A new bill would allow California counties to create their own public voting systems across the state. The idea is an effort to modernize the voting process and make it more efficient. Some California counties have voting equipment that’s more than 30 years old. Currently, most California counties purchase their voting systems from one of 5 private vendors. Those companies have trademarked their technology and limit public access to operating the systems. If the equipment malfunctions, the companies have no legal obligation to notify election officials and the public. The legislation would give counties the power to develop, own and operate voting systems. Los Angeles County is spearheading the idea and could one of the first counties to create such a system.
Kim Alexander, the president of the California Voter Foundation, applauds the city’s approach. “I’m really impressed with the approach that L.A. County has taken to this process. It’s been very transparent, they’ve been very inclusive. But they’ve reached a point in their process where there’s gotta be changes at the state level in state law that will open the door to the things that they want to do,” she says.
Alexander says the money to pay for L.A.’s system would come from a mix of federal funds and state bond dollars. She says the idea would take vendors out of the equation and could help instill voter trust. The voting system would have to be approved and certified by the California Secretary of State.