By JENNIKA INGRAM | Reporter
The presidential primary on March 3, 2020, will be the first run for big changes coming to LA County’s voting process as the city debuts a new system, “Voting Solutions for All People.”
“The way we vote in LA County is changing,” Zachary Gaidzik, Supervisor Sheila Kuehl’s West/Metro LA field deputy, said during a presentation at the Pacific Palisades Community Council board meeting on Thursday, October 10. “Hopefully in a way that will make it easier to vote.”
Palisadians will be able to vote over the course of 11 days leading up to and including election day. Voting for the presidential primary opens on February 22, 2020.
Traditionally, Los Angeles’ 5.4 million registered voters have only had one day to vote in-person. The system has been deliberately set up to cover two consecutive weekends so that people who work weekdays will have more opportunities to vote.
“You don’t find out how the results have gone until 8 p.m. on election day, same as always,” Gaidzik continued.
Another big change is that the new voting centers will offer the in-person voter more options to vote at any of 1,000 voting stations throughout the county. The new centers will all have parking available and comply with the American with Disabilities Act.
The number of voting stations is actually going down, Gaidzik explained. There used to be 5,000 precincts but people could only go to one. This means that registered voters may need to adjust to voting at a new voting center if their former location no longer exists.
Voting centers in Pacific Palisades have not been confirmed. Possible locations include Palisades Branch Library, Palisades Charter High School, American Legion Post 283, Bel-Air Bay Club, Marquez Charter Elementary School and Palisades Lutheran Church.
Voting by mail will be more accessible with over 150 drop-offs throughout the county.
Another change is that voters registered for permanent vote-by-mail will have the option to go into a vote center, cancel their mail-in ballot and vote in-person without having to bring in their ballot.
In the new system, a person will also be able to register for the very first time on election day and submit what will be called a conditional vote.
“The final thing that’s changing that I think is really, really exciting,” Gaidzik said, “ … is the actual ballot-marking device itself.”
A new ballot-marking device will swap out the ink dot system that has been in place since the 1970s.
“I want to clarify, we have an electronic ballot marking device,” Gaidzik explained. “It is effectively a super fancy printer and that’s it. We still have paper ballots.”
Once a voter makes their choice and their ballot is submitted, it slides into a sealed box.
“We believe the integrity of elections is dependent on our ability to audit, and so paper ballots are critical to that,” Gaidzik said. He cited increasing security as one of the reasons for the new changes, but shared that LA County has never been successfully hacked up to this point.
The motivation for the new ballot device is accessibility, according to Gaidzik’s presentation. Some of the changes include larger, easier-to-read ballots, along with considerations for the hard of hearing, the blind and people with physical challenges.
There are options to increase the font size, choose braille or use headphones with a choice of 14 different languages to align with LA’s diverse population.
To find out more information about the changes, visit lavote.net.