Politics

Voters Try Out New Touch-Screen Balloting System At L.A. County Mock Elections

Voters try out touch-screen balloting during a mock election  at Salazar Park in East LA on Sept. 28, 2019.
Voters try out touch-screen balloting during a mock election at Salazar Park in East LA on Sept. 28, 2019.
Libby Denkmann/KPCC

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Beginning with the March 3, 2020 primary election, L.A. County voters are saying goodbye to traditional neighborhood polling places and will instead cast their ballots at any of about 1,000 "vote centers" around the county. 

This weekend, the county held mock elections at 50 sites to test-drive the new process. Elections officials rolled out new electronic ballot-marking machines that look like bright yellow booths with big touch screens in the middle -- nestled between headphones and tactile buttons.

Voters checked in with poll workers to get a ballot, then inserted it into the machine, made their selections, and printed the paper ballot to cast it -- all at the booth.

L.A. County Registrar-Recorder Dean Logan says the machines are not connected to the Internet, and voters will review their choices on a paper ballot before casting them.

“It is still a voter-marked paper ballot," he said. "This device is not retaining your voter choices, it’s not tabulating your votes. It’s just allowing you to mark the ballot in a way that’s clear. But for tabulation, the printed ballot is the official ballot.” 

All these changes are the result of a law passed in 2016 that allows counties to use a combination of vote-by-mail and vote centers. 

This story first aired on 89.3 KPCC. You can listen to the radio version by clicking on the blue player at the top of your screen. Read more about the new voting system coming to L.A. County on LAist.com