California: Los Angeles County Urged to Improve Voter Experience by November Election | Nathan Solis/Courthouse News

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla has asked Los Angeles County to mail out ballots to its 5.5 million voters after a disastrous rollout of the county’s $300 million voting system Tuesday in which some voters were greeted with downed computer terminals and wait times bordering on four hours. In addition to asking LA County to mail out ballots for the November election, Padilla offered other recommendations Thursday including increased equipment at vote centers as well as more staff that is better coordinated and trained. “With only eight months until the November General Election, it is critical that these issues are addressed in a timely and efficient manner,” Padilla said.The March 3 primary was the first election in which voters used LA County’s new $300 million electronic voting system. Voters should have been greeted by polling place staff with touchscreen tablets who would then direct citizens to a nearly paperless voting machine. Vote centers throughout LA County were open for 11 days before Super Tuesday and voters were not restricted to a center near their home. Unlike in previous years where more than 4,500 polling places were open throughout the county, this election saw about 1,000 open vote centers. Meanwhile, the county is one of just 14 counties participating in the Voter’s Choice Act which gives greater flexibility to local election offices for early voting, but the county does not mail every registered voter a ballot.

Editorials: California Steals Its Own Election | Wall Street Journal

Bernie Sanders supporters who complain that the Democratic primary contest is rigged may have an ironic point. Look how he was denied what might have been a bigger victory in California on Super Tuesday that would have countered Joe Biden’s Eastern U.S. rout narrative. Blame incompetent progressive government. California’s tally at our deadline Friday had Mr. Sanders with 33.6% of the statewide vote to Mr. Biden’s 25.3%. But about three million mail-in and provisional ballots still have to be counted, and the state has until April 10 to certify results. So we won’t know how many of California’s 415 delegates Mr. Sanders won for another month or so. Experts predict Mr. Sanders will win most of the uncounted ballots since young people often vote late. But the delayed results will dampen the benefit he might have gained from his California victory on Super Tuesday’s election night. Not that his friends on the left in Sacramento care. “In the state with the largest electorate in the nation, the vote count does not end on Election Night—and that’s a good thing,” declared Secretary of State Alex Padilla on Tuesday. Mr. Padilla is trying to put a positive spin on California’s voting fiasco. Lawmakers recently overhauled election procedures in the name of making it easier for young people and Hispanics to vote. Yet the result was the opposite, and Mr. Sanders is the victim.

Texas: Harris County’s cascade of election day fumbles disproportionately affected communities of color | Alexa Uren/The Texas Tribune

From the sunlit atrium of the science building on campus, former Vice President Joe Biden asked Texas Southern University for an assist. It was election day eve, and Biden was visiting the university just days after black voters in South Carolina had forcefully revived his presidential bid. That Biden had chosen to spend precious hours at Texas Southern ahead of Super Tuesday seemed to signal he hoped to make the historically black college and the community it represented a nexus between his last pivotal win and the next crucial test of his campaign. “Tomorrow, Texas is going to speak,” Biden said to a raucous throng of supporters surrounding him. “I think we’re going to do well here in Texas with the help of all of you. I’m asking you for your vote. I’m asking you for your support because I’ve got to earn it.

Texas: Harris County Democrats waited for hours to vote. Two-thirds of polling sites were in GOP areas. | Zach Despart and Mike Morris/Houston Chronicle

Many of the 322,000 Harris County Democratic primary voters who surged to the polls Tuesday faced long lines that forced several balloting sites to stay open late into the evening. Though Democrats outnumbered Republicans 2 to 1 on Election Day, almost two-thirds of the county’s voting centers were in county commissioner precincts in west Harris County held by Republicans. And, in a decision that worsened delays, the Harris County Clerk’s Office placed an equal number of voting machines for each party at every voting center. That meant that in Democratic strongholds like Kashmere Gardens, where Republicans were outnumbered 30 to 1 during early balloting, Democratic voters languished in line while GOP machines sat unused. Adding to the frustration was a County Clerk website that is supposed to show wait times at poll locations. Numerous voters on Tuesday complained the website led them to a polling place showing a minimal wait only to stand for hours because poll workers failed to update the site. Housing advocate Chrishelle Palay said she saw two or three Republican voters while she waited two hours to cast her ballot in Kashmere. “People were confused and infuriated,” Palay said. “They were definitely upset at the approach and how the machines were set up.”

