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Meeting Information

Elections Commission

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City and County of San Francisco

Elections Commission

Approved: September 6, 2006

Minutes of the Meeting at City Hall Room 408

August 16, 2006



1.   CALL TO ORDER.  President Matthews called the meeting to order at 7:13 pm.


2.   ROLL CALL.  PRESENT: Commissioners Gerard Gleason, Richard P. Matthews, Arnold Townsend, Jennifer Meek, Victor Hwang, and Deputy City Attorney Ann O’Leary, Director of Elections John Arntz.  EXCUSED: Commissioner Michael Mendelson.


  1. ( Lou Dedier of Elections Systems & Software)

President Matthews advised the Commission that he had spoken to Mr. Lou Dedier earlier in the day and Mr. Dedier said he would submit a written report for this meeting because he was involved in coding the sample (test) election and unable to attend.   However, the report that he submitted did not contain the information about which President Matthews and Mr. Dedier had spoken.  The President proceeded to summarize what he understood Mr. Dedier had told him in the phone conversation before this meeting:


  1. Lou Dedier has had very fruitful conversations with the SoS (Secretary of State’s Office).
  2. SoS and ES&S(Election Systems & Software) have agreed on a testing protocol.
  3. There will be a test on August 30, 2006, in Omaha, Nebraska.
  4. The testing script calls for six precincts (this is less than a full fledged certification
  5. testing).
  6. Some of the testing scripts will involve RCV.
  7. There was some discussion (by ES&S internally) regarding “pushing back” on the

 requirements for the testing, but it appears there will be no problem meeting the SoS’s demands.


      President Matthews asked the Commissioners if they felt it was necessary to hold a special meeting next week in which Susan Lapsley, assistant Secretary of State, would be able to attend.  Commissioner Townsend said that he was very upset with ES&S and its representative and that he would rearrange his schedule to attend a special meeting if the SOS’s representative is able to attend, but he would not rearrange his schedule if the only confirmed representative at the meeting is Mr. Dedier of ES&S. 


      Commissioner Townsend reported that he attended the August 2, 2006 Budget and Oversight of Public Elections meeting at which Mr. Dedier gave a presentation and fielded questions, but the Commissioner said he left that meeting knowing less than he did before the meeting.   The Commissioner said that the information ES&S had given the Department about its submittals to the SoS was not true, according to the SoS.  Commissioner Townsend referred to a letter from the SoS in response to a letter they received from Steven Hill, who is a private citizen.  The Elections Commission was copied on this response, and Commissioner Townsend said that he thinks the Commission should let the SoS know that Mr. Hill is not an official representative of the Commission or the Department and to make it clear who speaks for the Commission and the Department.


      There will be a Special Meeting of the Elections Commission on Wednesday, August 23, 2006, at 4:00 pm at City Hall, Room 048.


      Public Comment.  Steven Hill said that he shares Commissioner Townsend’s frustration at the situation with ES&S, but that part of the problem was caused by the attempt to go to a different vendor, without a backup plan.   




      Update on current status of 2006-07 budget.  Director Arntz said that the Department is working with the Mayor’s Office to get staffing in place and make sure that requisitions are complete. Invoices for the previous fiscal year are being completed, and invoices for the current fiscal year are being prepared. 


      Update on re-certification of voting equipment for RCV.  The Director said that President Matthews’ report on this topic was complete.         


      Update on preparation for November 7, 2006 Election.  Staff has just returned.  Letters are being sent to recruit pollworkers, and polling locations.  As information comes in, the VIP is being drafted. 


      President Matthews asked the Director when was the deadline for laying out the ballot, so that the Commission would know the time constraints for certification of the voting equipment.


      Director Arntz answered that the ballots would not be an issue regarding certification of the system.  He said that the formatting of the ballot would be the same whether the certification goes through or not, and that plans are to stay with the current ballot formatting. 


5.  Commissioners’ Reports.  President Matthews reported that he appeared before the Board of Supervisor’s Rules Committee on August 9, 2006, on behalf of the Commission, regarding Supervisor Elsbernd’s proposed legislation to require that the VIP (Voter’s Information Pamphlet) be mailed out 29 days ahead of Election Day.  He said he advised the Rules Committee that the Elections Commission supported the proposal provided that it goes hand-in-hand with other deadlines necessary for elections.  The Rules Committee was open to President Matthews’ suggestion and Supervisor Elsbernd removed the proposal for the calendar and will work with the Department, during the Board’s recess,  to perfect the legislation before moving it forward.  President Matthews said that the Rules Committee appeared to understand that there are other time periods and deadlines that must be changed in order to meet the proposed legislation’s date for mailing.


      President Matthews added that, at the Rules Committee, he praised Director Arntz’ August 3, 2006, letter to the Board outlining the issues that would be involved in mandating, by fiat, that one date in election law change without taking into account that the process is a “whole web” of requirements, and that “if you just yank on one node of a web, then the whole web gets yanked in that direction” and this needs to be accommodated.




