Could polling places become a thing of the past?
That all depends how the public responds to the Voters Choice Act – which was enacted in California in 2016 as a way to modernize elections and ensure a level of convenience for and flexibility for those looking to exercise their constitutional rights.
Tonight in the Lathrop City Council Chambers at Lathrop City Hall – located at 390 Towne Centre Drive – from 7 to 8:30 p.m. the San Joaquin County Registrar of Voters will be hand to talk about the potential changes to the way that people vote in the county and take feedback from voters about what they would like to see happen as the specifics of the act are worked out in Sacramento and at a local level.
The model under the Voter’s Choice Act would eliminate traditional neighborhood polling places and provide new options for voters – like the creation of drop boxes and countywide voting centers that would streamline the process. As written, the proposal would essentially mail every registered voter an official ballot rather than having precincts where ballots can be cast in person.
No decisions have been made for how San Joaquin County will adopt the new guidelines at this point, and tonight’s meeting in Lathrop is one of three currently scheduled with more likely to come.
Changes to the way that people vote in California in recent years, however, haven’t been without controversy. In the 2018 midterm elections, the San Joaquin County Registrar of Voters received multiple panicked phone calls from voters who felt that somebody was trying to steal their ballots, only to find out that a change in the law authorized third party representatives to collect absentee ballots and turn them in at polling places. Known as “ballot harvesting,” the practice led to a disclaimer from the registrar stating that if somebody was unsure about who was requesting their ballots to help them turn them in, that they not turn them over and bring them to a designated collection site on their own.
Those interested in hosting an informational session like the one being held in Lathrop with their local service group – Moose Lodges, community service organizations, political party meetings, for example – are urged to contact the San Joaquin County Registrar of Voters at 209.468.8683 for information on how to do so.
A survey is also available for residents who want to voice their opinion but are unable to attend the information meeting tonight. It can be found by visiting www.bit.ly/SJC-VCA-Survey.
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 209.249.3544.