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Meeting Information

Voter Outreach Committee

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Voter Outreach and Participation Committee

Elections Commission

July 20, 2004




  1. CALL TO ORDER:  Chair, John Trasviña, called the meeting to order at 5:30



  1. ROLL CALL:  Present were Commissioner Eric Safire, Commissioner John

Trasviña, Director John Arntz and Deputy City Attorney Julia Moll, and in the audience was Commission President Arnold Townsend. 


3.         Commissioner John Trasviña summarized the presentation made prior to the meeting being called to order.  The Commission Secretary’s notes of the presentation are appended to these minutes.


4.         Discussion and possible recommendation that Commissioner Arnold Townsend become the liaison between the DoE and the Mayor for the consolidation of the DoE offices and necessary activities into one location.


Commissioner Townsend explained that the Commission is requesting a permanent site, away from City Hall, because the location needs to be capable of housing all the current off-site locations of the DoE, and handling all the everyday activities necessary for elections as well as the increased activities that accompany election time.  


Commissioner Safire explained that he felt the Commissioner should ask the Mayor’s office what would be required for the Commission to make a proposal.


Commissioner Townsend said that he would do this and asked the director how much square footage was needed.  Mr. Arntz responded that the Department needs 60,000 square feet.  Commissioner Townsend suggested that it would expedite the search if the department and the Commission helped in the search for real estate properties.


Commissioner Trasviña said that he had read the Grand Jury Report and he asked the Director what has been the response since the report.  Mr. Arntz said that the response has been that there is no money.  Mr. Arntz said that the Department had identified several locations and that when a site was presented to the Real Estate Office, he was told that there was no money.  He said that he was told that if the DoE could show a “zero” cost for the move by consolidating all the locations into one location, then that would be the case to allow the move.  However, he said,  the Department can’t show a “zero” cost because this depends on the lease.  There would be a lot of cost savings, but there are also many savings that are intangible, for example, the security of the ballots, which are now in three locations.


Commissioner Townsend suggested that the Commission may need to be more proactive with the Mayor’s Office to get their support beyond the fiscal issues.  He said that this is where the Grand Jury can help.  


Commissioner Trasviña asked the Deputy City Attorney what the Commission needs to do procedurally to lobby the Mayor and the Board of Supervisors for a single location for the DoE.  


Ms. Moll said that individual Commissioners who have relationships with the Mayor or members of the Board of Supervisors are free to go individually or in groups, as long as there is no quorum of the Commission or one of its Committees.  She suggested that the Commission ask the Director, since he’s had experience with the Real Estate Office, where is the best place to start.


Commissioner asked if the Commission is on record supporting the proposal for a single location for the Department of Elections.  Commissioner Townsend said that the Commission is on record in support of this request.


Commissioner Trasviña asked the Director if the portion of the Grand Jury Report of 2003 was still correct about the DoE needing to vacate Pier 29 by the spring of 2004.  Mr. Arntz said that the DoE is still at Pier 29 because the Mills Project has been stalled, but the move will need to take place because the Department is on borrowed time.  Commissioner Trasviña asked if the move would happen before the November 2004 election.   Mr. Arntz replied that the move would not happen before that time.


Public Comment:  Dennis MacKenzie said that he had provided a letter to the Committee which mentions the suggestion of a non-profit organization to help raise funds for the new site. 


Commissioner Townsend suggested that the Commission take up one of the suggestions of creating a “Friends of the Department, non-profit entity” that was mentioned at the March meeting regarding ways to improve voter turnout.  Commissioner Safire reminded the Commissioner that it had been decided, after discussions with the Director, to concentrate first on putting the Department under one roof before attempting to start any other programs because a central location from which to operate was necessary.  


Commissioner Townsend said that the “Friends” would operate outside the Department and outside the Commission.


Ms. Moll reminded the members that during the discussion on this topic at a previous meeting it had been determined that any monies raised by a private non-profit would not be earmarked for the Department, but would go into the City’s General Fund.  This was one of the main reasons the topic was abandoned.


ADJOURNMENT at 6:00 pm







Notes From Presentation by Department of Elections Regarding Voter Outreach.



Charles McNulty, Page Rockwell, Dennis MacKenzie identified themselves from the audience.


Dennis MacKenzie presented a letter to the Commissioners re: voter outreach and asked that someone from the Commission contact him regarding the contents of his letter soon.


Report from the Department of Elections:


Page Rockwell reported that the DoE continues to make ranked choice voting presentations to the community and contact community based organizations to get their assistance in making similar presentations.  One of the purposes of the Department’s presentations is to educate the community-based organizations to whom the DoE will be awarding grants.  Grant recipients will use the information to help the DoE educate voters.  The grant for ethnic media outreach has been awarded to New California Media.  The first Spanish presentation of the educational materials is targeted for August 4 and the first Chinese presentation will be July 28th – both will be on Wednesdays, in City Hall room 416 at 10:00 am.


