Approved by California lawmakers in 2016, and established by SB 450, the Voter’s Choice Act (VCA) expands voters’ options for how, when and where they cast their ballots. The VCA is an optional law which allows counties to decide if they will transition into the new voting model. In 2018, five counties pioneered the new law: Madera, Napa, Nevada, Sacramento and San Mateo. In 2020, ten additional counties will have a new and modern voting experience under the VCA: Amador, Butte, Calaveras, El Dorado, Fresno, Los Angeles, Mariposa, Orange, Santa Clara, and Tuolumne.
State policymakers and election officials hope to increase voter participation by providing voters with increased flexibility to vote when and where is most convenient for them. For example, voters in participating counties will be able to vote on weekends, at any vote center in their county, and by mail (if requested in advance).
To encourage even more participation, the new voting devices allow for customization of visual and audio preferences to ballots in more than thirteen languages and accessibility features that provide equality and independence to voters with disabilities. Similar to the current model, each machine produces paper ballots and exceeds the national voting system security standards.
The improved voting system debuts in 2020 with vote centers throughout the county where voters can go to the location of their choice over an extended 11-day period. The full-service vote centers will offer services including conditional (or same day) voter registration and modernized equipment that provides language and disability access.