Voting Smart with the League of Women Voters

Annemarie DonkinBy Annemarie Donkin      October 16, 2020

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Voting Smart with the League of Women Voters
League of women voters of the Los Angeles County have been lobbying to change vote center procedures and voting equipment to create an accurate voting exeperience. photo courtesy league of women voters
Los Angeles County has the most voters in the nation with more than 5,610,000 registered voters which is 91 percent of eligible voters in the County. As a result, the League of Women Voters of Los Angeles County (LWV) has been lobbying the Board of Supervisors and the County Registrar’s office to make changes to Vote Center procedures and voting equipment to create a more seamless, effective and accurate voting experience. To see how we can be a more educated voter, The Canyon Chronicle spoke with Fatima Malik, President of LWV. “Now more than ever, we are excited by the public outreach from long-time voters and first-time voters who are asking the right questions, going to the right sources, such as the League of Women Voters, for accurate information in a fake news world.,” Malik said. “The League emphasized the importance of training election officials to assure they are well versed in the procedures and the operation of all the voting equipment in the facility.” Malik said that due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there are fewer Vote Centers, although some of the locations at Dodger Stadium, Sofi Stadium, Staples Center, the Wiltern Theatre, and Hollywood Palladium can handle numerous voting machines.  What could go wrong? “Issues could arise if poll workers do not show up, which has been a perennial problem over the decades,” Malik wrote. “The biggest problem will be if voters wait until election day to vote.” What can voters do to ensure their ballot gets counted? “There are three main things a voter can do to make sure they are ready for this election,” Malik continued. “First, double-check your voter registration information. Make sure your name, mailing address and voting address are all still correct.” To check your registration, go to the Registrar-Recorder, County Clerk’s website at lavote.net. Second, Malik advised to plan to vote the day you receive your ballot. “There are three ways to vote: use your vote-by-mail ballot and mail it, take your vote-by-mail ballot and drop it in a ballot drop box, or vote in person at a vote center,” she wrote. “Make sure you sign and date the back of your mail-in ballot envelope before you drop it in the mailbox or in a ballot drop box. If you would like to vote in person, early voting is available at some locations 11 days before the election with the remaining locations opening five days before the election.” In Los Angeles County, you can track your ballot using BallotTrax by going to losangeles.ballottrax.net. Third, go to VotersEdge.org to see an unbiased explanation of ballot measures and really understand what a Yes or No vote means. You can also find a multitude of voting resources there as well. “Based on conversations with our constituents, they find the spread of inaccurate information from social media and other news outlets during this controversial election, fanned by a historical pandemic, stressful, confusing and exhausting,” Malik responded. “We encourage the public to hold media outlets accountable by demanding accurate information through fact-checking before releasing articles, stories, and reports.” Where and How to Vote in Topanga There are three Voting Centers in Topanga—the Community Center, Topanga Library, and the Mountain Mermaid. They will be open from Friday, Oct. 30, through Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 3. Vote-by-mail ballots were sent to all registered voters in California the week of October 5. You may drop off your signed ballot at one of the official Voting Centers or one of 123 official drop boxes located at parks and libraries throughout Los Angeles County. Topanga Community Center, 1440 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd., Topanga CA 90290. Hours: Friday, Oct. 30—Monday, Nov. 2, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Tuesday, Nov. 3, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Additional Info: Outdoor—Parking Lot. Topanga Library, 122 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd., Topanga CA 90290. Hours: Friday, Oct. 30—Monday, Nov. 2, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Tuesday, Nov. 3, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Additional Info: Library Lobby.  The Mountain Mermaid, 20421 Callon Dr., Topanga CA 90290. Hours: Early voting only from Friday, Oct. 30—Monday, Nov. 2, 10 am. to 7 p.m. edit: The Mountain Mermaid is open on ELECTION DAY 7 a.m to 8 p.m. For a listing of other Vote Centers in L.A. County, go to lavote.net. Register to Vote by Oct. 19. For Los Angeles County residents, visit LAVOTE.net to register to vote or confirm your registration status at https://www.lavote.net. Voters Edge. While online, visit this helpful site (https://votersedge.org/ca), a one-stop shop for election-related information brought to you by the League of Women Voters of California. Vote Safe with your Vote-by-Mail Ballot: The deadline for requesting a vote-by-mail ballot is Oct. 19. By mail, remember no postage is necessary. All ballots returned by mail and postmarked on Nov 3, will be counted. Ballots returned at a secure ballot drop box must be deposited by 8 p.m. on Nov. 3. If your ballot is postmarked by Election Day and received within 17 days by the County Clerk, they will process, verify, and count that ballot. For those planning to submit a vote-by-mail ballot via USPS, voting early can help ensure your ballot is counted. No postage necessary. Track your ballot. Sign up to track your ballot at California Ballot Trax https://california.ballottrax.net/voter/ . Questions? Go to https://www.lavote.net. Forget to sign the envelope for your vote-by-mail ballot? If you returned your ballot without signing the return envelope, the County Clerk will mail you a document called the “Unsigned Ballot Statement” asking for your signature. (Registrar-Recorder County Clerk: voterinfo@rrcc.lacounty.gov) Your signature is required to verify your identity and process the ballot. You have up to 28 days after Election Day to return the statement for your ballot to be processed.
Voter Registration: Nov. 3 is the deadline for registering to vote in person. If you register to vote on Election Day at a Voting Center, however, you will have to cast a provisional ballot, which means you’re your signature must be verified before your vote is counted. For more information: https://www.lavote.net/contact-us/contact-us. If you choose to vote in person, bring your mail-in ballot envelope with you because it contains a unique bar code for each voter that is scanned into the L.A. County database.

Safe In-Person Voting: All participating Vote Centers will follow State and County public health and safety guidelines, such as voters wearing facial coverings and gloves (coverings and gloves will be made available) and practice social distancing of six feet. Election workers wearing protective gloves and masks will wipe and sanitize all surfaces and Ballot Marking Devices after each voter.

How to Vote in Person: The Voting Solutions for All People (VSAP) project was developed by the Los Angeles Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk to make voting easier and more accessible than ever before vsap.lavote.net.

Ballot Marking. Voting devices feature a touch screen that allows any voter to easily navigate the ballot by advancing through different screens showing lists of candidates and ballot measures. For races with many candidates, touch the MORE button to read the full list.

Language Preference. Voters who prefer to read the ballot in a different language—Spanish, Chinese, Korean or any one of the 12 languages supported by the county—can choose their preference on the same machine.

People with disabilities. For those with vision impairment or reading disabilities, an audio controller assists voters through their options with a simple push of a few buttons.

Once voters have tapped in their selections, they will receive a printed paper ballot that goes into an integrated ballot box (the use of a traceable paper ballot is still mandated by law).

According to a spokesman at the Registrar-Recorder’s office, election workers will now go through an expanded training module; all volunteers will go through additional training and field technicians will be on hand if technical issues arise.    

A message from the Registrar-Recorder County Clerk: “If you have questions or need assistance in voting early please call (800) 815-2666 or email voterinfo@rrcc.lacounty.gov.”

Let your voice be heard on November 3
Annemarie Donkin

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October 16, 2020

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