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Meeting Information

Elections Commission

2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 

 City and County of San Francisco

Elections Commission


Minutes of the Meeting held

City Hall, Room 408

January 21, 2009



1.      President Gleason called the meeting to order at 6:20 pm.


2.      COMMISSION MEMBERS PRESENT:  Commissioners Gerard Gleason, Richard P. Matthews, Winnie Yu, Malcolm Yeung, Joseph B. Phair, Deputy City Attorney Mollie Lee and Deputy Director Nataliya Kuzina.  ABSENT: Arnold Townsend.  EXCUSED: Commissioner Rosabella Safont.


  1.   Brent Turner said he has been working with “Election Reform Activists for Obama” and that he is hopeful that the new administration will be a champion of transparency in government.


  1. Deputy Director Kuzina said that Director Arntz was not able to attend this meeting and that she will provide the Director’s Report.  Deputy Director Kuzina reported the following:  The Voter Services Division is working on voter roll clean up and has mailed approximately 3700 registration cards to voters who voted provisionally in the November 2008 election but were not registered voters, and 4700 residence confirmation cards to voters who have not voted in four years.  If the residence confirmation cards are returned, those voters will remain on the active voter rolls.  If a voter does not return the residence confirmation card, their name will be put on the inactive voter list which is still a part of the official voter roster, however the voter will no longer receive voter materials.  This is required by the California Elections Code and helps the Department save money.  Vote by mail voters who have not voted in the last two statewide elections will have their permanent vote by mail status cancelled.  This, too, is required by the California Elections Code.  The Pollworker Division has finished reviewing the feedback forms regarding pollworker performance during the November 2008 election and has flagged workers who should not be rehired and those who should be promoted.  A new issue of the Pollworker Newsletter is being prepared which will focus on keeping votes private and providing neutral and appropriate assistance to voters on election day.  The Ballot Distribution Division has completed its post election inventory of supplies, has archived vote by mail and provisional envelopes and organized and stored canvass materials.  The division will be meeting with the United States Postal Service to discuss new mailing regulations which may affect the design of materials the Elections Department sends to voters.  From May 8, 2009 to May 22, 2009 there will be a Health Services Board election, and the Division is currently reviewing its calendar.  There may also be an election for the Employees Retirement Board.  The ITS Division has been conducting a federally mandated post election survey that was issued last month by the Elections Assistance Commission.  The survey is due by the end of this week.  The Precinct Services Division is currently reviewing new voting locations to replace past sites which are no longer suitable or available.  Criteria are square footage, voter turnout, and accessibility.  Monthly maintenance of the voting equipment has been completed at the warehouse.  The Outreach Division has been working on the equal access ordinance report that is required by the Immigrant Rights Commission and due on February 1, 2009 and the HAVA (Help America Vote Act) application in which funds are released through the Secretary of State for up to $250,000 for polling accessibility, access of information, equal opportunities and accessibility training.  This morning the Division attended a naturalization ceremony and registered 159 new voters.  The Administration Division has processed separation reports and answered inquiries from the Employment Development Department regarding former employees.  All temporary employees have been laid off.  Currently the DoE payroll includes 26 staff – all of which are permanent core staff or temporary category 18.  Deputy Director Kuzina reminded the Commission that in the course of the last two months, the Department has moved from a staff of 298 to 26 employees.  This transition was accomplished, mainly, by one staff member.


As of today, the November 3, 2009 Municipal Election is the only election scheduled for this year.  Others may, however, be called in April or May.  Counties will have 88 days notice to prepare for any new elections.  The Board of Supervisors has introduced a resolution to hold a special election on June 2, 2009.  The estimated cost of a special election is $3.5M.


The Budget is due February 20, 2009 to be submitted to the Mayor and Controller’s Office.  A copy will be made available to the Elections Commission on February 13, 2009.


Commissioner Matthews asked what is the purpose of moving voters to the inactive status list and transferring their names to another part of the voter roster.  Deputy Director Kuzina replied that this saves money for the City.  She said that if a voter is active, that voter receives a voter information pamphlet and other election related mailers.  Inactive voters do not.     


Commissioner Matthews advised Deputy Director Kuzina that the Commission has not yet received a letter containing a statement regarding the Elections Department’s compliance with, or deviation from, the Election Plan for November 2008 that the Director promised to send the Commission. 


Commissioner Yeung asked if the Department would send a copy of its report to   Equal Access Report to the Immigrant Rights Commission to the Elections Commission.  The Commissioner asked the Commission to review the outreach activities conducted in neighborhoods identified as having a low voter turnout. 


Commissioner Phair asked the Deputy Director to ask the Director to try to forward the Budget to the Commission as soon as possible, at least before the Budget meeting.  The Commissioner requested that the information given to the Commission be in the exact same format as what is given to the Mayor and Controller.


President Gleason asked if the State called a special election, will the City be reimbursed for the expense.  Deputy Director Kuzina replied that some of the costs might be reimbursed but there is no guarantee and in the past the amount of reimbursement has only been approximately ten percent. 



5.   Commissioners’ Reports
● Meetings with public officials

      Commissioner Matthews reported that on January 14, 2009, as authorized by the Elections Commission, he met with members of the Civil Grand Jury to answer any of their concerns regarding their report about the Elections Department.  At this point in tonight’s meeting there was discussion regarding whether Commissioner Matthews should keep confidential the questions he was asked and his responses to those questions (as the Civil Grand Jury asked him to do), it was the consensus of the Elections Commission that the Commissioner relay to the Commission what he was asked and his responses to the Civil Grand Jury.  Commission Matthews reported that the Civil Grand Jury was focused on two concerns that were also concerns in past Civil Grand Jury reports (2003, 2007 and 2008).  One focus was pollworker education and whether it was sufficient.   Commissioner Matthews replied that it was, generally speaking, sufficient and superior to other counties.  Another focus was the “upside down” issue of staffing and employment in the Department of Elections – too many temporary staff and not enough permanent staff.  The third focus was the consolidation of space.  Commissioner Matthews reported that some of the members of the Civil Grand Jury were skeptical of the need to consolidate space for the DoE.  Commissioner Matthews replied to these concerns by repeating the Elections Commission’s official response to these issues as written in our previous responses to Civil Grand Jury Reports and that the Commission defers to the operational needs and operational preferences of the Director of Elections.


