recruiting poll workers may be easier if the Department pays a stipend equal to the hourly minimum wage.

Some impassioned people don’t bother to find out the facts before they cry fraud.

An article about young Sanders supporters indicated that some young people thought their support on social media was sufficient.

The meeting adjourned at 11:30 a.m. The next meeting will be held on Friday, September 16, 2016.

July 22, 2016

This meeting was canceled

April 25, 2016

Registrar of Voters
Election Advisory Committee Meeting
Friday, April 25, 2016, 9:30 AM
Room 324A, Marin Civic Center


A meeting of the Election Advisory Committee was held on Friday, April 25, 2016, in Room 324A of the Marin Civic Center. The following members were present: Greg Brockbank, Cathleen Dorinson, Veda Florez, Ora Hatheway, Morgan Kelley, Mark Kyle, Jeanne Leoncini, Damian Morgan, Bob Richard, Maddy Ruvolo, Steve Silberstein, Cat Woods.

Representing the Elections Office: Lynda Roberts, Colleen Ksanda, Maureen Hogan


Lynda Roberts opened the meeting.

Voter Registration and Outreach Report

Maureen Hogan gave an overview about recent registration activities and outreach. She has received requests for voter registration cards from DMV offices, post offices, and libraries. Many individuals are conducting voter registration drives and have picked up forms. Health and Human Services has been doing a good job with voter registration. Ms. Roberts distributed copies of news releases from the California Secretary of State’s office talking about a surge in online voter registration. In Marin County from February 1 to April 14, 2016, there have been 4,100 new registrations and 4,649 re-registrations to a different party.

In February, Ms. Roberts worked with Mary Jane Burke, Superintendent of Public Instruction, to target high schools for outreach. The goal was to focus on the most diverse high schools. As a result of the outreach effort, Ms. Roberts mailed a packet of information to the social studies teacher at Marin Oaks High School in Novato, and the government teacher at Terra Linda High requested two presentations. During the Terra Linda High presentations, Ms. Hogan assisted the students with the online voter registration, and twenty students registered to vote. Ms. Ksanda talked about the student poll worker program. The teacher was very enthusiastic and students who signed up were allowed to use the experience as their final exam. Close to 30 students signed up for the June 7 election.

Committee members suggested reaching out to other high schools including Drake, San Rafael, Tam, and alternative schools.

June Election Update

In addition to preparing for the June election, the department is simultaneously working on the May 3rd special election.

Greg Brockbank, Morgan Kelley, and Bob Richard described how delegates are chosen for the Democratic, Republican, and Peace and Freedom national conventions respectively.

Polling Places and Poll Workers
Ms. Ksanda gave an update about polling places and poll workers. There will be 161 precincts and 93 polling places. Fewer precincts were consolidated for this election. Two polling places were re-assigned since locations cancelled. When this happens, the Department sends voters a postcard to let them know about the change. The total number of poll workers needed is 676. At this point, 8 deputies and 59 clerks are needed, and there are no spare workers. Ms. Ksanda has taken the following steps to recruit poll workers, including bi-lingual poll workers: 1) Announcements in the County’s internal newsletter (FYI); 2) notice on the Elections Department website; 3) post on Facebook; 4) newspaper ads; 5) nextdoor.com in Stinson Beach; 6) and asking city clerks to post a notice. Typically 100 people cancel after receiving their first notice. Due to the high number of new inspectors, Ms. Ksanda will hold two additional training classes. Training will focus on giving voters the right ballot since this is a partisan election.

Committee members suggested recruiting students from Tam High to work in West Marin, and contacting the Center for Volunteers, and YWCA.

Crossover Voting Postcard
Ms. Roberts talked about an error on the “crossover” postcard recently mailed to voters. The deadline on the card was for the March mailing and had not been corrected for the April mailing. As a result, people received the card after the deadline. Ms. Roberts issued a news release to alert voters, put a notice in the paper, an announcement on Facebook, and posted information on the department website. The department also re-sent the postcard with a corrected deadline.

