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May 18, 2011

Approved Minutes

Elections Commission Meeting

Wednesday, May 18, 2011 at 6:00 pm

City Hall Room 408


Order of Business

1.      Call to Order  & Roll Call



The meeting was called to order at 6:00.


President Richard Matthews, Vice President Winnie Yu, and Commissioners Gerard Gleason, Jill Rowe, Catalina Ruiz-Healy, and Rosabella Safont were present at roll call.  Commissioner Arnold Townsend arrived at 6:20.

2.      Announcements: none


3.      Public comment on any issue within the Elections Commission’s general jurisdiction.



Public Speaker Ken Cleaveland is an applicant for the Redistricting Task Force.  He works for the Building Owners and Managers Association of San Francisco and has lived in San Francisco since 1995.  He would bring demographic and statistical knowledge and would commit the time necessary to serve on the Task Force. 

Public Speaker Kevin Cheng is an applicant for the Task Force.  His family immigrated to San Francisco the year before he was born and he was raised in Chinatown.  He has worked for the Rate Fairness Board for utility distribution.  He has completed two public policy fellowships and has worked with diversity of community organizations on issues relating to health and safety, fire and police, and land use.


Public Speaker David Pilpel wants to inform the Commission and others that the Board will convene tomorrow to form a Task Force it will appear on the agenda as item # 4.


Public Speaker Kathleen Coll is an applicant for the Task Force.  She is a lifetime resident of San Francisco and a fifth generation San Franciscan.  .  She attended public school in San Francisco and continues to remain active in the public school system and other community based organizations and immigrants rights organizations.  She is a cultural anthropologist and college teacher, and she published a book titled Remaking Citizenship: Immigrant Latinas and New American Politics.


Public Speaker Chris Elemendorf is an applicant for the Task Force.  He lives in the Mission and is a professor at the University of Davis law school, where he teaches and writes in the area of election law.  He is not affiliated with any local political groups and would focus on the law in his service on the Task Force.  He is interested in doing public service and feels this Task Force will give him the opportunity.   


4.                  Director’s Report
The Director will update the Commission on matters pertaining to elections and the Department of Elections, including updates on activities of the divisions, plans and activities for upcoming elections or election-related functions, and budgetary matters.



November Elections - So far, 36 people have filed Declarations of Intent for Mayor, and 4 people have filed Declarations of Intent for District Attorney. The second phase is the nomination period which begins July 18th through August 12th during which the filing fees must be paid.  Signatures in lieu of filing fees begins June 3rd through July 28th  which is when the candidates can obtain signatures of supporters and get fifty cents taken off of the filing fee.


Saturday Voting – it’s still estimated that the cost is at 2.3 million, the Department will have this finalized within the next couple of weeks information will be posted on the website.  The deadline for the Controllers Office to respond if there is enough funding for Saturday Voting is July 8th.


Administrative Division- as of May 9th the department reported to the Board that the populations and districts are not equal therefore the Board must convene and fund for a Redistricting Task Force.


Working Groups- the department met with Alameda, Marin and San Mateo counties regarding processing of vote by mail ballots, the next meeting is scheduled near June 1.


Vendor Maintenance - the department have for the last two years gained experience regarding the equipment used and know some of the things we can expect and what things the department must be prepared for and anticipate problems or breakdowns.  the department wants to avoid problems that may require a technician to get involved knowing and to reduce possible problems and costs.


Ballot Distribution – has been conducting a renewal of the Fillmore Community Business Development.  The department  is also looking at equipment for extracting ballots from the envelopes.  This is the most labor intensive portion as we continue to see Vote by Mail increasing. 



Campaign Services – will be holding the 1st workshop June 1 and have been contacting people that are interested in the Work Shop.  The ballot argument guide is being updated for November.  


Outreach – Ranked-Choice Voting materials are being updated with a fresh look at the information the Department provides.  The department is  preparing to have information on our website that will clarify some of the questions that people have on RCV.


Precinct Services - this division is spent considerable time putting together the report to the Board with the maps and posting the information on the website which includes data from the census.


ADA – the departent is hoping to have the front counter reconfigured to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, the completion date should be mid June or July. 


California Association of Elected Officials – – Precinct Services in the process of participating in a review of statewide guidelines regarding accessible polling places.  These guidelines will serve as California standards for polling places.


Technical division – this division has been working to get the database on templates which will allow us to automatically populate some of the information for the voter information pamphlets once it has been input to certain fields, this will save time and require less proof reading.

The technology division is also working on a budget database so that the Department can track its budget in real time.


Budget - continues to be a problem because of the lag time of one month.  The department is currently working on a data base that will allow us to be more accurate with our estimations.


