The Los Angeles County Registrar is introducing some big changes to the way residents have voted for decades.
The registrar will unveil its new electronic Ballot Marking Device at its Mock Election Event, Sept. 28 and 29.
The device is intended to increase accessibility and will officially roll out on Presidential Primary Election Day, March 3, 2020.
There will be 13 language options and the machines will have an adjustable touch screen. Voters will have the ability to listen with a headset, change text size and contrast. Those with mobility or visual differences will no longer have to use a separate voting booth.
Long Beach voters will be able to tinker with the new machines at the L.A. County Mock Election, which will take place at MacArthur Park, 1321 E. Anaheim St., and Pan American Park, 5157 E. Centralia St., just two locations out of 50 in the county for the mock voting event. Attendees of all ages will be able to vote on their favorite L.A. sports teams, parks and music venues with some locations offering food trucks, music and prizes.
Mike Sanchez, a public information officer for the L.A. County Registrar, said he hopes the community will come out to try the new devices so they’ll become familiar with them by the next voting period.
Although the new machines will have many new capabilities, the way the votes are tallied will remain the same. The device does not have any internet connection. Instead, voters will insert their ballots, fill them out using the screen, review their printed ballot and then insert it back into the machine, where it will drop it into a tray behind the machine.
“People often look at technology [in voting] as a way to manipulate results,” Sanchez said. “But this machine will have zero internet connection.”
The vote tally process might be old school, but election officials say that beginning with the 2020 Presidential Primary, voters will no longer be limited to a designated polling place. They’ll be able to choose from 1,000 locations within the county. Residents will also be able to vote at these stations 11 days prior to the actual election day.
Sanchez believes this will help alleviate some stress for voters.
“Voting is very important and people are usually excited,” Sanchez said. “So when we get closer to election day we hope we won’t see many lines.”
While Sanchez admits the number of options are limited, he believes voters will enjoy the voting mobility.
“In 2018, we had up to 4,500 polling places,” Sanchez said. “So the locations will be reduced but the benefit of voters going anywhere kind outweighs the local model.”