Texas: Voting delays in Fort Worth area blamed on machine set up | Anna M. Tinsley/Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Some Tarrant County voters waited in long lines — some that took an hour or more to get through — to cast their vote Tuesday in the presidential primary election. Officials said that was because the turnout at some sites was larger than expected, some sites were understaffed, and some voters are still getting accustomed to the new voting machines. But frustration grew on Super Tuesday when there was, for instance, a long line of Democrats waiting to vote at a polling site as several machines went unused because they were set aside for Republicans. Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley said he believes the problem can be avoided. “I hope we will take advantage of what technology offers us and share the machines between the two parties,” he said Wednesday. The catch is that early voting, which is run by the county, lets residents use any of the 600 voting machines set up to cast ballots in either the Republican or Democratic primary.

Indiana: Commissioners won’t vote on Madison County vote center proposal | Ken de la Bastide/The Herald Bulletin

A lack of a quorum at a called special meeting of the Madison County Commissioners has stopped the attempt to implement vote centers in the county. Commissioner John Richwine called the special meeting for Monday evening to discuss vote centers, but late in the day County Attorney Jonathan Hughes sent out an email stating because of prior commitments there would not be a quorum. Richwine said he was going to attend the meeting and allow anyone to speak on becoming a vote center county. Commissioners Kelly Gaskill and Mike Phipps notified Hughes they would not be in attendance. Both were at the Madison County Government Center, but didn’t attend an Election Board meeting earlier Monday.

Kansas: Democrats sue over Kansas delay in start of ‘vote anywhere’ | John Hanna/Associated Press

Kansas and national Democratic Party groups on Friday sued the Republican official who oversees the state’s elections, accusing him of violating voters’ rights by delaying the implementation of a law designed to make voting on Election Day more convenient. The lawsuit was filed in state district court in Topeka after Secretary of State Scott Schwab said his office would need another year to draft regulations needed for counties to take advantage of a 2019 state “vote anywhere” law. The law permits counties to allow voters to cast their ballots at any polling place within their borders on Election Day, rather than only at a single site. Some officials in Sedgwick County, home to the state’s largest city, Wichita, believe it is ready to allow voters to choose their polling sites. They note that it has allowed voters to cast their ballots in advance at multiple locations for more than a decade, with the county’s entire electronic voter registration database accessible to workers at each one. It also deployed new voting machines in 2017 that allow a “vote anywhere” system.

Kansas: County, lawmakers battle to make voting easier this year | Dion Lefler/The Wichita Eagle

Sedgwick County is turning to the state Legislature to try to force Secretary of State Scott Schwab to let county voters choose their own polling place in this year’s upcoming elections. A Republican lawmaker has agreed to introduce a bill to let the County Commission change the voting procedure without Schwabb’s blessing. Meanwhile, the top Senate Democrat says he may take Schwab to court in an effort to make him comply with a law passed last year. The law at issue would replace traditional polling places with “voting centers” around the community. Any voter could vote at any voting center, instead of having to go to an assigned polling place on election day. Commissioners and legislators say they think Schwab has dragged his feet on implementing the law. “I’m very frustrated over this thing,” said county Commissioner Jim Howell. “We passed this law last year, we pushed it forward late in the (legislative) session because we wanted to have this ready for the 2020 elections.” “Now here we are eight or nine months later and he hasn’t written any rules and regulations yet. Why?” Schwab says he supports the new law, but crafting the regulations and ensuring necessary cybersecurity precautions is a complicated process that won’t be done in time for this year’s presidential and Senate elections.

Kansas: State won’t be ready to implement vote center law for 2020 elections | Tim Carpenter /The Topeka Capital-Journal

Secretary of State Scott Schwab predicted Tuesday regulations necessary to implement a state law allowing Kansans to vote at the polling station of their choice won’t be completed in time for the August or November elections in 2020. Schwab told members of the Senate’s election committee that technical considerations, including cellphone coverage problems, in the state’s 105 counties made the process of drafting rules complex. The program won’t be finalized until 2021, he said. The voting reform bill signed last year by Gov. Laura Kelly was inspired by a proposal from Sedgwick County officials. “They are not going to be ready by this year simply because we don’t want to screw up,” the secretary of state said. “If we rushed it through for this year, I promise you there would be a lot of mistakes.”

