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Meeting Information

Elections Commission

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Minutes of



San Francisco Elections Commission


Assistant Secretary of State for Elections, Susan Lapsley

and ES&S’ V.P./Regional Account Manager, Lou Dedier

 Regarding Status of Current Voting System


Held at City Hall, Room 048

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Approved: September 6, 2006




1.   CALL TO ORDER.  President Matthews called the meeting to order at 4:14 pm.


2.   ROLL CALL.  PRESENT: Commissioners Gerard Gleason, Richard P. Matthews, Arnold Townsend, Jennifer Meek, Michael Mendelson, and Victor Hwang, Director John Arntz and Deputy City Attorney Ann O’Leary.


3.   Public Comment on any issue within the Elections Commission’s general jurisdiction.  Steven Hill said that the letter from ES&S (which is attached to these minutes) states that they will be testing the Eagle machine.  He asked if this means the 4C is not being tested and can possibly be used for the November 2006 election?   


4.   [The following item was taken out of order] Discussion and possible action to hold certain future meetings of the Elections Commission at locations around the City for the purpose of community outreach. (Commissioner Arnold Townsend)

The Commissioner reminded the members that last year several Commission meetings were held away from City Hall to maximize the number of times the City’s voting equipment could be shown to voters as well as to increase the Commission’s contact with citizen’s who may or may not get to City Hall for a Commission meeting.  Last year those meetings were held in communities that would be using RCV (Ranked Choice Voting) for the first time at the November 2005 election.


Commissioner Townsend suggested that this be done again for the November 2006 election, and he hoped to get community organizations to host an Elections Commission meeting.  The goal would be to get a turnout of those organizations’ members and others from the community.  He added that the political clubs be notified of the meetings as well.  The Commissioner reminded the members that the coming election would involve the even-numbered districts.  He suggested that for the months of September and October, one of the two regularly scheduled meetings be held in City Hall and the other be held at a community location.  He said that he would work with the Commission Secretary to get a location for the meeting in September.


Commissioner Mendelson MOVED that Commissioner Townsend work with Shirley Rodriques, Commission Secretary to develop a regular off-site schedule of meetings in communities for Election Commission meetings. 


Commissioner Hwang informed the Commission that the Immigrant Rights Commission has been holding “rotating” meetings in various communities in San Francisco that have been well attend.  One of those meetings was in District Ten.  He suggested that the Commission contact the Immigrant Rights Commission for more information.


President Matthews said that his concerns were that the public has easy access via public transportation and public parking to the regular meetings at City Hall.  He said that this might not be the case at a community location, and reminded the Commission that most of the meetings off-site last year were poorly attended unless they were in conjunction with another community event. 


Commissioner Townsend said that his reason for having community meetings was to demonstrate the accessibility of the Elections Commission. 


Public Comment.  Steven Hill said that the subject of RCV should be on the agenda of any community meeting.  David Pilpel said that responsibility for the community located meetings should be given to Commissioner Townsend and the Commission Secretary.  He reminded the Commission that a fifteen day notice must be posted before any meeting off-site could occur.  Mr. Pilpel also said that it would be advisable not to handle regular commission business at off-site meetings.


ACTION:  It was decided that the first off-site meeting for the November 2006 election be held on Wednesday September 20 and the second one on October 18, 2006.


5.   Discussion and possible action on status of current voting system used by the Department of Elections.  This item will include an update on the status of certification of the entire voting system for Ranked Choice Voting.  The Commission has invited Susan Lapsley of the Secretary of State’s Office and Lou Dedier of Elections Systems & Software to appear.

President Matthews announced that Ms. Lapsley along with Bruce McDannold of the Secretary of State’s Office were delayed.  He said that Lou Dedier would not be attending but had submitted a written report.  President Matthews summarized the Dedier report as follows (a copy of the memorandum is attached to these minutes):

  1. August 30, 2006 is the date the equipment will be tested in Omaha, Nebraska.
  2. The SoS has issued public notice for September 19, 2006 as the date for the hearing on the certification.
  3. Mr. Dedier has invited a Commissioner to attend the testing in Omaha.


President Matthews welcomed Susan Lapsley and Bruce McDannold to the meeting.  Ms. Lapsley said that her office has been urging ES&S since April 2006 to get their equipment tested, and that Director Arntz had been part of those conversations.  An actual application from ES&S was not received until August 3, 2006.  Information about the protocols for testing, what needed to be done regarding RCV and a testing schedule was formulated.  The actual testing will happen on August 30 and 31st in Omaha, and public hearings will take place in Sacramento on September 19.  There is one week of written public comment from people who are unable to attend the September 19th hearing, and then it is up to the Secretary of State to make his decision. 


Commissioner Mendelson asked Ms. Lapsley if ES&S had been responsive, and respectful, as the City’s vendor, to her office.  Ms. Lapsley said that the office had some frustration with ES&S, because, from a “very early point we’ve been saying ‘you’ve got to get an application.  This has to go through testing.’” 


