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January 16, 2013

Elections Commission Meeting
Wednesday January 16, 2013
City Hall, Room 408
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
San Francisco, CA 94102


President Gerard Gleason called the meeting to order at 6:04 pm. PRESENT: Commissioners Richard P. Matthews, Jill Rowe, Gerard Gleason, Catalina Ruiz-Healy, Arnold Townsend, and Winnie Yu. Also present: Commission Secretary Tachina Alexander, Deputy City Attorney Andrew Shen, and Director of Elections John Arntz.

2. Public comment on any issue within the Elections Commission’s general jurisdiction unless otherwise included in an item on this agenda. There was no public comment.

3. Approval of Minutes from previous meetings.
Commissioner Rich Matthews moved to approve the Minutes of the December 19, 2012 Elections Commission Meeting. Commissioner Ruiz-Healy seconded the motion. Commissioner Rowe and Commissioner Ruiz-Healy offered corrections to the minutes. No Public comment. The roll call vote was UNANIMOUS to approve the minutes with corrections offered by Commissioners Rowe and Ruiz-Healy.

Director Arntz
Division Reports
(a) Administrative (Budget & Personnel) – The city wants the Department to find 1.5% cuts in the budget for the next fiscal year. Last year the Elections Commission approved a 2 year budget vs. a 1 year budget so the Department is reviewing the 2nd year’s budget and forecasting the following year (2014/15). The Department is not too concerned about finding 1.5% savings because as it progresses it’s getting more efficient with its materials. Its budget has flat lined over the last several years because it keeps finding efficiencies. One casualty of the 1.5% might be an increase in the poll worker stipend. The Department wanted to raise the Inspector up to $175 for the flat fee, $20 for the Ballots, $5 for the use of the Cell Phone, and bringing the Clerks up to $150. With that the total would be nearly $200,000 but if we added another $10 to it this time around and the next time around we added another $10 and do the increase incrementally we will see how that works. The Department didn’t get the budget forms until January where in previous years it received them in December so you will have them at least a week before the next BOPEC meeting. Since you approved next fiscal year’s budget you’ll see basically the same information that you saw last year so the only thing new that you will see is the 15/16-14/15 budget.

(b) Ballot Distribution – They are still receiving ballots for the Moscone Expansion District Election and the time frame to receive those ballots ends February 5, 2013. They are also looking into a way to decrease the amount of time it takes to pull the Vote-by-mail ballots from the envelopes. Because the number of Vote-by-mail ballots are increasing on Election Day it really interferes with the staffing schedule the Department has so there has to be some training and familiarity with the process. So if the Department can automate more of the extraction of the ballots then it can handle the influx of the ballots on Election night and get them counted. The Department has met with a vendor who can potentially help them with this system to extract those ballots with some automation but not total automation.

(c) Campaign Services Division – Updating the guide for November. City Attorney and Treasurer will be on the ballot which is a scheduled election but there will also be a vacancy election in November. They are also going through any files related to the November 2012 election and archiving them and recycling what they can.

(d) Outreach – Have sent certificates of appreciation to all of the organizations (350) that invited the department to come and give presentations for this past election. They completed their “Accessibility Brochure” that was paid for by the “Help America Vote Act.” They sent letters to people and organizations who participated in the Community Network Meetings that they’ve been holding and a lot of people still want to participate in that so they’ll be holding another one in the near future. They attended the citizenship ceremony last week in Alameda. Outreach also informed Director Arntz that a Naturalization Ceremony was held on Election Day and 51 people came to City Hall to vote at the Registrar’s office. Outreach also participated in an awards ceremony with a neighborhood empowerment network last week and they’re leveraging their attendance at that ceremony to gain contacts with people who are a part of that network. They’ve already started working with City College, State, and SFSU on ways to reach students to get them to register to vote so they’re thinking about how we can incorporate our information into the registration process and having us to attend student orientation, events, or meetings, have posters in the dorms, links on the university’s websites, etc. For November they’ll start to do election specific videos on YouTube and the main target audiences would be younger voters like the students and people with literacy challenges.