Indiana: Republican’s plan would further suppress voting in Marion County, Democrats say | Indianapolis Star

The newly appointed Republican member of the Marion County Election Board has proposed a way to settle a lawsuit alleging discrimination in access to voting, but a group behind the dispute and Democrats alike say the plan would worsen the problem. Melissa Thompson, who was appointed Sept. 15 to the three-person board, suggests eliminating the 600 existing voting precincts and replacing them with 99 vote centers, but also during the early-voting period a vote center or satellite site in each of the county’s nine townships. Thompson says her plan would save the county money by eliminating more than 500 locations while increasing the number of early-voting locations. She also says her plan would make voting more accessible to workers because they could cast a ballot at any vote center rather than having to go to a designated precinct.   “Maybe it’s wishful thinking, but right now we have the opportunity to think bigger than just this lawsuit,” Thompson told IndyStar.

California: State’s big change in voting rules is off to a rocky start for 2018 | Los Angeles Times

Perhaps no part of California has thought more about the future of voting than Orange County. And yet when it comes to a sweeping change to state elections, the county has decided to take a pass. In fact, recent events serve as a cautionary tale that changing elections is hard, even when the plan is praised by “good government” advocates as the kind of reform that will make voting fit in better with the way we live and work. Less than two weeks ago, the Orange County Board of Supervisors quietly scrapped years of work by its elections officials on a plan to swap neighborhood polling places for universal absentee ballots and a limited number of all-purpose vote centers. There, voters could access a variety of election services — including last-minute registration, a few voting booths and a place to drop off absentee ballots. There would also be ballot drop boxes in heavily trafficked areas of the county.

Nevada: Voters will have more options for casting their ballots by June 2018 primary | Las Vegas Review-Journal

Local voters should be able to cast a valid ballot at any polling location inside Clark County, not just their local precincts, by the primary election in June 2018. The County Commission voted Tuesday to spend about $1.57 million to expand the same electronic poll book technology it uses for early voting to all polling places on Election Day. The money will be used to purchases software and hardware from San Diego-based Votec Corporation, the company providing the county’s current early voting election software. The county currently has 200 licenses to use the software, but it will soon have 1,300. “All we’re doing is expanding what we already have in place so we can use it on Election Day,” County Registrar of Voters Joe Gloria said.

California: State’s electoral future is rooted in the old-fashioned absentee ballot | Los Angeles Times

For all of the intriguing ideas about improving California elections, there was one undeniable truth at a gathering last week of county officials and activists: The state’s 21st century voting will lean heavily on its greatest electoral innovation of 1864. That would be the absentee ballot. Call it reliable or anachronistic, but the do-it-yourself ballot is the foundation of voting reform in a state now on the cusp of 20 million registered voters. That revamping of elections begins next year in a handful of California counties, closing polling places in garages and schools while asking voters, like soldiers during the Civil War, to vote somewhere else. “Voters are looking for a choice,” said Neal Kelly, Orange County’s registrar at the event sponsored by the Future of California Elections, a nonprofit organization. “And they are looking for voting on their own terms.”

California: Get ready for a new voting system debuting in 2018 | The Orange County Register

If you voted this fall in a neighborhood garage or the clubhouse of a park or a school auditorium, remember the experience well. It may not be repeated anytime soon. If you saw American flags flying at your precinct polling place, that sight may also disappear. A whole new election system is about to begin in California, complete with “vote centers” and a big expansion of early balloting. The new system will start phasing in 2018 in 14 counties and should be operative by 2020 everywhere in the state. One thing for sure, losing candidates and those who expect to lose will have new fodder for the “rigged election” cry taken up so vocally this fall by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. With more mail-in ballots involved than ever before, same-day voter registration and personnel in place to provide language assistance, charges of fraud will be common at least while the new system is being broken in. The hope behind the new system, pushed hard by Democratic Secretary of State Alex Padilla and signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown, is to increase voter turnout drastically.

California: New Elections Model Passes State Assembly | Santa Monica Mirror

Legislation authored by Senator Ben Allen (D – Santa Monica) that will transform the way elections are conducted in California passed the state Assembly today on a vote of 42 – 28. “Our current system of limiting voters to one polling location on a single day has failed. It is time to implement a new voting model that allows people to vote conveniently, close to where they work, shop and congregate,” Senator Allen said. Under the new system, every voter will receive a vote by mail ballot that can be returned by mail, or dropped off at numerous locations throughout the county called vote centers. Voters will be able to vote in person at the vote centers for 10 days prior to Election Day, including two weekends.

