Modernizing Los Angeles County’s Voting Infrastructure

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas issued the following statement on June 12, 2018 after the Board of Supervisors authorized contracts advancing the Voting Solutions for All People (VSAP) project. Launched in 2009, VSAP’s goal is to modernize Los Angeles County’s aging voting system by creating an improved hand-marked vote-by-mail ballot, an innovative interactive sample ballot, a robust tally system based on modern scalable technologies, and a new ballot marking device.

“The challenges we experienced during the Statewide Direct Primary Election are symptomatic of an aging voting infrastructure that I believe can and will be corrected.

“On June 5, errors in the voter roster caused the County to activate the fail-safe mechanism that is known as the provisional ballot. While this guarantees every eligible voter their constitutional right to cast a ballot that will, in fact, be counted, it is well understood that people generally do not like how it feels to deal with a provisional ballot. It makes one feel as though voting is provisional rather than constitutional, and the experience raises a degree of angst that is certainly understandable.

“It is fair to say that the current voting infrastructure is ill-equipped to provide the kind of voting experience that inspires the level of confidence that we know is necessary. This Board and the staff at the County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk want every single eligible voter – some 5 million in the County of Los Angeles – to know that we mean business in securing and protecting the constitutional right to vote. Many people fought, bled and died so that we can enjoy this right, and the County of Los Angeles has an obligation to ensure it is fully appreciated.

“Since 2009, the County has invested significant efforts to dissect and redesign a voting experience sensitive to and, you might even say, hyper-focused on, the voter’s needs and requirements in compliance with the Voting Rights Act. This is not a negotiable set of circumstances. It is what we can and must do.

“I think it is appropriate that we continue the effort to create voting infrastructure that lets people vote on more than one day and at any voting center, vote on fully accessible voting equipment, vote on the same day they register, and vote on better vote-by-mail ballots.

“Part of that work is what’s being advanced today. The culmination of these efforts should raise the level of confidence in our voting infrastructure and ensure that the experience we had this past week won’t repeat itself.”