Committee members suggested avoiding the use of hard deadlines unless they are legal deadlines. It may be better instead to use phrases such as, “return quickly” or “return immediately after receipt”.

Sixty-day report of registration
Committee members noted that more people seem to be registering as No Party Preference (NPP) for a variety of reasons: Political science research confirms that people don’t want to get political mail so they register as NPP; people want to keep their options open and feel independent from a party; parties don’t resonate with young people who view them as antiquated. It was noted that young voters don’t like the two-party system and want more options. Also, parties don’t represent their interests and are too similar. The statement, “I don’t like the choices,” ranks high as a reason for registering NPP.

Key Dates
The Committee reviewed the following key dates listed on an informational sheet for voters:

April 28: Begin mailing Voter Information Pamphlet/Sample Ballot booklets.

May 9: Begin mailing vote-by-mail ballots. Voting begins in the Elections Office weekdays between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

May 19: Contact the Elections Department if you have not received your voter information pamphlet or vote-by-mail ballot.

May 23: Last day to register to vote in this election.

May 31: Last day the Elections Office can mail a vote-by-mail ballot. After this day, voters wishing to vote by mail must get a ballot in person at the Elections Office.

June 7: Election Day: Polls open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Elections Office open from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. for voting by mail; vote-by-mail ballot envelopes must be signed and postmarked on or before this day; voters can drop their vote-by-mail ballot (in its signed envelope) at the Elections Office or any polling place by 8 p.m.

When using the key dates for public information, members suggested avoiding the use of “soft deadlines”. For example the date to contact the Elections Department if a voter hasn’t received their information pamphlet or ballot is a “soft” deadline.

Ms. Roberts mentioned that July 7 is the deadline to certify the election.

Voter Outreach
Even though the first page in the Voter Information Guide/Sample Ballot booklet describes the process of voting for a presidential candidate in the primary election, Ms. Roberts asked for feedback about placing ads in the newspaper to describe the process. Members agreed that more information is better.

Other Business

There was no other business.

The meeting adjourned at 11:30 a.m. The next meeting will be held on Friday, July 22, 2016.

March 25, 2016

Registrar of Voters
Election Advisory Committee Meeting
Friday, March 25, 2016, 9:30 AM
Room 324A, Marin Civic Center


A meeting of the Election Advisory Committee was held on Friday, March 25, 2016, in Room 324A of the Marin Civic Center. The following members were present: Greg Brockbank, Cathleen Dorinson, Veda Florez, Marcia Hagen, Ora Hatheway, Anne Layzer, Sean Peisert, Bob Richard, Maddy Ruvolo, Steve Silberstein.

Representing the Elections Office: Lynda Roberts


Lynda Roberts opened the meeting and introduced Mr. Damian Morgan. Mr. Morgan has expressed an interest in joining the committee as a representative for Marin City.

Mr. Morgan was born and raised in Marin County and currently heads a local nonprofit organization that addresses issues confronting youth. Ora Hatheway invited Mr. Morgan to attend the meeting so he could learn more about the committee. He is interested in voting rights, especially to dispel misconceptions about the rights of voters in prison. He wants to help bring more outreach to the community.

Nevada Caucus Information

Greg Brockbank gave an overview about his experience serving as a precinct chair for the Nevada Democratic Party caucus. Unlike a primary election, the caucus is not expensive for counties since the party pays for the caucus. However, it is a time consuming and cumbersome process, and not convenient for voters since it takes four to five hours. But on the positive side, it feels like a town hall meeting. Caucus rules are different between states.

Review Statement of Purpose

The committee reviewed the current statement of purpose that is posted on the Elections Department website, and reviewed the changes proposed by Ms. Roberts. The intent is to simplify and clarify the statement. The committee suggested changing the requirement about members being registered voters to members being residents of Marin County. Someone from an under-represented community who isn’t a registered voter could add a beneficial point of view and unique perspective.

