Citing COVID-19 Concerns and Long Lines, California Common Cause Calls for Los Angeles to Send Vote-By-Mail Ballots to All Voters for November 2020 General Election

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LOS ANGELES – March 5, 2020. Common Cause poll monitors observed Super Tuesday ending with long lines at Los Angeles County vote centers – with wait times ranging from 1 to over 4 hours at many sites and operational issues across the state.  Based on Election Day observation, California Common Cause concludes significant delays were caused largely by ePollbooks not syncing to centralized voter databases. 

Shortly after Super Tuesday the state of California also declared a state of emergency after the first death from coronavirus.  

Kathay Feng, Executive Director of California Common Cause, stated: “In light of growing public health concerns as well as expected high turnout on the next Election Day, California Common Cause is calling for Los Angeles County to mail all registered voters a Vote-by-Mail ballot in the November 2020 General Election. We look forward to working with LA County and voting advocates to implement additional improvements as we learn more. 

Several major pro-voter reforms were implemented in 2020 to modernize elections and give voters more choice in when, where and how they can cast their ballot. The Voter’s Choice Act (VCA) allows counties to opt into a new voting model: countywide vote centers replace traditional polling places, allowing voters to vote anywhere in their county over an extended 11-day voting period. 15 of 58 California counties, including Los Angeles, opted into the Voter’s Choice Act in California for this Presidential Primary Election.  

VCA also requires countieswith the exception of Los Angeles, to send all their registered voters a vote-by-mail ballot to expand voting opportunities. This exception reflected the fact that Los Angeles County voters have historically had the lowest rate of vote-by-mail participation in the state: 36% in the 2016 election and 44% in the 2018 election. Voters in most other counties vote by mail at rates of 60% or higher. VCA compensated with a requirement for higher number of vote centers for Los Angeles County. 

“As the County investigates what the causes were for the challenges with the ePollbooksit is clear that the check-in process was the bottleneck at LA County vote centers.  As voters came in on Election Day to register to vote, update their information, and receive a ballot, a lot of demands were placed on vote center staff operating the ePollbooksThe connectivity issues coupled with higher turnout on Election Day contributed to the long lines we saw on election night,” stated Kiyana Asemanfar, Election Protection manager for California  Common Cause. 

By mailing all voters a ballot, Los Angeles County can expand voting opportunities for its voters by giving them the choice of filling out and mailing their postage-paid ballot conveniently from their own home. They can also drop off their ballot or vote in person at a vote center.  

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