Rep. Maxine Waters visits ECC to inform voters about new LA County voting system


Rep. Maxine Waters greets attendees of the Los Angeles County Voting meeting before introducing Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean C. Logan to present the new way people will vote in the upcoming election. Rosemary Montalvo/The Union

Rep. Maxine Waters co-hosted an event Saturday, Nov. 2, at El Camino College in the East Dining Room to inform voters about a new system for future elections.

Waters was joined by Dean Logan, a Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder and County Clerk, who spoke about the new systems being instated starting on Tuesday, Nov. 5 and how it will impact and potentially improve how Los Angeles County residents will vote.

The Voting Systems for All People (VSAP) program will allow for the opening of voting centers and new stand-alone unit voting machines to help expedite and make voting easier for those with busy schedules, disabilities and language barriers Logan said.

VSAP will implement touchscreen-operated machines that have adjustable font sizes and 13 different language options in addition to listening devices for hearing-impaired voters. Each machine has its own ballot printer that will accept and print voters’ ballots before officially casting their votes.

In response to audience members’ comments about insecurities related to potential hacking and data breaches surrounding the new machines, Logan elaborated on the intent and inner-workings behind these recent changes.

Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan gives a presentation about the new voting system being implemented during the 2020 election cycle at an event in the El Camino College East Dining Room on Saturday, Nov. 2. Rosemary Montalvo/The Union

“I think it’s important to be very clear that this isn’t electronic voting,” Logan told the Union. “The voting is still a paper ballot and it’s a human-readable ballot. The device itself does not retain any of the vote-cast data.”

An audience member mentioned the use of QR codes on the ballot sheets which raised more questions about security in the new machines. Logan later told the Union that anyone can use a generic QR code reader to view your votes right on your phone if there is any concerns that answers may have been switched in the process.

Waters expressed her own concerns about the new machines and voting centers, claiming that the change is viewed as scary to some long time voters. However, she added that the new voting machines aren’t as complex as she believed they were before interacting with them.

“I worry that people are not accustomed to change and change is scary. But I’ve walked through the [new] system,” Waters told the Union. “I really do think it is not complicated.”

Waters added that it’s important to tap into local leadership because this new system depends on them to get the word out. Many local leaders such as current and past city council members of cities in the 43rd Congressional District of California, which includes Gardena and Hawthorne, were in attendance.

Attendees of a meeting about the new voting system being instated in Los Angeles County test touchscreen-operated voting machines that will be used in voting centers for the upcoming election Saturday, Nov 2. Rosemary Montalvo/The Union

When questioned by an audience member about recent power outages due to wildfires in some LAC areas, Logan added that each stand-alone unit has its own power source that lasts up to eight hours to prevent any loss of power during the voting process.

Polls will be open to voters in the Los Angeles County for 11 days in case their schedules are not flexible. It also allows voters without proper transportation to arrange for rides to voting centers in their area, Logan said.

Voting by mail is still an option but must be requested by voters before any upcoming election, he added. Logan and Waters both recommended for voters to drop off their mail-in ballots at new secure drop off locations at a voting center to ensure ballots are accounted for.

Laura Herrera, a project member for VSAP, said the pilot of the new machines will be available at 40 polling places around Los Angeles County starting on Tuesday, Nov 5. Traditional ballots will also be available on site.

Herrera added that Rolling Hills Estates is the only Los Angeles County city to reject the usage of the new systems during the elections in seven of their polling places.

Hamilton Cloud introduces Rep. Maxine Waters before her speech about the new Los Angeles County voting system Saturday, Nov 2. Rosemary Montalvo/The Union

Although ECC is currently listed as a potential location for a vote center, it is still unconfirmed for future election cycles due to construction, Herrera said.

Unregistered voters can register and vote the same day at the new voting centers after being properly registered by voting center staff, Logan said.

The push for a revised and secure voting system has been the topic of debate by members in congress for a long time now. This is one step towards finding a solution that will solve voting insecurities such as discrimination, intimidation and availability, Waters said.

Waters told the Union that she believes that the new voting machines will encourage a lot more people to vote, particularly young people who tend to adapt to technology quickly and that didn’t vote in 2016 or 2018. She added that changes were needed in the voting system for a while now, and she sees this as an opportunity to help improve it.

Editor’s Note: Information regarding the city that did not participate has been corrected according to new information from Laura Herrera, project member for VSAP on Wednesday, Nov. 13 at 2:12 p.m. 

Editor’s Note: Pictures were updated Tuesday, Nov. 5, at 9:11 a.m.

Editor’s Note: This story was updated on Wednesday, Nov. 20 at 2:15 p.m. to correct phrasing in the lede.