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Meeting Information

Elections Commission

2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 

City and County of San Francisco

Elections Commission

Approved: -----------------

Minutes of the Meeting at City Hall Room 408

November 18, 2009



1.            CALL TO ORDER.  President Joseph Phair called the meeting to order at 6:01 pm.


2.            ROLL CALL.  PRESENT.  Commissioners Rosabella Safont, Richard P. Matthews, Gerard Gleason, Joseph Phair, Winnie Yu, Deputy City Attorney Jon Givner, and Deputy Director of Elections Nataliya Kuzina.   EXCUSED: Commissioner Arnold Townsend.


3.      Discussion and possible action to approve the minutes of the October 21, 2009 Elections Commission Meeting.  Commissioner Matthews MOVED and Commissioner Safont SECONDED this item.


         The Roll Call Vote was UNANIMOUS to approve the minutes.


4.      ANNOUNCEMENT.  President Phair announced that the Board of Education’s new appointee to the Elections Commission, Mr. Derek E. Turner, was present and is ready to be sworn in to take his seat on the Commission.


                  SWEARING IN.  Executive Secretary to the Elections Commission, Shirley         Rodriques, administered the Oath of Office and Commissioner Turner took his      seat.


                  President Phair asked Commissioner Turner to say a few words about why he wanted to be on the Elections Commission.  Commissioner Turner explained that he has worked several times during elections as a poll inspector and is very interested in the technology used in voting and providing good experiences to voters.  He said that he works as a software engineer.


5.      Public Comment on any issue within the Elections Commission’s general jurisdiction.   Kim-Shree Maufas, President of the SFUSD Board of Education, said she was very happy to have Commissioner Turner on the Elections Commission, and that she believes the new Commissioner takes voting and Constitutional rights very seriously.  Brent Turner said he was present on behalf of Open Voting Consortium, and welcomed Commissioner Turner and his strong background to the Commission.






6.      Director’s Report.




Deputy Director Nataliya Kuzina reported that the voter turn out for the November 3, 2009 General Municipal Elections was 23%: 15% by mail and 7% at the precincts.  1,258 voters cast their ballots prior to election day at City Hall. There were only 148 calls into Election Central on election day.  The Department of Elections sent out 184,346 vote-by-mail ballots, 71, 000 were delivered to the Department and of those 69,335 were accepted.  1,743 provisional ballots were received and 1,602 were accepted.  189 votes were cast on the accessible voting machines during early voting and 571 were cast at the polls on election day. 


Deputy Director Kuzina advised the Commission that the Department did not receive any calls about the ballot navigation issue when choosing Chinese language on touch screens which the Department brought to the SoS (Secretary of State) attention before election day. As instructed by the SoS, the Department provided written explanations to the pollworkers on election day and instructed them to make these documents available for voters who requested to use the Edge. Following the election, the SoS directed Sequoia (the company from which the S. F. Elections Department has purchased its voting equipment) to devise mitigations for this existing issue. The SOS and her staff visited the Department’s warehouse today to observe Sequoia’s presentation of mitigations which consisted of modifying voting instructions and navigational buttons. At this meeting a ranked-choice voting write-in issue that exists in an audio mode was also discussed. Deputy Director Kuzina explained that when an audio voter selects a write-in candidate in a ranked-choice voting contest, the ranking of the candidate is not read back to a voter during the review of the ballot. This condition exists only in the audio mode and was demonstrated to the SoS during the visit today.  Sequoia proposed having additional voting instructions added to the audio instructions.


The meeting went well, and currently the DoE (Department of Elections) is awaiting further communications from the SoS.


President Phair requested that the Director’s Office, before the 2010 June election, provide a further report regarding the difficulties with the voting equipment and how they have been remedied. 


Commissioner Matthews asked why approximately 2000 vote-by-mail ballots were not counted.  Deputy Director Kuzina answered that she had not reviewed the status of these ballots.  However, of the 140 rejected provisional ballots, the majority, 77, were rejected due to registration status, meaning persons who cast these ballots were not registered voters.  The remaining provisional ballots had no signatures, non-matching signatures or were not sealed. 


All vote-by-mail ballots were processed by November 13, 2009.  All provisional ballots were counted by November 16, 2009.  Canvassing was completed on November 17, 2009 and certification of the election with the SoS was completed November 19, 2009.


Deputy Director Kuzina advised the Commission that the Department is currently in the process of paying off invoices and separating temporary staff.  The remaining budget is yet to be determined. On October 16,  the Controller's office issued a report on the First Quarter General Fund Budget Status. The Controller’s forecasts show a General Fund shortfall of $53 million if departmental spending city-wide is maintained at current levels.


