Over the last 10 years, Los Angeles County has been working to improve the voting process for its 5.2 million registered voters. In March 2020, locals will get to cast their votes through this redesigned system during California's presidential primary.
Excited to give this new system a try? So are we!
The great news is that you won't have to wait till March. LA County will be holding mock elections on September 28-29 at 50 locations county-wide to test this system. Non-registered voters, including high school students, are also invited!
Learn more about how to participate here. We hope to see you out there voting! But until then, here are the five major changes to your voting experience that you should know about:
1. Polls will now be open for 11 days instead of 13 hours.
There will now be a longer time frame for you to cast your vote, as LA County officials believe that their new voting machines will significantly cut down on issues with crowding and mechanical breakdowns.
These new machines, developed by Silicon Valley design company IDEO, will marry paper ballots with touch screens that feel like using an ATM or checking in at the airport. Voters will use the screen to review their choices, feed a paper ballot into the machine, and simply press a button to complete their vote.
2. You can vote at any polling location within LA County instead of a specific designated polling place.
Despite there being 4,800 polling places county-wide, locals currently don't have much choice when it comes to choosing where to cast their votes. This new process will issue each registered voter a QR code based on their address that they can then scan at any polling location to call up the specific ballot they need.
3. Voting machines will be more accessible.
The LA County region is both enormous and multi-lingual. In prioritizing accessibility for all voters, including voters with different types of disabilities and different levels of English proficiency, these new voting machines will feature adjustable displays that make it easy to select from various languages and adjust the text size, as well as include built-in headphones. By allowing voters to submit their votes on-the-spot, this process will also reduce the amount of walking otherwise required of voters at current polling places.
4. You can expedite your voting experience by pre-marking your votes at home.
Voters living a fast-paced lifestyle will be fans of the new expedited experience this process offers. As long as you're connected to the Internet, you'll be able to access a web platform called the Interactive Sample Ballot where you can pre-mark your votes. It'll generate a QR code that you can then scan in-person at the polling location and the machine will simply pre-populate the ballot for you to review. Goodbye manual copying-and-pasting, hello convenience!
5. You can both register and change your registration on-site.
LA County's new polling model will use electronic pollbooks for poll staffers to verify your eligibility in real time. This will allow them to register you to vote immediately on-site and help bar people from voting at multiple locations. This means voters can now avoid the gray area of provisional ballots and show up fully reassured that they're making a difference.