6.   Committee Report.  Report of the August 2, 2006, Budget and Oversight of Public Elections Committee meeting.  (Commissioner Gleason)  Commissioner Gleason advised that there is an attachment to the Budget and Oversight of Public Elections Committee’s minutes for August 2nd that includes a transcript of Mr. Lou Dedier’s presentation to the body. (this is available on the Elections Commission’s website). Commissioner Meek had requested that more information be included on the Commission and Department websites, including the Election Plan. 


7.   Discussion and possible action to approve an alternate security plan for the November 7, 2006, election, considering that there will be a ballot measure which could affect the Office of the Sheriff in addition to other offices; and recommend the alternate plan to the Board of Supervisors.  (Commissioner Matthews).  President Matthews called the Commission’s attention to the letter from Director Arntz which explains the need for the alternate security plan.  Director Arntz advised the Commission that the copy before them was marked “draft” because the Ethics Commission had not heard this item at the time the letter was presented to the Commission and that the Elections Commission had not, until tonight, had a chance to review the letter.  The Ethics Commission has now agreed that an alternative security plan is needed. 


      President Matthews asked how the Captain in the Sheriff's Department, who has been assigned to provide the security plan, is shut off from influence by the Sheriff.


      Director Arntz replied that there is more than just the physical separation between Sheriff Hennessey and Captain Butler.  He said that everyone would be reporting to Captain Butler who would be making the final decisions, be involved with meetings with the Department and delegating authority to other representatives of the Sheriff’s Office who would be dealing with the Elections Department.  The Sheriff would physically not be present and would not be making decisions.  Additionally, Captain Butler is a civil servant and there cannot be any form of retaliation that would jeopardize her employment status.


      Commissioner Gleason referred to Charter Section 13.104.5 and asked if the term “Sheriff” referred to the actual person who serves in that capacity or the office of the Sheriff.


      Deputy City Attorney O’Leary responded that it refers to the Sheriff unless there is an alternative security plan such as the one before the Commission tonight. 


      Commissioner Gleason said that the transporting of devices used to record votes is done by Parking Control personnel, who work for Municipal Transit, and asked if they work under the DoE or the Sheriff, and are they deputized? 


      Deputy City Attorney O’Leary responded that in this particular case, the initiative on the ballot only affects the Sheriff not other employees. 


      Commissioner Gleason asked if the Sheriff has a “free hand” in selecting any one to assist in the task of security and transportation?


      Director Arntz responded that the Department of Parking and Traffic will choose the employees who will pick up the recording devices on election day from the polling places.  Although employees from other departments in the city could be chosen to do this work, the Parking and Traffic workers have the vehicles, and the structure that provides the discipline to organize a hundred people to go to the polling sites at 8:00 pm to pick up the memory packs and take them to the uplink sites.


President Matthews asked the Director if he knew if the Parking and Traffic staff used on election day are deputized for that day.


      Director Arntz responded that they are deputized.


      In response to Commissioner Gleason’s inquiry regarding the steps involved in approving an alternative security plan, Deputy City Attorney O’Leary explained that the order is as follows: first the Director proposes a plan, the Ethics Commission must approve that an alternative plan is necessary, the Elections Commission approves or disapproves the plan, then the Director of Elections invites the Secretary of State to comment on the plan.  At the meeting tonight, the Elections Commission can approve the plan pending any further comments from the SoS.


      Commissioner Townsend MOVED to approve the alternative security plan pending any comments from the Secretary of State, and if no comments are received from the Secretary of State, then making the approval final, Commissioner Meek SECONDED.  A roll call vote was UNANIMOUS.


  1. Discussion and possible action to approve the minutes for the Commission meeting of July 19, 2006.  Commissioner Gleason MOVED and Commissioner Townsend SECONDED the approval of the minutes.  A roll all vote was UNANIMOUS to approve the minutes.


9.   Discussion regarding items for future agendas.  Commissioner Gleason requested that the subject of who is sent the third tape printout from polling sites be on an agenda.  Commissioner Townsend requested that the Commission discuss at its next meeting whether to hold outreach meetings with community based organization’s invitation; and the possibility of a letter of explanation to the SoS regarding who speaks for the Department and/or the Elections Commission in response to Mr. Steven Hill’s letter in which the Elections Commission was copied. 


10.    Public Comment on any issue within the Elections Commission’s general jurisdiction.

         Steven Hill said that he had foreseen the equipment certification problems many months ago and had tried to warn the Commission.  Chris Jerdonek said that provisional voters should be given more information about whether their vote will be counted.  Director Arntz thanked Mr. Jerdonek, and said that, due to Mr. Jerdonek’s suggestion, the new provisional envelopes will have the requested information.  Roger Donaldson said that any kind of incentive to encourage returning pollworkers, like a title similar to “Pollworker II” or a slight increase in pay, this kind of recognition – to have seniority recognized – would be valuable for retention.   Director Arntz reminded everyone that the entire Pollworker Division is staffed by temporary workers and asked that persons wanting to see improvements in this area contact the Mayor’s Office and the Board of Supervisors to let them that they have concerns, because the Department wants to make these improvements but is unable to do so because the Department loses staff from election to election because they are not permanent workers.


ADJOURNMENT at 8:06 pm.