By Raymond Nava
The Los Angeles Community College District is offering voting centers at its schools including East Los Angeles College for students and the public to vote in the March primaries.
The 2020 election will be the first under the Voter’s Choice Act in which voters in 15 counties, including Los Angeles County, will no longer vote at designated polling locations.
Voters will instead be able to vote at any community vote center in the county.
East Los Angeles College will host one of these centers for students and the public in building S2-121.
Al Rios, dean of continuing education and workforce development, said that the voting centers will be open Saturday through Tuesday.
From Feb. 29 to March 2, the center will be open from 7 a.m. – 6 p.m. and on March 3 from 6 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Students and faculty that have undergone training will be working alongside county representatives. Rios said the center will have about 30 voting machines.
Rios, a member of the South Gate City Council, said that he was excited for the prospect of having a voting center on campus.
He said that in his political science class, only two students had reviewed their sample ballots and knew the issues at hand.
“Students, a lot of times, aren’t politicized,” Rios said. He said that with the importance of the issues and time being limited, it is important for students to be involved.
Rios said it wasn’t just the presidential election that was important. There are various positions in local government that are a part of the election.
This year voters will make their selections for candidates using a touch screen machine that will generate a paper ballot marked with the voter’s choices. Voters are also able to download the interactive Sample Ballot.
The official voting website, www.lavote.net says, “The Interactive Sample Ballot is a convenient option for voters who want to access and mark their selections prior to arriving at the vote center.”
This downloaded sample can be marked before arriving at the voter center, then uploaded to mark the electronic ballot.
The transition to the new system has not occurred without hiccups. The city of Beverly Hills sued over the way candidate names were displayed.
The interface has been adjusted to fix the issue. For races with five or more candidates, voters must press the button marked “MORE,” not “next,” to view the next screen of candidates. Otherwise, it will move onto the next race.
Secretary of State Alex Padilla has mandated voting centers to also have traditional paper ballots.
Voters are not required to show identification when they vote in person in most cases. First-time voters who have registered to vote by mail may be asked to show some form of identification when they show up to vote for the first time.
The California Secretary of State has provided some examples of acceptable identification. These include a copy of a recent utility bill or the sample ballot booklet that voters received from their county elections office.
A passport, official state identification card, driver’s license or student ID with the voters’ name and photograph are also acceptable forms of identification.
Voters who need time off from work in order to vote, can give employers two days’ notice. Voters can take up to two hours off without losing pay and can take the time off at the beginning or end of their shift on election day.
Voters will still be able to vote after the polls close as long as they stay in line when they close. Rios said that signs will go up soon, giving more information on the voting center.
He said that it was important for students to vote because, “Young people are so critical. It’s their future, really.”