With City Council elections shifting to even-numbered years, Neighborhood Council elections were moved to odd-numbered years. NC Boardmember terms were extended by a year via City Council action to accommodate this change.
This year, 12 seats were open for full four-year terms, with another three open for two-year partial terms. The election was conducted by the City Clerk.
For the first time, the election was held during the SoRo Festival, with the hope that the thousands of attendees would translate into increased voters. Unfortunately, polling hours had to be significantly shortened (from 6 hours to 3.5) to accommodate the Festival and make sure that votes were tallied before the Festival ended and tents removed.
Also new this year: SORO NC became one of 36 NCs citywide to participate in an online voting pilot program designed to supplement in-person voting. Stakeholders who registered early were able to vote online from May 15 to June 5.
Election Day Signs
The Board allocated $4,500 specifically for elections. Of the total, $1,500 went towards two rounds of yard signs (promoting candidate registration and the election) and election day signs; $1,300 towards social media advertising (a substantial increase from 2014); and the remainder towards events and printing.
Additional funds were allocated to general NC outreach for the SoRo Festival itself, indirectly supporting the election.
Candidate outreach continued with 2014's successful "Represent Your Community" messaging. In an effort to better educate voters—and counter the chronically low turnout at the Meet the Candidates event—the NC provided all candidates the opportunity to fill out an extended candidate questionnaire. The responses were included on the NC's candidate page.
The NC held two candidate information sessions and one Meet the Candidates forum.
We sent eight emails to our list over the course of the election, averaging a 29.9% open rate (much higher than the industry average of 20.1%). As in past years, the NC distributed candidate and voter flyers, including hundreds of copies of a special version distributed at the SoRo Festival. Voter yard signs and flyers were translated into Spanish.
Sample Facebook Graphic
Building on the learnings from 2014, the NC spent $1225 on online advertising across six campaigns. In total, NC ads were seen almost 70,000 times during the election, yielding 4,854 clicks to soronc.org web pages.
Ads were served on Facebook, Instagram, and sites across the web. Technical issues cut short the primary call for candidates campaign. A limited test engagement campaign with Mayor Garcetti's "Run for your NC" video underperformed against more direct messaging.
|Garcetti candidate video||Represent your community||Register to vote online||Meet the candidates||Online voting open||Voters wanted|
|Duration:||22 days||3 days **||28 days||7 days||7 days||9 days|
|Cost per click:||$.68 *||$.56||$.20||$.20||$.35||$.28|
* Awareness campaign measured in unique engagements rather than clicks
** Campaign delayed due to technical issues
Reach: number of community members who saw the ad
Cost per click: measures efficiency of the campaign
As a pilot program, some rough edges were to be expected. Voter registration proved to be the biggest issue: errors in mapping addresses to SORO NC's boundaries, long delays in registration confirmation, and requiring voters to upload a scan of a photo ID created confusion and caused some people to abandon the registration process.
Online voting and an extended voting period allowed the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment (DONE) to hold popup polling events upon request. However, electioneering rules were not enforced at these events, and since candidates could directly request popup polls at locations of their choosing, it was perceived by some as being unfair.
Ultimately, just over half of the NC's total votes were cast online during the open voting period. In February 2017, SORO NC submitted an official opinion on the 2016 election to the City, calling for changes to future online voter registration and polling.
The polls were located in three attached tents along the main Festival route, a block away from the SORO NC quad. Two-color signs along the street directed people to the polls, and DONE provided highly visible standing banners. Throughout the 3.5 hours, there was always a line of people waiting to vote, and registrations went smoothly.
Candidate recruitment remained strong, although registrations concentrated on the At Large seats.
Despite hopes to the contrary, SORO NC did not see an increase in overall votes cast. It is difficult to isolate a single, definitive reason. Factors may include a reluctance to take time at a casual, family-focused event to vote; the abbreviated polling dictated by short Festival hours; the difficulty parking at a large event; the problems encountered with the online system; or the possibility that online voting simply cannibalized in-person voting.
|Candidates who filed:||24||19||32||29|
|Final candidates:||26 (2 write-ins)||17||29||29|
|Contested seats:||6 (24%)||4 (29%)||13 (87%)||7 (54%)|
(change from last election):
|266||295 (+11%)||520 (+76%)||517 (-.6%)|
|Online votes cast:||n/a||n/a||n/a||262 (51%)|
15 Board seats were up for election in Spring, 2014. Both candidate recruitment and voter turnout were exceptional, dramatically exceeding previous elections.
