SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF. – The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors has approved the implementation of the Voter’s Choice Act model of voting for Santa Clara County. The Voter’s Choice Act will allow the Registrar of Voters to join five California counties that successfully piloted the program in 2018 and at least four more implementing it for 2020.
“I am excited about the Voter’s Choice Act model coming to Santa Clara County,” said Registrar of Voters Shannon Bushey after the Board’s vote on Tuesday. “It is going to make it more convenient for our 900,000 registered voters to cast a ballot and is anticipated to increase voter participation – there will be many more options for when, where and how people can vote.”
The implementation of the Voter’s Choice Act will take effect beginning with the March 2020 Presidential Primary Election. This new model of voting means that all voters will be mailed a ballot prior to Election Day. After marking their ballot, voters will have the choice of returning their ballot by mail with postage provided by the County, dropping their ballot in a ballot drop box anywhere throughout the county, or visiting any Vote Center within the county.
The Vote Centers – which will replace traditional polling places — will offer an array of services, such as receiving a replacement ballot, receiving assistance or voting materials in multiple languages, voting using an accessible voting machine, dropping off a vote-by-mail ballot, registering to vote, or updating a voter registration. Vote Centers also allow a voter to cast their ballot at a location that is convenient to them, meaning there is no longer a wrong place to vote, which has the added benefit of reducing the number of provisional ballots issued and cast.
Public meetings will be scheduled in the future and will be held to receive feedback from concerned citizens or groups regarding the creation of the county’s Election Administration Plan. The plan will include a Public Outreach Plan, a Voter Education Plan, as well as the number and location of Vote Centers, the number and location of ballot drop boxes, and many other details necessary for the successful implementation of the Vote Center model.
“The new process makes sense,” said Board President Joe Simitian. “It’s a net plus for our voters. But it’s a big change. We’ll have to work hard to communicate the new process to the public.”
Board of Supervisors: Mike Wasserman, Cindy Chavez, Dave Cortese, Susan Ellenberg, S. Joseph Simitian County Executive: Jeffrey V. Smith
Simitian noted that the new process is significantly different from the traditional election day/polling place process voters have grown accustomed to.
He also noted that “The Voter’s Choice change is coming at a time when we’ll be experiencing other significant changes as well — a March primary and new voting technology among them. So getting the word out will be key.”
The Voter’s Choice Act (Senate Bill 450) is a law passed by the California State Legislature in 2016. The VCA was implemented successfully in San Mateo, Sacramento, Napa, Nevada and Madera counties during the 2018 elections. Two of the largest counties in California — Los Angeles and Orange — have also signed on to the VCA model for the 2020 elections.
For more information, contact the Registrar of Voters’ Office at 1-408-299-VOTE (8683) or toll-free at 1-866-430-VOTE (8683), or visit www.sccvote.org.
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