Voters from Santa Clarita and across Los Angeles County appeared at the Newhall Library on Saturday to learn more about the updated countywide voting system set to be implemented for the 2020 Election.
The meeting was hosted by Black Women for Wellness, one of several community groups asked to help in partnership with LA County’s Voting Solutions for All People, or VSAP, initiative. Following the initial round of meetings, including one at the Newhall Community Center in January, VSAP provided statistics on what locations across the region have been recommended as possible vote centers.
In January, the number of locations recommended was initially 5,000, according to civic engagement coordinator Leon Youngblood. As of June, it’s dropped to 2,000, with 75 potential places around Santa Clarita brought up as potential vote centers, such as places of worship, libraries and City Hall.
Over the course of 11 days, including Election Day, voters can cast their ballots at these centers, digitally or by mail with services available in 13 languages.
“The goal is that we would love to see not just LA County but all of California, and on a larger scale the United States, get to a position where voting that really gets everybody out because it’s one of our fundamental rights,” he said. “It’s one of the easiest ways to make change for the way that we see fit the people.”
Youngblood gave a slideshow presentation detailing the new ballot marking device, which features a touch screen device, a port for headphones and will provide voters with a digital ballot. Included in the presentation was a short tutorial on how the ballot marking devices will work, as well as a short documentary, called “Democracy by Design,” about VSAP and its collaboration with IDEO, a Silicon Valley design firm helping to build the ballot marking devices.
These implementations, which Youngblood called the “human-centered design process,” are driven by the needs of LA County voters.
“So no matter who comes out, I’m glad people are coming out,” he said. “Contentious or not, we welcome it because again, we want people to be informed. This is going to reduce voter fraud, it should increase voter turnout, it should increase voter ease, it should reduce confusion. Those are all positives.”
The county will test the new voting system with a mock election on Sept. 28-29 at 50 vote centers. Demo centers will simulate the new process for voters to see and test during weekdays and weekends throughout the county between October and January. The new system will be in use by March 3, 2020, the day of the 2020 California Primary Election.
Election poll-worker and Acton resident June Perkins said she favors the new voting system as a way to make voting easier.
“I came here expecting something different, but then I see what it is and it’s more informative,” she said.
The next meeting will be on June 22 at the Northridge Recreation Center.
To learn more about the project ahead of 2020, go to vsap.lavote.net.