Deputy Director Kuzina advised the Commission that there will be a budget meeting with the Mayor and all Department Heads tomorrow.  President Phair asked that if the Director is advised of additional cuts that must occur within the Department, that he communicate this information to the Commission.  Deputy Director Kuzina said that the Department has been very careful with spending during this election and all of the projected staff for the election were not hired.  President Phair asked if the Department received any reimbursement for the May 2009 Special Election.  Ms. Kuzina said that none has been received and none is expected in this fiscal year.


President Phair asked Deputy Director Kuzina to pass the following information on to the Director:  At the July 19, 2006 Commission meeting, the Director agreed that the draft Election Plan would be available for review by the Commission no less that 55 days prior to the election.  This number of days was the Director’s suggestion, but over the years, the Department has moved away from that number.  President Phair said that the Commission will expect for the upcoming election in June that the Election Plan, and plans for all future elections, be delivered no later than 55 days prior to each election for the Commission’s review.  Deputy Director Kuzina said that she would notify the Director of this expectation.


7.      Commissioners’ Reports


         (a) Commissioners may report on their experiences and observations of the November 3, 2009 General Municipal Election.  Commissioner Safont reported that she decided to surrender her vote-by-mail ballot and vote at her recinct location which was in a Starbuck’s Coffee Shop on Portola Street, but the precinct worker did not know what to do with her ballot.  However, the Commissioner was able to advise the pollworker of the proper procedure.  Commissioner Safont said that in past elections the line of voters was out the door, but for this election she was one of three voter there at the time she gave the pollworker her ballot. 


Commissioner Matthews reported that he observed some training sessions for this election, but was out of town on election day.  The Commissioner said that he will be making a report later regarding the DRE (Direct-Recording Electronic) machines performance on election day, once he has had the opportunity to review the data from this election.


Commissioner Gleason reported that he worked as a pollworker for the election at a fire house.  The pollworker training that he observed was excellent, including the additional demonstration videos that were added.  The Commissioner suggested that pollworkers should be advised of the impact to the Department if workers do not do things correctly.  Commissioner Gleason gave an example of a pollworker who had a problem with the roster of vote-by-mail ballots and filled in the wrong bubble.  The roster cannot be automatically balanced when this happens, and this impacts the Department because the rosters have to be manually balanced.


Commissioner Yu reported that she voted at the City Hall counter during the lunch hour on election day.  The Commissioner said that she was very surprised that there was no line.  Her experience was quick and the service was excellent.  Commissioner Yu said that she will be reviewing the IRIS (Incident Reporting Information System) Report and checking for any reoccurring problems or pollworker concerns from the election.


President Phair gave a brief explanation to the new Commissioner of the process that the Commission makes in assigning areas of observation.  Commissioner Turner suggested that he would like to observe the tabulation process during the next election with the goal of finding a way to make the results available more quickly, maybe as the results come in.  President Phair suggested that Commissioner Turner discuss this possibility and the possibility of observing the tabulation process with Director Arntz. 


8.   Old Business


(a) Discussion and possible action to approve the Draft Resolution on The Voter Profile.  Commissioner Matthews MOVED that the Commission       adopt the resolution and to assign to the President or his designee the responsibility of carrying the resolution forward to the State Legislation Committee and the Secretary of State.  Commissioner Safont SECONDED the MOTION.


      Commissioner Matthews offered several typographical changes which were noted by the Commission Secretary.


      President Phair said that he would like to coordinate the presentation of the resolution with Commissioner Gleason, who was the author of the resolution.  Commissioner Gleason agreed. 


      THE ROLL CALL VOTE was UNANIMOUS to present this resolution to the State Legislation Committee and to send an FYI to the Secretary of State.


(b) Discussion and possible action to approve the Draft Memo to accompany the Resolution on The Voter Profile.  Commissioner Matthews MOVED and Commissioner Safont SECONDED that the Memo accompany the Resolution.


      THE ROLL CALL VOTE was UNANIMOUS that this memo accompany the resolution to the State Legislation Committee and to send an FYI cover letter to the Secretary of State.


9.      Discussion and possible action regarding evaluation of the effectiveness of the Election Plan for the November 3, 2009 General Municipal Election.  Commissioner Matthews asked that this item be held over until more analysis of the election is completed.  President Phair MOVED that the Director or his Division Managers give the Commission details of the actions taken regarding the items listed in the Elections Plan on pages three and four:  Brochures, Community Presentations, Media, Public Service Announcements and Advertising.  This information should be provided to the Commission at its next meeting.  This motion was SECONDED by Commissioner Matthews.


         THE ROLL CALL VOTE was UNANIMOUS to hold this item over to the next meeting.




ADJOURNMENT at 6:51 pm