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ELECTIONS COMMITTEE MINUTES – DRAFT
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 20, 2012
MAYORS CONFERENCE ROOM, KAPOLEI HALE
CALL TO ORDER: Committee Chair Jeanette Nekota called the Finance Committee meeting to order at 1:05 p.m. with a quorum of two (2) Commissioners present. Note – This is a three (3) member committee and requires two (2) members to establish quorum and take official action. Commissioner Young is an ex-officio member.
Members Present – Jeanette Nekota and Charles Zahn.
Guests –Marie Richardson, J. Thomas Heinrich and Bryan Mick (
ROLL CALL OF COMMISSIONERS: A quorum of the members two (2) Commissioners were present.
Mick reported that the candidate website went live on Dec. 15 and as of today 80 people had registered. The current list is being updated online Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. People that have errors in their submissions are being notified and asked to resubmit. Nekota asked what was the issue was from the 2011 election that the Hawaii Kai chair had raised. Mick reported that he objected to the practice of sliding candidates into uncontested seats if they were open and eligible. That is not being done this election. Candidates can change their designation before the deadline by reapplying; we will take the last one submitted. A few people have reported issues with trying to attach their photo; it appears to be their network blocking the attachment. Zahn suggested having them convert it to a pdf if they are having problems with attaching jpegs. Nekota commented that she saw the hard copy forms were being mailed out with the recess notices. Mick explained that everything being mailed out of the NCO has a flyer about applying online and a hard copy form attached to it. When the NCO receives hard copy forms, we are inputting it into the website so all the candidates are in one database. Nekota inquired how many hard copy forms have been submitted, Mick replied only one so far. He added he is not sure which method people will use close to the deadline.
Heinrich commented that Commissioner Stubbs had emailed trying to find out if he successfully listed as a candidate. He was informed that it takes about 48 hours for the list to be updated. He also noted that former Hawaii Kai member Gary Weller has applied for the
Zahn asked if anyone had submitted a NB Voter registration form. Mick replied not yet, usually there are only a few. He explained that those have the same deadline as the candidates and added those are not able to be submitted online as they require a social security number. Mick mentioned that someone had objected to the use of the term ‘legal resident alien’ in the Plan as that may be confusing since that is used in immigration terminology. A discussion ensued about who is eligible to vote and the different ways to refer to them. It was decided that the Plan could be amended to use clearer language.
Nekota commented that the method that the State uses to conduct its elections will probably change since there were problems with the polling stations. She suspects will go to an all postal method. DeJesus asked if the language should specify that when we candidates are verified, their id cannot list a PO Box. Mick explained no ID is required to file as a candidate, a statement on the form indicates that you are swearing the residential address listed is correct. Heinrich added the only time an ID is required is when filling a vacancy, and in that case some sort of proof as to where the person resides would be required. That can be a credit card bill, rental agreement, or a utility bill, etc.
Nekota asked if the senior clerk position was now filled by Catherine Edwards. Mick replied she was and that he had opted to leave her at the office to answer phones rather then attend the meeting. Although she does not have any background in elections, she was learning on the job and doing well. Nekota asked if she was appointed as well and how the incoming Mayor would deal with the board’s election situation. Heinrich replied there was no communication from the transition team, so he couldn’t speak to that. He also mentioned that a personal services contract was used to fill the senior elections clerk position, which hopefully would lead the new mayor to keep her rather then cancelling the contract and reissuing it. That especially makes sense since the contract expires on June 30. Nekota observed that this is the one problem with the timing of the NB elections that they occur during transition periods. Heinrich added that the transition memo prepared by the NCO had the NB elections as the first item. Bullet points were also prepared for Mayor Caldwell once he sis sworn in and starts doing interviews. It was noted he is the only mayor to ever have served on a neighborhood board, in this case both Manoa and Kaimuki.
Mick explained that the duties of the Chief elections officer was to direct the elections. They are empowered to rule on any voter or candidate challenges. The chief monitoring officer is responsible for observing how the election is conducted and attesting that it is done fairly and impartially. Heinrich added that they should be designated by the Commission shortly.
Heinrich added that there were two vendors contracted for the election. Everyone Counts to handle the voter and candidates websites and alternate phone voting options, and EMSS to do printing, inserting, and mailing services. The Commission appoints the Chief elections and monitoring officer, and accepts the final results from them. The added that the challenge period was seven days after the results are certified. The results are available the next work day after the election closes since it is all done digitally.
Nekota asked what had happened with the extension of the voting period in 2011. Mick explained the City website crashes near the end of the election, and that had been the only link publicized (it led to Everyone Counts website which was active). So the voting period was extended by 48 hours. This year, both websites would be published as a backup.
Zahn pointed out that the press release and candidate form had listed February 22, 2013 as the registration deadline when it actually was February 15, 2013. Mick apologized and vowed to fix that. It was noted that this meant any candidate or voter applications would have to be postmarked by February 15, 2013 and received by February 22, 2013. Mick observed that the Plan allows the Commission to adjust the voter registration deadline, but not the candidate’s registration deadline. He suggests amending the Plan to give the Commission that flexibility. Heinrich mentioned that it had been determined that when the Commission authorizes the election to be by an alternative method to all postal, the deadlines can be adjusted by the Commission. Mick clarified that was the true for instances where the deadlines in the plan no longer apply to the election method such as postmark dates but the advice was to try and stick to all the relevant deadlines that are set in the Plan.