(e) Poll Worker Division – They have sent out information with their newsletter asking if people wanted to be a part of their poll worker network. They received 150 responses to join and now they will winnow down the number of responses, set up criteria, and provide feedback on procedures. Additionally they will find be able to collect information on what happens at polling places and institutionalize the poll worker information coming back to the Department instead of just the feedback letters after the election.

(f) Precinct Services – Changed registration databases last year. They didn’t have time to incorporate all of the information into the system because they are the ones that are involved in the redrawing of the district and precinct lines due to the census so they started to bring the information into the registration database. They will create manuals and information sheets for new temporary people coming in for the election. They are also looking at improving their Power Point presentation for the people who go out and look for the polling places and the people who deliver/pick-up the equipment to/from polling places. They are also updating their Power Point presentation on “Disability Etiquette.” Each year a seminar is held to show the appropriate way to approach people with disabilities, how to interact with them, how not to focus on the disability, maintaining a respectful conversation, being conscious of key buzz words, etc. All of this information will be updated prior to the November election and will be sent out just prior to the election so that everyone will be informed even the temporary employees.

(g) Publications – Held debriefing meeting with the vendors prior to December 15, 2012 and will approach that again within the Department next month to talk about what they can improve on going forward. They had issues with the voter guide also the ballots for that one election and put in a lot of time to find different ways of getting the work done and things went very smooth with this election; far more effective process but can always find more ways to improve.

(h) Technology Division – They are always working on databases. One database that they are working on is the Department’s budget database. We have a lot of spread sheets and database information and we’re trying to tie them all together. Ideally Director Arntz would like to have real time information on the budget in order to operate more effectively.

(i) Voter Services – Sending out registration cards to provisional voters who are not registered and to those whose signatures need updating. They have also updated lists from Secretary of State’s office of those who have been listed as being deceased.

(j) Warehouse – There is an inventory system that is in place now and the cost of consumption of the items there are being structured, RFID, and polling place equipment.

1. Commissioner Gleason – I did get the notice about the poll worker outreach which I thought was a great idea. When you’re wheedling down the groups that are in there you may want to have someone in there who handle different locations such a garage and a school.
2. Commissioner Yu – Do you know how many High School poll workers come back and work again or is this a one-time deal? If having that network would be helpful to connect them or if they’re going to stay locally for college they could be advocates at the community colleges or in the state level where they could do more of the outreach work and help connect people. Director Arntz replied that he didn’t know if the student poll workers received a letter but he would have to find out and he could also find out how many come back. Their time span is short because they are Juniors and Seniors but he’ll check on it to see if that’s something we can bring them into or not.
Commissioner Yu continued on to say that there are social media groups that you can still be connected to them somehow if there’s anything that they can do then they can do get-out-the-vote stuff social media wise or be able to connect the younger students and get them to be interested in working. If there is some kind of alumni group of the local kids who stay and go to school here then there’s that added on knowledge and experience. In my experience when I’ve helped out oftentimes poll worker was their first job and if they ever have a chance to come back again they become more experienced.
Public Comment:
David Carey (Californians for Electoral Reform; Election Observer Panel) He thought it was great that the commission supported the Department in its effort to move ahead in Election night RCV tallies. That seemed to be a big success and hope that the Commission and the Department support efforts to continue doing that in the future. By chance he called the voter assistance line and didn’t get an answer; he stayed on the line for 20 minutes and didn’t get an answer. Voters are depending on telephone support for helping them with Ranked-choice-voting and it’s important for them to have options available to make sure they talk to someone.
He will also be working on ways to trim modest cost increases of Ranked-choice-voting recount tallies.
Commissioner Ruiz-Healy presented her report to the Board of Education and they were pleased.
Public comment. None

Commissioner Gleason explained that The Director of Elections’ current five-year term expires at 12:00 am on May 21, 2013. The Charter requires that the Commission appoint a Director for the next term at least 30 days before the expiration of the current term. S.F. Charter § 13.104.

