The Department of Neighborhood Empowerment kicked off Neighborhood Council Election season this past Saturday with an Elections Town Hall that set out to accomplish three things:
- Review the 2014 Elections to identify the successes that we should work to duplicate
- Review the 2014 Elections to identify opportunities to improve
- Discuss Online Voting as an innovation that would complement our current system
The same format will be repeated this coming Saturday, February 21, at 12 noon in the Wilshire Police Station Community Room and more Town Halls will be conducted citywide over the few weeks.
This past week, attendees offered this feedback on 2014 Election Successes:
- The voter turnout was up throughout the city (up 28.9%)
- The administration of the elections was smooth (online filing for candidates)
- Neighborhood Councils did a great job with outreach (community events, direct mail, door-to-door, forums, workshops)
- The exit survey (almost 8000 people left their opinions on the issues that impact their communities)
- Absentee Balloting was a powerful outreach tool
- Regional Outreach campaigns were creative and effective
- NCs turned their elections into Community Events
- Elections were supported in 10 different languages
- The number of qualified candidates was up 24.9% citywide
- 659 Volunteers staffed the polling locations and earned compliments from those surveyed
The Election Town Hall participants offered up these areas as opportunities for improvement:
- Candidate Eligibility and Requirements
- should be required to participate in forums and demonstrate their participation/attendance at Neighborhood Council meetings
- should be required to provide a photo and statement and explain their connection to the community
- should be required to attend an orientation that covers the role and responsibility of a Neighborhood Council Board Member
- Candidate Verification – the process for qualifying Candidates needs to be observable and the timeline needs to be adjusted in order to facilitate challenges
- Challenges – the oversight of challenges needs to go to another party
- The Electioneering Ban needs to be enforced at the polling locations
- Outreach – the Department should be responsible for citywide Election Outreach
- Parking – the selection of locations needs to be improved, some had poor parking and did not have enough space for a robust election
- Recruitment – there should be more time to recruit Candidates
- Outreach – The Department should provide Outreach Workers for each NC
- Outreach – there should be a budget for citywide outreach
- Intervention – there should be a mechanism in place to take over the elections for Neighborhood Councils that fail to engage voters, recruit candidates, or conduct outeach to the community
- IEAs – should have the authority to conduct media campaigns that include traditional print campaigns complemented by digital outreach
- Best Practices – the low turnout Neighborhood Councils should look at the best practices and duplicate the things that work
- Mandate – the Department should require a percentage of each NCs budget for outreach
- Candidate Eligibility – there was confusion over the qualifications to run as a candidate, not everybody was clear on their Bylaws and on the Attachment B
- Voter Eligibility – there was confusion over who could vote and for what seats, not everybody was clear on their bylaws and on the attachment B
- Authority – there was some confusion over who had the authority, the department or the Neighborhood Council, and some wanted to give one or the more authority over the details of outreach, voter and candidate verification, and budgets
The Election Town Hall wrapped with a discussion of online voting, an innovation that the Department is pursuing for the 2016 Elections.
Several months ago, the Department released a request for proposals (RFP) for an Online Voting System. The RFPs were submitted to the Department in November and a proposal was submitted to the Board of Neighborhood Commissioners (Commission) on Thursday, February 12, 2015.
- Online Voting would complement the existing Neighborhood Council elections system, providing additional opportunities to register voters, register candidates, and cast a ballot.
Neighborhood Councils would still have a polling location open on Election Day, staffed by a Poll Manager, Assistant Poll Manager, and Poll Workers, all ready to register voters and support on-site voting.
- Neighborhood Councils would be able to register Voters in advance of the election, creating an opportunity to engage the community well in advance of the election and to develop an ongoing line of communication with registered voters in advance of the election.
- Neighborhood Councils would be able to engage organizations within their community to register voters in advance of the elections, creating an opportunity to forge partnerships that engage stakeholders in the election process and develop into ongoing relationships that strengthen the impact of the Neighborhood Council
More information regarding the specifics of the Online Voting System proposal will be sent to the Neighborhood Councils this week and the Elections Town Hall will also cover the details of online voting as an election innovation designed to increase voter participation.
If you have suggestions or questions or comments, email Elections@EmpowerLA.org or call 818-293-VOTE (8683)
Save the Dates – Elections Town Hall – Saturday, February 21, 2015 at 12:00 noon Wilshire Police Station Community Room, 4861 Venice Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90019.
Elections Town Hall – Saturday, February 28, 2015 at 10:00 am, Glassell Park Senior and Community Center, 3750 Verdugo Road, LA CA 90065.
Elections Town Hall – Saturday, March 7, 2015 at 1:00 pm, immediately following LANCC, location tbd.