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Meeting Information

Budget and Policy Committee

2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 


(Approved:   August 2, 2006)

City and County of San Francisco


                                                   BUDGET AND POLICY COMMITTEE

City Hall, Room 421

Minutes of the Meeting Held

Wednesday, April 25, 2006




1.         Call to Order and Roll Call.  Commissioner Gerard Gleason, Chair, called the meeting to order at 5:15 pm.  Commissioner Richard Matthews, Commissioner Sheila Chung, Deputy City Attorney Miguel Marquez and Deputy Director Linda Tulett were present.


2.         Discussion and possible action to approve the Budget and Policy Committee minutes for Wednesday, March 30, 2006.


            Commissioner Matthews MOVED and Commissioner Chung SECONDED approval of the minutes for March 30, 2006.  The roll call vote was UNANIMOUS to approve the minutes. 


  1. Discussion and possible action to approve the Election Plan for the June 7, 2006 Consolidated Primary Election.  Commissioner Chung MOVED and Commissioner Matthews SECONDED the approval of the Election Plan for the June 7, 2006 election.


Commissioner Matthews asked for a clarification of the difference in the numbers for “precincts” and the numbers for “polling places”.  Deputy Director Tulett explained that there are 561 polling places and 578 precincts, and the difference is the number of mail ballot precincts. 


Commissioner Matthews asked that there be an addition to the “Critical Dates and Deadlines” section to include the ten-day public review period, that is the window that citizens have to contest ballot designations.  He requested that the dates be listed in the current Election Plan and in future plans.


Commissioner Matthews stated that the state Election Code requires a 1% hand count of elections and that some counties have voluntarily increased this percentage.  He asked what would be involved, in terms of resources, for the San Francisco Department of Elections (DoE) to increase its hand count to 3% or 5%.  Ms. Tulett replied that the Department would need to form additional teams to accomplish the count within the mandated 28-day period.  This would, of course, also depend on the turnout, the precincts that are randomly selected, and the number of issues on the ballot.  The Commissioner asked her to give this request some thought, particularly since this year the City will be using portions of a new system, and public comment at previous Elections Commission meetings have shown a concern regarding confidence in the new system.


Commissioner Chung asked the Deputy Director how many team members were involved in the hand count for the November 2005 election.  Ms. Tulett explained that she didn’t have the numbers from November, but that typically there are four people on each team, and that there was probably no less than five teams functioning at the last election.  She reminded the Commissioners that the ballot styles were simpler for last November’s election.


Commissioner Matthews asked that the Department include approximate dates for the following items currently in the plan:  Pollworker Training and Recruitment, Logic and Accuracy Testing, Testing of Vote Tabulations Used in Precinct Polling Places (Need information on the testing and location of the AutoMARK) and Testing of Vote Tabulators to be Used for Absentee Ballots.


Chairperson Gerard Gleason presented his written list of suggestions for the Election Plan.  (These minutes have his suggestions attached.)  The Commissioner said that the plan is excellent and that he was impressed to see all the work that has been done regarding the explanation of the remake process, and the pollworker training lab. 


Chairperson Gleason asked the Deputy Director for an explanation of the AutoMARK and the assisted voter issue.  The Deputy Director explained that this issue is covered in the outreach presentations.  She said that voters will be handed a “secrecy sleeve” in which to put their AutoMARK ballot, and that “secrecy sleeve” has a detailed explanation of what happens to their ballot.  


Commissioner Chung asked if the number of languages, in which election information is provided, changes with each election.  The Deputy Director answered that the City is mandated by the Voting Rights Act to provide material in Spanish and Chinese, but San Francisco tries to include materials in Russian, and a few materials are printed in Vietnamese and Tagalog, but not all of the outreach materials are provided these additional languages.    Because the Department goes above and beyond the Department of Justice’s mandate regarding the number of languages services are provided, the Commissioner said, she would like to see this mentioned in the election plan. 


ACTION:  A roll call vote was UNANIMOUS to move the Election Plan, with the additions and changes suggested by the members of the Budget and Policy Committee, to the full Elections Commission for approval.



ADJOURNMENT at 5:32 pm.








Proposed additions and changes to June 3, 2006 Election Plan:    CommissionerGerard Gleason.


Page 2

Section II : New Equipment


The explanation of the AutoMARK device is fully described as a “ballot-marketing” machine and is not a tabulator and does not count votes or record any information from the ballots.


