ELECTIONS COMMISSION for Alameda County (proposed statutory language)

(Link to a one page outline of this proposal) 

Section A. – Establishment.  There is hereby established a Voters Commission on Elections to oversee all public federal, state, district and municipal elections in Alameda County. The Commission shall set general policies for the Registrar of Voters, shall be responsible for the proper administration of the general practices of the Department and shall periodically report back to the Board of Supervisors.

Section B.  Duties.  The Commission’s duties shall include but not be limited to approving written plans prior to each election, submitted by the Registrar of Voters, detailing the policies, procedures, and personnel that will be used to conduct the election as well as a post-election assessment of how well the plan succeeded in carrying out a free, fair and functional election. The Commission shall play an oversight role for the Registrar of Voters and advisory role for the Board of Supervisors with respect to:

  1. Promoting the integrity, efficiency and accuracy of voter registration and election processes.
  2. Encouraging the widest possible voter participation in elections, including attending to the particular needs of new voters, people with disabilities, seniors, and ensuring bilingual needs are met.
  3. Promoting voter education and outreach, with special emphasis on under-participating communities, including to historically underserved communities of interest, youth and incarcerated voters.
  4. Providing appropriate and timely information and advice to the Registrar of Voters and Board of Supervisors on matters related to (1) through (3).
  5. Reviewing election plans drafted by the Registrar of Voters and conducting a post-election assessment, which will then be reported to the Board of Supervisors.

Section C.  Registrar or Deputy Registrar shall attend monthly meetings. The Registrar of Voters, and/or the Deputy Registrar of Voters, shall attend monthly Commission meetings and provide requested data and information for the Commission to do its work. The Clerk of the Board of Supervisors shall be ex officio secretary of the Commission and shall provide secretarial assistance to the Commission. The County Counsel shall provide legal guidance to the Commission.

Section D.  Membership. The Commission shall be composed of thirteen (13) members, one (1) member from each of the five (5) supervisory districts, four (4) at-large members, and four (4) organizational members. The organizational members shall be:  one (1) member from the League of Women Voters, one (1) member from Disability Rights California, one (1) member from a Language Access Group, and one (1) member from a group that specializes in voter outreach and education. The four (4) at-large members shall be nominated by the Commission, with preference given to historically underrepresented communities. The organizational members shall be nominated by their respective organizations. All thirteen (13) members will be appointed by the Board of Supervisors. The Commission shall be broadly representative of Alameda County. 

Each Commissioner shall have a term of three years, and no member shall be eligible to serve on the Commission for more than four consecutive terms.

Section E.  Organization.  The Commission will organize by electing one of its members as president and another as vice president to serve at the pleasure of the Commission. A majority of the number of filled positions shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business, and that number shall not be less than four.

Section F.  Meetings of the Commission.  The Commission shall meet monthly and the time and place of each meeting shall be specified in the notice calling the meeting. All meetings shall be open to the public and shall be subject to the Ralph M. Brown Act, Government Code, Section 54950 et seq., relating to meetings of local agencies.

Section G.  Commission member restrictions. Members of the Commission shall serve without compensation. Commission members are officers of the County and as such owe a duty of loyalty to, and must act in the best interests of, the County. Although each member of the Commission is nominated and appointed by a different  authority, the Commissioners neither represent nor owe a duty of loyalty to their appointing or nominating authority, and cannot be removed by that authority. Commissioners must use their independent judgment about what is in the best interest of the County and its various cities. Members of the Commission may be removed for reasons only of official misconduct. During his or her tenure, members and employees of the Elections Commission are subject to the following restrictions:

   (a)  Restrictions on Holding Office. No member or employee of the Elections Commission may hold any other County or city office, or be an officer of a political party.

   (b)  Restrictions on Employment. No member or employee of the Elections Commission may be a registered campaign consultant or registered lobbyist, or be employed by or receive gifts or other compensation from a registered campaign consultant or registered lobbyist. No member of the Elections Commission may hold any employment with the County or a city within the county and no employee of the Elections Commission may hold any other employment with the County or a city within the county.

   (c)  Restrictions on Political Activities. No member or employee of the Elections Commission may participate in any campaign supporting or opposing a candidate or ballot measure that will appear on the County or municipal ballot. For purposes of this section, participation in a campaign includes but is not limited to making contributions or soliciting contributions to any committee, including general purpose committees; publicly endorsing or urging endorsement of any candidate or ballot measure; or participating in decisions by organizations to participate in a campaign.