To view graphic version of this page, refresh this page (F5)

Skip to page body

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 400

January 18, 2006


1.   CALL TO ORDER.  President Matthews called the meeting to order at 7:03 pm.


2.   ROLL CALL.  PRESENT: Commissioners Gerard Gleason, Richard P. Matthews, Arnold Townsend, Sheila Chung, Eric Safire (arrived at 7:10 pm), and Jennifer Meek.  EXCUSED: Michael Mendelson.


3.   Public CommentDavid Pilpel reported that he met with Linda Tulett regarding presentation of the budget.  Jim Soper, Chris Jerdonek, and Steven Hill spoke regarding concerns about completing certification of the new voting system.  Chandra Friese voiced her objections to the purchase of new voting equipment. 



     Preview of Supplemental Budget Request and Budget for Fiscal Year 2006-2007.  Director Arntz reported that the status of the supplemental budget request hasn’t changed since his last report and that once the Sequoia Voting Systems contract is completed later this week, the budget request information will be brought up to date.  He suggested that the Commission hold a Budget and Policy Committee meeting anytime after the week of January 23rd for consideration of the Supplemental Budget request and if the Committee desires to consider the baseline budget for 2006 through 2007, that information would be ready as well.  This would allow the full Commission to consider both budgets at its February 15, 2006 meeting. 


      Director Arntz reminded the Commission that the Controller’s personnel audit, once it is completed, would affect the budget. 


     Update on the Independent Testing Authority’s certification process.  The SoS (Secretary of State’s Office) has received the application from Sequoia for the system the DoE will use for the June 2006 Primary Election.  The system has been tested according to the 2002 requirements.  The Director stated that he does expect to have the system in place for the June election.  An optical scanning voting machine and one touch screen system will be at each polling place for that election. 


      Commissioner Gleason asked the Director if the three issues being examined by the testing authority were: decline to state reporting, Chinese characters for the touch screens, and the upgrade to 2002 requirements.  Mr. Arntz responded that he has been focusing on the 2002 requirements (which the current equipment does not meet), the Chinese character requirement and the reports for the non-partisans in the primary.


      Commissioner Chung asked if there is a time line for the submission of the RCV module to the testing authority for the November election.  Mr. Arntz said that part of that information will be in the contract which is now being finalized and that “the sooner, the better, prior to the June election” is his opinion. 


      Commissioner Meek asked about a back up plan in case the certification is not given.  Mr. Arntz said there is the hand count that could be implemented.  However, it is too soon to worry about that happening, and he feels it will not be necessary.


      President Matthews asked Director Arntz to address the reasons for the change of election equipment vendors.  Mr. Arntz answered that the ES&S contract expired in January 2005.  The City required that an RFP (request for proposals) be made. There was a January 1, 2006 deadline for the DoE to receive money from the state in the form of Prop. 41 funds.  There was a concern that all voting systems in the state would need to meet the 2002 testing requirements in time for the June 2006 Primary Election – which the ES&S contract did not meet.  In fact, ES&S said that it would not upgrade its equipment to meet those requirements.  Additionally, the City had to include an ADA accessible voting unit in each polling place. 


      Commissioner Gleason asked if some of the counties will be getting waivers to not meet the 2002 requirements by the primary election.  The Director answered that the ES&S system could not be used with the touch screen system.  Commissioner Gleason asked if changes in RCV voting would require testing.  The Director responded that changes would require testing, and emphasized that any counties that “stay with the eagle (ES&S system) can’t make any changes to it because it will never meet the new requirements.”


      Commissioner Townsend asked for further clarification and asked in the event that the City wanted to change RCV to allow people to vote for one, two or none without having  ballots rejected by the machine as having an error, would the City need to have this change tested by the testing authority.  The Director answered in the affirmative.  


  1. .  Commissioner Gleason announced that there has been a tentative date set for a forum, tentatively titled: The Current and Future State of Voting Systems – Ensuring Openness and Accountability in Voting Systems.  The date is Wednesday, March 29, 2006 at 6:00 pm, at the Main Branch of the San Francisco Public Library, Larkin Street, in the Koret Meeting Room.  The scope of the forum will specifically not include any discussion of the current voting systems being used or being considered for use by the San Francisco Department of Elections to meet current HAVA requirements.  In addition, Commissioner Gleason commented that, it is acknowledged that the Director of Elections has stated that any voting system currently being considered for use will be a paper based, paper audit system.