The elections were managed by DONE with support from the NCs and the City Clerk. The NC did not opt for vote-by-mail, as it was felt the 2012 benefits did not justify the costs.
The Board allocated $3,500 for election support, a slight reduction from 2012—although this year there were no vote-by-mail costs. There was no rollover from the previous fiscal year. Most of the money went towards yard signs, printing, and the Candidate events. A small amount went towards Facebook advertising as described below.
In an effort to better set expectations and perhaps appeal to a more dedicated candidate group, the messaging for the call for candidates was changed from 2012's very general "Candidates Wanted" to a more aspirational "Represent Your Community." While it is impossible to definitively say it was a factor, we had more candidates and contested seats this year. Candidates in 2014 were also notable for their strong campaigning and get-out-the-vote efforts, which did lead to the largest voter turnout in the NC's history.
Yard signs were used to generate general awareness of both the Candidate filing deadline and the election itself. Given that the Meet-the-Candidates event was held so close to the actual election, the NC opted not to advertise it via yard signs.
We printed a generous 200 signs for each milestone, including signs in Spanish. We also created a map showing placement for each sign, ensuring consistent distribution and making removal easier. We also printed candidate and voter flyers for distribution at local events, including our annual Town Hall.
We also sent six election-related emails to the NC's list, with an average open rate of 30%, much higher than than the industry average of 20.1%.
The NC held three events: an informational meeting for prospective candidates, a meet-the-candidates forum for voters, and a "candidate corral" on election day.
The candidate info session was held midway through the candidate filing period, just before our regular March meeting. It was well attended, with approximately 15 community members and 10 Boardmembers participating. Light snacks were provided.
The meet-the-candidates forum (also before a General Board meeting) had a good candidate turn out, but few voters. Each candidate was given two minutes to speak.
The candidate corral was located in the Shenandoah parking lot, over 100 feet away and just opposite of the entrance to the polls. It was quite active, with heavy candidate campaigning. The NC had food, water, and outreach materials as well.
The biggest innovation in this election cycle was the reliance on social media. The NC posted aggressively on Facebook and NextDoor, including swapping out the image header on Facebook to include promotional messaging.
To extend the reach of our posting, we experimented with Facebook ads and boosting posts. We spent a total of $280 on ads, with just over half of that in the last week before elections.
|Call for candidates||Get out the vote|
|Duration:||14 days||7 days|
|Cost per click:||$.99||$1.31|
Boosted posts were also effective. One example: a $5, one-day boost for a "call for candidates" post yielded a reach of 827 and 19 post likes.
A candidate corral and NC information booth were set up in the school parking lot, right by the front gate and outside of the restricted area. Bold, new "Election" fabric banners helped voters find the entrance, with yard signs throughout the NC reminding people to vote. On-site campaigning was lively, although we did have a number of complaints about candidates being too aggressive as people entered.
There was also some early confusion with the poll workers as to who was eligible to vote for which seat, a problem that arose due to a late change in the stakeholder definition. The issue was resolved with the help of the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment, and stakeholder voting status clarified via subsequent changes to the bylaws.
|Candidates who filed:||24||19||32|
|Final candidates:||26 (2 write-ins)||17||29|
|Contested seats:||6 (24%)||4 (29%)||13 (87%)|
(change from last election):
|266||295 (+11%)||520 (+76%)|
|Vote by mail registrations:||2||90||n/a|
|Vote by mail ballots returned:||2||37||n/a|
Concerned about costs, the City Council voted to have the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment (DONE) administer NC elections in 2012. To DONE's credit, NC elections generally ran smoothly, although the eleventh-hour decision to switch from the City Clerk delayed westside elections by six months. The SORO NC election planning was managed by the newly-formed Board Development committee, with support from Outreach and Executive.
