March 3 Super Tuesday elections: New procedures, new voters

| December 4, 2019 | 0 Comments

MODERNIZED VOTING, to include touch screens, is a countywide project aimed at bringing credibility to the ballot box.

Every four years there is a new batch of teenagers eligible to vote in the local and primary elections. But on March 3, all voters in Los Angeles County will be approaching new ballot boxes for the first time. They will be voting in local and primary elections.

The Voting Solutions for All People (VSAP) project, a County initiative passed in 2016 under the California Voter’s Choice Act, has overhauled the voting model, from ballots to polling centers to voting periods, to improve security, integrity, cost effectiveness and public trust. Among other sweeping changes, ballot boxes will feature touch screens with the capacity to scan QR-coded ballots from mobile devices, and voters will have 11 days to cast votes.

The youth vote

These reforms, already piloted in five California counties in the 2018 elections, will seem new to old-time voters, but for newly eligible voters, it will be the only system of voting they will have experienced. James D’Atri, 18, a Larchmont Village resident and a senior at Providence High School, plans to vote on Super Tuesday.

“I am looking for someone who has a plan to deal with climate change and its fallout,” D’Atri said. “To get even a small percentage of the youth vote, I think candidates need to address both climate change and mass shootings in a substantial way.”

The highest level of young voters in at least the last 25 years, at 31% of eligible young people, participated in the 2018 midterms, according to analysis from the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE). Experts predict that a surge of young, politically-minded voters will continue to reshape the political landscape in the 2020 election cycle.

Priya Karumanchi, 18, a senior at Marlborough School, was pre-registered to vote in Massachusetts at age 16. When she moved to Hancock Park in 2018, she pre-registered again to vote in California.
“It’s important to vote because, in a lot of other places, you don’t have the opportunity to vote for what you believe in a democratic society,” Karumanchi said. “It’s important for us to be able to vote. Even in the United States, there are people [who] don’t have the privilege to vote.”

The issue of voting security is not new, but fears of foreign interference and widespread hacking that interfere with the integrity of votes have been subject to debate and mass media attention on the national level. D’Atri said he worries whether his vote will matter when flaws in the national voting infrastructure still exist.

“My worries do shake my faith in the credibility of our voting system, since I do not know if my vote has been tampered with or not,” D’Atri said. “It does change my belief that elections in America are free and fair. With the vulnerabilities that exist in the infrastructure, I just can’t believe in that anymore.”

VSAP hopes to mitigate these fears by modernizing the system while maintaining a paper record. Although Los Angeles County will not automatically send mail-in ballots until the 2024 elections, VSAP is shifting voters to voting by mail or, if voters cast ballots in-person at any vote center in the County, making sure their ballot-marking devices print paper ballots for voters’ physical reviews.

Paper ballots can be recounted, if necessary, and preserve the integrity of votes even if computers are compromised. The new voting machines do not use internet connection or connect to WiFi.

“I see the benefit of trying to become more advanced,” Karumanchi said. “I don’t know how necessary it is to do it online and then still have paper. Maybe there’s another way that they could do it so it’s more environmentally friendly?”

Regardless, D’Atri and Karumanchi are pre-registered and plan to vote March 3. “I am voting in the primaries, because, if I don’t, it’s the same as not having the right to vote at all,” D’Atri said. “People who benefit from me not voting still benefit.”

By Talia Abrahamson

Talia Abrahamson is a senior at Marlborough School.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Category: People

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *