For decades California has had their primary in June, by which time the Presidential candidates had long since been chosen. Now they’ve moved the date up to Super Tuesday, so we got to vote today.
In addition, Los Angeles County has done a 52-pick up with the election process. Instead of having specific polling places with ink marks on paper ballots (and usually five to ten minute waits) we now have a small fraction of the number of polling places and they’re “Voting Centers” open for about ten days before the election. Piece of cake, you can vote any time in that ten days or so! Right?
Except they didn’t do a good job of advertising that, so 99% of us thought that today was the day. So we were all in line. Some of those lines got long.
The good news was that you could go to any “Voting Center” in the county, and it’s a big county. I didn’t have to drive all the way back home and get there at 7:00 or 7:30 and then wait for a couple of hours. I went to a place just a few blocks from the office, got there at 5:30, and then didn’t have more than about a 45 minute wait.
The process itself also changed completely. We got what was basically an almost legal-sized sheet of heat sensitive paper, which had some QR codes on it for security, which then got fed into a station with a touch screen about twice the size of my iPad. The touch screen process was easy, once it was done I got to confirm my choices, it printed out on the sheet, I got to review the sheet, then fed it back in to be stored. Interesting. Easy peasy.
Secure? Who knows?
But there were a couple of notable sights in the line:
A teenager with her grandmother. It looked like the teen was voting for the first time, while her grandmother must have been in her 80’s. Maybe it was her great-grandmother. But it was interesting to watch them go through the sample ballot and other materials to discuss the judges, measures, and the Presidential candidates.
There were signs all over for people who were just dropping off their mail-in ballots. No need to stand in line for that, so just bypass the line and go in. At one point a mom came in with a little girl. They were working their way through the crowded hallway and the little girl was real upset, worried that they were “cutting” the line and all of us would be mad at them. (We weren’t.)
Compared to other locations in LA County it was a breeze and not unpleasant. But let’s face it – it was a white, upscale neighborhood with a 35-40 minute wait. And our machines worked. Apparently there were plenty of other places where it was not so pleasant, the wait was 3-4 hours, and the machines didn’t work all the time.
Was it secure?
Did my candidate win?
I’m sure she didn’t.