Equipment Tracking - – putting together the data base having a history of information for equipment having it attached to all the different components such as Optical Scanner, Touch Screens, Card Activator, Memory packs and etc.  This will allow the department to maintain information regarding all equipment that may have a history of problems.


5.   Commissioners’ Reports: none


6.   Discussion and possible action to adopt policy related to the timing of release of election results in ranked-choice voting contests. Invited to speak to the Commission on this topic is Steven Hill of the New America Foundation.


Guest Speaker Steven Hill spoke of Rank Choice Voting and states there is a reason to revisit the

current policies, we may be able to make them better.  A copy of the 2004 report by director

Arntz regarding Rank Choice Voting was handed to all commissioners.  Steven Hill says that a

Resolution was put forth that a tally be done on a daily basis.   The following Wednesday the

button was pushed and something went wrong and the numbers were not available.   The

equipment did not work, it took approximately 24 hours to determine what the problem was and

have it fixed, the numbers had to be certified and the tally was then run on Friday.   The ES&S

equipment did not have the capability of storing the numbers, while the Dominion system is

much more streamlined with the ability to run the numbers and upload to the website. Mr. Hill

goes on to give an example of the Oakland Mayor’s race and suggest if the numbers were

released it may not have caused people to be mislead with the perception that one candidate was

the possible lead runner, when it proved not to be the case.  Mr. Hill goes on to say that all tallies

must state these are preliminary results.


Commissioner Gleason says it is not the intent of the Elections Administration or Election

Commission to keep any information from the public.


Commissioner Townsend asked Mr. Hill if he thought by changing the way things are currently

done if that is some how misleading.


Commissioner Rowe request clarification, that results are less likely to change if you tally every

couple of days verses the tally on elections night and then again on Friday, due to dwindling 

ballots remaining? 


Guest Speaker Hill says that if you release a tally on election night and hold off until Friday, you

run more of a chance that the 2nd and 3rd rankings that are close, you may give the presumption

of false or misleading information to the public.


Commissioner Gleason feels we should not be running tallies until we have 100% of the votes.


Commissioner Ruiz-Healy asked Director Arntz what is his perspective regarding this matter.

Director Arntz replies we have not seen any change in the results, by releasing tallies sooner.


Public Speaker David Pilpel says that the preliminary vote can be released for those who chose

to have this information, the majority of votes will have been counted and the remaining votes

will have diminished and the tally is only preliminary.


Public Speaker Chris Bowman states that several counties within the state do not release until

everything has been certified.  Absentee ballots over ½ were not counted until 100% of the

precincts were in.  The question comes down really to what is manageable by the department.


Guest Speaker Rob Richie states that people generally feel that because you wait that

something magic happens, some voter have an expectation and want the data. 



  1. Discussion and possible action to adopt policy related to post-election audit procedures. Invited to speak to the Commission on this topic is Rob Richie, executive director of Fair Vote.


Guest Speaker Rob Richie reported that the Elections Verifications Network recently held a conference about post-election audits.  This conference considered the ideal audit procedure, rather than the audit possible under any particular system or set of laws.  As a general matter, an RCV audit should verify whether voters on ballots were accurately converted into data and whether the tabulation of that data was accurate.  Another issue is how many ballots you need to audit to be confident in the result.


Old Business


8.  Discussion and possible action to adopt policy related to possible Saturday voting, its budget estimate, its logistics, its legal requirements and constraints, its fundraising, or other considerations related to implementation of the measure.


No discussion.


9.  Discussion and possible action regarding the selection of the Elections Commission’s three appointees to the Redistricting Task Force, evaluating applicants, and choosing the three appointees.  (Applicants will not be interviewed at this meeting.)


The Commissioners engaged in a preliminary discussion about procedures for selecting applicants to the Redistricting Task Force. 


President Matthews invited Commissioners to submit written suggestions regarding the process before the next meeting.  The Commission Secretary should forward these suggestions to President Matthews and place them in the public binder.  President Matthews will publish a proposed process for selecting candidates in the agenda for the June meeting.


New Business

10. Discussion and possible action to approve the Minutes of the April 20, 2011 Commission Meeting. 


Vote was taken and was unanimous to approve the minutes.


11. Discussion and possible action to approve the Minutes of the May 4, 2011 Special Meeting

of the Elections Commission.


Commission agreed to hold this item until next meeting for approval.


12. Discussion regarding items for future agendas.


Public Speaker David Pilpel suggest that a calendar of future items be made available that will

inform the public in advance of future items.

Adjourn 7:55











Last updated: 6/24/2011 12:47:40 PM