LOS ANGELES — While politicians and pundits were focusing on the Nevada caucuses Feb. 22, Los Angeles County residents started casting votes for the March 3 primary election as part of a new early-voting system.
Only about 20% of the nearly 1,000 new voting centers were open a full 11 days before the election with the balance set to open four days in advance of Election Day, March 3. Voting seemed to go smoothly at most locations, although a few experienced delays getting up and running.
In addition to the fight to be the presidential nominee for various parties, candidates are vying to be the county’s top prosecutor and to replace Mark Ridley-Thomas on the powerful five-member county Board of Supervisors. Ridley-Thomas himself is one of several candidates fighting for a place on the Los Angeles City Council, where multiple seats are at stake. Council or mayoral races are also being held in cities across the Southland.
Voters are also choosing congressional representatives, and some state Senate and Assembly seats are also up for grabs. Los Angeles County ballot initiatives on oversight of the sheriff’s department and more funding for the fire department are set to be decided as well.
Those voting in person may find that the old polling places in their neighborhood are no longer available. However, they now have the option of voting at their choice of the available vote centers — during their lunch hour at work or near school drop-off for their children — as well as the chance to vote on the weekend.
In the 37th Congressional District, Democratic incumbent Karen Bass is facing Larry Thompson, an attorney, producer and manager of Los Angeles with no party preference; and Republican Errol Webber, a documentary film producer from Los Angeles.
The district includes Culver City and parts of Los Angeles.
In the 43rd Congressional District, Democratic incumbent Maxine Waters is facing two Republicans, Joe. E. Collins, a retired member of the U.S. Navy from Los Angeles; and Omar Navarro, a small business owner from Torrance. The district includes part of South Los Angeles, Inglewood, Gardena, Hawthorne and Lawndale
In the 44th Congressional District, Democratic incumbent Nanette Barragan faces Morris F. Griffin, a county maintenance technician from Inglewood; and Analilia Joya, a teacher and disability advocate from Torrance. The district includes Compton, Lynwood, Carson and San Pedro.
In the 54th Assembly District, Democratic incumbent Sydney Kamlager is facing Tracy Bernard Jones, a teacher and community organizer from Inglewood; and Clinton Brown, a real estate developer from Los Angeles on the Democratic ballot.
Republican Glen Ratcliff, a small business owner from Los Angeles, also is seeking the seat.
The district includes Culver City, South Los Angeles, Leimert Park and the Baldwin Hills.
In the 59th Assembly District, Democratic incumbent Reginald Jones-Sawyer, faces Efren Martinez, a public policy commissioner from Huntington Park in the Democratic primary.
Marcello Villeda is the lone Republican running. The district includes Huntington Park and South Los Angeles.
In the 62nd Assembly District, Democratic incumbent Autumn Burke is being challenged by Republican Robert Steele, a business owner from Culver City. The district includes Hawthorne, Inglewood, Gardena and parts of South Los Angeles.
In the 64th Assembly District, Democratic incumbent Mike Gipson is being challenged by Fatima Iqbal-Zubair, public school teacher of Carson.
The district includes Compton, Carson, Willowbrook and parts of South Los Angeles.
In the race for Los Angeles County District Attorney, incumbent Jackie Lacey is being challenged by former Los Angeles police officer George Gascon and federal public defender Rachel Rossi.
Seven candidates also are on the ballot in the race for the 2nd District seat on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. Incumbent Mark Ridley-Thomas can’t seek re-election due to term limits.
Seeking to replace him are Jorge Nuño, a social entrepreneur; Jan Perry, a former L.A. city councilwoman; state Sen. Holly Mitchell, Rene Rigard, an investment advisor; Los Angeles City Councilman Herb Wesson, Jake Jeong, a community advocate; and Carson Mayor Albert Robles.
Ridley-Thomas is seeking a return to the Los Angeles City Council in the 10th District, replacing Wesson. Also in the race are Melvin Snell, a human rights advocate; Channing Martinez, a community organizer,
Aura Vasquez, a city commissioner; and Grace Yoo, a community leader and attorney
Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan and his team are betting that the increased convenience draws more voters to the polls, even though the changes may initially create some confusion.
“We have tried to address a broad range of interests by designing a new voting model that offers a more intuitive, accessible and secure voting experience for Los Angeles County — placing primary emphasis on the voter,” Logan said last year.
Another feature of the new system is that would-be voters who missed the deadline to register can cast a conditional ballot anytime during early voting up until Election Day. Eligibility will be verified before their votes are counted.
At the centers, registered voters are handed a blank ballot with a bar code that — when inserted into the voting machine — will load the relevant national, state, county and city races onto an electronic touch-screen tool. Once they use the touch screen to select their candidates and vote on various ballot measures, their choices are printed onto a paper ballot.
Voters with access to a printer or smartphone who want to save time at the polls can access an electronic sample ballot at https://lavote.net and preload their choices onto a printed or mobile “poll pass.” When the poll pass is scanned into a ballot reader at the voting center, the voter’s choices are revealed and there is an opportunity to make any last-minute changes.
More information on the new system can be found at https://lavote.net.