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March 20, 2013

Elections Commission Meeting
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
6:00 p.m.
City Hall, Room 408
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
San Francisco, California 94102


1. Call to Order & Roll Call
President Jill Rowe called the meeting to order at 6:00 pm. PRESENT: Commissioners Jill Rowe, Rosabella Safont, Richard P. Matthews, Catalina Ruiz-Healy and Gerard Gleason. Commissioner Winnie Yu arrived at 6:011 pm.

2. Public comment on any issue not on the agenda.

3. Approval of Minutes from previous meetings.
Commissioner Matthews motioned to approve the Minutes of the February 20, 2013 Elections Commission Meeting and it was seconded by Commissioner Ruiz-Healy. Commissioner Matthews noted that the draft minutes should be revised such that the parenthesis around the word “not” be removed on page six under item number eleven. The roll call vote was UNANIMOUS to APPROVE the minutes as revised. NO PUBLIC COMMENT.

4. Director’s Report.
Director Arntz
Division Reports
(a) Administrative (Budget/Personnel) – Submitted the budget to the Mayor’s office on February 21, 2013, and they have until May 1st until they turn it over to the board. After May 1st we will get questions from the board’s budget analyst, Harvey Rose, then in June hearings will be scheduled for next fiscal year and our first one will be in the third week of June. The referendum that’s on the budget for November is for 8 Washington Street which is the condos down by the Embarcadero. This was approved by the board last year, circulated, and found sufficient by the department to place the question before the voters in the general election, which will be this November. Due to the length of the referendum, Director Arntz is trying to get the information pared down such that only the pertinent information will be printed in the voter guide.
This week the board did the first reading of the amendments to the local elections code. This is something that we started 1 ½ years ago where we wanted to clarify some language, remove a disclaimer at the heading for each argument the board submits for the voter guide, and fine-tune the language to match recent campaign and finance reform changes that happened last year.
Issued postings for IT position within the Department, then went through the city process and posted it online with the City on the DHR website, and statewide on the electronic bulletin board called ElecNet (which covers all of the Elections Departments in the State).
Still working on creating budget information that gives us real time budget data.
(b) Ballot Distribution – working on the processes to improve the vote-by-mail ballots in order to be more efficient. The Department was able to reduce the number of temp hours by 56% through automation and breaking down the process. Worked with IT and repositioned ballot counting machines in the computer room, made more space for everyone, and scanning bar codes so that we know where we are in the process of counting due to the number of steps involved in the RFID process.
(c) Campaign Services - Monday was the 135th Anniversary of the Department of Elections so the Department had a party, created a video with Powerpoint and uploaded it on the website, and sang Happy Birthday. Several items of interests were found and made available for the Department to view and one of those items was an old statement of vote from 1904 with 40,000-50,000 registered voters. Another item of great interest was a report entitled “How the Department reacted to the 1906 Earthquake.” Director Arntz indicated that he would make that item available to the Commission.
(d) Outreach Division - Looking to expand energies into social media. They want to do weekly updates and provide pictures and videos on Facebook so they’re planning it now. They’re planning what the message will be and what videos and what pictures to post throughout the year. They’ve gone to the naturalization ceremonies and registered 180 from SF this past week and 512 from other counties. Every 1st Wednesday they’ll be at the steps of the Main Library to provide voting information. The attended a Summer Resources Fair for SF Families this month and the Community Involvement Fair at the Ida B. Wells High School and registered 19 Seniors. Next month they’re going to the OMI Excelsior Fair and some Earth Day events where they’ll be pushing the Electronic Voter guide.