The polling location was moved from Robertson Rec Center to Shenandoah Elementary because of parking issues reported in 2010. During polling hours, we also held a public meet-and-greet at Reynier Park.
Election expenditures totalled $3,600 (a 42% reduction from 2010), most of which was rolled over from fiscal year 2011-12 funds. The budget was used mainly for yard signs, printing, event planning, and vote-by-mail.
This election, the NC opted not to pay for door-to-door flyer distribution (expensive and unsatisfactory in 2010). As in 2010, we held two candidate information sessions, one of which was a cookout at Robertson Rec Center during the weekend. The park event was well attended and seen as a success. We also held a meet-the-candidates forum before the general Board meeting that was fun, but lightly attended by the public. All events were publicized with yard signs, site posts, email, flyers distributed at events and local organizations, and numerous Twitter and Facebook posts. We created promotional cover images for Facebook for each event as well.
New this election: Clear Channel donated electronic billboard space for all three phases of the election (candidate recruitment, the candidate forum, and the election itself). The Board also invested in vote-by-mail and promoted it online and in flyers. We also greatly increased the website functionality, including a dedicated candidate information page, direct online filing and online vote-by-mail registrations.
At DONE's urging, our focus was on recruiting enough candidates to generate competitive races. And indeed, the voter results were relatively strong: 295 ballots cast, an increase of 11% from 2010 (yet with only half the seats open). Write-in candidates were not allowed.
|Candidates who filed:||24||19|
|Final candidates:||26 (2 write-ins)||17|
|Contested seats:||6 (24%)||4 (29%)|
|Ballots cast:||266||295 (+11%)|
|Vote by mail registrations:||2||90|
|Vote by mail ballots returned:||2||37|
Voters were asked to fill out a survey after voting. Results coming soon.
For the first time, the City Clerk administered the SORO NC elections. Because SORO had deferred elections in 2008, all seats were up for election. In order to reinstate our staggered terms, half of the SORO Board seats terms were for two years, half were for four years.
SORO NC election planning was managed by a volunteer group of outgoing Boardmembers. Polling was held at Robertson Recreation Center, as the park is centrally located within SORO.
Total election budget was set at $6,250. The budget was used mainly for door-to-door distribution of flyers, printing, and yard signs.
To prepare for the election, the SORO NC Election Committee held a series of public meetings to encourage community awareness and involvement, including two Candidate Information sessions and a public Candidate Forum.
In addition, the Committee printed two flights of yard signs, distributed bi-lingual flyers door-to-door and at local businesses, created webpages, sent email reminders, and actively recruited volunteers. (Although the NC received anecdotal reports that the flyers were not properly distributed in all areas by the firm we hired).
Turn out was solid for a westside NC: 266 ballots cast. There were no challenges to the results.
Responding to issues that arose in the 2006 NC elections (outside of SORO), the City Council passed a law assigning election duties to the City Clerk. In January NCs were given the choice to a) hold elections in June, b) hold them in September, or c) postpone elections until 2010 and extend Boardmember terms for an additonal two years. Given the short time frame and recent influx of new Boardmembers (after a large number of resignations in mid-2007), SORO NC voted to postpone until 2010.
Elections were managed by the NC itself, with support from DONE. 12 seats were up for election. A Candidate Information session was held on August 23. Among other activities, SORO NC printed and distributed a special bi-lingual election newsletter and yard signs for the Candidate session.
285 ballots were cast. 14 candidates filed, with an additional two write-ins. Three of the seats were competitive, including the new-created Zone 10 seat.
SORO NC held its first official election following its 2002 certification as an NC. The elections were organized by the NC, and the independent election administrator (IEA)—responsible for overseeing the election process, ensuring fairness, tallying votes and verifying the results—was provided by the League of Women Voters of Los Angeles.
Planning was thorough. All seats were open, although half were for two-year terms. The Board actively recruited candidates and held a Candidate information session in late June. Once the election was in full swing, bi-lingual election notices were posted, two rounds of door-to-door flyers were distributed, yard signs were deployed, and the NC sent blasts to its email list. The Board also held an informal Candidate forum.
140 ballots were cast. 27 candidates filed and six of the seats were competitive (although another six went unfilled). There were no challenges to the results.