Out with the old, in the with new

The community learned and asked questions about the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder County Clerk’s Voting Solutions For All People (VSAP) initiative during a public-input meeting Dec. 5 at Long Beach Polytechnic High School. VSAP seeks to make the voting process more efficient in Los Angeles County beginning in 2020, when the community will utilize voting centers, in lieu of polling places, and will have a chance to vote for a period of 11 days, instead of consolidating the process to one day, according to on-site officials.

When the new decade hits in two years, and Los Angeles County voters are submitting their two cents on national issues and who holds the position of President, residents will be casting their ballots on modern technology and electronic devices instead of with paper and ink.
Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk (LA Clerk) representatives hosted a public-input meeting at Long Beach Polytechnic High School Dec. 5 that informed about the changes for Los Angeles County elections beginning in 2020.
Officials are hosting meetings throughout the county with the intention of educating the public about changes as they pertain to their specific communities. Wednesday’s meeting focused on Long Beach and Signal Hill, among other cities.
“We really wanted to make voting accessible, easier and better for people,” said Laura Herrera, a project assistant for Voting Solutions For All People (VSAP). “ […] It’s to give voters more options.”
The LA Clerk developed VSAP in 2009 in an effort to address “an aging voting and an increasing large and complex electorate,” according to the VSAP website at vsap.lavote.net.
On-site officials explained that VSAP intends to modernize the entire process in 2020 by upgrades to the voter experience.
Locals will be able to cast a ballot at any vote center in the county– eliminating the need for a designated poll place– and would have access to an extended voting time of 11 days, as opposed to consolidating the process into one day, officials said.
Potential vote-center locations for Long Beach and Signal Hill include El Dorado Park, Aquarium of the Pacific, Grace Community Church, Los Altos Branch Library, Signal Hill Dog Park, Petroleum Club and various other restaurants, businesses and public institutions.
As it pertains to poll workers, officials said they will likely introduce a “hybrid system” that will utilize both county and community poll workers who will perform specific roles in the new system.
Other advancements include e-pollbooks to verify voter and registration information, electronic ballot-marking devices, interactive sample ballots, a new tallying system and a redesigned vote-by-mail ballot that can be dropped off at any voting center.

Denny Cristales | Signal Tribune
A woman is pictured placing a green sticker on a Los Angeles County map, indicating a suggested location that could serve as a potential voting center in 2020. During a public-input meeting that focused on the Long Beach and Signal Hill areas, representatives with the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder County Clerk informed residents about upcoming changes to elections within the next few years.
“These are the changes that will happen, thanks to the California Voter’s Choice Act,” said Darlene Moreno, a community organizer who spoke at the event.
Approved in 2016, the California Voter’s Choice Act expands voter options for how, when and where ballots are casted, according to the Voter’s Choice California website at voterschoice.org.
Maria Lourdes Garcia, a supervisor with SPA 8 who spoke at the event, said the County conducted research on potential locations for voting centers in the area, considering the factors of demographics, voter behaviors and patterns and accessibility.
Variables include, but are not limited to: ethnicity; population as it pertains to income, language minority and density; voting from home or work; voting on weekdays versus evenings or weekends; eligible voters who are not registered to vote; communities with historically-low vote-by-mail usage; ADA accessibility; areas with low-vehicle ownership; and public-transit access.
Garcia said that potential vote centers, as a result of the aforementioned factors, yielded results that include public libraries, shopping malls, local parks, public schools and chain restaurants and eateries, such as Starbucks.
“Many of these locations were selected because they are considered safe and well-known in the community,” she said. “Essentially, people want to vote where they feel comfortable and have some sort of connection.”
Cities also have a set of requirements in accordance with the number of registered voters that inhabit it, Garcia said. For instance, for every 30,000 registered voters, there must be a vote center open on Election Day and 10 days prior.
Similar rules apply for votes by mail: For every 15,000 permanent vote-by-mail voters, there must be one ballot-drop-off location open 29 days before Election Day.
“These requirements are to ensure that potential barriers– geographic and demographic constraints– to particular voting locations can be accounted for,” Garcia said.
During the event, organizers invited residents to different tables, or stations, as part of an open-house session, where pamphlets detailing the upcoming changes were also distributed. One station also sought public input about other potential voting centers– which required participants to place a green or red sticker on an LA County map that would signify a recommended location or a discouraged one, respectively.
One resident also inquired if the voting centers would also allow neighboring people outside of the county to participate.
“I know we have that situation now that, essentially, any LA County voter can go to any vote center, regardless of where they live,” Herrera said. “We cannot turn any voter away, so, if there’s a voter who comes from outside of LA County, they will be able to vote through a provisional ballot, and we will adjudicate that with a different county.”
For more information, visit vsap.lavote.net or email vsap@rrcc.lacounty.gov with any questions.


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