Starting with this election the post office wants to cut Saturday deliveries/pick-ups so since our outside City Hall vote-by-mail drop-off was so successful we’re going to increase it to four days. We will do it Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. We will create something like the Urban Parks where they take away viable parking spots in front of coffee shops and make them parks. Well we’ll have an Urban Voting Park. perhaps taking some parking spaces from the Supervisors and creating our own Urban voting park for those four days. Since Tachina was a big part of that and the people loved it we’re going to make it a bigger deal and advertise it more so that we maximize our exposure so people know where to easily find us.
(e) Publications Division – they’ve been looking at how they can streamline the audio component of the touchscreen ballot by working with the vendor setting criteria markers that they have to meet by certain deadlines. They’ve sent masthead information for the ballots to the printer so the tops of the ballots should be completed for the November Election and will be finished in a couple of weeks. As soon as that is returned they can begin working on a shell for the November Election. They’ve sent out “Common Pages” which are structural pages with standard wording such as “Register to Vote, etc.”
(f) Poll Worker Division – they had their first Poll Worker Networker Meeting Monday. 21 attendees discussed ideas for the department including:Put an index in the Poll Worker Guide; Add a Table of Contents; Add more pictures. Their next meeting is in May as they do not have a date set yet. The secure plastic bags cost a lot of money so they are looking to find another cost effective container. They are also working on more bi-lingual training on the Department’s website which is more entertaining.
(g) Precinct Services – they’ve been working on consolidating the polling places for this election, which is a local election, trying to find the best way to reduce the number of polling places without making it inconvenient for the voters to get there. Right now they have 410 precincts down from 590 and there will be 390 polling places vs. 572 that we had from last election.
(h) Technology Division – they’ve been doing a lot of database work. Most of our databases are unique to the Department and were created to function only for the Department. The IT group is doing an outstanding job in automating each one of our divisions within the Department. They’re inputting more information on the website so that poll workers can interact online and submit availability letters online verses mailing them in.
(i) Voter Services – have been archiving and setting up things for the next election and database maintenance.
Commissioner Ruiz-Healy asked what is the Emergency plan for the Department
of Elections if we have an earthquake a week prior to Election Day?
Director Arntz said it depends on what the damage is and what the circumstances
are after the quake hits. We have an emergency plan every election and I believe I
sent one to you all but if not I can. We have to hold the election so we would start
with what we would normally do and go from there. If City Hall were damaged then
we would go to other places in the city and we’d go to a more paper-based
Commissioner Ruiz-Healy asked how is the online registration process going in
terms of numbers, , and also asked Director Arntz to consider providing on-line
badges for poll workers and people who register others
or become registered. It’s essentially an open platform where you can get a virtual
badge for doing certain things; you might consider this a part of your digital
Director Arntz stated the number of on-line registrations was several thousand but
he would have to email her because he didn’t remember specifically.

