Following complications with voting centers in Los Angeles County on Super Tuesday, Senator Ben Allen announced plans requiring L.A. County to improve the voter experience requiring the County to either increase the number of vote centers made available on Election Day or provide all voters with vote-by-mail ballots for the Fall 2020 presidential election.

Some voters in Los Angeles experienced wait times of up to three hours on Tuesday.  By the time polls closed, many voters were still left waiting in lines. Some reports suggest the delays came at least partly as a result of the County’s new electronic voting system. Recent reports said polling places cited technical issues like slow network speeds or glitches, while others lacked a sufficient number of machines to handle high Election Day 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.

“We passed the Voters Choice Act to increase access and convenience,” said Senator Ben Allen. “While many had good experiences with the new system, many, particularly those who waited to vote on Tuesday, did not, and I was dismayed to hear of the delays and lines that significantly impacted the voter experience for many Angelenos.  For a variety of reasons, many people want to wait until Election Day to vote.  We must do more to improve the Election Day voting experience.”

Current law allows counties to switch from traditional polling places to vote centers that are open 10 days before the election, with the number of available centers 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 currently required to send every voter a vote-by-mail ballot, but rather provides voters with more vote centers.  The number of required vote centers, while adequate for the days before Super Tuesday, proved inadequate for the high turnout on Tuesday itself.

This planned legislation provides L.A. County with two options. The County can either add a third step to the rollout process, increasing the number of vote centers that are made available to voters in neighborhoods on Election Day – or – provide every registered voter in the county with a vote-by-mail ballot, as is done by most other California counties.

“Voters in many California counties took advantage of the fact that they had been sent ballots to fill out their ballots and turn them in at voting centers on Election Day, thus avoiding the long lines,” said Allen.  “Providing additional vote centers will lessen the burden on any individual center, providing voters with more options to go somewhere else if one center is overcrowded or experiencing technical difficulties.  Requiring the County to send voters ballots by mail and/or providing more vote centers on Election Day will make for a much better experience for voters and ensure that no one is discouraged from voting because of lines or delays.”

Ben Allen represents the 26th State Senate District, which consists of Hollywood, the Westside, and South Bay communities of Los Angeles County.

Submitted by Shannon Flaherty | Communications Director

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