2021 Advisory Committee Meeting Minutes

Lynda Roberts, Registrar of Voters, Elections

 

December 17, 2021

Registrar of Voters
Election Advisory Committee Meeting
Friday, December 17, 2021 9:30 a.m.
Zoom Meeting

Minutes

The Election Advisory Committee met on Friday, December 17, 2021, via Zoom due to COVID-19. The following members were present: Nancy Bell, Greg Brockbank, Robin Diederich, Cathleen Dorinson, Veda Florez, Bob Richard, Steve Silberstein.

Representing the Elections Department: Lynda Roberts, Registrar of Voters, and Megan Stone, Elections Technician.

Visitors: Becky Bingea, Marin County League of Women Voters

Welcome

Lynda Roberts opened the meeting and thanked everyone for attending.

Guest Speaker

Ms. Roberts introduced the guest speaker.

Mindy Romero is the founder and director of the Center for Inclusive Democracy (CID), formerly known as the California Civic Engagement Project, which is part of the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy and is based in Sacramento. She is a political sociologist and holds a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California, Davis. Her research focuses on political behavior and race/ethnicity, and seeks to explain patterns of voting and political underrepresentation, particularly among youth and communities of color in California and the U.S.

Ms. Romero presented data from the CID’s California’s Changing Electorate: A 2020 Post Election Analysis of Voting Behavior report. The report examines the November 2020 election regarding voter behavior and methods. The data was categorized by the overall eligible voter population and by subgroup populations for the entire state of California for VCA and non-VCA counties (VCA is Voter’s Choice Act). More information about this report and other publications can be found at https://cid.usc.edu/turnout-briefs.

Ms. Romero took questions from the Committee. She provided details about how the report identified subgroups and referenced a planned study on ballot tracking in the future. She acknowledged one of the key take-aways from the report is to recognize the continued large outreach effort needed to be done to inform eligible voters about changes to voting in the State and to target the messaging to the appropriate subgroups as the data indicates.

Voters’ Choice Act Update (VCA)

Ms. Roberts gave a brief update about the implementation efforts. The department’s Election Administration Plan (EAP) was approved recently by the Secretary of State’s office. The EAP includes an education and outreach plan. Staff is currently working on procedural changes. The next public-facing effort will be outreach in 2022.

Ms. Diederich acknowledged Ms. Stone’s excellent work with the department’s social media. The Committee recognized the tremendous contributions former VCA project coordinator, Liz Acosta, brought to the department.

Open Time Q&A

One member asked about resuming in-person meetings. Feedback supported continuing with virtual meetings for the near future.

Meeting adjourned at 11:00 a.m. The next meeting will be held on Friday, January 21, 2022.

September 17, 2021

Registrar of Voters
Election Advisory Committee Meeting
Friday, September 17, 2021, 9:30 a.m.
Zoom Meeting

Minutes

The Election Advisory Committee met on Friday, September 17, 2021, via Zoom due to COVID-19. The following members were present: Nancy Bell, Greg Brockbank, Robin Diederich, Cathleen Dorinson, Veda Florez, Bonnie Glaser, Anne Layzer, Sean Peisert, Bob Richard, Steve Silberstein, Cat Woods.

Representing the Elections Department: Lynda Roberts, Registrar of Voters.

Welcome

Lynda Roberts opened the meeting and thanked everyone for attending.

Guest Speaker

Mindy Romero, founder and director of the Center for Inclusive Democracy, was scheduled to present her research about voting behavior and patterns. Due to a conflict, her presentation will be rescheduled.

Outreach Updates

Veda Florez reviewed the recent National Disability Voter Registration Week town hall event held on September 1 and hosted by the Marin County Elections Department and Marin Center for Independent Living. The meeting included American Sign Language interpreters.

Town hall speakers were Lilian Aluri, Voting Campaign Coordinator with RevUp! American Association of People with Disabilities, and Russell Rawlings with the Disability Organizing Network (DO Network), a State of California organization. In addition, Ms. Roberts talked about services and resources provided by the Elections Department.

The keynote speaker was Mindy Romero, founder and director of the Center for Inclusive Democracy (CID). She reviewed her research and surveys that include voters with disabilities. The results show a need for more outreach to voters with disabilities.

Twenty-one people attended the town hall; participants were local and from around the state. This event allowed Ms. Florez to connect with the Cedars for future outreach, which includes 11 group homes.

Voters’ Choice Act Update (VCA)

Ms. Roberts gave an update. The public review period for the Election Administration Plan is open from September 16 through September 30. The public input meeting is scheduled for September 30, 5:30-7 p.m. and will be held via Zoom. The information is posted on the Elections Department website and a copy of the news release will be emailed to the department’s 37 community partners, the Voting Accessibility Advisory Committee, the Language Accessibility Advisory Committee, the Election Advisory Committee, and City and Town Clerks.

Committee members suggested contacting the IJ about writing an article or adding the information to the IJ’s In Your Town section and contacting KWMR about an interview.

November Election Update – Tiburon Town Council

Ms. Roberts gave an update. The election date is November 2 and the Tiburon Town Council race is the only item on the ballot. There are about 6,500 voters and the two polling places will be open on Election Day only. A ballot drop box will be located at Tiburon Town Hall in addition to the two outside boxes at the Civic Center. Ballots will be mailed on October 4 to all registered voters in the Town of Tiburon and ballot drop boxes will be available starting October 4.

Open Time Q&A

Recall Election Discussion

Some committee members worked at the polls and provided the following information: Many voters were unaware about the requirement to turn in their vote-by-mail ballot to vote a non-provisional ballot at the polls; some voters were upset that people were not required to show ID; and some voters believed there was an issue with the voting system based on what they were hearing from other states.

Committee members commented that provisional ballots have always been an issue for voters, along with concerns about ID and distrust of vote by mail. Some words trigger concern for voters, such as “surrendering” a vote-by-mail ballot for a “live” ballot—“provisional” is also a trigger word. One member mentioned that VCA will eliminate the requirement to surrender the vote-by-mail ballot.

Some voters were concerned about the ballot marking pens because they look like felt-tip pens that bleed through the ballot. One member mentioned that originally the pens were selected for the prior voting system because they produced the most consistent result. Voters were also concerned about using the same pen as others due to ongoing COVID-19.

Members said the election messaging from the Secretary of State’s office was helpful.

Suggestion: Ask for feedback from those who have worked at the polls when creating the vote center messaging. Include messaging about provisional ballots and more signage at locations about provisional ballots.

In response to a question about voters writing their address on the vote-by-mail ballot envelope, Ms. Roberts said the voter’s address is pre-printed on the envelope and it is more important that voters write the date they mail their ballot. This helps if there is not a postmark on the ballot return envelope.

One member asked how many voters signed up for Where’sMyBallot? (BallotTrax). There are currently 57,478 Marin County voters signed up. This is 33% of the number of registered voters in the recall election. One member pointed out that the messaging has improved and added that the Elections Department online VIP portal worked well.

National Voter Registration Day (NVRD)

Ms. Florez reported that NVRD is September 28 and she is working with 16 partner organizations to post information. She also has interviews scheduled on KWMR and Univision, including a Vietnamese show and a Spanish show.

Election Security Update

In response to a question, Dr. Peisert gave the following update about election security issues: A breach in custody of voting systems has occurred in other states, which may render the systems unusable; implementing risk limiting audits has had substantial success; and problems continue with disinformation spreading through social media.

The meeting adjourned at 11:15 a.m.
The next meeting is scheduled for December 17, 2021.

August 20, 2021

Registrar of Voters
Election Advisory Committee Meeting
Friday, August 20, 2021, 9:30 a.m.
Zoom Meeting

Minutes

The Election Advisory Committee met on Friday, August 20, 2021, via Zoom due to COVID-19. The following members were present: Nancy Bell, Greg Brockbank, Robin Diederich, Cathleen Dorinson, Veda Florez, Bonnie Glaser, Anne Layzer, Stephanie McNally, Tom Montgomery, Sean Peisert

Members of the public: Becky Bingea form the League of Women Voters

Representing the Elections Department: Lynda Roberts, Registrar, Liz Acosta, Sr. Program Coordinator, Megan Stone, Elections Technician

Welcome

Lynda Roberts opened the meeting and thanked everyone for attending.

Outreach Updates

Ms. Florez reviewed plans for the National Disability Voter Registration Week (NDVRW) virtual town hall meeting scheduled for September 1. NDVRW has been moved to September to be close to National Voter Registration Day. The town hall event is intended to help empower group home organizations and give them tools to register eligible residents in their communities. There are 10 group homes that serve low-income people and seniors. The town hall meeting will include national speakers from the RevUP! campaign and the DO network, and Ms. Roberts will talk about services offered by Marin Elections Department. Ms. Florez created a trifold handout for the recall election showing services available to the disability community. She will offer an online toolkit as well as a hard-copy packet. Supplies will include an election timeline for 2021-2022.

Committee members thanked Ms. Florez for her outreach work and asked about the availability of flyers and social media content. Ms. Florez will share links and can provide a poster and timelines that are translated into Spanish and Vietnamese.

Voter’s Choice Act (VCA) Updates

Ms. Acosta reviewed updates on the VCA implementation, focusing on the Election Administration Plan (EAP). The Elections Department conducted four consultation meetings to gather feedback for the EAP draft plan; the feedback has been incorporated into the draft. The next step is to translate the draft plan into Spanish and Vietnamese and post it online for a 14-day public comment period after which time a public hearing will be scheduled. If necessary, a revised plan will be posted for 14 days before the final plan is adopted. The Secretary of State’s Office will then review and approve the Outreach and Education plan that is contained in the Election Administration Plan. The public hearing will be scheduled for mid to late September and we will ask the outreach partners to help promote this meeting.

Outreach—Ms. Acosta emailed a summer update to the outreach partners with information about the progress of VCA implementation. We currently have 35 partners in the outreach network, which includes various agencies and organizations, and we continue to invite partners to join the network. Outreach to voters will start later this year.

VCA Fact Sheet—Ms. Acosta thanked members for their feedback about the VCA fact sheet.

Staffing and Site Selection—The Department is in the process of contacting potential vote center sites and the Elections Department staff has reviewed options for vote center staffing and will meet with the County HR Department at the end of August to discuss. Staffing vote centers will be a challenge.

Discussion:

It will be helpful for outreach partners to have a simple social media kit with graphics. Also having a logo will be useful for implementation of VCA.

Having the ability to customize social media toolkits for a particular community will help promote messaging from a trusted source.

Writing an op-ed piece about the new model will also help inform voters that change is coming.

Committee Discussion/Q&A

Vote-by-mail signature cure process

Ms. Stone reviewed the process of how voter registration cards are entered into the system so signatures on ballot envelopes can be compared against the registration form. She also reviewed the process of automated sorting of returned ballots and manual verification of signatures on ballot envelopes. When a ballot envelope has a missing or mismatched signature, a letter is mailed to the voter so they can fix the problem. This process also applies to provisional ballots.

Vote center poll worker training

The Elections Department is still in the process of designing the new training model. It is anticipated that training will take more days due to the new technology required at vote centers.

Redistricting

The committee discussed the redistricting process. Information is available at redistrictmarin.org.

Voter registration

A member raised a question about how best to reach populations of eligible but unregistered voters.

Committee feedback: The League of Women Voters has reached out to community partners to help reach voters that are eligible but not registered to vote. Census data can also help with outreach and the Census Bureau provides training about how to use the data. National Voter Registration Day in September is an opportunity to raise awareness about voter registration and implementing the Voter’s Choice Act includes ongoing outreach. The Center for Inclusive Democracy at USC (Mindy Romero) is also a good resource. Ms. Florez will invite Ms. Romero to speak at the next EAC meeting.

The meeting adjourned at 11:30 a.m.
The next meeting will be held on Friday, September 17, 2021.

July 16, 2021

Registrar of Voters
Election Advisory Committee Meeting and Voting Accessibility Advisory Committee
Friday, July 16, 2021, 9:30 AM
Zoom Meeting

Minutes

The Election Advisory Committee met on Friday, July 16, 2021,via Zoom.