Referring to minutes from the first committee meeting in 2006, Ms. Roberts reaffirmed that in her capacity as Registrar she will appoint no more than 20 members and will strive to maintain diversity with input from the committee. Regarding decision-making, Ms. Roberts will continue to follow the practice of using a consensus approach when considering advice. Recommendations that impact policy or the budget will require a higher-level of authority, such as the CAO or Board of Supervisors.

Mobile Outreach

Ms. Roberts distributed information about Global Mobile and led the committee through a demonstration on their smart phones. She met with a representative from Global Mobile in February to review their voter service called 2Vote, which uses text messaging as a way to communicate with voters.

Members expressed concerns about 2Vote:

  • It appeared to be a way to gather phone numbers for future marketing efforts via text messages.
  • Some members wondered about privacy.
  • Several members thought it would be easier to use Google to get information.
  • Most members suggested using resources to promote the Elections Department website rather than add a new tool.
  • The department could boost its Facebook posts to remind people about key dates, such as the deadline to register.
  • Voters can sign up with Rock the Vote to receive text messages.

Open-Source Software

Ms. Roberts talked about her meeting with Carl Carter and Richard Tamm, who are interested in promoting legislation pertaining to election results auditing and transparency. Their basic concern is about a vendor’s ability to tamper with election set up. As she explained to Mr. Carter and Mr. Tamm, Marin County programs the elections internally so vendors are not involved. Transparency is part of the process since anyone from the public may come and watch.


Ms. Roberts reviewed the status of the bill she proposed at the California Association of Clerks and Election Officials (CACEO) legislative meeting on January 29. [The Election Advisory Committee discussed the proposal at their January 15 meeting.] In summary, Elections Code currently allows a precinct to be designated all mail if 88 days before the election there are fewer than 250 registered voters. Ms. Roberts proposed subtracting the number of permanent vote-by-mail voters prior to determining which precincts have fewer than 250 polling place voters.

CACEO Legislative Committee members said this has been tried in the past and it is controversial. It would be too late for this legislative year, plus the main focus is passage of SB 450 pertaining to vote centers. CACEO members suggested bringing the proposal back in 2017.

Review of legislation being proposed this year.

SB 450 update. Stakeholders are still discussing details including the required number of vote centers. From 4 to 10 days before an election, there is a proposal to decrease the number of centers required. Instead of requiring one center for every 15,000 voters, there would be one center for every 30,000 voters. From 3 days before an election through Election Day, the requirement would be one center for every 15,000 voters. This bill may go to committee hearings in mid-April.

Other proposals include:
AB 887 (Ting)—to allow internet voting for military and overseas
AB 1494 (Levine)—allow voters to take photo of their ballot for social media
AB 1921 (Gonzalez)—allow any person to return another’s VBM
AB 2065 (Harper)—Motor Voter, require proof of citizenship and opt-in
AB 2067 (Harper)—Motor Voter, require proof of citizenship
SB 928 (Liu)—homeless shelters keep records of people they register to vote
ACA 7 (Gonzalez)—allow 16-17 year olds to vote in school district elections

Other Business

Veda Florez gave a brief update about outreach efforts to reach economically disadvantaged communities by including informational inserts in food bags.

Ms. Roberts said she is working on the annual report for 2015. It has been delayed due to immediate commitments with budget and elections. She distributed copies of the following: revised proposed objectives for 2016; a table showing how many ballots for the November 2015 election were counted during the post-election three-day grace period; and a chart showing voter turnout in local, primary, and general elections.

The meeting adjourned at 11:30 a.m. The next meeting will be held on Friday, April 15, 2016.

February 26, 2016

Registrar of Voters
Election Advisory Committee Meeting
Friday, February 26, 2016, 9:30 AM
Room 324A, Marin Civic Center


A meeting of the Election Advisory Committee was held on Friday, February 26, 2016, in Room 324A of the Marin Civic Center. The following members were present: Greg Brockbank, Cathleen Dorinson, Veda Florez, Marcia Hagen, Ora Hatheway, Anne Layzer, Jeanne Leoncini, Sean Peisert, Bob Richard, Steve Silberstein, Cat Woods.