Zahn distributed a timeline he had made which listed significant election dates including challenge periods. Heinrich asked if the last election had any challenges. Mick said the closest was an objection to the practice of sliding candidates from contested races into uncontested races when doing so did not favor any candidate over another. It was determined the Plan did not allow for this and the Commission declined to amend the Plan, so it would not be done in 2013. Nekota added that some people complain about the election being all digital as well. It was asked about how candidate challenges would work. Heinrich commented that the list put online has names and board/subdistricts, but not residential address. Mick added that if someone wanted that information, he would want to run it thru the official request for record process and redact information from the application form as allowable. Heinrich added that after the election, the NCO asks board members what information they want online and the rest of it is kept confidentially in house. Nekota observed that in the State elections candidates authorize
Mick commented that at the prior Commission meeting, it had been discussed if there was any desire to once again use the League of Women Voters for a $2000 honorarium to serve as the chief monitoring officer since there are no longer paper ballots to be watched over. Their main function was to participate in the testing of the voting system and they occasionally sat in at one of the walk in voting sites that was fully staffed by NCO employees. Nekota commented that before the LWS they had an individual paid to serve this role and that person also did not seem to do a whole lot. Zahn added that he didn’t think that was a good expenditure of funds. He also asked how the walk in voting sites worked last year. Mick explained that there were staffed sites at Kapolei and Honolulu Hale courtyards, as well as an unstaffed site in Hau’ula. Nekota asked how staffing the sites impacted the staff. Mick replied that
Mick commented that Everyone Counts is the vendor for the digital side of the elections and a new vendor was selected for the printing and mailing services, EMSS. That company has done work with the City before, and they are a technology based cutting edge firm that was the lowest bidder. Nekota asked if the profiles would be sent out. Mick replied yes, and due to EMSS use of technology only the profiles for a particular board would be inserted in each voter’s packet. In prior years, they would get all the boards in their area as a way to try and cut down on voters getting the wrong board’s profiles. Heinrich added that Mick had toured their facility in Halawa. Mick added that EMSS does a lot of medical billing which due to privacy concerns means they have great internal controls. Heinrich added that the wining bid was about $29,000 excluding postage.
Nekota asked how the election budget was looking. Mick relied there was $188,000 in the budget, but we were already running under budget with the two vendor contracts. Heinrich added that in future years, he would prefer that uncontested areas also have the option to participate in the voting. He added that ideally there would be very few uncontested areas.
Heinrich observed that hopefully the new Mayor would be very engaged with the Neighborhood Boards and perhaps regional meetings could be set up to meet with the new administration.
Former Commissioner Ed Gall was suggested as a possible Chief Elections Officer.
Mick explained that every election cycle, the NB voter file is wiped clean and residents not on the voter rolls must register with the NCO. Heinrich commented that should be made explicit in the Plan. Mick explained that the NB voter list is merged with the list from City Clerk’s office, which included anyone who voted in any of the past 3 State elections. Zahn observed that the Plan makes reference to active voters. Mick explained that the Clerk will move someone who hasn’t voted in several elections to an inactive status. He added that other ways someone may be removed from the list is thru death or if someone registers in another State as a voter. Heinrich asked how many people usually submit a NB voter form. Mick said last year there was a group that had members from around the country boarding here and had them all register. But usually it’s only 5-10 residents.
Nekota suggested using social media to get information out. Zahn commented on a Facebook page that claims to be a Board #34 page and yet no current member of #34 controls the page. Mick suggested that probably violates Facebook’s own policies and the board could contact Facebook.
Mick detailed the ways that the opening of the candidate registration period was publicized: a pres release, inclusion of a flyer and the form with all mail outs, an email to anyone who signed up to receive agendas and minutes via email, a direct email to all political parties and other large organizations, and a midweek ad after New Years. He also had been contacted by channel 26 Trinity broadcasting who wanted him to do a half hour interview show about the boards and the election. He added that he had been using his own Facebook to publicize the candidate registration, but doing a paid ad on Facebook had proven to be tricky with BFS. A request has also been sent in to the Mayor to utilize his Facebook and Twitter to help publicize it. Heinrich added that overhauling the NCO website and looking at other ways to utilize technology in the office needs to be looked at.
Heinrich commented that several commissioners are also candidates. He stated his belief there should be a prohibition on concurrent service. Mick pointed out its hard since most of the Commissioners are required to have prior board service. Most board members are not willing to resign to serve on the Commission, and most people when they are done serving on the board, do not have time to serve on the Commission.
Mick reported that he hasn’t had detailed talks with Everyone Counts about the voting website, but there will be a testing phase and last year several people from outside the NCO participated.
Nekota asked when the next committee meeting should be, noting that the final list of candidates would hopefully be available on February 22. Mick replied it depends if there is a rush of paper applications on the postmark deadline. If so, there will be a lag as the information is inputted.
ADJOURNMENT: The meeting adjourned at 3:00 p.m.
Submitted by Bryan Mick,
|Last Reviewed: Wednesday, February 20, 2013|