Arkansas: Benton County vote centers given state’s OK | Arkansas Online

Benton County’s move to vote centers in place of traditional polling places has been approved by the secretary of state’s office — the final OK needed to carry out the plan. The Benton County Election Commission endorsed the plan and obtained Quorum Court approval before sending the plan to Little Rock. With Monday’s approval from the state, election officials will proceed with vote centers where any registered voter can cast a ballot on election day rather than being limited to a single polling place. Election officials were pleased with the quick decision on the plan. The county plan was sent to the secretary of state’s office in Little Rock twice Monday, with email problems prompting the need for it to be resent. The plan was approved less than two hours after it was resent.

South Dakota: Jackson County settles, but early voting court case not over | Argus Leader

Jackson County has decided to give up the fight about opening an in-person early voting center in Indian Country, making it the last county to do so. County officials signed an agreement with the state authorizing an in-person early voting station in Wanblee, which has a heavy Native American population. Various tribes and voting rights advocates have been asking counties to open voting stations in towns with large Native American populations, arguing that impoverished Indians couldn’t make the trip to county seats to cast early votes. Jackson County was the lone holdout, even after state officials had indicated that the county could use state Help America Vote Act funds to cover the expenses of opening a satellite voting station at Wanblee. The agreement means that the state will fund, and Jackson County will staff, an early voting station through the 2022 election.

Wyoming: Cheyenne officials: New voting procedures a success | Wyoming Tribune Eagle

Cheyenne was the guinea pig for the rollout of both vote centers and electronic pollbooks in Wyoming on Tuesday. Based on the outcome, government officials are confident the systems will be successful as they are implemented countywide and statewide in future elections. Both processes are enabled by new legislation passed earlier this year by the Wyoming Legislature. They are designed to make the voting process more efficient and available to voters. Vote centers refer to a network of polling locations that allow voters choice in where to vote. Instead of voting at a specific precinct, voters can vote at any of the centers.

National: Elections Technology: Nine Things Legislators May Want to Know | The Canvass

What makes you lose sleep?” That’s what NCSL staff asked members of the National Association of State Election Directors back in September 2012. The answer wasn’t voter ID, or early voting, or turnout, as we expected. Instead, it was this: “Our equipment is aging, and we aren’t sure we’ll have workable equipment for our citizens to vote on beyond 2016.”That was NCSL’s wake-up call to get busy and learn how elections and technology work together. We’ve spent much of the last two years focusing on that through the Elections Technology Project, funded by the MacArthur Foundation. One thing we learned is that virtually all election policy choices have a technology component. Just two examples: vote centers and all-mail elections. While both can be debated based on such values as their effect on voters, election officials and budgets, neither can be decided without considering technology. Vote centers rely on e-poll books, and all-mail elections depend on optical scan equipment to handle volumes of paper ballots.Below are nine more takeaways we’ve learned recently and that legislators might like to know too.

Voting Blogs: One county at a time, vote centers coming to Texas | electionlineWeekly

Some revolutions start with a shot and others take time to build. In Texas, a slow-building revolution is moving one county at a time to switch the largest state in the lower 48 to a vote center system instead of the traditional precinct-based polling places. Since beginning a pilot program of vote centers nearly a decade ago just over 10 percent of the state’s 200+ counties used vote centers in the most recent statewide election and more are petitioning to make the move. While not willing to call the pilot an outright success because of the still small sample of counties using the system, the secretary of state’s report to the 84th Legislature on the program said anecdotally, vote centers do make easier for voters and elections officials alike.

Wyoming: House committee clears e-pollbooks, vote centers | Wyoming Tribune Eagle

A House committee gave its approval Tuesday to a bill that would allow county clerks to begin using electronic pollbooks and vote centers instead of traditional polling places on Election Day. Senate File 52 would allow county clerks to replace their existing paper pollbooks with electronic books for the purposes of keeping track of who is registered to vote, who has voted and where they voted. With electronic pollbooks, clerks would also be able to open “vote centers,” or polling places where anyone in a given jurisdiction can vote on Election Day, regardless of where they live within that jurisdiction. The idea of the bill is to provide better access to voters, particularly for jurisdictions where some far-flung polling places are having trouble staying open due to a lack of election judges. It also, in the case of elementary schools, would help alleviate any safety concerns about interaction between schoolchildren and the voting public.

Wyoming: Voting centers bill marches ahead in Legislature | Casper Star Tribune

A House committee Tuesday forwarded a bill that would allow county clerks to establish centralized voting places for future elections. Senate File 52 previously passed the Senate and now has three rounds of voting before potentially becoming law. In Wyoming, people vote by geographical precinct. A county voting center would be a place where anyone, regardless of their precinct, could vote. Laramie County Clerk Debbye Lathrop told members of the House Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee voting centers would be helpful to someone who lives in one town and works in a larger city, where a voting center could located. Instead of having to drive home during the lunch hour, the voter could cast a ballot in the city.

