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Early voting starts in L.A. County, with some hiccups reported

A new ballot marking device at a voting center at La Cañada City Hall.
(Sara Cardine / Times Community News)

Hundreds of Los Angeles County centers opened for early voting Saturday ahead of next month’s presidential primary election, giving voters a first glimpse of the $300-million overhaul of the county’s balloting system.

Some hiccups were reported.

About a quarter of the county’s 960 voting centers were slated to be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. starting Saturday. But some of them were unable to open on time because supplies or equipment needed to set up had not yet arrived, said Michael Sanchez, deputy communications director for the county registrar’s office. At other centers, workers did not have the security codes or login information necessary to start the new touch-screen ballot-marking devices. And some places were dark even though they appeared on the county’s official list of early voting centers.

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The registrar’s office was still determining how many locations were affected by the problems but confirmed that at least 10 voting centers in Hollywood, West Hollywood, Silver Lake, Eagle Rock, Montecito Heights, Lincoln Heights, downtown L.A. and Pomona either opened late or not at all.

The office was “working around the clock” to send out troubleshooters and provide other assistance to those locations, and most of them were operational by Saturday afternoon, Sanchez said.

He pointed out that, as part of the revamp of the voting system, L.A. County residents can now cast a ballot at any voting center, rather than just one neighborhood polling place that’s assigned to them, and they have up to 11 days to do so before the March 3 primary.

How do I vote? Will I get a ballot in the mail? A new procedure will change how some Californians cast ballots. Here’s how to vote in the California primary election.

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“This is part of the beauty of having the additional days,” Sanchez said. “Of course, in a perfect world, we’d want to make sure everything is up and running when we open, but the fact of the matter is we have additional days under this new voting model, and that’s part of the benefit. We can fix all of these opening-day issues.”

The remainder of the county’s voting centers will open Feb. 29, three days before the election.

The transition to the expanded voting schedule and roster of locations are all part of a modernization plan that grew out of the Voter’s Choice Act, a state law that encouraged counties to invest in mail balloting while also offering a more flexible experience for those wishing to cast ballots in person.


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