Voting in California is changing. In 2016, the State of California passed the “California Voter’s Choice Act” which currently allows some counties to conduct elections under a new model that is supposed to provide greater flexibility and convenience for voters. In 2018, every registered voter in Madera, Napa, Nevada, San Mateo, and Sacramento counties will be mailed a ballot twenty-eight days before Election Day. Voters will have three options to return their ballot – they can mail it, they can drop in off in one of several county ballot drop boxes, or they can visit any vote center in their county. The traditional polling place in the participating counties will be replaced by new vote centers. Voters may cast their ballot at any vote center in their county instead of going to just one designated polling location. Vote centers have also been provided additional features to make voting easier and more convenient, such as voting by using an accessible voting machine, getting help and voting material in multiple languages, and registering to vote or updating their voter registration on-site.

In 2018, 14 counties were offered to conduct elections under the Voter’s Choice Act model: Calaveras, Inyo, Madera, Napa, Nevada, Orange, Sacramento, San Luis Obispo, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Shasta, Sierra, Sutter, and Tuolumne received permission from the Secretary of State’s office. All other counties not previously mentioned in California will adopt the Voter’s Choice Act in 2020.

California’s Secretary of State, Alex Padilla, has worked with election experts, disability and language experts, and elections administrators in order to implement the Voter’s Choice Act. Padilla is also participating with the California Association of Clerks and Election Officials to coordinate the technical, logistical, and legal requirements of this new law.

“I think what’s most important to keep in mind is nothing in the Voter’s Choice Act changes the existing options that are available,” stated Dean Logan, President of CACEO. “You still have the option to vote in person, you still have the option to vote by mail; now you just have more availability, more locations, more days, more hours.”

On an additional note, California residents who are sixteen and seventeen years old can now pre-register online to vote. Once someone has pre-registered and meets all of the standards of California voter registration, their registration becomes automatically active on their 18th birthday. To pre-register, visit registertovote.ca.gov.