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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: 10/21/09

Minutes of the Meeting at City Hall Room 408

September 16, 2009




1.            CALL TO ORDER.  President Joseph Phair called the meeting to order at 6:04 pm.


2.            ROLL CALL.  PRESENT.  Commissioners Rosabella Safont, Richard P. Matthews, Gerard Gleason, Joseph Phair, Arnold Townsend, Deputy City Attorney Mollie Lee, and Director of Elections John Arntz.  EXCUSED: Winnie Yu.


3.      Discussion and possible action to approve the minutes of the August 19, 2009 Elections Commission Meeting.  Commissioner Matthews MOVED and Commissioner Safont SECONDED this item.


         The Roll Call Vote was UNANIMOUS to approve the minutes.



4.      Director’s Report.


Ballot Distribution – Division is receiving the test ballots and tomorrow will be receiving the vote-by-mail generic ballots that will be used at the early voting counter here at City Hall. 


Budget/Personnel – Division is readying paperwork for hiring personnel and arranging purchase orders for the supplies that will be needed for the November election. 


Campaign Services – Division is already making preparations for the elections in June and November of 2010. 


Outreach – Division has prepared new flyers and ads for Muni that should be posted on the buses this week, and is conducting neighborhood presentations.  Ads for newspapers will begin in the next two weeks.


Publications – Division is preparing voter guides (VIPs) for access on the Department website, and are currently working to produce the VIPs in Spanish and Chinese  before mid-October.


Poll Locating/ADA – Division is finalizing poll locations and implementing a new stage of the division’s bar code tracking system for materials that are dropped off at polling sites.   


Pollworker – Division is processing pollworker appointment letters, hiring Field Election Deputies (FEDs) and preparing their training manual that will be on line within the next week. 


Technology – Division is checking the Department’s data bases, and supporting the other divisions. 


Voter Services – Division is continuing its maintenance of voter files.  The permanent vote-by-mail files have been sent to the vendor and the overseas ballots were sent last week.


Ranked Choice Ballots Update – There will be one ballot card for this election, ranked choice on one side for the two contests, and the measures are on the other side of the card.  The Department has been able to accomplish this by setting up the system so that each column is viewed as a contest rather than one contest where the relationships among the contest is maintained. 


Commissioner Matthews asked if the number of poll locations would be the same as the last election.  Director Arntz said that there will be many consolidations for the November municipal election, in the past the number has been 561 sites, for this November the number will be 409.  In June 2010, the number of sites will return to 561.





(a)  Presentation by interested citizens, Brent Turner and Alan Dechert, regarding “Voting system security issues and proposed open source solutions”. 


Mr. Dechert presented a draft of a new brochure for his organization, called Open Voting Consortium’s. His idea for the voting system was a pilot program for Sacramento County in 2000.  Mr. Dechert said that at the time, the Secretary of State and many of the legislators wanted a paperless touch screen in every voting booth, but his opinion is that this would not be a good idea because “we would be risking our elections if we went that route”, and has spent much of his time lobbying against it.  Within two years, paperless voting was banned. 


The prototype was built without outside funding and contains free open source software.  What is used is read-only media. 


Mr. Dechert said that he hoped that by the time the San Francisco Elections Department’s contract with Sequoia Voting Systems ends, his system will be ready for consideration as an alternative.  The four million dollars in costs for certification is of concern.


Advantages of the system that Mr. Dechert highlighted were: no pre-printed ballot, cheap software, and use of commodity hardware. 


A description of the voting process with the Open Voting Consortium equipment is attached to these minutes along with a company brochure.


Mr. Turner said that he was happy that Mr. Dechert could make his presentation to the Elections Commission and that he hopes that San Francisco will take the lead in the direction of open source voting equipment.


Public Comment – Jim Soper said that he is a senior software consultant who has been working on voting systems issues for years and that open source allows people to look at the source code, if there is a suspicion of “vote flippin,” and find out where it might be happening.  Brent Turner said that there are many sources working on new voting systems and we need to make sure that the system used is “completely open sourced”.  


President Phair thanked Mr. Alan Dechert for making his informative presentation, and Mr. Turner for his time and effort in bringing this information before the Commission.



(b)  Discussion and possible action to submit a request to the Board of Supervisors for a waiver allowing certain City employees or officers to work on the November 3, 2009 General Municipal Election.


      Commissioner Matthews MOVED and Commissioner Townsend SECONDED this item for approval.


      The Roll Call Vote was UNANIMOUS.





Commissioner Matthews MOVED and Commissioner Safont SECONDED that the Elections Commission go into Closed Session.


The Roll Call Vote was UNANIMOUS.

Commission went into Closed Session at 7:15 pm. 


Closed Session is held pursuant to Brown Act section 54957 and Sunshine Ordinance section 67.10(b) to discuss annual performance evaluation of a public employee. Discussion and possible action.




Director of Elections John Arntz


7.      Discussion and possible action regarding closed session action and deliberations.  Discussion and vote pursuant to Brown Act section 54957.1 and Sunshine Ordinance section 67.12 on whether to disclose any action taken or discussions held in closed session.


Commission resumed Open Session at 9:15 pm.


Motion: The Elections Commission finds that it is in the best interest of the public (not) to disclose its closed session deliberations regarding the performance evaluation of the Director of Elections.


The Roll Call Vote was UNANIMOUS not to disclose deliberations of the Closed Session.


8.      Discussion and possible action regarding items for future meeting agendas and meeting dates.  President Phair announced that the Commission will continue to meet on its regularly scheduled date, the second Wednesday of the month. 


Adjournment at 9:17 pm.


Open Voting Consortium Brochure

Open Voting Consortium Info