      Public Comment.  Brent Turner said that his memory of the Civil Grand Jury report was that it was scathing regarding electronic systems.


6.  Discussion and possible action regarding final Commission observations, research or investigations needed for evaluation of the November 4, 2008 Consolidated Presidential Election.   From the November 19, 2008 meeting regarding observations and evaluation of the Election Plan.  Commissioners Yu and Safont will report their observations of the IRIS report, looking specifically at pollworker issues and Commissioner Yeung will report his observations of the election.


      Commissioner Yeung explained that his assignment for the election had been to examine the complaints logged regarding language access on the IRIS report.  The Commissioner’s investigation of the IRIS data base indicated that the Elections Department did an outstanding job with regards to responding to language access issues.  Of the more than 1700 complaints logged in IRIS, only one percent (22) involved language access.  Nearly all of these involved a missing bi-lingual pollworker.  The average response time, from the time that the complaint was logged to the time that a bi-lingual pollworker was dropped off at a site was under forty minutes, some were under fifteen minutes and one was under ten minutes.  This was very impressive.


      Commissioner Yu explained that she and Commissioner Safont were to review  pollworkers issues from the IRIS report.  Since Commissioner Safont is absent, this report will be calendared for the next Elections Commission meeting.


      Public Comment.  Brent Turner said that the visual aids produced by the DoE regarding ranked choice voting are helpful to voters, especially those who speak English as a second language and suggested that someone like Steven Hill could offer his expertise in helping the Department with this outreach.


7.   Discussion and possible action to approve the Minutes of the December 17, 2008 Elections Commission Meeting.  Commissioner Matthews MOVED and Commissioner Yeung SECONDED approval of the minutes.  Commissioner Phair offered minor corrections and President Gleason had a concern regarding a comment by Commissioner Townsend on page 6 regarding whether there was a complainant who objected to electronic devices being used at polling places by voters.  Commissioner Townsend is not present at this meeting to check the record of his comments. 


      The Minutes of December 17, 2008 are held over to the next meeting for corrections and approval.


  1. Discussion and possible action regarding final evaluation of the Election Plan for the November 4, 2008 Consolidated Presidential Election.  Commissioner Matthews asked that in the absence of the final reports from Commissioners Yu and Safont, and the absence of the communication that the Director of Elections was to provide to the Commission pertaining to the Department’s compliance, and any changes, to the Election Plan, this item be held over.  President Gleason agreed to hold over this item, and referred to a report regarding uncounted ballots found in Humboldt County which he will provide to the Commission for review.


            Public Comment.  Brent Turner said that with the Humboldt County system, the first count of ballots will differ from a second count, especially with the current systems, and this destroys voter confidence.


  1. Elections Commission Secretary.  Commissioner Rosabella Safont.  President Gleason requested that this item be held over until Commissioner Safont, who is absent for this meeting, can be present.  THIS ITEM IS HELD OVER.


  1.   President Gleason thanked the Commission for the opportunity to serve as President over the past year and announced that he will be absent for the February meeting due to a family commitment.  This will be the first time in his five years on the Elections Commission, that Commissioner Gleason will miss a meeting.


      Commissioner Matthews thanked President Gleason for his years of service to the Commission. 


      Commissioner Matthews nominated Commissioner Joseph Phair for President.  There were no further nominations.  The Roll Call Vote was UNANIMOUS to elect Commissioner Phair as President of the Elections Commission.


      Commissioner Matthews nominated Commissioner Rosabella Safont for Vice President.  There were no further nominations.  The Roll Call Vote was UNANIMOUS to elect Commissioner Safont as Vice President of the Elections Commission.


11.    Discussion and possible action regarding annual performance review of Director of Elections.  Commissioner Matthews recalled that at a previous meeting Commissioner Safont, with her background of serving on the Civil Service Commission, was to give the Commission guidance for the annual performance review.  Commissioner Phair recalled that last year the Commission developed a list of criteria to be used for the Director’s review.  Commissioner Phair agreed with Commissioner Matthews that this item be held over to the next meeting when materials for the review could be distributed to Commission members and the Commission can meet in closed session to complete the annual performance review of the Director of Elections.


The Commission Secretary is to send to each Commissioner a copy of the Department Head Performance Plan and Appraisal Report.


Commissioner Phair suggested that the Director look at the form, and meet with the Commission in closed session to give his evaluation of his standing and maybe offer input regarding whether criteria are appropriate or need to be modified.


Commissioner Phair MOVED that the Commission and the Director discuss a six month review of his performance, to date, on the criteria previously adopted.  This review to occur at the February 18, 2009 meeting.   Commissioner Matthews SECONDED the motion.


The Roll Call Vote was UNANIMOUS.


Commissioner Yeung asked for a clarification regarding whether there has been any previous performance reviews of the Director of Elections.  It was determined that there have not been previous performance reviews.


12.    Discussion regarding items for future agendas.  Discussions concluded that no additional items other than those held over from or mentioned at this meeting which need to be calendared for the February 18, 2009 meeting.




ADJOURNMENT at 8:30 pm.