Ms. Lapsley said the SoS issued ten new requirements for voting systems last October.  She said that the SoS made it clear to ES&S that the previous certification was a conditional one from April 2004, and that the previous SoS had said it would review the system and make a determination regarding a permanent certification.  Another conditional certification was granted in March 2005, and it was valid until December 31, 2005.  There was no permanent status ever given to the certification.  Ms. Lapsley said it was frustrating that ES&S did not contact the SoS until May 26, 2006. 


Ms. Lapsley said she had read the transcript of the ES&S presentation to the San Francisco Elections Commission by Mr. Dedier, and that she understands he has said that the SoS was responsible for “dragging our feet”, but the truth was the SoS had been “asking all along for an application for testing” from ES&S.


Commissioner Gleason said the letter from ES&S talks about testing the Eagle machine, but not the RCV components, it doesn’t mention the PCM card (that captures the image) and the C4 or AutoMark (which is needed for the HAVA requirements).  Ms. Lapsley replied that the testing will be for the “whole suite of products, plus RCV”.  She reminded the Commission that the Eagle, by itself, without the RCV component, is already certified. Ms. Lapsley said that ES&S has two applications:  The whole suite is one, and the Eagle with RCV is the other.  If portion of the application fails, historically, a certification for everything that did not fail can be granted. 


Public Comment.  Steven Hill gave his view of the parties responsible for the delay in certification and his warnings about the delay.   


Director Arntz reminded the Commission that the Secretary of State has been examining many kinds of election equipment in the last six months and has made every effort to accommodate different vendors and different counties.  He said that the fact that the SoS was trying to consolidate the RCV testing with the ES&S testing next week, is an example of the state’s efforts to make sure that the system is working properly for RCV and certifiable.  The SoS has been making a great effort to get RCV going in San Francisco for November.


Chris Jerdonek asked if a non-RCV component of the Eagle fails in the testing, will that mean San Francisco will not be able to use the Eagle in the election?  Susan Lapsley responded that the “Eagle is a separate unit without RCV that is already certified.  What we are testing is the functionality of the RCV relating to the Eagle.  That is a very limited test, that’s what we’re testing.”   David Pipel said that the meeting today was very helpful in understanding the equipment and the testing requirements.  He said that he had concerns about explaining RCV procedures to users of the AutoMark for November.


Bruce McDannold said that he had not yet been given the technical documentation of how the AutoMark will accommodate RCV from ES&S.  He has insisted that this is part of the testing, and the SoS expects to see a demonstration of this accommodation, and in the languages that San Francisco uses next week in Omaha.


David Pilpel said that his concern was whether the Department would be able to meet its accessibility requirement if the AutoMark can’t accomplish the RCV component in the testing.


5.   Public Comment on any issue within the Elections Commission’s general jurisdiction.  David Pilpel suggested that the Commission look into whether ES&S has properly performed its contracted responsibilities, and if not, the Department seek damages and any other opportunities against them, and that the Department look at another company immediately after the November election for our election equipment.  Steven Hill said it has been a challenge to get information to the Commission that he thinks is helpful. 


ADJOURNMENT at 5:17 pm






Louis W. Dedier

Vice President, Regional Account Manager West US

Election Systems & Software

3349 Feltham Way

Sacramento, California 95827

Office 916 361-2107


Mr. Richard P. Mathews


San Francisco Election Commission


Regarding: RCV UPDATE


I wanted to take an opportunity to provide further information on Election System & Software’s development of a ranked choice voting solution for use in the upcoming November election,. ES&S has been meeting with officials in the Secretary of State’s office on a continual basis, and importantly, we have outlined a testing plan for the San Francisco ranked choice voting system in its entirety.

The testing platform provided for the upcoming testing shall be a general election with RCV contained within. This testing will be performed using a limited number of precinct and we will also demonstrate a split precinct within the purposed testing platform.


The system used for the testing will be an Eagle Machine from the San Francisco inventory, testing is set to take place next week August 30, 2006, the Secretary of States office has already issue a public notice for the certification slated for September 19, 2006.  At this time ES&S in continually test preparation for the upcoming testing event with the Secretary of State Office who has been extremely responsive in working through this issue.


I will continue to keep the San Francisco Election Commission updated with ES&S’ progress, at this time we would ask if you or one of your other members would like to attend the testing in Omaha, we will also extend this invite to Mr. John Arntz, please let us know if you would like to attend and we can help with accommodation and direction to the testing location. Thank you to you, and to the commission, for your ongoing support for these efforts. We look forward to smooth running elections in November and obtaining certification of the purposed system after the September 19, 2006 public meeting.



Louis Dedier

VP, Regional Account Manager

“Maintaining Voter Confidence. Enhancing the Voting Experience.”

11208 John Galt Boulevard, Omaha, Nebraska 68137-2364 USA

PHONE: (402) 970-1156 ■ Toll Free: 1 (800) 247-8683 Ext. 1156 ■ FAX: (402) 970-1291

Equal Opportunity Employer/Affirmative Action Employer