After a ten year mission and $100 million investment, LA County is ready to implement a new voting system - but some LA voters aren’t.
This new model, Voting Solutions for All People (VSAP), will employ state of the art technology “to address an aging voting system and an increasingly large and complex electorate”, according to the VSAP website.
As of 2020, the previous scantron-esque ballot will be replaced by touchscreen tablets similar to an iPad. These tablets will enable Angelenos to cast their ballots in over a dozen languages and even have measures read out loud to them through headphones, offering solutions for disabled and non-English speaking voters.
“I’m excited about the new system, I think it will mark a new beginning for voters in LA and will be more inclusive of LA’s community, which is constantly becoming more diverse,” commented Los Angeles voter Emily Hernandez.
A tutorial on the new ballot-marking technology can be found here.
Some are still wary of the switch, expressing concern that a new technology-based system may be more susceptible to hacking.
“In the 15 years since electronic voting machines were first adopted by many states, numerous reports by computer scientists have shown nearly every make and model to be vulnerable to hacking,” said cybersecurity analyst and investigative New York Times journalist Kim Zetter.
Similar sentiments were vocalized by USC junior Anastasia Zavodnick. “I just don’t know, how can something be 100% hacker-proof in today’s age?" Zavodnick said.
Regardless of critics, VSAP is adamant they can ensure safety and privacy for voters, as voting machines will not be connected to the internet and voters will be required to print out and review their ballots prior to officially casting them.
Another bigger change with the next primary election is location. As of next year, neighborhood polling locations are expected to go away in favor of approximately 1,000 new voting centers throughout the county. Though the exact location of these centers has yet to be announced, voters will be allowed to vote at any location, as opposed to the previous system, which required that voters go to a specific, local location to cast their ballots.
According to the VSAP website, voters will also be allowed to cast their vote up to ten days prior to election.
For the majority of Angelenos who prefer voting via mail, that option is still available. However, because LA County is exempt from having to mail ballots to every registered voter, LA voters must request to have their ballots mailed to them, which can be done here.
“Starting all these changes right away seems overwhelming,” Zavodnick said. “I wish these would come together more slowly, not all at once.”
Despite the many new changes to look out for at the polls next year, today’s elections will still implement neighborhood polling locations and paper ballots.