Palisadians Raise Concerns About 2020 Voting Changes

Keh, Lantz and Taylor speaking at the meeting.
Photo by Lily Tinoco

By LILY TINOCO | Reporter

Los Angeles County is introducing a new digital voting system for the March 3, 2020, presidential primary election.

The new Voting Solutions for All People program is designed to “make voting easy, user friendly and accessible”—but some Palisadians fear quite the opposite.

Palisadian Terri Lantz and disability advocate Gabriel Taylor were joined by Julia Keh from the LA County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk’s Office on Monday, February 10, at Palisades Branch Library to explain VSAP to Palisades Alliance for Seniors.

VSAP aims to “modernize” the voting experience by transitioning from precinct-based voting to “vote center” voting.

The county sought public input when identifying and placing vote center locations, and conducted an analysis of “population density, demographics and voter behavior to understand when and where voters are most likely to vote with this new model,” according to its website.

The small gymnasium at Palisades Recreation Center (located at 851 Alma Real Drive) is the only designated voting center in Pacific Palisades.

“I’m concerned about the volume of voters in the Palisades and there being only one polling place,” shared one worried local at the meeting. “We need more than one.”

Keh explained that under the new changes, Angelenos can cast a ballot at any voting center location in the county over an 11-day period. This offers an extended election period and doesn’t limit voting to one particular day or place.

Palisadian Warren Cereghino, who has lived in the Palisades for the last 22 years, has only ever known the Aldersgate Retreat Center to be his precinct and begs the question: Why the change?

Keh said that when choosing voting centers, they also had to consider locations with enough space for Ballot Marking Devices.

BMDs are digital voting machines, made to assist and allow everybody to mark their ballot on an adjustable touch screen. The voting experience can be tailored to suit individual needs: from language and text size to the use of accessibility devices, such as a tactile keyboard and audio headphones.

The BMD prints a paper ballot once selections are made and allows voters to review their choices a second time before dropping their ballot into the box.

Taylor, Lantz and Keh continued to address the group’s growing concerns: “Will there be somebody there to help?” and “I heard on television last week that your vote could be changed.”

The trio assured everybody that a ballot cannot be changed by another individual because the devices are secure and not networked, and that there will be on-site assistance at the voting centers if needed.

And voters still have the option to vote by mail.

“The emphasis here is making sure that everybody’s vote counts and that every voter has a way that’s easy for them to vote,” Lantz said.