By Raymond Nava
In 2019, Los Angeles County introduced new voting centers and machines which would replace the traditional polling places and voting system that had been used in past elections.
However, the new voting machines are not better than the old method of voting.
Unlike in previous elections, voters are no longer restricted to just their neighborhood polling place, but can now vote at any of the 1,000 new voting centers in the county.
In addition to the new voting centers, the way voters filled out their ballots was also new.
Voters now use a touch screen machine to select candidates in races and the machine will fill in the ballot based on their selections. In some ways they are worse.
One downside to the new voting machines is that with races with five or more candidates, a voter’s first choice candidate may not be in the first list of candidates.
Voters would have to select the “more” button to see more candidates.
Elected officials such as California Representative Ted Lieu tweeted on election day that his name did not appear in the top four on the list for voters in the southern portion of his district.
Though the interface was adjusted following these concerns, it still can be a problem for voters who don’t keep up-to-date with races.
Another problem with using these new voting machines is that if a number of them don’t work, it can have a negative effect for many voters, as was seen last Tuesday.
The LA Times reports that many voting machines were down at voting centers.
There were still many long lines of people who were going to vote, with wait times of up to three or four hours.
Some polling stations extended voting hours because of the long wait time including ELAC.
When a set of machines being down is causing backed up lines for hours, that’s a sign these machines are not what voters should be using to mark their ballots.
In the run up to February election day, an NBC article reported on this same flaw.
It also mentioned that studies show that voters don’t take time to inspect their ballots.
A new way of voting should not add an extra unnecessary step for the voter.
That same NBC article also reported that during testing, the machines were found to jam at five times the allowable rate California allows.
The jams were found to have destroyed ballots, which would then require the voter to go through the process again.
Though officials say the issue has been fixed and there aren’t any reports so far of this happening last Tuesday.
That still doesn’t instill confidence that these machines are better for voters than the previous methods.
With issues this dire, voters would be much better off with being allowed to mark their own ballot by hand.
Giving direct control to machines and having to to rely on them would be worse.