A new method of vot­ing in elec­tions

Res­i­dents test out county’s ma­chines

Antelope Valley Press - - FRONT PAGE - By JULIE DRAKE Val­ley Press Staff Writer

LANCASTER — A hand­ful of res­i­dents got an op­por­tu­nity to learn about changes in the way elec­tions will be con­ducted in Los An­ge­les County start­ing with the March 3 pres­i­den­tial pri­mary at an in­for­ma­tional meet­ing Wed­nes­day night at Lancaster Li­brary.

“We call it a new voter ex­pe­ri­ence,” said Jeff Klein, Civic Engagement, Com­mu­nity Re­la­tions And Leg­is­la­tion of­fi­cial with the Los An­ge­les County Regis­trar-Recorder/ County Clerk’s Of­fice, dur­ing a pre­sen­ta­tion Wed­nes­day night at the Lancaster Li­brary.

The changes in­clude a new bal­lot de­vice, called the bal­lot mark­ing de­vice, and re­plac­ing polling places with vote cen­ters. The ap­prox­i­mately dozen peo­ple in at­ten­dance also got a chance to test the new ma­chines.

Rather than cit­i­zens vot­ing on Elec­tion Day at the polling place to which their

neigh­bor­hood is as­signed, cit­i­zens will be able to vote at any of the “vote cen­ters” spread through­out the county up to 10 days be­fore the elec­tion. There will be 250 vote cen­ters for the first seven days be­fore the elec­tion and 1,000 vote cen­ters for last four days.

Vot­ing starts Feb. 22. Cit­i­zens can vote any­where in L.A. County. An elec­tronic poll­book, or ePoll­book, will re­place the printed list of vot­ers and will be used by the vote cen­ter staff to ver­ify the reg­is­tra­tion el­i­gi­bil­ity of a voter in real time. The ePoll­book can also in­di­cate if a voter has al­ready voted any­where in the county and will not al­low vot­ing at mul­ti­ple lo­ca­tions.

“If you’re in Lancaster and you hap­pen to be vis­it­ing fam­ily in Long Beach and you want to go vote with your fam­ily, you’ll be able to do that,” Klein said. “We’ll pull up your Lancaster bal­lot on the bal­lot mark­ing de­vice, you’ll be able to vote down there.”

The new sys­tem will also al­low for con­di­tional voter reg­is­tra­tion, or same-day voter reg­is­tra­tion, up to and on Elec­tion Day. If a cit­i­zen’s reg­is­tra­tion can be val­i­dated on the spot, the voter will re­ceive a reg­u­lar bal­lot. Con­di­tional voter reg­is­tra­tion will be avail­able at any vote cen­ter. It was pre­vi­ously only of­fered at the regis­trar’s of­fice in Nor­walk.

Al­though the bal­lot mark­ing de­vice — which re­places the “ink-a-vote” mark­ing pens — fea­tures a touch­screen the VSAP is still a pa­per-based vot­ing sys­tem.

“It’s not elec­tronic vot­ing; it’s not in­ter­net vot­ing, it’s noth­ing like that,” Klein said. “It is a pa­per bal­lot, and our new tally sys­tem will tally the elec­tion based off of the pa­per bal­lots them­selves.”

Cit­i­zens who like to fill out their sam­ple bal­lot be­fore they head to the polls can still do that un­der the new sys­tem. But this time they can visit www.lavote. net and look for the link to an elec­tronic ver­sion of the sam­ple bal­lot. They can then make all of their se­lec­tions be­fore head­ing out to a vote cen­ter.

When they check in at a vote cen­ter, they will re­ceive a pa­per bal­lot. They in­sert the pa­per bal­lot into the Bal­lot Mark­ing De­vice then scan a QR code that will trans­fer the se­lec­tions made from the sam­ple bal­lot to Bal­lot mark­ing de­vice.

“You still have to review, con­firm, print, and cast your bal­lot. You can make all the changes that you want,” Klein said.

Cit­i­zens will still be able to vote by mail as well.

For longer bal­lots there is a “more” but­ton at the bot­tom of the screen to see can­di­dates whose names are not on the first screen. Vot­ers will also be able to review their bal­lots and make any changes be­fore they cast their bal­lot.

Cit­i­zens can se­lect English or one 12 other lan­guages for the bal­lot in­clud­ing Span­ish. The bal­lot mark­ing de­vices also in­clude an au­dio op­tion so vis­ually im­paired cit­i­zens can vote with­out as­sis­tance.

“I think it’s good,” said Bryan An­guiano, field rep­re­sen­ta­tive for Assem­bly­man Tom Lackey. “Mak­ing this process eas­ier for the peo­ple of our Val­ley is key. I’m hop­ing the dis­sem­i­na­tion of in­for­ma­tion for all the new changes will be good and that all cor­ners of our Val­ley is well-in­formed.”

Palmdale res­i­dent JoAnn Smith also had a chance to test the ma­chine.

“I think it’s good. I like it,” Smith said. “It’s more mod­ern. In­stead of try­ing to line up the holes (on the ink-avote) and say­ing, ‘Where’s that hole and did I get the holes lined up just right?’ This ac­tu­ally gives you the op­por­tu­nity af­ter­wards to review your bal­lot. … It gives you some op­tions and lets you see.”

Palmdale res­i­dent Lav­erne Har­mon also liked the new sys­tem.

“It keeps me from beat­ing that lit­tle thing to death to make sure I punched my holes,” Har­mon said.

Vot­ers have un­til 5 p.m. to­day to see the demon­stra­tion unit at the Lancaster Li­brary, 601 West Lancaster Blvd. It will move to the Lit­tle­rock Li­brary be­gin­ning Tues­day and con­tin­u­ing through Jan. 30. Times are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tues­day and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wed­nes­day and Thurs­day.

JULIE DRAKE/VAL­LEY PRESS

Bryan An­guiano, field rep­re­sen­ta­tive for Assem­bly­man Tom Lackey, tests the new bal­lot mark­ing de­vice Wed­nes­day at Lancaster Li­brary.

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