Representing the Elections Office: Lynda Roberts, Colleen Ksanda, Melvin Briones, and Tony Aquilino


Lynda Roberts opened the meeting and welcomed the committee.


Tom Stanionis, Yolo County Elections Department, gave a presentation about Yolo County’s all vote-by-mail pilot program, and their central counting process.

All vote-by-Mail Pilot Program

Section 4001 of the Elections Code specifies the conditions for the pilot program, such as number of polling places and drop boxes required per city. Yolo County tried three times to pass the bill. In hindsight, they would have re-defined ballot drop-off locations in order to use a variety of sites. The cities and school districts supported the pilot at the outset; special districts were already qualified to hold all vote-by-mail elections.

The pilot program allows Yolo County to conduct all vote-by-mail elections for cities. Yolo’s pilot was designed for simple, single-issue elections; not complex elections such as local district elections held in November of odd years (UDEL elections). The recent San Mateo pilot conducted an all vote-by-mail election for the UDEL, and the logistics were much more complicated because of all the different ballot types.

Yolo County’s process has worked well and is economical. Procedures are an important component of the program. Voters can visit the polling place for a replacement ballot, and since there is only one ballot type, the process is simple. Initially there was some concern about security of drop boxes. The drop boxes are locked and are located in secure government buildings so there is no need to staff those locations. Typically staff members pick up ballots once a week and then every day closer to the election.

The cost savings is not significant because the cost of the polling place shifts to the cost of sending ballots to all voters and paying return postage. They did not notice a significant increase in turnout either. However, this model simplifies the election administration process. They use an electronic poll book application that was designed in-house so it meets their specific needs and it works well for a few hundred voters. The voting data is updated each night so they can keep track of who voted. Voters who go to the polling place sign a paper roster.

Generally voters recognized that this change would streamline the process and make it simpler, but a certain faction expressed concern. The Elections Department had strong buy-in from officials and the Board of Supervisors. Public education consisted of newspaper editorials and presentations. Mr. Stanionis did not notice more enthusiasm for polling place elections versus vote-by-mail elections. People who currently vote at the polls are people who want to see their friends and vote in a booth.

Mr. Stanionis provided copies of the follow-up study titled Study of the March 5, 2013 All Mail Elections in Yolo County, which was written by Karin Mac Donald, Election Administration Research Center, University of California, Berkeley, and Ken McCue, California Institute of Technology, with assistance by Arshia Singh and Bonnie Glaser. This report is found on their website under Reports and Publications.

Central Counting Process

Yolo County has been centrally counting ballots (rather than counting at polling places) since 2006, so their procedures are designed for this model. Over time the process has become more efficient, and they finish counting around Midnight or 1:00 a.m. They use six scanners that each process between 1,200-1,500 ballots per hour, which equals 7,000-8,000 ballots processed per hour. Advance preparation is important.

Mr. Stanionis described details specific to their machines and processes. They have had to figure out procedures to work around shortcomings of the system. More scanners don’t equate to faster processing; there is a balance between the optimal number of machines and people processing ballots. Since there is no redundant check with equipment at the polls, procedures for handling and accounting for ballots are important. After the Secretary of State promulgates rules for the new law that allows collection of ballots from polling places during the day, his office will work out a procedure with their rovers. Their ADA equipment gets about 12 votes per election. Mr. Stanionis stressed the importance of having good materials and procedures for poll workers to account for ballots, and good procedures for handling of ballots from the polling place to the counting office. Chain-of-custody from the polls to the central office is critical.

In answer to a question about open-source voting equipment, Mr. Stanionis mentioned two themes he has seen: 1) There are those who want to develop open source as a way to make money; 2) people focus on the wrong aspect of the problem. Security is not the biggest issue because we have the ballots. He believes that transparency is more important, for example, having a voting system that can audit each part of the tally process to verify accuracy. Typically his office catches problems during the official canvass; robust procedures alert them about potential problems.

