California is one of 14 states heading to the polls on March 3 for “Super Tuesday,” when primaries across the country could decide who the leading Democratic presidential candidate will be.
However, voters living in Los Angeles county, including the San Fernando Valley don’t have to wait until March 3 to vote.
Early Vote Centers have been open since Feb. 22 for voters to cast their ballots, not only for the presidential candidates but also a number of Los Angeles county judges, and state and local measures.
In addition to being able to vote early, voters will also notice a big change in the way they’ll vote. Gone are the old fashioned ink punchers and paper ballots. They’ve been replaced with new digital voting machines. Voters will make their selections on touch screen machines resembling electronic tablets that can switch to various languages, text size and even tilt.
After voters make their choices, the machine prints their selections on a ballot for voters to review before they insert them into a ballot box.
Another major change is that your usual polling place may not be the same, and that you have options.
You can vote in any of the nearly 1,000 vote centers that opened on Feb. 22 in your county of registration and the centers will remain open for 11 days until March 3 at 8 p.m. (You can also register and vote on the same day, all in an effort to increase participation.)
Dean Logan, Los Angeles County Registrar, said that 5,596 votes were cast on Feb. 22. The opening day for the early voting center was a bit bumpy, but Logan was generally pleased. The “equipment performed well and voter feedback on usability was positive,” he said.
At the voting center at the San Fernando Library on Maclay Avenue, San Fernando Councilmember Sylvia Ballin said residents noted the glitches, but they were quickly resolved and she and others were able to cast their votes with ease.
While Logan and others have praised the new voting system and early vote centers, they are not welcomed by everyone.
The City of Beverly Hills filed a lawsuit against LA county because the screens only display the names of four candidates at a time. Voters must press a button marked “More” to see the rest. But many believe voters would confuse the button “Next” for this feature, which actually takes them to the next contest, missing all the additional candidates’ names — and mislead voters into thinking there are only four candidates.
That’s a problem because several contests have more than four candidates.
There is also a concern about the potential for the machines to be hacked.
The Registrar’s/Recorder’s office has tried to minimize these worries, and notes the new system was designed with security in mind, pointing out the machines are not connected to a network or the Internet.
To make it easier to vote, the county also unveiled an online Interactive Sample Ballot for voters to make their selections before heading to the polls, which they can then transfer onto the voting machines.
Secretary of State Alex Padilla confirmed 20.5 million people are registered to vote, and a record voter turnout is expected for this presidential primary election. Voters are encouraged to bring the Sample Ballot or Interactive Sample Ballot to speed up the voting process.
The general election is Nov. 3.
To find the nearest Vote Center near you, visit locator.lavote.net/locations/vc
Diana Martinez contributed to this article.