“The Department will tally votes from the Eagle and the AutoMARK independently of one another; AutoMARK ballots will be brought back to City Hall after election night and will be tallied using a central count machine.”


There should be some indication to voters using the AutoMARK that they will not have their ballots processed in the Eagle tabulator that is present at the same precinct, as are other voters who will be issued Optec Eagle ballots.  AutoMARK ballots will be secured and collected for later, central tabulation.


There seem to be 3 separate and distinct destinations for ballots issued at the precincts:

  1.       Ballots voted by voters who sign the roster at the precinct, are issued a ballot and those voted ballots are processed in the Eagle tabulator at the precinct and the votes recorded on the memory pack.
  2.       Ballots issued to voters whose names are not on the roster and vote provisional ballots.  Those ballots are seal in an envelope and collected to be tabulated at the Central Vote Count Center if found to be valid votes per provisional voting procedures.
  3.       Ballots voted by voters who sign the roster at the precinct, are issued a special ballot that will enable them to vote independently using the new AutoMARK equipment. Those special ballots are not compatible with the Optech Eagles present at the precincts and must be centrally processed using special tabulation devices which are located at the Central Vote Count Center.  That tabulation equipment is known as the M650.


San Francisco is using a hybrid mix of vote tabulation devices to meet new HAVA requirement for disabled access voting. Voters will be able to get independent, unassisted access to vote using the AutoMARK device. As the ballots are designed using specific tabulation devices, different from the Optech Eagles at the precincts, AutoMARK ballots will need to be collected and processed centrally using a separate tabulation device that will not be present at the precincts.


This important distinction must be pointed out as it deals with an issue that is central to the public Election Plan and transparent operation of our elections.  The issue is that a voter may ask the simple and proper question: “What are you doing with my voted ballot and why is it being treated differently?”


I would suggest that these issues be dealt with in two locations in the Election Plan.


#1 in Section II : New Equipment.

Possibly by adding in the current last sentence:

“…independently of one another; voted AutoMARK ballots will be secured and brought back to City Hall (after) (on) election night [or: after the polls close] and will be tallied using a central count machine.  A further, detailed explanation of this procedure will be covered in Section XII (New and Unprecedented Procedures) of this Election Plan.


#2  This situation is exactly why the “New and Unprecedented Procedures” section of the Election Plan was placed in the template.  Some type of explanation using the information above should be able to cover this important change.


Page 3

Section III   Election Summary:


One of the issues that we need to address in preparing the Election Plan is the even-handed way of dealing with political offices and political parties.  It was specifically addressed in the Election Plan template that reported numbers of registered voters, by political party, need not be part of the Election Plan, except in the case of Primary Elections that would cause specific ballots to be printed by party.  Therefore it is proper for registration numbers by party be reported in this Election Plan as this is a Primary Election.


Election Summary, subsection 1.


Partisan County Central Committees


It would be best to change to:


“Democratic Party and Republican Party


Candidates for County Council of the Green Party and County Central Committee of the Peace and Freedom Party are not on the ballot because…”


This wording is requested so that there is not shorthand or mixed terminology when dealing with the political parties.


Election Summary, subsection 2.


Voter Registration numbers: As of April 10, 2006


It may be recommended that the parties be listed in alphabetical order, followed by Non-Partisan.  As currently listed, it does appear, almost, that the list is by party with largest registered numbers, but actually are not.  There may be some valid reason to focus on largest to lowest numbers by registration since that causes specific ballot printing and processing requirements by the Department. This should be discussed and determined as to what is best, but for now it looks like there should be some reason why it appears as it does.  There is also, currently, some bolded type that looks inadvertent.


Open Primary Election


There seems to be no information on the Department’s preparations or procedures for dealing with Open Primary voting.


For the Election Plan, the Department need not explain the Open Primary processes.  It may simply be stated that this is an Open Primary and who qualifies to use the opportunity to vote in the Open Primary process is fully explained in the Voter Information Pamphlet sent to all voters, on the Department’s website, outreach programs or anywhere else the information of how to vote in the Open Primary process is available.


However a brief explanation of tasks the Department undertakes to facilitate the Open Primary should be included in the Election Plan.


For instance the Department mailed out notices to Non-Partisan Perm AV voters informing them of the opportunity to request a party-specific ballot by a certain date.


Also a brief description of how Open Primary party specific ballots, or ballots issued to non-partisan voters, are distributed/and or accounted for at the precincts.