If Los Angeles County voters spark a revolution when they cast their ballots for President in 2020, it may not stem from the choices they select but rather the way they did it. The digital age is coming to the ballot box here with a new, publically owned system that the County Clerk plans to begin rolling out next summer. The first major makeover to the region’s voting system since 1968 was a long time coming. “We said ‘why don’t we look at this from a holistic standpoint and from the eyes of a voter?’” County Clerk Dean Logan told the Santa Monica City Council during a presentation of the new system. The County partnered with designers at Palo Alto based IDEO to give southern California elections the Silicon Valley treatment. The design firm was behind the first Apple mouse, the first wearable breast pump (still in beta) and revamped public school cafeterias in San Francisco. The result: new voting booths that integrate smartphones, touchscreens, QR codes and old-fashioned paper. Eight years after the over hall began in 2010, many of the changes to hit L.A. County’s five million voters are procedural, not digital.
The June 2018 election will introduce the new vote-by-mail ballots and drop-off program. Voters will no longer relive their high school days by filling in bubbles on a scan-able sheet.
After a pilot in November that year, the big changes come rolling in 2020. Logan says there will be up to 645 voting centers – some of them roving like food trucks to places voters are already gathering (such as your neighborhood farmer’s market). Scouts are looking for potential locations now. The County aims to extend the ballot casting period to ten days.