The following members of the EAC were present: Greg Brockbank, Robin Diederich, Cathleen Dorinson, Veda Florez, Bonnie Glaser, Anne Layzer, Stephanie McNally, Bob Richard, Cat Woods

The following members of the VAAC were present: Laney Davidson, Suzanne Levine, Fred Nisen and guest Allison Lim, Rafaelle Tellez

Representing the Elections Department: Lynda Roberts, Registrar, Liz Acosta, Elections Sr. Program Coordinator/Voter’s Choice Act Implementation, Greg Hayes, Elections Logistics Manager, Megan Stone, Elections Outreach Manager

Welcome

Lynda Roberts opened the meeting and thanked everyone for attending.

Role of EAC:

  • Citizen advisory committee established in 2006
  • Acts as a link between the voting public and the Registrar by providing feedback and advice on issues that affect voters in general

Role of VAAC:

  • Advisory committee established in 2006
  • Includes stakeholders representing the disability community and issues that impact voters with disabilities
  • Provide feedback and advice on issues that affect voters with disabilities

The main purpose of today’s meeting is to help draft the Election Administration Plan required for implementation of the Voter’s Choice Act by giving feedback on the working copy.

Once the draft plan is developed, the Elections Department will post it online, including translated copies as required by the Voter’s Choice Act.

We are planning other consultation meetings at the end of the month – information will be posted on our website.

Today’s process:

  • Short PowerPoint presentation
  • Ms. Acosta will lead the feedback session
  • Conclude at 11 a.m. so we have 30 minutes for general committee business

VCA Consultation Session

Ms. Roberts outlined the background of VCA and the intent to modernize elections by sending all active registered voters a mail ballot and replacing one-day polling places with multi-day regional vote centers at which voters may obtain a variety of services.

General Questions

  • Will a general overview of VCA be shared with Committee members and the public? Yes, Ms. Acosta is working on resources to be shared on the Department’s website.
  • Under VCA, will elections be more expensive? Experiences from counties that have transitioned to VCA show initially elections are more expensive. However, there are cost trade-offs for each voting model. We anticipate cost savings over time.
  • How many ballot-on-demand printers will be at each vote center location? The Department has purchased enough printers for two at each vote center plus several back-up units. Some locations may need only one unit.

Ms. Acosta led the committee through a discussion about the Election Administration Plan by asking for input about locations, outreach, and the public input phase after the draft EAP is developed.

Discussion

Locations:

  • Consider locations with organizations that are trusted in the community
  • Provide access without needing a curbside bell
  • Is it harder to get locations for more days? Ms. Ksanda, polling place manager, is working to acquire locations based on the list from the November 2020 election
  • Remote Accessible Vote By Mail (RAVBM) will need internet access; consider access for voters near areas without internet access or limited internet access – such as West Marin and the Canal area
  • Elections Department works with IT Department to assure connectivity at locations for voter look-up
  • Vote centers require three Ballot Marking Devices (BMD)
  • Consider distance from vote centers for remote areas in West Marin and farming communities; consider a mobile vote center in the future
  • Consider security at locations while considering voters’ right to neutral voting environment
  • Vote center will likely be staffed by 10 workers per location
  • Drop boxes – consider convenient locations, i.e., near freeways
  • Use siting tool operated by Center for Inclusive Democracy at USC (Mindy Romero) found at University of Southern California - Voting Location Siting Tool website and Center for Inclusive Democracy - Marin County specific website.
    • We have used census data to help map location; regarding new census date, the EAP has to be revised two years after implementation

Outreach:

  • Consider needs of areas without internet service
  • Use Marin Post; text messaging; “open source” (DPI)
  • Laney Davidson re-engaged the disability access group so she can connect with many organizations; reminder about digital content needs to be accessible
  • Include social media images/videos; direct outreach, i.e., door-to-door outreach, tabling; door hangers; peer-to-peer texting and one-way texting; develop FAQ script
    • Short videos could be played at movie theaters
  • Use events of other organizations
  • Send materials to other public agencies; back of bus signage; e-blasts
  • Paid advertising on Facebook and Instagram could be effective for young people; commercial TV – coordinate with other Bay Area Counties that are implementing VCA; Comcast and AT&T may sell advertising to specific areas
  • Write op ed pieces and news releases
  • Pay CBOs to boost social media; use local TV; local radio stations in West Marin, including Spanish language stations; Marin IJ Voices and Views; KWMR morning radio show

Election Administration Plan Public Phase:

  • Location of notice on website is good – clarify wording to ensure people understand they can participate; consider providing a direct Zoom link; a registration page may increase participation; provide social media reminders; use a Listserv; disseminate notices through language/disability community newsletters
  • Consider having focus groups with community leaders if capacity allows (targeted group with translation services); digital or paper surveys
  • Use plain language
  • Provide information to local governments
  • Consider direct outreach to people
  • Send out a flyer to community contacts to pass along; Disability Rights California could help
  • Give outreach partners the information so it is consistent (i.e., tool kit); work with organizations such as League of Women Voters to conduct direct outreach, such as door hangers, etc.
  • Future voter outreach, including direct mailings, will be specific to the election cycle; active messaging will begin about two months before an election
  • Use partners and committees to disseminate information

Miscellaneous Discussion

Ms. Stone reviewed the Student Elections Ambassador Program. The Committee, consisting of members of the Elections Department, League of Women Voters, and Office of Education, worked with former student ambassadors to develop a few promotional videos for the program. The first student training will be held July 29.

Recall Election: Ballots will be mailed starting August 16; we will use traditional one-day polling places. Due to limited time to prepare for the election, we are unable to implement the VCA-like model used in November. The SOS social media outreach is beneficial and includes how to vote the recall ballot.

Ms. Florez reviewed the National Disability Voter Registration Week (NDVRW) activities. NDVRW moved to September to be closer to National Voter Registration Day. This year we will hold a Town Hall Meeting on September 1 with the disability community and distribute a tool kit so they can learn how to hold their own registration events. The goal is to inspire the disability community to participate. An election timeline will be available and information will be distributed with the food bag program.

Five members of the EAC volunteered to work with Dan Eilerman on the redistricting effort.

