Sacramento, CA – Following hours long waits and a slew of complaints from frustrated Los Angeles County voters on Super Tuesday, planned legislation was announced requiring L.A. County to provide voters with more access by increasing the number of vote centers on election day or by providing vote-by-mail ballots for the Fall 2020 election.
Senator Ben Allen, D-Santa Monica, announced plans to draft legislation that would L.A. County to either provide every voter with a vote-by-mail ballot, or, to significantly increase the number of vote centers on election day. The bill would require these changes to be made by the Fall 2020 Presidential Election.
Voters in Los Angeles experienced wait times of up to three hours on Tuesday. By the time polls closed, thousands of voters were still left waiting in lines. Recent reports suggest the delays could be linked to a new electronic voting system the county began using this year. Some polling places cited technical issues like slow network speeds or glitches, while others lacked a sufficient number of machines for voter turnout. According to some reports, it’s estimated that about one-fifth of the county’s touch-screen voting machines did not work and had to be replaced.
“Voters should not have to drastically alter their daily lives in order to have their voice heard on election day,” said Senator Ben Allen. “Voters deserve maximum flexibility when casting their ballots, and we need to ensure the county is providing every avenue and resource to make that possible. Something must change so that every vote can be cast and counted.”
Current law allows counties to switch from traditional polling places to vote centers that are open 10 days before the election, with the number increasing four days before the election. It also requires counties to provide all voters with a vote-by-mail ballot. However, L.A. County is not required to send every voter a vote-by-mail ballot, but rather provides voters with more vote centers.
This planned legislation provides L.A. County with two options. The county can either add a third step to the rollout process, significantly increasing the number of vote centers that become available on election day – or – provide every registered voter in the county with a vote-by-mail ballot.
Senator Allen authored the Voters Choice Act of 2016 that aimed to provide voters with increased options to cast their votes by opening an 11-day vote center that includes a host of options including: same-day voter registration, accessible voting machines, language assistance and translated materials, voter education, and more.
Senator Allen plans to introduce the bill next week. It will then be heard by the Senate Elections and Redistricting Committee.
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Ben Allen represents the 26th State Senate District. which consists of the Hollywood, Westside, and South Bay communities of Los Angeles County. He is co-chair of the California state legislature's Environmental Caucus. The Environmental Quality Committee that he chairs oversees statewide policy on climate change, air pollution, toxins, and automobile emissions.