The Department’s informational materials will be made available also to libraries and will include a tri-fold flyer and a demonstration ballot.  In addition, there will be posters regarding RCV in post offices and kiosks.   Other languages in which the Department hopes to have materials translated are Tagalog, Russian and Vietnamese.  There will be a city-wide mailing to every registered voter in September.


In August, there will be a dedicated RCV Website with interactive capabilities in addition to the Department’s site.


The awarding of grants to community-based organizations is proceeding and the contracts will be finalized soon.  It is planned that these organizations will keep a running count of the number of people to whom they make their presentations.  


Director John Arntz reported that the Ballot Simplification Committee began looking at the RCV materials in order to give its insight today.  He reported that the BSC now has three confirmed members but was hoping to get a fourth member.   




Letter from Dennis G. MacKenzie



July 20, 2004


Honorable Arnold Townsend, President, and

Election Commission Members:

Honorable Robert Kenealey

Honorable Gerard Gleason

Honorable Michael Mendelson

Honorable John Trasvina

Honorable Eric Safire


San Francisco Election Commission

City and County of San Francisco

City Hall, Room 421

1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place

San Francisco, CA   94102


          Re:    Budget and Policy Committee, July 20, 2004 / Agenda item #5; Update of the budget process and progress of items passed by the Commission and recommended to the Board of Supervisors.


Dear Commissioners,


I appreciate the opportunity to share several thoughts regarding potential methods to maximize the use of General Fund money of the City and County of San Francisco, in relation to the budget of the Department of Elections.


In the June 15, 2004 ‘Voter Outreach and Participation Committee’, it was suggested by Commissioners that one specific focus should be to consolidate the offices of the Department of Elections, in order to increase efficiency and reduce the departments’ budget.   As I mentioned in that meeting during Public Comment (Item #3 / Discussion of the goals of the Committee), I believe that consolidation of the department’s operations would not only create a more efficient use of space and monetary savings, it could increase and improve the essential security issues in handling thousands of ballots throughout the city during the entire elections cycle process as well.


Also, I believe this fundamental issue of housing most of the department’s operations under one roof can serve to develop a comprehensive educational component, capable of addressing the citizens numerous requests to expand voter outreach and education, and increase voter turnout.   As the Department of Elections pursues this attempt to find a suitable location and facility, I respectfully request that Elections Director John Arntz, the Elections Commission, Mayor Gavin Newsom and all members of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, support the concept of creating a small educational space within this new facility that can house an Elections Education and Voter Outreach Classroom, that can function on a Year-Round basis; including the capacity to serve as a Poll Worker Job Training & Career Guidance Center.


This classroom can coordinate the necessary education of our San Francisco high school and college age students, as well as seniors, Youth Guidance Center juvenile justice system youth, and other at-risk-youth organizations.   I believe all of our Public Service Agencies, Departments, elected and appointed officials, as well as our private sector business and non-profit foundations leaders, need to assist in providing far-sighted, comprehensive educational programs.  Through coordination with our High School, Community College and University systems, more efficient and effective ways to instill within our youth, the importance of becoming involved in our elections process can be developed through city wide, cooperative and coordinated programs; public and private sector leaders can help our cross-cultural and diverse population of young people in their need to understand how to make positive, creative, and constructive change through our democratic process. 


Through developing a practical understanding through first hand experience, and face-to-face communication with our public service officials, our students and citizens can learn how important it is to elect honest, intelligent leaders that they can trust and believe will deal effectively and successfully with all the challenges that our city – and our Nation - faces today.   As we continue to struggle with our current inability to deal effectively with the violence and lack of jobs for many youth and citizens of San Francisco, I believe it’s the responsibility of all our public and private sector officials to create innovative, long range plans and strategies that can inspire and instill the self-discipline and confidence necessary for all students to understand and develop - in order to become mature and socially responsible, contributing citizens.


Once again, thank you Commissioners for your time; and I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience, and working for the City and County of San Francisco in the most beneficial capacity possible.






Dennis G. MacKenzie



Ms. Shirley Rodriquez, Secretary, San Francisco Elections Commission

Mr. John Arntz, Director, San Francisco Department of Elections

Ms. Julia Moll, Deputy City Attorney, City and County of San Francisco

Honorable Gavin Newsom, Mayor, City and County of San Francisco

Honorable Matt Gonzalez, President, San Francisco Board of Supervisors, and Members

     C/o Ms. Gloria Young, Clerk of the Board, San Francisco Board of Supervisors