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Big changes are coming to the ballot box for the 2020 Primary elections in Santa Clara County – changes that will affect where you vote and how you vote.
Santa Clara will join a small but growing number of California counties implementing changes mandated by the California Voter’s Choice Act, which aims to make it easier for voters to vote. These changes go into effect by the March 2020 primary election, as approved by the County Board of Supervisors in April this year.
While there are concerns that the new system might cause confusion and reduce voter participation, the counties that implemented the new model in November 2018 election saw turnout increase by 12 to 19 percent, according to a survey conducted by the Santa Clara County Registrar’s staff. However, several counties statewide saw an increase in turnout which could be attributed to the current political climate.
Here is what you need to know about the New Vote Center starting with the March 2020 primary election:
- If you are a Santa Clara resident, instead of casting a ballot at one of nearly 850 neighborhood polling places, you will be able to go to any of 125 voting centers throughout the county, open for multiple days to give you a larger window to cast your ballot
- The Vote Centers will be equipped with an electronic book that lets poll workers see whether a person has voted at any other location across the county or submitted a vote-by-mail ballot.
- If you need a replacement ballot, or a ballot in another language, you can have one printed for them on the spot.
- Every voter will also be automatically sent a vote-by-mail ballot, regardless of whether they signed up for one.
- Voters can also register to vote at the center at the last minute.
Santa Clara county residents will also be using an all-new voting system for the 2020 Primary elections with the goal of increasing participation and election security.
Each Vote Center will have a minimum of three ADA-compliant ballot-marking devices that include a touchscreen tablet and individual printer. These devices provide a simple and intuitive interface for voters. After marking a ballot on the touchscreen, voters will print the ballot in their voting booth. The voters deposit their paper ballot into the ballot tabulator which will warn the voter about potential errors, allowing the voter to correct the error.
Election Night results will come much faster for the voters because the new system allows for counting at each Voter Center. Previously, all the ballots were sent to the Registrar’s main office for tabulation.
The California Secretary of State’s Office has undertaken exhaustive and extensive end-to-end testing to certify the security of the new system. The new voting system is not connected to the internet and cannot receive or transmit any electronic election data.
Fair and free elections are a hallmark of American democracy and the American people’s trust in their government is contingent on their confidence in the election process. Registrar of Voters, Shannon Bushey thinks that voters will like the new system. “We are looking forward to this change,” she said “….and we appreciate the increase in performance and processing speed the new voting system will bring, as well as its stringent vote-security measures.”
For more information on these changes, 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
Anjana Nagarajan-Butaney is a Bay Area resident with experience in educational non-profits, community building, networking and content development and was Community Director for an online platform. She is interested in how to strengthen communities by building connections to politics, science & technology, gender equality and public education.