In answer to a question about second-chance voting to correct a problem at the polls, such as over-votes, Mr. Stanionis said over-votes and invalid write-ins are typically less than ½ percent. Poll workers and voters don’t usually pay attention to the machine message about over-votes, and accept the ballot manually.

When asked about reasons to stay with the central count model, Mr. Stanionis said, besides cost, it is less of a burden on poll workers and is more accurate in accounting for ballots. When poll workers have to manage technology, their attention is pulled away from their primary function of serving as a professional witness of the voting process.

Ms. Roberts and the committee thanked Mr. Stanionis for his presentation.


The following agenda items were re-scheduled for the March 25, 2016, meeting.

  • Review Statement of Purpose
  • Mobile Outreach
  • Open-Source Software
  • Legislation
  • Other Business

The meeting adjourned at 11:30 a.m. The next meeting will be held on Friday, March 25, 2016.

January 15, 2016

Registrar of Voters
Election Advisory Committee Meeting
Friday, January 15, 2016, 9:30 AM
Room 324A, Marin Civic Center


A meeting of the Election Advisory Committee was held on Friday, January 15, 2016, in Room 324A of the Marin Civic Center. The following members were present: Greg Brockbank, Veda Florez, Ora Hatheway, Mark Kyle, Anne Layzer, Bob Richard, Maddy Ruvolo, Steve Silberstein, Cat Woods.

Representing the Elections Office: Lynda Roberts and Colleen Ksanda


Ms. Roberts opened the meeting. She introduced Cathleen Dorinson who has volunteered to take Barbara Gaman’s place on the committee and represent West Marin.

Ms. Dorinson is a member of Main Street Moms and serves on their election committee. She has worked to get out the vote, and is interested in the administrative side of elections. The committee members introduced themselves to Ms. Dorinson.

2016 meeting schedule

Ms. Roberts reviewed the 2016 meeting schedule. The August meeting is tentative since this month is usually very busy due to preparing the voter information guide. Members suggested having a meeting that doesn’t require much advance preparation, such as a guest speaker.

Marin Center for Independent Living—Leadership Academy

Maddy Ruvolo talked about the upcoming leadership training being offered by MCIL to persons with disabilities. This is their first annual leadership academy, and will encompass six sessions—one, three-hour class per week. The academy can accommodate 10-15 students, and there is no charge. The academy will help participants gain leadership skills and learn how to participate on local boards and committees.

Ms. Ruvolo distributed copies of the flyer and application. Ms. Roberts will forward her email with these attachments to the advisory committee members.


Ms. Roberts distributed copies of the proposed objectives for 2016. She noted that from year to year the goal remains constant and the objectives may change, so she has revised the format of the document. The committee will continue talking about the objectives at future meetings.


Under Objective 2—Voter Outreach: Include efforts to recruit members from Marin City and the Canal area.

Under Objective 4—Election Department Ongoing: Include tracking legislation and policy issues, and the impact they may have.

Some members suggested they would like to support or oppose legislative proposals, or have the committee take a position on policy issues. Other members pointed out that the committee currently discusses relevant policy issues, such as voting equipment, and makes recommendations. The committee is only advisory and not required; the registrar is accountable to the Board of Supervisors. The purpose of the committee is to provide input from a community perspective and take information back to the community.


Motor Voter

The Governor has proposed $3.9 million to bring the motor voter system online. No additional allocations have been proposed for elections. The program is intended to start in mid-2017 after the statewide database system (VoteCal) is live and certified by the Secretary of State. Details and regulations need to be determined. Once implemented, the program will be prospective and include those applying for a new driver’s license, renewing a license, or changing their address. The system will gather basic information regarding eligibility, including an attestation of eligibility. It will offer the opportunity to select party, language and vote-by-mail status. People will also be able to opt out.


