A new method of voting in elections
Residents test out county’s machines
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.
Bryan Anguiano, field representative for Assemblyman Tom Lackey, tests the new ballot marking device Wednesday at Lancaster Library.