A Letter to the Alameda County Board of Supervisors
Alameda County Board of Supervisors 1221 Oak Street, Suite 536
Oakland, CA 94612
March 31, 2023
Submitted via CBS@acgov.org
Re: April 4, 2023 Board of Supervisors Meeting, Item 74, “Update regarding the Board of Supervisors’ recommendations to increase transparency and accountability regarding the 11/8/22 Ranked Choice Voting Results”
Dear Alameda County Board of Supervisors,
We write to you to provide public comment on the ongoing question of oversight of and accountability for the Alameda County Registrar of Voters.
California Common Cause is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that works on core democracy issues, including voting rights and election administration. The League of Women Voters of California is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that works to empower voters and defend democracy. Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization founded in 1972 serving low-income, immigrant, and underserved Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. Oakland Rising is a collaborative of racial, economic, and environmental justice organizations, using the civic process to build political power for and with BIPOC, working-class, immigrant, and formerly incarcerated community members to bring about systemic change.
All four of our organizations care deeply about voting rights access, the integrity of trustworthiness of Alameda County’s election systems, and government accountability.
We understand that at a recent meeting, the County Registrar of Voters, Tim Dupuis, responded to a request from the Board to initiate a process towards a county elections commission that could play a critical oversight and transparency role by advancing a proposal to expand existing committees already within the Registrar of Voters department.
We believe the following should be obvious. Any elections commission that will play an oversight, accountability, or transparency role over the Registrar of Voters cannot be internal to the Registrar of Voters. Additionally, any elections commission designed to play that role over the Registrar of Voters should not be designed by the Registrar of Voters.
There are elections commissions in nearby counties that can serve as models for how such a commission can be constructed and operated. While not perfect, the elections commissions in Santa Clara County and in San Francisco have fostered greater transparency and accountability and fostered greater public involvement on election administration issues of various kinds. Those bodies are not operated by the elections offices in those counties and their members are not appointed by and do not answer to the elections offices in those counties.
A key component to the commission structures in those counties is the required attendance of the Registrar of Voters and a requirement that the Registrar of Voters answer questions from commissioners in a public setting.
While we feel the above input on properly constructing an elections commission is important, we feel it is more important to reiterate that the Alameda County Board of Supervisors, and not a commission, has the responsibility to hold the Alameda County Registrar of Voters accountable to its voters and to ensure a high standard of performance. A commission may provide helpful transparency and oversight, but it cannot absolve this Board of its ultimate role.
Thank you for your consideration,
Jonathan Mehta Stein
Executive Director, California Common Cause
Carol Moon Goldberg
President, League of Women Voters of California
Interim Voting Rights Program Manager, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus
Executive Director, Oakland Rising
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