Meeting adjourned at 11:30 a.m. The next meeting of the EAC will be held on
Friday, August 20, 2021.
Next meeting of the VAAC TBD

April 16, 2021

Registrar of Voters
Election Advisory Committee Meeting
Friday, April 16, 2021, 9:30 AM
Zoom Meeting

Minutes

The Election Advisory Committee met on Friday, April 16, 2021, via Zoom due to COVID-19. The following members were present: Nancy Bell, Greg Brockbank, Robin Diederich, Veda Florez, Anne Layzer, Stephanie McNally, Tom Montgomery, Sean Peisert, Bob Richard, Cat Woods

Representing the Elections Department: Lynda Roberts, Registrar, Liz Acosta, Sr. Program Coordinator, Greg Hayes, Manager of Logistics

Welcome

Lynda Roberts opened the meeting and thanked everyone for attending.

Canal Alliance November 2020 Election Experience

Stephanie McNally, Election Advisory Committee Member and Canal Alliance Advocacy and Policy Senior Manager, gave a presentation about Canal Alliance’s participation in the November 2020 Election—hosting a pop-up ballot drop-off location and developing a polling place observer program.

Pop-up Ballot Drop-off Location

Ms. McNally worked with the Elections Department to coordinate the logistics of the drop box location and to receive training. The Elections Department provided a portable, locked ballot box that was chained to a railing outside the entrance of Canal Alliance. The box was emptied each day by Elections Department staff and moved indoors at the close of business. Canal Alliance hosted the drop location for four days—three days before the election and Election Day.

The location was staffed at all times by four volunteers and Canal Alliance staff were given a philanthropy day off to participate. Volunteers helped answer questions and redirected people to their polling place as needed. Voter guides in Spanish and Vietnamese were available and the workers helped over 238 Canal residents (mostly in Spanish); the location received 78 ballots. This location was a hub of information and a trusted place for people living and working in the Canal area.

Polling Place Observer Program

Ms. McNally designed a program using the model of Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus and, working with the Elections Department, tailored their materials to meet the needs of Marin County. She organized and trained Canal Alliance staff to be observers and selected polling places that had a sample ballot translated into Spanish—this included locations in Southern, Central, and North Marin. Due to lack of resources, Ms. McNally was unable to have observers go to West Marin but hopes to partner with an organization in West Marin in the future. Each observer visited four different polling places over the four election days—a total of 16 participants visited 16 locations and completed a questionnaire for each location.

After the election, Ms. McNally held two debrief sessions to learn from observers’ experiences and get ideas about how to improve the process. She’s planning to create a glossary so observers have a consistent understanding of the terminology referring to materials to look for at a vote center. The observers collected 2,802 pieces of data that should be helpful in setting up vote centers.

Ms. McNally reviewed observations and data from the questionnaires about signage, the Spanish translated sample ballot, and the number of Spanish-speaking poll workers. Observers were very positive in their feedback about poll workers. Other observations mentioned the need for more signage and poll workers who speak Spanish and Vietnamese—specifically mentioning the need for people with stronger Spanish language skills. Ms. McNally plans to adjust the program for implementation of the Voter’s Choice Act.

Summary of insights: Canal Alliance staff need to better understand terminology and procedures; the Elections Department could use more workers who speak Spanish and Vietnamese—there is especially a need for people with stronger Spanish-speaking skills; more pre-election promotional materials should be translated; she wants to partner earlier with the Elections Department to improve the observer program.

Committee Comments / Discussion

  • There can be confusion about the use of the term “sample ballot”; sometimes people call the entire voter information guide the “sample ballot”.
  • It seems very positive having the Canal Alliance presence observing and asking questions.
  • Did polling places know in advance about the observers? Ms. McNally said she did not contact places directly; she shared information with the Elections Department. Ms. Roberts said observers aren’t required to give advance notice and she provides a letter to poll worker chiefs reminding them about observers’ rights.
  • Canal Alliance observers were fantastic; observers help keep workers on their toes. Also, it is hard to watch people with language difficulties vote so it is important to know what services to offer. Hopefully the League of Women Voters can help support this effort.
  • Ballots can be overwhelming with the amount of information and this can be difficult for people. The Canal Alliance knows how to provide information that is concise and useful.
  • New voters see the ballot as a test they didn’t study for. They need reassurance that it is not a test and they should vote for what they know.
  • It’s wonderful to see a nonprofit do this outreach but could this invite criticism from some people with a different perspective about whether or not the group is being non-partisan? Another member agreed with this concern and hoped the state would provide enough guidance about what can be done at drop boxes. Ms. McNally pointed out that nonprofit organizations can’t engage in any partisan activities or they could lose their nonprofit status. Ms. Roberts pointed out that the Elections Department needs to ensure that locations have only official election materials onsite that are allowed by law.
  • There is a danger zone with assisting voters because some of them nag poll workers to tell them how to vote, especially on initiatives.
  • Were people walking up to the location and dropping off their ballot? Ms. McNally said specifically most from the neighborhood walked up but some voters drove to the location because they wanted to drop their ballot at Canal Alliance.
  • How did Canal Alliance decide to implement this? Ms. McNally said Canal Alliance understands the needs of the community and outreach helped educate people.

Ms. Roberts thanked Ms. McNally for her presentation. This was a good pilot program. Pop-up locations are a method to help extend services into language minority communities and communities with historically low VBM turnout—two of the 15 criteria required for consideration of vote centers and ballot drop-off locations. Also, Ms. McNally’s data gives the Elections Department a better understanding of language needs for vote centers and can help inform discussions when the Language Accessibility Advisory Committee convenes.

VCA implementation update

Liz Acosta gave an update.

Elections Department staff has been organized into several workgroups to review different functional areas and the specific changes required to implement the Voter’s Choice Act (VCA). All staff are engaged to maximize different points of view of how to meet voters’ needs. Each workgroup has a lead person that acts as liaison with other groups and the Registrar. Workgroups identify tasks and determine who should do the work. This method allows for concurrent meetings, which helps move the project forward more quickly. Ms. Acosta acts as facilitator for each workgroup.

