By 2020, Los Angeles County will transition its polling places to voting centers, a new model that will allow voters to cast a ballot at any voting center location in the county over an 11-day period. The transition will start with the Vote by Mail experience this upcoming election.
The Vote by Mail experience, an element of the county’s Voting Solutions for All People, is designed to make the voting process easier and increase voter turnout for upcoming elections. It will first be rolled out for the statewide election Nov. 6.
Aaron Nevarez, division manager of Governmental and Legislative Affairs in Los Angeles County, said the new system will be complete by March 2020, in time for the presidential primary election.
Nevarez said the current voting experience isn’t as efficient as it could be because of the “back and forth” a person experiences between their scantron and the booklet given to them when voting. With the previous system, voters had to read off the booklet’s information and then match it to the candidate’s corresponding information. One would have to repeat that process until they finish voting for each category.
With the new system, the county has introduced a ballot that has all of the candidates in one packet, allowing for easier access when choosing.
Voters who cast their ballots by mail will receive an envelope with all necessary information and forms, including ballot cards and a secrecy sleeve for the ballot. They can turn in the envelope to the United States Postal Service, a drop-off location or any polling place across LA County.
“One of the things we’re most excited about is that in Los Angeles County, this November will be the first time that there will be no postage necessary,” Nevarez said.
This is because for the first time all postage stamps are pre-paid for all Vote by Mail voters in LA County.
The county is expanding the number of Vote by Mail drop-off locations from last year’s 70 to 150, including seven locations in the city of Long Beach.
The drop-off locations in Long Beach include: the Long Beach State University Student Union, the Office of the City Clerk in city hall and five Long Beach Public Library locations — the Bay Shore, Bret Harte, Burnett, El Dorado and Michelle Obama branches.
“I think it’s a great idea,” Long Beach resident Elizabeth Kennedy said. “But people need to be aware of the changes that are going to be happening and if you don’t know that, you’re going to get caught and go, ‘Oh, I don’t know where to vote.’”
While some residents may support the Vote by Mail system, others have expressed difficulties with it.
Long Beach resident Karen Reside said that her apartment building has issues with people breaking into the building’s mailbox to steal mail and create fraudulent IDs. This leads to the possibility that ballots will be lost.
If a ballot card is damaged or lost, voters can request a replacement up to seven days prior to Election Day. A person can request it from LAvote.net and the voter will be sent a brand new Vote by Mail packet.
With the upcoming primary elections Nov. 6, city clerk analyst Allison Bunma said the city of Long Beach will continue to advertise the new voting system that LA County is implementing and notify the community of the changes being made.