Election Universe

LA Voters Give Positive Reviews to New BMDs

LA Voters Give Positive Reviews to New BMDs
March 05 2020, 23:38

smartmatic-la-county-vsap-man-votingThe Super Tuesday primaries marked the debut of Los Angeles County’s Voting Solutions for All People (VSAP). The Ballot Marking Devices, which allowed voters to mark their choice, received excellent reviews from voters.

According to Loyola Marymount University’s 2020 LA Votes Exit Poll, more than 90 percent of voters described their overall voting experience as good or excellent. Also, 81 percent of voters said the new technology made voting easier than in previous elections.

A decade ago, Los Angeles County, the largest voting jurisdiction in the US, set out to radically transform its citizens’ voting experience. The result of this complete overhaul is the first government-designed and -owned voting system, one that could well set a new standard for security, reliability and transparency.

Making voting more accessible was a guiding principle for a county characterized by its diverse electorate. The county moved from assigned local polling stations to centralized vote centers, allowing voters to cast their ballot at any location. This change, empowered by advanced technology like electronic poll books and ballot marking devices, was a key factor in making voting more convenient. Voting is now available in 13 languages.

The disabled community welcomed the enhancements. From its conception, the valuable input from voter accessibility advocate groups was taken into consideration. Richard Hernandez, System Change Advocacy for the Disabled Resources Center stated: “The machines are really user-friendly, and they’re low enough for the wheelchair…. I was able to go up to the machine and vote for who I wanted to vote, with no assistance whatsoever.”

Voting was extended considerably to facilitate participation. On February 4, the first vote center, equipped with 50 Ballot Marking Devices (BMD) opened in Norwalk, California. The number of vote centers began to increase throughout the month, reaching 978 by Super Tuesday.

For voters, one of the most obvious transformations were the 23,000 iPad-like touchscreens available for voters to mark their paper ballot. County voters were accustomed to the old InkaVote system, which had been in use since 1968 – the year Richard Nixon was elected to his first term.

The new BMDs could well mark the future of voting in the US and abroad.