The workgroups include: Election Administration Plan (EAP); Vote Center (VC) Operations; Site Selection and Staffing; Outreach; VBM & UOCAVA; and Internal Staffing. The VC Operations workgroup is the biggest and most complex. This group will design the layout of the vote center and determine how voters will move through to receive services. Site Selection and Staffing will identify potential locations using the required criteria and will determine how to recruit for and train poll workers. The Outreach workgroup can use the November 2020 election outreach program as a starting point. The VBM / UOCAVA workgroup needs to consider how all VBM elections will impact current operations in the office. The Internal Staffing workgroup needs to consider how all the changes will impact operations in the Elections Department.

The purpose of the workgroups is to spread out the workload, engage the functional area experts, and help staff focus on the details. Each group has a list of tasks and Ms. Acosta, in her role of overall facilitator, will keep a master list so staff can keep track of the project and help manage the workload—both VCA and regular workload.

Progress to date includes: Beginning to draft the EAP; actively recruiting for the LAAC; reviewing details of vote center services, designing specific procedures, and asking and researching detailed questions; working on site selection for vote center and drop box locations by reviewing the VCA criteria—this group also needs to determine if locations are willing to be a vote center; starting to audit outreach efforts from November to create templates, incorporate new requirements under VCA, and determine the best way to reach communities; starting to review changes needed in the office to manage the increased workload with all VBM elections; reviewing office staffing needs for a changing and increasing workload, i.e., evaluating current assignments and new functions.

Ms. Acosta has prepared a master task list to keep track of all the details and identify deadlines. She also facilitates workgroup meetings so she understands the issues impacting all groups. Staffing is one of the greatest challenges. Workgroups are discussing needs and hiring options. Training is also a big issue because operations are changing completely.

Committee Comments / Discussion

  • In response to a question about VCA requirements and outreach, Ms. Acosta said there has to be direct contact with voters about the change—sending postcards is a method many counties have used. This outreach is in addition to the voter information guide and ballot packet. Voters need to be informed about the specific services offered at vote centers and that they can use any location.
  • In response to a question about staffing, Ms. Acosta said the team is looking at increasing the number of workers at vote centers to cover all functions and operate equipment. They are discussing multiple stations providing different functions and building in redundancy of skill.
  • Is the team focused on recruiting people that can work all of the open days? Flexibility may help recruit some workers. Ms. Acosta said this is still an open question. The workgroup is starting to discuss recruiting needs and options. Most counties have used the HR process; some use a hybrid of HR recruits and volunteer workers. The HR process can be time consuming but hiring through HR can be an incentive for people to stay in the position for the full time.
  • In the November 2020 election, it was positive to have locations open on weekends in Marin City.
  • Does the department have the funding to meet the requirements? HR 1 could require locations to be open for two weeks. Ms. Roberts said the department has grant funds for one-time costs and county support for ongoing costs.
  • In responses to a comment about location set-up and flow to make sure people are moving through properly, Ms. Acosta said the workgroup is looking at required services and visualizing how voters will move through the space. The group is considering the ideal model knowing that the model will have to adapt to the particular space.

Proposed Legislation – 2021

Ms. Roberts reviewed election-related legislation proposed in 2021.

AB 37: Vote by Mail (implementing the November 2020 model)

  • All elections would become vote by mail (VBM)
  • Allow any voter to use Remote Accessible Vote By Mail (RAVBM)
  • Ballot timely cast if it is received via mail no later than 7 days after the election
  • Start processing VBM ballots 29 days before the election
  • Does not change in-person voting options

AB 53: Election Day holiday for statewide general elections

AB 759: Elected County officers (i.e., sheriff, district attorney, and assessor)

  • Election would be on the presidential primary ballot
  • If no candidate receives a majority of the votes, the top two candidates would advance to the presidential general election

SB 35: Electioneering -- Extend no electioneering zone to 200 feet from:

  • Entrance to a building that contains a polling place
  • Elections Official’s office
  • Satellite voting location
  • Location of ballot drop box or drop off location

Also:

  • Would prohibit electioneering in the vicinity of a voter in line
  • Impose penalties on a person who provides unofficial ballot drop boxes

SB 271: No eligibility requirements to run for sheriff

SB 286: Candidates in a primary election for county non-partisan offices

  • The top two candidates would move to November ballot
  • Note: The April hearing on this legislation was canceled at the request of the author

SB 504: Military / Overseas Voters & Parolee Voting

  • Makes conditional voter registration (CVR) available to overseas and military voters through the RAVBM system
  • Department of Corrections would provide Secretary of State (SOS) with information about persons in prison for a felony and persons on parole or released from prison
  • SOS would notify counties and counties would cancel registration of imprisoned persons and notify those on parole or released about their voting rights

Meeting adjourned at 11:30 a.m. The next meeting will be held on Friday, July 16, 2021.

March 26, 2021

Registrar of Voters
Election Advisory Committee Meeting
Friday, March 26, 2021 9:30 AM
Zoom Meeting

Minutes

The Election Advisory Committee met on Friday, March 26, 2021, via Zoom due to COVID-19. The following members were present: Nancy Bell, Greg Brockbank, Robin Diederich, Cathleen Dorinson, Veda Florez, Anne Layzer, Steve Silberstein, Cat Woods

Representing the Elections Department: Lynda Roberts, Registrar, Liz Acosta, Sr. Program Coordinator, Greg Hayes, Manager of Logistics, Megan Stone, Elections Technician

Welcome

Lynda Roberts opened the meeting and thanked everyone for attending.

Updates

At the last Committee meeting, questions about HR 1 were raised. Ms. Roberts reviewed the legislation and briefed the group with her findings. Without additional modifications, HR 1 would impact the Elections Department in a variety of ways, it would: Require pre-paid postage on vote-by-mail request forms; establish two weeks of early voting versus 10 days of early voting required under the Voter’s Choice Act (VCA); require early voting sites to be open 10 hours per day versus 8 hours under VCA; require a Risk Limiting Audit vs. the current requirement for an audit of 1% of precincts and vote-by-mail ballots; and require testing of the voting system 9 months before an election. Many elements of HR 1 have already been implemented in California. This legislation would apply nationally for federal elections.

