Early voting in L.A. County

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imageLos Angeles County is the biggest and most diverse voting jurisdiction in the country with about 4.6 million registered voters. “We’re kind of an anomaly, we actually have more registered voters than close to 40 of the 50 states in the nation,” says Dean Logan, the LA County Registrar-Recorder. His office in Norwalk oversees all of the voting in LA County.

California is one of only 32 states that offer early voting and Norwalk is the only place in LA County where voters can cast their ballots early. LA County used to have about 15 sites for early voting until concerns were raised about the security of the touch-screen computer systems that voters used there.

So in the 2008 election early voting was limited to just one location. Voters who come in early no longer vote on a computer, they just fill out a paper form like they would if they were voting by mail.

Voters cast their ballots early for a variety of reasons.

“We’ll actually be out of town,” said Cindy Tamae.

“I won’t be in town,” said Gene Rice.

“Well, I had an absentee ballot and I kind of messed it up so I had to come in to get another one so I just voted while I was here,” said Richard Davis.

Logan says, of the voters who show up early to vote,”It’s a pretty broad cross-section of our electorate.”image

And even though the groups that come to vote early are diverse in terms of age, ethnicity and political opinions, there is one major trend.

“The people who would go to early voting locations are pretty consistent voters,” says Logan.

He says early voters are the kind of people who will find a way to vote no matter what the options are. And election-to-election, those options change.

“I do think we have to pay attention to changing voter behaviors. I think the public in general has higher expectations and the future generations have higher expectations of there being options for voting. So I don’t think the future holds one specific manner of voting,” Logan said.

Whichever method voters choose to get their vote out, Logan says he expects a strong turnout this year and voters have many reasons for getting to the polls.

“It’s a priority in terms of this election and making sure that the other propositions that are out, that I have a say,” said Veronica Williams.

“It’s a presidential election, you have to vote to be counted,” said Rice.

About 2,500 people have already come to Norwalk to vote early. Logan says that number will probably pick up this weekend and next weekend. The Norwalk early voting station will be open every day through November 6th.

Click here for the LA County of Registrar-Recorder’s website.