Long Beach Elections Overhauled to Simplify Voter Experience
The days of voter confusion and in some cases, un-cast votes in Long Beach may be over after the city voted last month to collaborate with the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder County Clerk’s office to streamline the June municipal election.
The partnership will allow for voters to cast votes for both statewide and city elections in the same polling station, as well as allow for both ballots to be received at a single sign-in table. LA County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan said the previous system in place in Long Beach was not in the best interest of the voter, as it caused confusion and in some cases created the burden of having to travel to multiple polling locations to cast votes on the same day.
“Instead of the past concurrent election or what’s commonly been known as ‘Two Vote Tuesday’ election here in Long Beach, we’ll be able to deliver a voting experience to Long Beach voters where they will feel like they’re voting in a single election in June, which I feel serves all of us well,” Logan said.
The new system will allow for a coordinated election that will be conducted and recorded by LA County staff and reported back to Long Beach election night. Each voter will get two ballots—the statewide and municipal sheets—and the votes will be cast into the same ballot box. The hope is that the new system will not only make for a simpler experience from consistent voters, but attract new ones that might’ve been discouraged by the past system.
The midterm election in November 2014 yielded a 22.1 voter turnout in Long Beach, and the June election that saw Mayor Robert Garcia take office had less participation, with only 20.8 percent of registered voters showing up to the polls.
A coalescence of laws from the Long Beach City Charter stipulate elections be held in even years, and that the State of California will require the statewide primary election to occur on the same date as the municipal one. However, due to the proximity of the city’s April primary which is held just 56 days before the June state primary, previous attempts to combine the two have been impossible. The result was the old system known as “Two Vote Tuesday.”
The approved recommendation was submitted by Long Beach City Clerk Maria Garcia. She maintained that staying with the old system had the potential to create confusion for voters and an overall negative voting experience. Teaming up with LA County would not only mitigate some of those issues, but stands to save the city over $20,000 according to Garcia.
“It’s going to be a pretty significant event, because what it means for our voters is that it’s going to be a much more efficient and simplified experience for your voters in Long Beach,” Garcia said.
Several spots are up for grabs in the coming election, including three seats on the city council and multiple other school board positions. If a candidate is not elected to office during the April primary by garnering the necessary “50 percent plus one” majority, the two highest vote getters will be advanced to the June municipal election ballot.
Making sure that people vote in both the state and municipal election and not be shut out of one due to not signing in at two separate tables or driving to multiple polling stations was a focal point for Fifth District Councilwoman Stay Mungo in her efforts to do away with “Two Vote Tuesday.” Mungo, who sits on the Elections Oversight Committee, joked that if doing away with the old model was the only thing she accomplished during her term “it would be worth it.”
“So many people would go to vote and say ‘I went and voted but your name wasn’t on the ballot’ and they only had one ‘I Voted’ sticker and that was a major way for us to patrol on election day,” Mungo said.
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