What might an Elections Commission for Alameda County look like?

San Francisco has had a successful Elections Commission since 2002. Santa Clara County also has an elections oversight task force.  It’s long past time for a county of the size and diversity of Alameda County to have an Elections Commission. Below are the elements of what a commission for Alameda County could look like, and here is a link to statutory language for this elections commission:

What should be the features and duties of an Elections Commission in Alameda County?

  1. Oversight role for federal, state, district and municipal elections in Alameda County to ensure maximum transparency and accountability.
  1. Set general policies for the Registrar of Voters regarding conduct of elections and election administration, allowing the registrar to better oversee the day-to-day operations.
  1. Review and approve written election plans from the Registrar of Voters prior to each election. The election plan should provide details on the policies, procedures, and personnel that will be used to conduct the election
  1. Post-election review of the election to assess how well the plan succeeded in carrying out a free, fair, functional and mistake-free election.
  1. Provide feedback and oversight for the Registrar of Voters with respect to
  • Promoting the integrity, efficiency and accuracy of voter registration and election processes.
  • Encouraging the widest possible citizen participation in elections, including attending to the particular needs of new citizens and ensuring bilingual needs are met.
  • Promoting voter education and outreach.
  1. Report periodically to the Board of Supervisors and provide appropriate and timely information and advice to assist the Board’s oversight responsibilities.
  1. Monthly meetings. Convene monthly meetings for the purpose of ensuring the transparency, accountability and accuracy of elections, and to hear a “registrar’s report” about how the duties of the Registrar’s office are being executed. The Registrar of Voters, or the Deputy Registrar of Voters, shall attend these meetings, be prepared to answer questions from commissioners, and provide requested data and information for the commission to do its work.
  1. Appointments to the Elections Commission. 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 two consecutive terms. Members of the Commission shall serve without compensation, shall not hold any other County or municipal office or be an officer of a political party, or participate in any campaign supporting or opposing a candidate or ballot measure that will appear on the County or municipal ballots.

  1. Staffing of the Elections Commission. The Commission will have one half-time employee whose job will be to compose and distribute the agenda and other secretarial duties.