Los Angeles County (L.A. County) is preparing to deploy during the March 2020 primary election a brand-new voting system designed by the county, and manufactured by Smartmatic, the world’s largest electronic voting company.
This will be the first major update made to the election process since 1968 in the largest voting district in the United States – Los Angeles County serves 5.2 million registered voters. The incorporation of a new voting system will allow the county to reach its voters and ensure consistent voting support with half as many machines and less staff as in prior years.
L.A. County has more registered voters than 42 of the 50 states in the nation. By implementing the new technology, the voting process will be streamlined to reduce mechanical malfunctions, data vulnerabilities, and inefficient and outdated practices. Dedicated to expanding voter accessibility while maintaining integrity, the new platform will replace the current 200 machines in L.A. County that still rely on antiquated punch-cards—a system that is no longer supported by computers made today.
While it has been decades since the voting experience was revitalized in L.A. County, the district is not unique in its more traditional offerings. A recent study by the Brennan Center for Justice found that 38 states across the country use obsolete voting machines that have been discontinued in manufacturing or require software that is defunct and incompatible with modern technology.
The redesign of L.A. County’s voting experience includes a $100 million overhaul of the current process, encompassing open-source technology built over 10 years. The new system will include both a paper ballot and touchscreen to allow for easier record keeping and write-in accommodations. In resemblance and appreciation of an ever-growing, diverse community, the updated interface also allows 14 languages, enlarged font, auditory options, and adjustable screens for more practical wheelchair access.
In addition to transitioning to electronic voting, L.A. County is aiming to expand the voting period from 13 hours to 11 days. Feedback from voting activists and authorities has been vigorously positive as experts speculate that the county’s transformation may influence the future of voting throughout the country.