The Presidential Primary Election is March 3, 2020 and Orange County will be using a new voting process approved by the state legislature in 2016, known as the Voters’ Choice Act. The Orange County Board of Supervisors approved the change based on a report from the Orange County Registrar of Voters (ROV) that predicted 91% of voters in Orange County would use a Vote-By-Mail (VBM) ballot by 2022.
In 2018, the ROV opened a few Early Vote Centers and drive through ballot drop off locations to receive Vote-By-Mail (VBM) Ballots in the days leading up to the elections. But on the day of the election, voters still went to their neighborhood polling place to vote in person.
Under the new Vote Center Model, voters will no longer go to an assigned neighborhood polling place as they have for decades. Instead, every registered voter will receive a VBM ballot in the mail that they may use to vote or instead go to a Vote Center anywhere in Orange County to cast a paper or electronic ballot.
Voters will still be able to mail or deliver their VBM ballot to the Orange County Registrar of Voters as they had in the past, but in March they will also be able to drop off their VBM ballot into one of the 110 secure and permanently installed ballot drop boxes available 24 hours a day during the 28 days prior to or on Election Day.
Voters will be able to drop off VBM ballots on Election Day at one of the 188 Vote Centers throughout the county, or they will also be able to drop them off at one of the 188 Vote Centers open 4 days prior to Election Day or at one of the 38 Vote Centers that will be open 10 days before Election Day.
In addition to dropping off VBM ballots at Vote Centers on or before Election Day, voters may also request a replacement VBM ballot, vote in person, reregister, or register to vote and then vote using a Conditional Ballot at any Vote Center in the county. Conditional Voting allows a person to register to vote and vote that same day after the registration deadline 15 days prior to the election.
Paid staff will run the Vote Centers instead of volunteers. The ROV is seeking experienced volunteers from previous elections and others to hire as temporary workers who will be trained to run the Vote Centers . Each Vote Center will have 4 to 5 staff members to check in voters using an electronic roster with access to the names of all registered voters in the county.
The ROV has been hosting community workshops and presenting their “Roadshow” to community groups throughout the county to gather input, including recommendations for Voter Center and Drop Box locations.
The ROV held a workshop in Fullerton on Thursday, July 11, 6 to 8pm at the Fullerton Public Library, 353 W Commonwealth Ave. Participants at the workshop suggested Brea Mall, Fullerton College, and CSUF as Vote Center locations. One person asked if each city in the county would have at least one Vote Center and was told the locations would be based on density, language, and accessibility among other criteria. Another asked whether the memory cards would be removed nightly from the unit that stores the votes to which no answer could be provided. The county is still deciding whether it will purchase new electronic voting equipment before the election. Another asked whether a No Party Preference or NPP voter would be able to receive a party ballot for the political parties that will be allowing NPP voters to vote in their Presidential Nominee. The ROV responded that NPP voters will receive a pink card in the mail with the opportunity to request a party ballot for the primary. Another asked whether they would have to surrender their VBM ballot to vote in person. The answer was no, because the electronic registration process would allow them to determine whether a VBM ballot had already been returned to the ROV.
The Draft Election Administration Plan will be available on August 15 and will be discussed at a public hearing Thursday, August 29, 6 to 8pm at the Orange County Department of Education, 200 Kalmus Dr, Costa Mesa to receive public input. The final version will be published October 4, 2019.
If you would like to attend an upcoming “Roadshow to Vote Centers 2020” presented by the OC ROV, you are welcome to attend any of the community group hosted events in the county as listed below:
Thursday, August 8, 6:30 to 8:30pm, hosted by HB Huddle, 5245 Foxglove, Huntington Beach
Saturday, August 17, 10 to 11:30am, hosted by the Republican Party OC, 1422 Edinger Ave, Suite 110, Tustin Thursday, August 22, 6 to 8pm, hosted by the OC Federation of Republican Women at the Orange County Registrar of Voters, 1300 S Grand Ave, Santa Ana Monday, September 23, 6:30 to 8:30pm, hosted by the Democratic Party of OC, 1916 W Chapman Ave Suite B, Orange.