Outreach

Megan Stone provided an update about the High School Elections Ambassador Program, now to be called the Student Elections Ambassador Program in an effort to be more inclusive. The committee that works on the youth outreach program continues to plan and develop the trainings of high school students and college-aged students. The group is also working with former ambassadors on new information resources about the program and promotional materials to highlight the rebrand with the youth perspective in mind. Ms. Roberts acknowledged the League of Women Voters of Marin for their involvement on the youth outreach committee.

Veda Florez discussed outreach for the May 4, 2021 Special Election involving two measures in the San Rafael City School Districts. Ms. Florez showed samples of social media flyers she will provide to partners in San Rafael to help notify voters about the election. The images will be shared in English and Spanish. Supervisors Rodoni, Connally and San Rafael City officials will add these graphics to their e-blasts. A new outreach partner is the Builders Association to reach a specific demographic. The Department continues to work with community partners, including the Spanish Chamber of Commerce, a radio station in the Canal Neighborhood, Canal Alliance, and the Alcohol Justice Center. Ms. Florez hopes to identify additional groups.

VCA Updates

Ms. Roberts provided a revised copy of the VCA implementation outline to remind Committee members about the requirements involved. At the last meeting, members were given a broad overview of the VCA project. At today’s meeting, Liz Acosta focused on two elements: The Election Administration Plan and the required advisory committees.

Election Administration Plan (EAP)
The EAP is a document and a process. Its purpose is to provide transparency and community input on the VCA transition. The document allows the Elections Department to share with the public a description of how the Department will meet the requirements and spirit of VCA. The EAP is also a process, so the public can provide input about how to best meet the community’s needs.

Basic elements of the EAP include identifying and meeting requirements for vote-by-mail and vote centers. Additionally, the Voter Education and Outreach Plan is a major aspect of the EAP. This portion is reviewed closely and approved by the CA Secretary of State’s office. This comprehensive aspect of VCA details specific requirements about getting public input, strategies around community presence, and anticipated costs.

Voting technology at vote centers and voting security are other key elements to the EAP. The plan will identify the equipment that will be used at the locations. There will also be a portion designated to contingency plans for security during reoccurring and unexpected emergencies.

Lastly, the budget must be outlined in the EAP. This includes the cost of VCA compared to the polling place model, start-up costs and potential savings over time.

The EAP process includes a variety of steps involving public input. Before a draft is published, the Department will seek general feedback from community groups. During the process of publishing, there will be additional public meetings and feedback. There will also be an opportunity to revise the EAP before and after sending the plan to the CA Secretary of State.

Planning to begin the public process by late summer or early fall presents some challenges. Due to COVID-19 and the virtual meeting environment, getting public input will look different than before and may be more difficult. Ms. Acosta asked the Committee to consider how COVID-19 impacts group meetings and presents barriers to participation, such as access to technology. She asked members to share strategies to overcome challenges.

Committee Discussion

  • Members suggested partnering with organizations such as Canal Alliance to learn how they meet with and work with their constituents.
  • Metro Transportation Commission could be an outreach partner. They hold meetings in a large hall with information stations so members of the public can spread out at different times/shifts and go to each table to write down or share their thoughts.
  • Hold meetings by streaming them live, like Community Media Center of Marin. Facebook and YouTube Live features are an option or consider a hybrid approach.
  • It is difficult for some people to meet virtually; in person may be easier once COVID-19 is more manageable.
  • Digital connection works better for others. Remote meetings benefit those who cannot easily attend an in-person event.
  • Consider contacting local HOAs for assistance with community interest.
  • Others suggested checking with Marin County Government and other departments such as Health and Human Services and Information Services and Technology to learn how they have reached the community or how their services could be utilized in this effort.

In response to these comments, Ms. Roberts and Ms. Acosta added that there will likely be a broad strategy of both in-person and virtual methods because the goal is to get as much community participation as possible. The Committee was thanked for their constructive suggestions.

A member asked for an explanation of the differences between the November 2020 model and VCA. Ms. Roberts explained that the EAP was not required for November 2020; VCA site selection requires fifteen criteria to consider; and ballot-on-demand equipment will be used under VCA.

Formation of Language Accessibility Advisory Committee (LAAC)

There are two accessibility committees required under VCA: The Voting Accessibility Advisory Committee (VAAC), which is already an established committee with the Elections Department, and the Language Accessibility Advisory Committee (LAAC). The VAAC targets services for voters with disabilities and the LAAC targets services for voters with language needs.

Ms. Acosta presented a draft of the LAAC formation document and asked for feedback about the plan. Ms. Acosta added that there have been some initial discussions already with VCA partners about the LAAC. Ms. Acosta is already working with the 30 partnering VCA organizations but plans to begin working with the LAAC next month.

Ms. Roberts added for those who had not had a chance to review the LAAC formation document, to please provide any feedback by Friday, April 2. Committee members discussed their initial thoughts on the draft.

One member stressed the importance of including English and bi-lingual speakers during the formation of the LAAC, and to also include the disability community, or the VAAC, because of particular ways of communicating. Another member, who was involved as a partner with the November 2020 Election outreach, noted that last year there was a request to translate materials into various additional languages and that may be something to consider with the LAAC. Ms. Roberts mentioned that VCA specifies following the language requirements, which for now include Spanish and Vietnamese in Marin. The LAAC will help with reviewing printed materials for plain language which may help when translating materials into other languages.

Committee Discussion

In response to a member’s question, Ms. Roberts informed the Group that the VCA implementation is planned to be ready for the 2022 Primary Election. SB 29 (signed by the Governor in February 2021) allows counties to maintain aspects of the November 2020 Election model throughout 2021.

The Committee briefly discussed the Recall Election effort of Governor Newsom, reviewing the potential timeline of that election and how many signatures Marin County received by the deadline.

Progress with VCA implementation will continue to be brought forward to the Committee, but members were encouraged to request other agenda items for future meetings. Requests included: Learning more about the vote-by-mail ballot curing process, including challenged ballots procedures in Marin and in other counties; and learning about poll worker training and how it will be adjusted under VCA.

There was a discussion about BallotTrax, the vote-by-mail ballot tracking service implemented last year by Marin County. One member suggested it continue to be advertised and encouraged amongst Marin voters.

Ms. Roberts will brief the Committee at a future meeting about proposed legislation that would impact elections.