6.   Demonstration by Sequoia Voting Systems of equipment to be used in the June 6, 2006 Primary Election.  Ms. Sheree R. Noell, Western Regional Sales Manager of Sequoia Voting Systems, explained that each individual hardware component has been tested to the 2002 standards by the ITA (Independent Testing Authority).  The end-to-end testing of the system is expected to begin the last week of January.  Ms. Noell said that state testing is being worked out with the SoS and will be done simultaneously and is anticipated to be scheduled in February.  President Matthews asked if the system had a solution for RCV.  Ms. Noell answered that Sequoia has a solution and is working with the City in its contract negotiations which prevented her from giving more information at this time.  The voting equipment was demonstrated.


      Jim Soper asked if there was any executable code on the cards used with the voting machines.  Ms. Noell replied that there was none to her knowledge.   Roger Donaldson asked if the paper trail roll had ever been used for an audit.  Ms. Noell replied that it had been used in Nevada and several California counties. 


7.   Discussion and Possible Action to assign oversight roles to Elections Commissioners for the June 6, 2006 Primary Election.  President Matthews explained that this item is being considered earlier in the year than in the past because if Commissioners want to get involved as workers in an election, signing up for some positions and preparations for training must be made well in advance.  He added that getting involved with the work of election day provides Commissioners a good basis for oversight. 


      Commissioner Townsend asked if the members could be provided a list of jobs that they can perform with explanations of those duties.  He suggested that this item be on the next Commission agenda so that members will have a better idea of how they want to participate in the June Primary Election Day.


      Commissioner Safire asked if there might be a conflict of interest when a Commissioner worked at a polling place on Election Day and if a Commissioner could be paid to do so.  Commissioner Townsend answered that members could be paid and added that, in the past, some Commissioners donated their pay to worthy causes, and others who didn’t get paid sometimes matched those donations. 


      Commissioner Gleason suggested that the Commissioners work at the precinct level during Election Day to get a better understanding of how the system operates on that level.


      Commissioner Chung suggested that the Commissioners work as FEDs because of her experience in doing so.  Although the hours were long (23 to 24 hours), the experience of working with ten to thirteen precincts gives one a good sense of all the activities.


      It was agreed to continue this item to the February Elections Commission agenda.


8.   Discussion and possible action concerning what the Commission can do to ensure that the Department’s budget is adequate.  President Matthews asked the Director if there was anything other then the Budget and Policy Committee’s consideration of the Supplemental and Baseline Budgets in the upcoming weeks that the Commission could do to assist the Department.  Director Arntz asked the members to let him know if they need any further information on the budget.  Commissioner Townsend asked the Director about the Department’s current status with the Controller’s Office.   Director Arntz answered that the Controller expects to complete the audit the first week in February. 


9.   Unfinished Business

      Commissioners’ Reports of their observations and activities on Election Day.  Presentation of remaining reports of Commissioners on their Election Day activities for the November 15, 2005 Election.   Commissioner Safire reported that he observed the inability of the voting equipment to react to the uncontested candidacy of the City Attorney at the polling place where the Commissioner voted.  He reported the problem to Director Arntz and the problem was corrected.



10.  New Business

Discussion and possible action to approve the minutes for the Commission meeting of December 21, 2005.  Commissioner Townsend MOVED and Commissioner Chung SECONDED this item.  Motion CARRIED unanimously.


11.    Discussion regarding items for future agendas.  Commissioner Townsend suggested that the Commission plan and organize a series of community meetings, similar to those held for the implementation of Ranked Choice Voting, in each district, if possible, before the June Primary Election, even if two meetings per months are needed.  These meetings would have a demonstration of the new voting equipment at a well publicized location.  Commissioner Gleason said that he was uncomfortable waiting until February 15th to get an update of the certification of the new voting equipment and learning the progress with other California counties.  He requested an earlier meeting or updates.


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

      Chris Jerdonek observed that improving the reporting for under and over votes did not require a change to the voting equipment, and would not trigger more testing..  He said he wanted the information to appear on the Department’s website more clearly.  Jim Soper read from a letter he said was handed out at the SoS office in Sacramento earlier in the day, and he said the paper trail does not meet disability requirements.  Steven Hill said that his past experience with certification causes him to worry about the upcoming certification and the possible problems. 


  •    Announcements

President Matthews read from an email from Charles Marsteller of ideas to reduce the costs of elections, and read a letter the Mayor requested be read at all City Commissions reminding everyone that the City is facing a significant budget deficit.





ADJOURNMENT at 8:33 pm.