Part 4—A Voter’s Experience
A Letter from a Vote Center Visitor
Normally I use a mail-in ballot, but I wanted to try the new system, which has been ten years in the making. Vote centers started to open in L.A. County on February 22 and eventually there were 1,000 locations. Voters could go to whichever center was most convenient. On February 27, I brought in my paper ballot, thinking I'd need to turn it in—but not so. A kind woman scanned the address on my sample ballot, and up popped my name. She asked if that was me (no ID requested). I said “yes” and signed the screen. She printed out my ballot, which was mostly a blank sheet of paper.
Another worker came up once I was at my booth and asked if I'd like her to walk through the steps. I was a little nervous and appreciated her help. She gave me tips on placing the paper ballot correctly so it wouldn't jam and showed me how the system worked in about a minute. Then she left me to cast my votes. It was easy, fast, and logical. The first screen asked if I was ready to begin, and I placed my ballot in front of the printer and pushed Start. The ballot disappeared into the printer and the next screen asked for my language of preference, with tons of options available. It went on to tell me how many contests there were, and I went page by page, selecting choices by touching the screen. At every page I could choose Next, Back, or Skip. If there were a lot of candidates, a More button at the bottom let me scroll down until I found my person.
At the end, the screen told me I had cast all of my votes. I had an opportunity to look over everything, and the paper came out of the printer—now filled with all my choices. You leave it there and look it over. If it is right, you press Cast Your Ballot and it goes back through the printer and directly into a ballot box. Another worker told me the sealed ballot boxes at the vote center machines are collected and the paper ballots are counted. If I now tried to vote at a different vote center or mailed in my ballot after voting, my duplicate votes would not be counted.
For me, the surprise was how much fun it was! The people at the vote center were really nice and helpful. You can even fill out your choices on an interactive sample ballot at their website (LAVote.net), which gives you a QR code that can be scanned into the machine from your phone to save you time. I'm not that high-tech yet, but maybe next time. Onward!
P.S. The League of Women Voters has a website called Voter's Edge to help you. Of course, they do ... they are so cool.