Cover Story 11/14/19
Are You Ready for California’s 2020 Primary Election?
By Patrice Marshall McKenzie
On Election Day, many people have a routine. We get up, grab our sample ballot and head out to our neighborhood polling place to cast our votes or drop off that vote by mail that we had every intention of mailing. Some of us may even have “Election Day Friends” that we see and chat with at our local polling place. In March 2020, that practice is going to change. Los Angeles County has adopted to participate in the California Voter’s Choice Act. A new law passed in 2016 that will modernize elections in California by allowing counties to conduct elections under a new model which provides greater fl exibility and convenience for voters. This new election model allows voters to choose how, when, and where to cast their ballot by:
1) Mailing every voter a ballot;
2) Expanding in-person early voting; and/or,
3) Allowing voters to cast a ballot at any vote center within their county.
The nearly 5.4 million Los Angeles County voters will transition from casting ballots at local polling places to doing so at designated voting centers. This new model will allow voters to cast a ballot at any vote center location in the County over an 11-day period. An electronic voter fi le will be accessible at all of the voting centers, allowing you to cast a ballot wherever you happen to be on Election Day. Approximately 1,000 vote centers will open and provide voters with 10 days of early voting before the March 3 statewide primary election. Vote by mail (VBM) ballots were also re-designed in 2018 to be easier to read and complete. The new VBM format will continue to be used in 2020.
The most signifi cant changes of the voting process will come in the way of the new Voting Solutions for All People (VSAP) ballot marking devices that will debut in Los Angeles County in their fi rst election in the March 2020 election. The new VSAP systems feature touch screen technology for simple ballot marking, built-in language selection tools, audio and visual outputs to accommodate the needs of all voters, an integrated ballot box and the ability to print, review and edit selections prior to submitting the final ballot.
What do these changes mean for us as voters? Ultimately, the voting process is going to be more convenient by extending the voting window from one day to 11 days, simplifying the ballot marking device process, provides one device that meets the unique needs for all voters (language selection, ADA accessible, hearing or visually impaired, etc.), and allowing voters greater fl exibility in locations via the introduction of the new voting centers. Between now and March, the VSAP Advisory Committee and the Registrar-Recorder County Clerk’s staff will hold a series of public hearings to solicit input from members of the public. For those unable to attend a public hearing, comments can be submitted online at www.vsap.lavote.net/electionadministration-plan/. Share your thoughts about the new VSAP system today.