L.A. County to introduce digital voting booths in 2020

 

Preparations for the 2020 presidential election are afoot, and by this time next year, you just might get the chance to use one of Los Angeles county’s newfangled voting devices to cast your ballot. 

Though for security reasons there are no photographs of these new voting devices, which are set to replace traditional voting booths, they are described as tablet-style computers. 

According to the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, “The new devices aim for a middle ground between the assured security of traditional paper ballots and the ease of modern, touch-screen voting machines.”

The project takes a “voter-centered approach” to the design and development, seeking to simplify the process and maximize voter participation. 

These new machines were developed by Voting Solutions for All People (VSAP), commissioned by the Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk (RR/CC) in 2009 to “address an aging voting system and an increasingly large and complex electorate,” according to VSAP’s website.

Douglas Hume, professor of political science at Azusa Pacific, gave his thoughts on the new voting systems. 

“I think the voting machines, especially if they are well-publicized, will result in greater voter turnout in Los Angeles County,” Hume said. “Not only will people be intrigued by the new technology…the machines are programmed in 13 languages and should appeal to younger voters who are more comfortable with a screen than they are with paper.” 

 

So how does it work? 

After receiving a blank ballot from a volunteer, voters will insert the sheet into the voting device and choose their language and accessibility options by using the touch screen menu. Headphones are available at every booth, with options for changing volume, speed and language. 

Voters are led through each option on the ballot, with chances to write in their own candidates, as well. Instead of filling out ballots with tiny ink bubbles, you can now cast your votes using the voting tablet’s touch screen interface. Once finished, the tablet computer will print out a paper ballot, which you can then review your answers and change them if necessary. After, the ballots may be inserted back into the machine to be securely collected with the other ballots, or it may be handed to a volunteer. 

 

Why go digital? 

The touch screen interface is designed to be user-friendly and assist those with disabilities, language barriers and any other obstacles they might face when it comes to voting. 

The devices are able to be used in 13 languages, and exceed national security standards for voting, according to Dean C. Logan, the Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk for LA County.

The new option-by-option nature of the tablets may also help first-time voters make sense of the often confusing process. 

Senior biology major Jordan Mar agreed that the new tech may be enticing to young voters.

“The new way of voting that they’re implementing is more accessible for the younger generation,” Mar said. “But I’m not sure if the new technology will actually induce people to make educated effort to vote.” 

Hume also addressed a potential concern with the rise of the new voting machines. 

“It appears that the main concern with electronic voting — voter fraud or some sort of “hacking” — has been addressed by the new machines since they will not be connected to the Internet but rather are programmed to simply generate a paper ballot that the voter then submits,” Hume said.

VSAP developers will be updating the software to have it ready in time for you to use at the 2020 presidential primary elections.