Voting Solutions for All People (VSAP) debuted new voting technology in Los Angeles County for the primary election Tuesday that hopes to “address an aging voting system and an increasingly large and complex electorate” according to VSAP’s online mission statement, though the USC community differs on whether or not VSAP has accomplished this feat.
Like every other voting center throughout Los Angeles County, the only voting center on the USC campus, held in the Ground Zero Event space, implemented new voting technology for community members and USC students and faculty to cast their ballots. Many voters articulated differing views about this new voting method as they left the center.
Archana, a sophomore studying Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, who previously voted during the Alabama Senate elections, prefers this new system. “When I did the Senate elections, it was all handwritten, so I had to go through and mark what I wanted, but this one was more electronic," said Archana. “I think it was easier because it was more computerized, so it was faster.”
Community member Molly Simon, who came to the USC campus to vote due to the center’s proximity to her place of work, also preferred this system and credited it for being more inclusive. “Once I finally got into the center, the process was pretty quick and ran smoothly,” said Simon. “I think this system is better because it will allow people to vote in their native languages more easily, my mom voted downtown today and she was able to vote in Japanese, her native language, really easily and I think that’s wonderful.”
The new voting system by VSAP allows voters to select from a variety of languages to read their ballots in, catering to the increasingly diverse LA County population.
“More and more people are coming to LA from different places. It’s a beautiful thing but they aren’t accommodated, so this language selection feature was a great step in making more people feel more welcomed here," said Simon.
While some preferred this system, others found the new method more challenging and time-consuming.
John Nicoli, a USC employee, who has voted in past elections and is familiar with the previous LA voting system, described a different experience voting Tuesday.
Nicoli had to cast his vote twice due to issues with the new technology. “I tried to vote first an independent, but I was only given the option to vote for people I have never heard of," said Nicoli. “I had to go back, sign in a second time as an independent crossing over to democrat, even though I am not a democrat [...] in order to be able to vote from the main list of chowderheads."
Disapproval over the new voting system was further articulated by a junior named Samantha studying engineering. “I voted in the past election cycle and preferred that system over this new way,” said Samantha. “My friends who came with me today agree that this system isn’t that bad, it’s just not as straightforward [as the old system] and I was a little confused by it at first, it’s not a big deal though.”
Jay Krishnakumar, a sophomore studying Public Policy, expressed having an overall positive experience voting today, though also recognized that the new voting system may not be as inclusive as VSAP may have hoped their amendments would be.
“I liked the technology because it didn’t lag or anything and it was simple but the one thing was the older people took a little longer to figure everything out so there was a long line to vote," said Krishnakumar.
Other voters also expressed annoyance over the long wait to cast their ballots. “The biggest issue is the line. I had a midterm today, I got in [to vote] in time but I was really tempted to leave because I was cutting it close. I never waited that long at the polls before," commented Samantha.
Despite differing opinions on the new voting technologies, some voters are hopeful that this new process will run more smoothly moving forward.
“I cast my ballot and it wasn’t who I wanted so I had to go back and do it again,” said Eric Martinez, a community member who came to the USC voting center to cast his ballot. “It’s early days though, I think it will make voting easier in the future. It’s the first time, they just have some kinks to work out."
The voting center at the Ground Zero Event space will be open until 8 PM Tuesday.
UPDATE: Due to the high number of LA residents casting their ballots throughout the county on VSAP’s system, there have been technical difficulties at the voting center on the USC campus that have resulted in unanticipated long wait times. Organizers of the voting center at the Ground Zero Event space are urging students to visit nearby centers, such as Hoover Recreation Center and the Ward Villas for Seniors. More information on voting centers through Los Angeles County can be found here.