By Mary O’KEEFE
On March 3, 2020, California voters will join a primary known as Super Tuesday. In the past, California residents have voted long after many other states held their primary vote. This coming election will be different as California joins other states, including Texas, in the big voting day.
On Sept. 27, 2017 then-Gov. Jerry Brown approved the Prime Time Primary Act, which received bipartisan support in the state legislature. California’s primary has traditionally been held in June, at the end of the presidential primary schedule.
“The late timing dilutes California’s impact and influence in the Presidential primary nomination process,” stated a release from the Office of the California Secretary of State.
In 2008, the state moved up its Presidential primary to February, resulting in the highest voter turnout for a primary election since 1980, according to the Secretary’s office.
It is hoped this new date will bring out even more voters in 2020. In addition to the new date, there is a new voting system being introduced in Los Angeles County.
“It’s the first overhaul of the voting system in LA County in 50 years,” said Ardashes “Ardy” Kassakhian, Glendale city clerk.
It is part of the Voting Solutions for All People (VSAP). This new voting system was designed for Los Angeles County that has about 5.2 million registered voters. The old voting system had problems, including broken and aging machines.
The new voting system combines a paper ballot with a touch screen, Kassakhian said. He added he understands there are some concerns regarding digital voting; however, this new system allows voters to hold their paper ballots in their hands, place them into the machine, vote and then deposit them into a secure drop box.
There have been several mock elections throughout LA County and another will take place at the La Crescenta Library on two days – Monday, Nov. 25 from noon to 8 p.m. and Tuesday, Nov. 26 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The library is located at 2809 Foothill Blvd. in La Crescenta.
The City of Glendale will be holding more mock elections in the future to help voters familiarize themselves with the new system before March 2020. Kassakhian also offered to talk to any group that would like more information.
During the election period, the city clerk’s office will have representatives on hand to help voters with questions.
Voting actually begins 10 days prior to March 3, 2020 in Super Centers, then more locations will be opened four days prior to March 3.
“Another difference is there will be no more [traditional] polling places,” he said.
In the past, residents were assigned a polling place that is near their home. In the March 2020 election voters can vote at any of the voting centers. The goal is to make it easier for those to vote who work away from their home polling place. Having an extended amount of time to vote will also assist people with tight schedules.
“[The new procedure] allows people to vote over the weekend,” Kassakhian added.
He added the new machines have digital pads with bigger fonts, an option to listen to voter instructions and access information in different languages.
“It may seem daunting,” Kassakhian said of the changes, “but people still go to the bank after [the introduction of] ATMs.”
He added that in the past what was “daunting” technology is now part of daily life.
To the concerns of privacy, Kassakhian said he understands the worries of hacking into an online system, but his office, as well as the LA County Clerk, is always thinking about how to protect information.
“This [system] is not linked to the Internet,” he added.
For more information and to see the new system in practice visit https://tinyurl.com/wtbdbou.