Voters receive information about vote centers, provide suggestions to potential locations

Civic engagement coordinator Leon Youngblood talks with Jennifer Byer, left, and Susan McKenzie as they ask about potential locations for vote centers in Santa Clarita. Ryan Mancini/The Signal

With the 2020 election not far off, Santa Clarita voters shared their thoughts on where vote centers should reside during a meeting held by Black Women for Wellness at the Newhall Community Center on Sunday.

The meeting gave residents a chance to understand what the new voting process will include, introducing the ballot marking device and digital submissions from home or elsewhere.

Gloria Coulanges, communications and marketing coordinator at Black Women for Wellness, explained how locations will be decided based on demographics, accessibility, proximity to public transportation, capacity and several other factors. Voters will have access to an online portal where they could make vote center suggestions. Proposed sites would require reviews, or ground truth, based on such information.

With Laura Herrera, project assistant with Voting Solutions for All People, Coulanges added that possible locations could include familiar places like schools, restaurants, coffee shops like Starbucks, places of worship and shopping malls. Cities with over 1,000 registered voters will be required to have a minimum of one vote center.

During a break, guests could walk to tables about potential locations, vote center suggestions and community characteristics.

Gloria Coulanges, left, and Laura Herrera spoke with a few dozen voters who were interested or unsure about the new voting model, which will feature new technology for accepting ballots, including sending ballots digitally from home or work. Ryan Mancini/The Signal

“I was very curious what the new policy would be,” said guest Shawn Norton. “I figured it would be interesting, different, but very important.”

Norton said she hoped distance would not be an issue after a proposed vote center is selected, she said she applauded the modification and modernization of voting in Los Angeles County.

Some attendees expressed concern over voter fraud and keeping ballots safe.

Gala Caprice Cruz found the new process to be more convenient, though she was concerned
about the need for identification when applying for conditional voter registration, a process that can be done after the registration deadline.

“When you are verifying thousands and thousands of ballots and you just have people grinding through the work,” Cruz said, “I just don’t 100 percent feel like necessarily all of the verifications are valid.”

Herrera said the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department will continue to safeguard the transportation of physical ballots, and the LA County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk office would be transparent about fraudulent votes going into future election cycles.

VSAP will continue to hold meetings this year to continue receiving input from voters before March 2020, where the vote center model will first be officially used.

To learn more about vote centers, go to vsap.lavote.net.

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About the author

Ryan Mancini

Ryan Mancini

Ryan Mancini covers local news for The Signal. He joined in 2018, previously working as a reporter and editor for The Sundial, Scene Magazine and El Nuevo Sol while a student at California State University, Northridge, where he studied journalism and political science. He's lived in Santa Clarita since 2002.