When Los Angeles County voters go to the polls on March 3 they’ll have the opportunity to cast their vote for a number of new and fresh faces seeking to make their mark in Los Angeles’ political sphere.
Voters will also be introduced to a score of changes to Los Angeles voting system. As next month’s presidential primary inches closer, Los Angeles recently embarked on the future of voting, keenly aware that people will be paying close attention to the new, tech-centric system in the wake of the Iowa Caucus debacle.
What Changed From the 2016 Primary Election?
While the new system comes with a bevy of smaller, less noticeable changes, the biggest alteration concerns the number of voting locations, and where individuals can vote.
Under the new system, individuals can now vote at any of the new voting centers regardless of where they live in the county, as long as they have a photo ID, utility bill, or another government-issued document with a name and residential address.
The number of polling places have also experienced a noticeable decrease in population. The 2020 primary will see just 960 open polling places compared to the 4,500 places that were open in Los Angeles County during the 2016 Presidential Election.
If voting in person, residents will notice that they are now expected to cast votes on the counties’ new tablet voting devices. The devices are not connected to the internet and still produce paper ballots. The machines offer 13 different languages and larger fonts.
So Where Can I Vote?
Officials did their best to space out the number of polling places based off of geographics, placing a number of voting centers in public places like schools and museums.
There are 17 voting places in Downtown. Five voting locations are in Chinatown, including one at the Chinatown Library and another at Union Station East and there are two in Little Tokyo, at the Japanese American National Museum and the Miyako Hotel. Voters in Skid Row and the Toy District can go to the Union Rescue Mission or Anne Douglas Center respectively.
The Arts District has just one location at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, while the Fashion District has the Ace Hotel. Subsequent locations in South Park and the Civic Center include centers at the Bob Hope Patriotic Hall, the Los Angeles Trade Tech College and the Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration.
The locations are typically open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on March 3. To find out your nearest voting center go to the L.A. County Registrar’s website and type in your address. Some of the locations will be open four days prior to the election (Feb. 29 - March 3) and others will have been open since Feb. 22.
Why the Change?
The changes to the voting system are due to the passage of the Voter’s Choice Act, a state law passed in 2016 that sought to modernize California elections by providing more flexibility for California voters.
Some of the key elements of the new model included ensuring that every registered voter received a ballot 28 days prior to election day, the replacement of traditional polling places and the establishment of ballot drop-off locations. Individuals can also register to vote the same day at all voting centers.
The changes proposed by the VCA were already enacted in Madera, Napa, Nevada, Sacramento and San Mateo counties. Los Angeles is one of 12 counties to enact the VCA for the 2020 elections.
Los Angeles’ plan, dubbed the Voting Solutions for All People system, cost $300 million and took close to a decade to construct. It is the County’s first publicly owned and designed voting system.
With the Iowa caucus causing more questions than answers, the VSAP is likely to be placed under a microscope when voters take the polls. California Secretary of State Alex Padilla gave the new system his vote of approval on Jan. 24, but not without a few caveats. The approval came with a few alterations and modifications that must be made to the system before the election, which County registrar-officials ensure will be made prior to the March 3 deadline. Some of the changes called for by Padilla, can be completed five months after the system was certified.
FINDING THE VOTING CENTERS
Do you live in Downtown and plan on voting in this election?
Of course you are.
Downtown has 17 of the county’s new voting centers. Here is where to find them, by neighborhood. As of press time, all are open and people can begin voting through March 3.
South Park/Figueroa Corridor
Bob Hope Patriotic Hall
1816 S. Figueroa St.
Los Angeles Trade Tech College
400 W. Washington Blvd.
Skid Row/Toy District
Anne Douglas Center
310 E. Winston St.
Union Rescue Mission
545 S. San Pedro St.
Union Station East
811 N. Vignes St.
639 N. Hill St.
Alpine Recreation Center
817 Yale St.
Castelar Elementary School
840 Yale St.
First Chinese Baptist Church
949 Yale St.
Miguel Contreras Learning Center
322 Lucas Ave.
Gratts Elementary School
309 Lucas Ave.
Japanese American National Museum
100 N. Central Ave.
328 E. First St.
Japanese American Cultural and Community Center
244 S. San Pedro St.
Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration
500 W. Temple Ave.
929 S. Broadway.
Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
1717 E. Seventh St.