2021 Language Accessibility Advisory Committee Meeting Minutes

Lynda Roberts, Registrar of Voters, Elections

June 30, 2021

Marin County Elections Department
Language Accessibility Advisory Committee Meeting
June 30, 2021, 10 AM
Virtual (Zoom) Meeting


The Marin County Language Accessibility Advisory Committee convened its first meeting on Wednesday, June 30, 2021.

The following members were present:

  • Lynda Roberts, Registrar of Voters
  • Greg Hayes, Elections Logistics Manager
  • Megan Stone, Elections Outreach Manager
  • Liz Acosta, Elections Sr. Program Coordinator/Voter’s Choice Act Implementation
  • Rosemary Costello, Development Coordinator, Canal Alliance
  • Itoco Garcia, Ed.D, Superintendent, Sausalito Marin City School District
  • Vinh Luu, Project Director, Marin Asian Advocacy Project
  • Yolanda Barahona, Community Action Marin
  • Maricruz Assefnia, Manager, Econ. Opportunity/Workforce Dev., Community Action Marin
  • Dana Van Gorder, Executive Director, The Spahr Center

Welcome/Opening Comments

Ms. Roberts opened the meeting and thanked the members for their willingness to serve on this new committee whose purpose is to: 1) Assist with implementation of the Voter’s Choice Act specific to needs of language minority voters; and 2) provide advice about meeting the needs of language minority voters.


Ms. Roberts acknowledged Liz Acosta and her work to recruit the committee members. Committee members introduced themselves and shared thoughts about their interest in serving on the committee and how they would define “success” for the Committee. Members talked about the importance of increasing voter registration and turnout; implementing new ways of community engagement, especially efforts to reach non-English speaking communities; adding perspective of minority communities and helping insure they receive information in a culturally-appropriate way; and providing support to specific communities, including new citizens and first-time voters, to help people exercise their right to vote.

Update on Voter’s Choice Act Implementation

The purpose of this meeting was to consult with the LAAC as representatives, advocates, and stakeholders representing language-minority communities in order to develop the draft Election Administration Plan, which includes an education and outreach plan.

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

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

Under VCA, will voters need to vote provisionally if they are not registered? Vote centers offer same day registration and voting (Conditional Voter Registration).

When people register at a vote center, how is eligibility verified? The voter completes the registration form on the Conditional Voter Registration (CVR) envelope and after voting, puts their ballot in this envelope. These CVR registration forms are verified during the canvass period after an election.

Will there be an increased focus of vote center locations in language minority regions, such as the Canal? The VCA criteria include opening a vote center in areas serving language minority populations. The current minimum number of vote centers throughout the county is 18.

Is the VC formula based on number of registered voters or total population? The formula is based on the number of registered voters 88 days before an election. Marin County has a very high rate of registered voters to eligible population. In November 2020, over 90% of those eligible were registered to vote.

How do we engage young people? Many young people have parents who are not eligible to register, but they themselves are. How are they educated/engaged? The Elections Department has an outreach consultant that helps with educating communities about voter registration and the Student Elections Ambassador Program engages youth through a peer-to-peer approach.

Draft Election Administration Plan (EAP)

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.



  • A top priority is to have vote centers in areas with large populations of non-English speaking voters, specifically the Canal, Marin City, and Central San Rafael.
  • A vote center in West Marin is important since it is a geographically isolated area with communities of color.
  • Vote centers should be located at trusted sites, such as community based organizations (CBOs)—if permissible under the Act. Consider Community Action Marin locations.
  • Canal Alliance hosted a drop box in November 2020 and it worked well.
  • Consider accessibility of locations, including good sidewalks.
  • Prioritize communities with historically low usage of vote-by-mail voting.

Ms. Acosta talked about using data from the census and American Community Survey to create maps showing areas of low vote-by-mail use, as well as other VCA criteria. Committee members expressed an interest in seeing maps. Ms. Acosta will follow-up on this request.


  • Engage youth early—starting when they are children. Creating a program that includes children would be beneficial. A good example is the school election kit used in Alameda County that helps teachers hold mock elections. The Marin County Elections Department’s Student Elections Ambassador Program may provide volunteers to work with younger students. A student-led program may offer more native language opportunities than a teacher-led program.
  • Reach out to communities with high numbers of people who are eligible to register but are not registered. Focus attention on Canal, Marin City, Novato, San Rafael, and West Marin.
  • Connect with volunteers on the ground—members of the community are a trusted source of information. Consider using a “train-the-trainer” approach and videos. Social media ads can also target specific geographic areas.
  • Consider a partnership with College of Marin’s COMPASS Program, which reaches down to grade 10. Sausalito Marin City School District has a similar program that reaches down to grade 4.
  • Youth outreach should be a continuous program and not just during election years.
  • Review past turnout at voting locations and drop boxes to determine if they serve a community. A location may need to change or outreach/education efforts enhanced.
  • Consider creating a mobile app (both Dr. Garcia and Ms. Costello can provide information).
  • Focus on simple language to promote equitable understanding of content.
  • Consider using education and outreach materials to direct communities to information already in print, such as easy voter guides printed by the League of Women Voters.
  • Work with focus groups or partners to make sure materials/signage make sense when translated. Concern was expressed about state translations being confusing to readers. Mr. Hayes said he would reach out to the state for more information about their process.

Election Administration Plan Public Phase:

  • Reach people by extending beyond the hub; go into the community using community events. Develop a simple fact sheet to explain the changes with VCA.
  • Learn from other efforts used by the county during the pandemic.

Closing Remarks/Next Meeting

Ms. Roberts thanked the committee for their feedback and ideas, and Ms. Acosta acknowledged the importance of creating an ongoing, long-term presence in the community. She and the Elections team will revise the plan where necessary and consider how to implement longer-term projects.

The meeting adjourned at 11:45 a.m. A date for the next meeting has not yet been determined.