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By OC Board of Supervisors Chairperson Lisa Bartlett
One of the greatest powers the citizens of our country have is the power to vote. Voting gives each of us an opportunity to affect the course of how our communities are run today and for future generations.
It is the responsibility of our local governments to ensure safe, secure, efficient, and convenient elections that allow our residents to practice their right to vote. Orange County is fortunate to have Neal Kelley, one of the nation’s leading Registrar of Voters.
Neal has served on multiple national boards and organizations and has been the recipient of numerous state and national awards, including being awarded “Public Official of the Year” by the National Association of County Recorders, Election Officials and Clerks.
Neal is dedicated to our county and dedicated to advancing and protecting the integrity of our elections.
In 2016, the voters passed the Voter’s Choice Act, which requires county Registrar of Voters to change their systems of voting in order to allow voters to choose how, when, and where to cast their ballot either by mail, in-person early voting or casting a ballot at a vote center within the county with new and updated technologies and voting systems.
Under Neal’s leadership, Orange County is now moving to this model not only to comply with this state mandate, but because our voting technology was in desperate need of a refresh.
Our now older election system and technology were at the end of useful life, no longer supported for repairs, and did not include new state-of-the-art features. Also, and most importantly, old legacy voting systems were to be decertified by the California Secretary of State.
With roughly 1.6 million registered voters in Orange County, we want to make sure every voter has a convenient and, most importantly, safe and secure voting experience for our elections.
Starting this upcoming Primary election on March 3, the County of Orange will be moving to a new voting system and procedure that will make our elections safer and more convenient.
Now, every registered voter will receive a vote-by-mail ballot to mail in or drop off at one of the 110 ballot drop-off locations that will be placed around the county.
We will also be switching to a vote center model instead of the older precinct polling location model. In Orange County, there will be 188 vote centers across the county staffed by trained officials.
Vote Centers will be open for the 11 days leading up to Election Day starting on February 22. Voters will have the opportunity to vote at any vote center, no matter where you are registered to vote, and also get registered at any vote center.
This is different than the traditional precinct polling locations utilized in prior years. The new advanced system in use at these vote centers will be updating in real-time!
So, for example, the system will show if and where a person is registered, if they have turned in an absentee ballot already, if they have voted already at another vote center, and will print in real time the correct ballot for your registered address.
One of the greatest advantages in moving to this new model is the elimination of provisional ballots.
This is a necessary change in order to protect the sanctity of the ballot.
To find out more information and where the closest vote center or ballot drop-off location is, please visit ocvote.com. Be sure to look out in your mailbox for your vote-by-mail ballot in the upcoming weeks.
I hope you will join me in exercising your right to vote on or before March 3.
Lisa Bartlett is the chairperson of the Orange County Board of Supervisors. She was reelected in 2018.