Meeting adjourned at 11:00 a.m. The next meeting will be held on Friday, April 16, 2021.

February 19, 2021

Registrar of Voters
Election Advisory Committee Meeting
Friday, February 19, 2021, 9:30 AM
Zoom Meeting

Minutes

The Election Advisory Committee met on Friday, February 19, 2021, via Zoom due to COVID-19. The following members were present: Nancy Bell, Robin Diederich, Cathleen Dorinson, Veda Florez, Lanie King, Anne Layzer, Damian Morgan, Tom Montgomery, Steve Silberstein, Cat Woods

Representing the CAO’s Office: Dan Eilerman, Assistant County Administrator

Representing the Elections Department: Lynda Roberts, Registrar, Colleen Ksanda, Manager of Polls and Poll Workers, and Megan Stone, Office Assistant

Welcome

Lynda Roberts opened the meeting and thanked everyone for attending. Ms. Roberts welcomed guest Stephanie McNally, Advocacy and Policy Sr. Manager for Canal Alliance. During the November election cycle, Ms. McNally engaged in voter registration and outreach to the Latino and immigrant community, sponsored a pop-up ballot drop box, created a polling place observer program, and continues to work with Liz Acosta with the Voter’s Choice Act outreach since early 2020. Ms. Roberts also acknowledged Jahmeer Reynolds, Community Schools Manager for Sausalito Marin City School District, who was not able to attend February’s Committee meeting. Both guests have been invited to join the Committee as members and plan to formalize their membership ahead of the next meeting.

High School Elections Ambassador Program

Megan Stone gave the Committee a brief update about the status of the youth outreach program. Ms. Stone and members of the League of Women Voters of Marin County continue to partner on this effort. Since the beginning of the new year, the group has met to de-brief from last year’s program and plan a course of action for the 2021 recruitment. The group is working on restructuring the program to expand participation and include more students. A few former student ambassadors are continuing to work with the group in a consulting capacity to provide a youth perspective during planning.

Vote Centers

Background

Liz Acosta gave a presentation to the Committee regarding the status of the Voter’s Choice Act (VCA) implementation. Ms. Acosta began with an overview of work accomplished in 2019-2020. This included researching the VCA model and understanding procedures of other VCA counties, learning about the County, and reaching out to potential partners, developing templates/forms/tools for moving forward, and beginning to estimate the cost of implementation. When COVID-19 required shifted focus from the VCA project to the November election, the early groundwork helped administer the November 2020 Election by having an established outreach framework, knowledge of drop-box and polling place location requirements, and fiscal familiarity to help with COVID grant money reimbursements.

Implementation

The November Election acted as a pilot for the vote center model. Now attention has been directed back to VCA implementation. Staff is meeting in small, focused work groups to discuss details and make procedural decisions. Some of these small groups include:

  • Locations: drop boxes and polling places—where they will be located and staffing needs
  • Logistics: procedures, training, equipment
  • Outreach and Education: working from other counties’ best practices and experiences from the 2020 November Election
  • Vote by Mail: procedures and new laws
  • Budget: updating cost estimates, already purchased a lot of equipment for November 2020, identifying what else is needed

The Election Administration Plan (EAP) is a written plan of how Marin will implement VCA in this County. It is required by law and involves an extensive public input process. The EAP also includes an outreach plan that describes how the public will be educated about vote centers. VCA requires a VAAC (Voter Accessibility Advisory Committee) and a LAAC (Language Accessibility Advisory Committee). The Department has a VAAC but will need to create a LAAC and is currently recruiting members.

Discussion/Comments

The group acknowledged the work done by Liz Acosta and Megan Stone on the 2020 November Election outreach and education campaign. Additionally, the following questions were asked:

Implementation (cont.)

Staff is currently focused on locations and logistics planning regarding the processing of voters. Many polling places or drop box locations from November 2020 have expressed interest in hosting again. Ms. Acosta reviewed the required 15 criteria specified in the VCA, examples include language access, space, connectivity, and public interest.

The Department will need a minimum of 18 vote center locations. Current legislation requires 1 vote center per 50,000 voters 10 days before an election and 1 vote center per 10,000 voters starting 3 days ahead of Election Day. Data from other VCA counties show that vote centers are not used much 10 days before an election, and some have encouraged the State to review the formula in the future. Ms. Roberts and election staff confirmed that the CA Secretary of State’s office and other CA counties have a shared communication platform and often share helpful information with one another. During open discussion, it was agreed that due to the newness of the VCA model, voters will need to be trained about the more voting days aspect of VCA.

Ms. Acosta continued to discuss further outreach and logistics components of implementation. Outreach is a crucial aspect of VCA implementation, and the Department is positioned nicely from work done in November 2020. However, VCA requires specific kinds of outreach, and methods and timing are important. New information from Census data provided at the end of the year will drive those efforts.

Observing the logistics component of other VCA counties will be helpful to determine Marin’s VCA implementation of equipment, line management, crowd control, and procedural changes. All will impact how staff is trained.

Discussion/Comments (cont.)

The Committee asked questions about the budget and cost comparison between the current model and VCA. Ms. Roberts offered ideas from other counties’ practices. Ms. McNally shared her experience as a pop-up drop box and the challenge that some communities are less likely to vote by mail. The group added ways the Department can make the vote center model a more communal experience similar to polling places. Mr. Eilerman thanked Ms. Acosta for her thorough presentation and acknowledged Ms. Roberts and the elections staff for their work in the November 2020 Election.

Ms. Acosta briefly reviewed the Implementation Milestones chart that was sent to the Committee in advance. Ms. Roberts noted that this meeting was to provide an overview to the Committee of the scope of work and a draft of the EAP will be brought to the group soon.

The meeting adjourned at 11:30 a.m.
The next meeting will be held on Friday, March 19, 2021.

