Think back a decade: what did your cell phone look like? Now imagine carrying out your normal routine today with that old phone. That scenario sums up the problem facing California’s aging voting system. Around the state, the machines that handle ballots have grown old as technology has advanced. There are also increasing concerns about security threats and how to get more voters to participate in elections. And the pending rollout of a new law could do away with most neighborhood polling locations and nudge more voters to vote by mail. In short, many California voters are facing a major shakeup in how they will be casting ballots. “There is a lot of change going on at once and I do think it’s tricky,” said Kim Alexander, president and founder of the nonprofit California Voter Foundation.
Alexander said there is a wave of activity going on at the state level: 10 sets of voting regulations are in development by the Secretary of State office and the voting systems certification process — which will allow for new types of voting equipment — is starting up after several years of stagnation. All of this will eventually lead to changes aimed at helping people vote in an easier, modernized and more secure way.
Driving much of the change is the Voter’s Choice Act, the 2016 law that gives counties the option to run elections under a new model that would give voters more days to cast ballots and consolidate polling places into regional voting centers. The centers would offer more services, including same-day registration.