Eagle Rock -- After taking L.A. County’s new Voting Solutions for All People system for a test ride this weekend at a mock election, my husband Jim and I were impressed with the streamlined technology and user-friendly system.
We can also happily report that the best parts of voting will still be intact: receiving a paper voter booklet in the mail, having human interactions to (if you choose) bookend the physical experience, and being handed the “I Voted” sticker.
The turnout at the Yosemite Recreation Center may have been small compared to the glitz of other high-profile locations (with food trucks, giveaways and possible celeb sightings), but the voting staff were eager to walk us through the process.
Remember volunteers leafing through a huge paper roster of names and then you signing upside down on a ruler at check-in? Gone. A new electronic system efficiently found me and physically printed out my ballot with QR code denoting my election history, party preference and precinct area.
This new system eliminates the need for provisional ballots, allowing voters to vote at any one of 1,000 vote centers that will located around the county; you’re not tied to vote ONLY at your precinct.
Also, remember that voting will now be an 11-day affair to counter excuses about “finding time to vote.”
Taking the empty ballot to the ballot marker device (equipped for the hearing impaired and wide enough for wheelchairs), I approached the large adjustable touch screen displaying an easy-to-read design (you can customize screens for larger fonts, contrasting backgrounds, etc.) As I made my selection, the fears of punching the wrong circle, leaving a hanging chad or improperly inking a mark disappeared.
(I could have gone super techy. You can prepare your ballot selections beforehand on a mobile device to generate a Poll Pass. At the voting booth, simply wave the code, like you do with e-tickets to board a plane, and your selections will populate the ballot.)
After voting, I reviewed my entire selections on the screen AND on a paper copy as well. I made some changes, and pressed finish. The machine sucked up the paper ballot and secured it in a locked box. I learned the device itself does not read or count ballots. That’s still done by the paper ballots. Wow.
I met Los Angeles resident Karen McKay who also tested the new system this weekend. She was pleased that that ballot device is not connected to a network or the internet. “The issue of election security is so important these days, and I think this new system addressed those concerns. It’s pretty great.”
Jim and I both agree and look forward to the real deal next year.
The new Voting Solutions for All People will start implementation with a handful of local and municipal elections this November followed by a full rollout for the presidential primary in March 2020 followed by the general election in November 2020. Visit lavote.net to learn more.
Facts on the Ballot Marking Devices:
- A paper ballot is required to use the Ballot Marking Device
- There is no network or internet connection
- These do not count ballots
- The printed ballot will have a human-readable summary of selections
- Voters will review their ballot twice before casting
- Voters cast their ballot on the same device