January 15, 2021

Registrar of Voters
Election Advisory Committee Meeting
Friday, January 15, 2021, 9:30 AM
Teams Meeting

Minutes

The Election Advisory Committee met on Friday, January 15, 2021, via Microsoft Teams due to COVID-19. The following members were present: Nancy Bell, Greg Brockbank, Cathleen Dorinson, Veda Florez, Bonnie Glaser, Lanie King, Anne Layzer, Bob Richard, Steve Silberstein

Representing the CAO’s Office: Dan Eilerman, Assistant County Administrator

Representing the Elections Department: Lynda Roberts, Registrar, Greg Hayes, Manager of Logistics, Colleen Ksanda, Manager of Polls and Poll Workers, Megan Stone, Elections Technician

Welcome

Lynda Roberts opened the meeting, thanked everyone for attending, and called roll. General housekeeping reminders regarding Microsoft Teams functions were noted. Ms. Roberts then acknowledged the Elections Department staff for their work done during the November 2020 Election and referred to a complimentary article that was shared with the Committee from the Marin Independent Journal.

November Election Review/Discussion

Voter’s Choice Act

Now that the election has concluded, the Elections Department will continue the process to implement the vote center model under the Voter’s Choice Act (VCA). The November 2020 Election was an excellent trial with the vote center/polling place hybrid model adopted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Transitioning to the Voter’s Choice Act ahead of the June 2022 Primary Election will be the big project of 2021. Liz Acosta, who is heading the VCA transition, will speak more about the project status at the February Committee meeting.

November Outreach and Communication Efforts

Due to the pandemic, the Elections Office took on an above average voter outreach strategy to prepare voters for the 2020 November Election changes.

Ms. Roberts noted additional strategies including a variety of Marin Voice articles and speaking engagements by the Registrar, including the Novato Rotary, KWMR, First 5 Marin, Ross Valley Rotary, Marin Coalition, League of Women Voters of Marin, Marin Forum, and KPIX. Ms. Roberts also acknowledged the League of Women Voters for their many letters to the editor and the role the organization played in supporting the office outreach efforts.

Megan Stone, who co-lead the November 2020 Election Outreach effort, thanked the Committee members for their support during the election. Ms. Stone recognized over 30 organizations and individuals throughout Marin County who participated in a Community Outreach Partner group formed by the Elections Department to reach out to voters ahead of the Election. Partners dedicated themselves to this effort when called to serve by using their social media, sending email blasts, displaying outreach materials, holding voter registration drives, and hosting drop-boxes and polling places. It is largely thanks to the group that Marin saw a larger than normal vote-by-mail turnout and mitigated voter questions. The group held a wrap-up meeting to get partner feedback about the outreach campaign and discussed what worked and what needed improving. Ms. Acosta re-introduced the VCA Project at the meeting and hopes to continue working with the community partners during the transition to VCA.

The Committee provided their own feedback regarding the Election outreach. There was a discussion about Ballot Trax, a new vote-by-mail tracking service provided by the California Secretary of State’s Office. Some members felt the messaging did not seem complete and some were disappointed with the messaging wording. Of Marin voters, 33% (57,658) signed up for this service during the November election. Committee member Lanie King added that in her experience many high school students signed up for Ballot Trax and that pre-registration amongst Marin youth appears to be high. Ms. Stone will follow up with Ms. King regarding the High School Elections Ambassador Program.

Polling Places

Colleen Ksanda gave an update of her experience from the November election. Due to the pandemic and legislation passed in the summer of 2020, the Elections Department decided to use the super-consolidated polling place model rather than the standard one-day polling place model. For many reasons this model seemed to work best for Marin, including providing an opportunity to pilot vote centers.

Ms. Ksanda outlined the challenging process of reserving the locations and assigning voters to those locations. This process involved securing locations for more than just one day, needing larger locations due to physical distancing and more voters per location, and focusing on underserved areas of Marin. Many typical locations would not agree to host a polling place due to the pandemic, and some cancelled after signing on. This required having back-up locations, and contingency plans in the event of a PSPS during fire season. The Elections Department had 29 locations, however only 18 were required. COVID-19 required many conversations about how to safely serve voters at the polling places if some voters did not comply with local health orders. Fortunately, there were no problems of this type at polling places.

Lessons learned from this experience include securing locations as early as possible, having a contract with each location, and maintaining the minimum number of required locations rather than having more than is required.

A Committee member noted that VCA counties tend to start with more vote centers than required and gradually reduce the amount of locations. Nancy Bell spoke about her positive experience working at the Marin City polling place.

Drop Boxes

Ms. Roberts acknowledged how successful the new large-scale drop-box effort was and thanked Greg Hayes for his thorough record keeping and procedures. Ms. Roberts also thanked Dan Eilerman and the other County departments for their role in supporting the drop box collection.

Committee Discussion

During Committee discussion, one member shared that they felt the Mill Valley drop-box was in an unusual spot and perhaps can be changed for the next election. For future elections, it would help if the Elections Department had consistent looking boxes and put a photo of what they look like on the website.

In response to a member’s concern, Mr. Hayes noted the drop-boxes did not get too full, but some voters did not push their ballot in all the way, giving it that appearance.

Ms. Ksanda reviewed polling place procedures regarding the live computers and vote-by-mail surrendering.

Ms. Roberts reviewed vote-by-mail processing and the timing constraints for processing ballots too early by law.

Lastly, the group was informed that observers were required to schedule an appointment in November due to the pandemic and space/safety concerns.

National Voter Registration Weeks

Veda Florez outlined her outreach efforts during the 2020 National Disability Voter Registration Week (NDVRW) and National Voter Registration Week (NVRW). The in-person efforts were hindered by COVID-19, as opposed to prior annual events. Instead, Ms. Florez relied on partnering organizations and their one-on-one communications, as well as participating in webinars and other virtual methods. The Board of Supervisors adopted a resolution for NVRW and Ms. Florez set up a self-serve table at the Civic Center for National Voter Registration Day.

Final Comments

Ms. Roberts shared with the Committee letters sent from a Marin third grade class thanking the Elections Department staff for their commitment to democracy during the pandemic.

Ms. Roberts emailed a copy of the Reports of Registration from the CA Secretary of State that included registration and pre-registration numbers 15 days ahead of the election. She also noted from that report over 90% of Marin eligible voters are registered. In the same email she sent a presidential election comparison, drop box statistics, and a 2020 new law update.

Meeting adjourned at 11:30 a.m. The next meeting will be held on Friday, February 19, 2021.