Commissioner Yu asked regarding data backup in case of an emergency is that
currently with the City or does the Department have its own secure server?
Director Arntz stated that The Department is on the City’s system but for Elections
information we have our own servers because you can’t tie election information
into any outside connection so we back up daily and then once a week we send
whatever tape we have to Sacramento. So if there were to be an issue we would
lose some information, the work that was done that week potentially, but not
Commissioner Yu stated, in connection with the social media campaign, that there
is a function in Google videos where if a lot of people click on certain videos
Google can start generating ads that could bring revenue, and I’m not sure if that
would be a conflict, but it’s possible.
Director Artnz agreed to look into it.

5. Discussion and possible action regarding reducing and consolidating precincts.
Commissioner Gleason handed out a 2-page document copies of election code regarding consolidation of precincts. The second document says Senate Bill No. 1342 that allows the consolidation of precincts subtracting the number of vote-by-mail permanent voters when specified conditions are met.
Commissioner Gleason stated that the formula seems almost impossible to be and asks the Director if it could take place in the state election where the number can be subtracted?
Director Artnz replied yes. The thing is once you subtract it you cannot have more permanent vote-by-mail voters than you have regular voters after the subtraction. That’s why it’s almost worthless. This is compromise language from someone submitting a bill to remove the permanence from the precinct counts. I don’t know anyone who uses this. I’ve looked at it and it’s senseless. We’ve never taken this approach.
Commissioner Gleason said there is no viable way to make this work?
Director Arntz said you could in some precincts. There are certain parts of the city where you will have more regular voters vs. permanent vote-by-mail voters but for most of the city and precincts you have more permanent vote-by-mail voters than regular voters so we wouldn’t be able to apply this.
Commissioner Gleason stated that he put together a graph of the number of precinct voters vs. vote-by-mail voters dating by to 2000. He would like to add in the permanent vote-by-mail numbers because that’s what’s being impacted by all of this and then will email that to all the commissioners.
Another issue that we must consider that Commissioner Townsend brought up that I think he was right about is distribution of mailboxes. There was a lawsuit relating to SRO hotel rooms not having mailboxes. The Department of Elections didn’t weigh in on that issue but we might need to look at it as far as changing consolidating elections are going to all mail balloting.
Director Arntz replied that he doesn’t know any other counties that are using the formula nor does he know how closely they follow the requirements for number of people in a precinct either.
Commissioner Rowe stated that she wanted clarification for her own mind and perhaps for the record. “It sounds to me like what’s been circulated is something that was an amendment to elections code section 1223 and I think what you’re mentioning is subsection b. If I understand Director Arntz correctly, what this really means is it’s unusable if there are more permanent vote-by-mail voters in any particular precinct than there are walk-in precinct voters. What Director Arntz is saying is most precincts in San Francisco have more permanent vote-by-mail voters so this is unusable for us and that you’re not aware of anybody else.”
Commissioner Rowe praised all of Commissioner Gleason’s diligent research related to this subject. Seeing that he is now at the analysis stage she inquired if he was in need of additional support from the Commission due to you spearheading the upcoming agenda item.
Commissioner Gleason stated that now that he located this formula and has found out by the Director that it is unusable he thinks that everyone should review it, give it some thought, and we’ll come back to it with the Director because there has got to be some way that we can consolidate these precincts.
Commissioner Matthews asked Director Artnz if he knew the policy reasons the legislators wanted to put in this subsection b formula? Why have a formula at all?
Director Arntz said that he didn’t know because he didn’t follow it that closely. Even the smaller counties on the eastern side of the state are almost all vote-by-mail so he can’t think of any reason why this exists.
Commissioner Matthews proposes that the Election Commission look into getting rid of this formula and find out if any county has even used it or not to strengthen our case to do so.
Commissioner Rowe agreed with Commissioner Gleason and Commissioner Matthews about investigating how the formula started and who was the Assemblyperson who sponsored it.

6. Discussion and possible action regarding voter registration through the California Department of Motor Vehicles.
(Commissioner Gleason passed out Elections code section 2250; Draft of a letter to California Secretary of State dated June 19, 2008; backside Letter from Commissioner Jennifer Meek dated November 4, 2008; Future of California Elections).
Commissioner Gleason stated that the foundation that he works for funds civic democracy projects and he’s involved with a group called Bay Area Democracy Funders. He went to a meeting recently and there was a group there called Future of California Elections, which is funded by James Irvine Foundation Group. I would like to invite Catherine Hazelton, who is the President of the group, to a future meeting next month to give a presentation to this Commission about the kinds of things that they are doing. One of their big pushes is impacted by this. They want to have more voter registrations take place and interactions with government agencies and I brought this up to them regarding the DMV. Section 2250 sounds like it’s a note from your doctor and this is something that really needs to be addressed. Working with a group like FCE is somebody we could address this with because I don’t think one more letter to the Secretary of State’s office is going to do anything because they enacted this part of the election code as an excuse.
Commissioner Rowe asked Commissioner Gleason if he was suggesting in order to advance item number 6, rather than write another letter to the Secretary of State as we’ve done In the past, that we reach out to this group the Future of California Elections and begin to see if they’re interested in advancing that cause?
Commissioner Gleason replied yes. Because if you look at their documents and the items that they’re advancing a big portion of that is voter registration through government agencies whether they’re state or county social services agencies.
Commissioner Rowe stated that it is within the authority that was granted to Commissioner Gleason to go ahead and reach out to this group and see if they have interest and see what might happen from here and report back to us at the next meeting to where that leads.
Commissioner Gleason asked if it would be okay if he could extend an invitation to the President Hazleton to come and give a 3-minute presentation at our next meeting on what they’re doing?
Commissioner Rowe agreed.

7. Commissioners’ Reports

Catalina Ruiz-Healy has been reappointed by the SF Board of Education.

8. Announcements

9. Discussion and possible action regarding items for future agendas.

10. Adjournment 6:58pm

Last updated: 4/1/2014 3:09:29 PM