Public comment. None

Commissioner Gleason motioned that the commission meet in a close session. Commissioner Rowe seconded. No Commissioner discussion. No public comment. Roll call vote was UNANIMOUS to go into closed session.

Adjourned at 6:33pm into CLOSED SESSION

Back in OPEN SESSION at 7:09pm

Commissioner Gleason reported that in the closed session the Elections Commission unanimously voted and re-appointed Director John Arntz for an additional five-year term beginning May 21, 2013 as the Director of Elections and he has accepted the re-appointment.

Commissioner Matthews motioned that the commission does not disclose any of the discussion of the closed session. Commissioner Gleason seconded. The roll call vote was 6-1 to not disclose.

Commissioner Rich Matthews stated that as most people know under the Clinton administration the Motor Voter Act passed where you check a box which will result in your information being transmitted eventually to the county of residence to register you to vote or update your voter registration. Most of the time it works but it doesn’t work every time and if the government is going to make that promise it needs to work every time. Anecdotally as Inspectors, we’ve witnessed people showing up to the polls that have registered through the DMV but were not on the roster. There is a slip up some place and it needs to be chased down. The commission at various times has taken a look and I’d like to renew our attention to it and designate the president or incoming president to participate in discussions with the Secretary of State and possibly the DMV to bring attention to the issue and chase down the problem. We’re now 17 years into this regime and it’s not working for everybody.
Commissioner Rowe asked if anyone could give a history on the past attempts by the commission to address this issue.
Commissioner Gleason stated that the commission sent communication to the Secretary of State who did acknowledge the situation on her website as he has checked the website recently. His thought on it is an ever changing situation as well as the voters are unsure. Recently he took his son to the DMV to get his permit and he registered to vote on October 4, 2012 and his registration had not made it through by Election Day. So now the Secretary of State is asking voters to bring the receipt to the county Registrars office as proof of registration; which is now putting the responsibility back on the voter to hold on to a piece of paper which negates the whole premise of the Motor Voter program.
Commissioner Rowe added that as an Inspector she had the experience as well where voters came up and said that they had registered at DMV and they were not in the roster and it was heartbreaking to tell someone who made all the correct efforts to vote, especially for a presidential election, that their vote wasn’t going to be counted.

Commissioner Matthews motioned that the President or the President’s designee be authorized by the commission to initiate any contact with the Secretary of State or the DMV to express the commission’s concern about the problem and investigate the problem and how it can be rectified. Commissioner Ruiz-Healy seconded.

Commissioner Ruiz-Healy asked if Director Arntz received any complaints in his office and if so whether he has a tally of such complaints. Director Arntz replied that he does not have a tally but he does get calls. The people who show up at City Hall are directed to the Superior Court to get a court order to allow them to vote. One suggestion as you’re reaching out would be to contact Leland Yee. He’s one of the State Senators representing San Francisco that started the online registration and he’s also running for Secretary of State.

Public comment. None
The roll call vote was UNANIMOUS.

Nominations for President – Winnie Yu, Jill Rowe
No public comment.
Roll call voice vote – Winnie Yu (2 votes) Jill Rowe (5 votes)

Nominations for Vice President – Catalina Ruiz-Healy
No public comment.
Roll call voice vote – Winnie Yu (2 votes) Catalina Ruiz-Healy (5 votes)

The Commission elected Jill Rowe as its next President, and Catalina Ruiz-Healy as its next Vice-President.


Commissioner Matthews informed the commission that the set of By-Laws that is publicly available is not the by-laws that were adopted by this commission 3-4 years ago. Furthermore the revision that was done cannot be located, so at some point this year we are going to need to revisit our by-laws.

Public comment: David Carey (Californians for Electoral Reform) Having done Election night RCV tallies this last election, he suggested that the commission revisit and revise its policy that it adopted about 1 ½ years ago about doing RCV tallies on a more timely basis. That policy included language that overstated the difficulties of doing election night RCV tallies and actually discouraged the use and since then you’ve in effect changed some perspectives on that for the Department in what they did in this last election and bring that policy up to date will be helpful up to some point.

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