This new system could solve the current problem of people who think they have registered through DMV but failed to complete the process. With more people in the voter registration system, the percent of turnout could decrease even if the number of actual voters increases. The committee talked about possible reasons why turnout is so low in certain elections, including lack of campaigning by political parties, voters’ busy schedules, lack of time to become informed about candidates and issues, lack of civic education in schools, and an electorate that feels discouraged about whether their vote counts. Even though the committee can’t tackle the large sociological issues, we can work on efforts to make voting easier. Oregon mails information to voters throughout the year in an effort to educate them. Continued outreach to high schools is critical; perhaps start outreach in grade schools. The Elections Code designates two weeks in April and September for voter registration drives in high schools. Ms. Roberts is planning to work with the Superintendent of Public Instruction to organize an event in April.

Vote by Mail

Ms. Roberts and Ms. Ksanda will be attending the first CACEO legislative committee meeting on January 29th, and Ms. Roberts is planning to introduce an idea for a change in the Elections Code. Currently the code allows a precinct to be designated all mail if 88 days before the election there are fewer than 250 registered voters. If the number of permanent vote-by-mail voters is subtracted first, this would allow more flexibility to designate precincts with low polling place turnout as vote by mail, thus saving the cost of running these polling places. Ms. Ksanda presented information about precincts with 250 to 1,000 registered voters, and the number of permanent vote-by-mail voters in those precincts. For these precincts she showed the polling place turnout in three elections—November 2012 presidential, November 2014 gubernatorial and November 2015 district election. Her data show that 23 polling places have a low turnout, depending on the election. The presidential and gubernatorial elections had higher turnouts than the local district election.


Closures could impact low income communities, which may need more voter education and outreach. Closures could also impact remote areas. Under a new model, perhaps a drop box should be required if polling places are closed. Even though people may not vote at the polling place, they may drop off their vote-by-mail ballot; it would be helpful to know how many ballots were dropped at these locations. People go to the post office to get their mail, so it would not be inconvenient to drop their ballot in a mail box. Perhaps the proposed change could be included as part of SB 450 (the bill that would allow for vote centers). A main provision of SB 450 is that everyone would get a vote-by-mail ballot. Since a change in elections code applies to the entire state, this would have a big range of impact. How strategic would elections officials be when considering closures? We need to consider voter confidence. Moving the local elections to even-years could address the issue of low turnout. As more people sign up to vote by mail, the polling place turnout will drop even more. A proposed change should include language that allows for a closure unless it creates a disadvantage to voters. Would it be confusing to voters if they have a polling place in some elections and not others? Relative to the cost of an election, the actual savings would be small. What is the value of a vote? The trend is more vote-by-mail; people should continue to be educated about this option. And the terminology should change to “vote at home”.

Ms. Ksanda said a precinct may have a polling place in some elections but not in others. This is because the current law allows for precincts with fewer than 250 voters to be designated vote by mail, and the number of precincts with fewer than 250 voters fluctuates from election to election. To avoid confusion, voters in an all-mail precinct receive information with their ballot informing them that they do not have a polling place.

Other business

The committee reviewed a graph showing voter turnout in local elections (odd-year UDEL elections) from November 2001 to November 2015. Turnout was between 30 and 40 percent except in 2005, when turnout was 66 percent. This spike in turnout was attributed to state propositions on the ballot that year, and the fact that proponents were campaigning so there was more public awareness. It could be argued that public funding of campaigns could improve voter turnout.

In addition to the presidential primary races, the June 2016 ballot will include local candidates and measures—Ross and Belvedere city council, county supervisor, and special districts. A regional measure concerning restoration of San Francisco Bay will be on the ballot in nine counties including Marin. Also, Marin Community College may have a measure and there may be a statewide proposition regarding ethics. If the Disclose Act was adopted, it would eliminate anonymous donors, and require the top three funders to be disclosed.

The meeting adjourned at 11:30 a.m. The next meeting will be held on Friday, February 26, 2016.