Indiana: Bill to end straight-ticket vote goes forward | Journal Gazette

The House Elections committee voted 8-4 Wednesday to move forward a proposal that would eliminate one-button, straight-ticket voting in the state. The vote fell along party lines with Republicans in support and Democrats opposed. Under current law, voters can cast their ballots for all of one party’s candidates – Democratic, Republican or Libertarian – with a single click or mark. House Bill 1008 would require voters to choose a candidate specifically for each office. Party identifiers would still be next to each name. Rep. Dave Ober, R-Albion – author of the legislation – said in the last election, only one state in the top 10 in terms of voter turnout used straight-ticket voting. In the bottom 10 states – including Indiana – five offer straight-ticket voting.

Ohio: Voting Centers Not Likely To Happen In Ohio Anytime Soon | WCBE

When Ohioans go to vote in person on Election Day, they go to their local precinct polling stations. But in some states, voters go to larger centers that are designated by the counties. That idea was recently floated at a meeting of Ohio elections officials. Those centers are not likely to be a reality in the near future. Ohio Public Radio’s Jo Ingles reports. Ohio’s elections officials have long said they want to reduce the number of provisional ballots cast in Ohio elections. Many times those are cast because voters go to the wrong precinct. But Aaron Ockerman with the Ohio Association of Election Officials says one way to eliminate that problem is by going to large voting centers instead of neighborhood precincts.

New Mexico: Native voting pact eased poll access, but turnout down | Albuquerque Journal

Twenty-five years ago today, Sandoval County officials responded to a federal lawsuit filed to make it easier for Native American voters to understand and cast their ballots, setting in motion a drawn-out and sometimes contentious relationship to bring the county into compliance with the Voting Rights Act. Though increasing voter turnout was not an explicit goal of the county’s Native American Voting Rights Program, which resulted from the lawsuit, the number of voters has decreased in presidential elections and at least stagnated in midterm elections since 2006, according to a Journal review of New Mexico Secretary of State’s office data. The 2014 election was the first since 1988 that did not have federal monitors present in any of the precincts.

Wyoming: Bill Proposes Voting Centers and E-Poll Books | KCWY

Your neighborhood polling place may join typewriters and Model T’s if one bill passes the legislature. News 13’s Cody O’Hara spoke with senators favoring the bill who say it will increase voter turnout, as well as one who says he sees this as a way to close some polling places. “We need to make it easier for people to vote and this bill goes in the opposite direction,” said Senator Charlie Scott of Natrona County. A bill being held back in the Senate until Wednesday would allow electronic voter check in at any local polls as well as establish optional voting centers, but some senators say it will lead to polling place closures. “I don’t know of any clerk who has any intention to close any existing polling places,” said Senator Cale Case of Natrona County.

Ohio: Idea is for fewer Ohio polling places, but you can use any of them | The Columbus Dispatch

Ohio voters would lose most of their Election Day polling places under a plan for centralized voting pushed by the head of the group representing county elections officials. Urban areas such as Franklin County could see a reduction of 60 to 75 percent, translating into a potential drop from the current 404 voting locales to perhaps a little more than 100. The tradeoffs: Voters could cast a ballot from any polling location in their home county. And the cost to run elections would drop substantially, especially with most Ohio counties due to replace aging voting equipment. “The more I talk to people nationally, the more I read and learn, this has the potential to be a game-changer for voters, for taxpayers and for elections administrators,” said Aaron Ockerman, executive director of the Ohio Association of Election Officials. “We’ve got to be more efficient. We have to take advantage of technology and think outside of the box.”

Wyoming: Rural lawmakers question voting centers in Wyoming | Casper Star Tribune

In a preliminary vote Thursday, the state Senate approved a bill that would allow Wyoming counties to create centralized voting places. Senate File 52 has to pass two more rounds of voting before it heads to the House, and some lawmakers are questioning whether the bill would disenfranchise rural voters and endanger election records. In Wyoming, polling places are by neighborhood precinct in larger cities. In rural areas, a precinct may comprise an entire community. SF52 would let counties create centers where registered voters could cast ballots regardless of precinct. The bill would also allow electronic pollbooks, which provide information to poll workers about whether a voter is registered. Currently, pollbooks are printed on paper. The Wyoming County Clerks Association supports central polling places. It believes centers would increase voter participation.