SCV voters express mixed feelings about new voting system

Kyle Write read the prompts while using the headphones in the electronic booths during a mock election held at College of the Canyons in Valencia on Saturday, September 28, 2019. Dan Watson/The Signal
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Early voting in the Santa Clarita Valley and the rest of Los Angeles County has commenced with the launch of the new voting system, while some local voters have mixed emotions about the experience. 

Since Saturday, eight of the 26 voting centers in the SCV, set up in places such as the Old Town Newhall Library and the Santa Clarita Sports Complex, opened ahead of the March 3 presidential primary election, with the remaining locations set to open Saturday. 

Under the new, open-source technology that was installed “to implement a new voting experience for the voters of Los Angeles County,” according to Dean C. Logan, the county’s registrar-recorder and county clerk, voters now have up to 11 days to cast a ballot at any center rather than at their neighborhood’s polling place before the next month’s primary. 

Some voters took advantage of the multi-day voting window on Thursday, expressing both the pros and cons of the system, officially known as the Voting Solutions for All People Tally. 

View inside the electronic voting booth of the touch-screen, keypad and headphones during a mock election held at College of the Canyons in Valencia on Saturday, September 28, 2019. Dan Watson/The Signal

Among them was resident Donnette Piccininno, who thought her overall experience with the technology was “easy, in fact, faster than the other.” The only flaw, she said, was that she had to travel to multiple voting centers to find one that was open. “(The county) needs to do a better job at informing the dates and times of what places will be open.” 

Canyon Country residents Anthony and Marianne Alegrete, who voted at the Sports Complex, prefer the former voting method. 

“It was so much easier when we had the tiny sample ballot and you go to someone’s garage in your neighborhood, because I have to drive to get to this place. It’s less convenient,” said Marianne. 

The couple was also concerned about the possibility that “electronic voting is ripe for hacking,” said Anthony. 

Voters should not have to worry about security, said Jonathan Selle, the lead voting center assistant at the Sports Complex, explaining that there is no risk “because the computers are not connected to the internet.”

In late January, Logan told county supervisors that the technology creates individualized paper ballots that are scanned via QR codes and later manually tallied. 

As volunteers of polling places in the past, father and daughter Gary and Kayla Coster said the new system allows for faster and smoother operation for both voters and volunteers. 

“We’ve seen a fair share of new voters, too,” said Gary. 

The same was for volunteer Roberto Barreras at the Newhall Community Center, who said most feedback was positive. 

Hard data depicting how many people have voted in the SCV so far is not yet available, said Michael Sanchez, deputy communications director for the county’s registrar’s office. “We’ll have reports available after Election Day that will show precinct, district-level breakdowns.”  

Poll workers estimated the Sports Complex has seen about 200 voters since Saturday, according to Selle, and more than 20 at the Newhall Community Center. 

Volunteers expect more foot traffic closer to March 3.

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