New election system: New locations

A photo from the election 2018 shows Kingsburg residents Shay and Bethany Thomason casting their votes at the Orchard Bible Fellowship church. A new voting system will change the voting process and voting locations for the 2020 elections.

FRESNO – The Fresno County Clerk/Registrar of Voters Brandi Orth recently shared details about changes coming to the election system in the state that will affect Fresno County elections starting in 2020.

“The Voters Choice Act is an exciting new model for elections administration,” Orth said in press release.

California Senate Bill 450 was passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor in 2016. This bill authorizes counties to send every voter a mail ballot and provide ballot drop-off locations and Vote Centers throughout the County.

In 2018, five counties successfully initiated the new law: Madera, Napa, Nevada, Sacramento and San Mateo.

For the upcoming 2020 election, 10 other counties will launch the modernized voting practice under the Voters Choice Act: Amador, Butte, Calaveras, El Dorado, Los Angeles, Mariposa, Orange, Santa Clara, Tuolumne – and Fresno!  The Fresno County Board of Supervisors approved the new model in March 2019 beginning with the upcoming Presidential Primary in March 2020.

“As we transition to Vote Centers for the March 2020 election, it means that Fresno County voters will have more choices on where, when and how they would like to cast their ballot. It is essential that Fresno County voters check their current voter registration at www.votefresnocounty.com by clicking on ‘check your registration status’ link to ensure that they are set to vote in 2020.”

All registered voters will be sent a ballot in the mail 29 days before the election, so voters won’t have to request a vote-by-mail ballot in advance. Voters will also be able to mail their ballot with no postage or drop it off at one of 50 Vote Centers or 33 secure drop boxes conveniently located throughout Fresno County.

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In addition to the drop-boxes, 10 days before Election Day throughout Fresno County, 10 Vote Centers will be open to the public. As Election Day gets closer, 50 Vote Centers and 33 secure drop boxes will be open three days before and on Election Day.  

“Community members have been very involved in the process of selecting locations for Vote Centers and drop boxes. We have several committees which will continue to meet through this process and we encourage public participation,” she said.

With this new model, traditional polling places will be replaced by Vote Centers. Instead of being assigned a single polling place, voters will have the freedom to cast a ballot in-person at any Vote Center in their county. The Vote Centers will look and feel like polling places, but they will provide additional enhanced features to make voting easier and more convenient.

At any Vote Center in Fresno County, a voter may vote in-person, drop off their ballot, get a replacement ballot, vote using an accessible voting machine, and register to vote or update their voter registration.

“This new process will make it easier to vote where and when it’s convenient. Additionally, Vote Centers will have staff who will be available to support all voters, including those with disabilities and those who may need translation and language assistance,” Orth said.

Free public transportation to Vote Centers will be provided in the Cities of Fresno and Clovis and rural parts of Fresno County, including FAX, Handy Ride, Clovis Transit and Fresno County Rural Transit Agency.

If you have questions, contact the Fresno County Elections office at 600- 8683, at Clerk-Elections@fresnocountyca.gov, or visit https://VoteFresnoCounty.com.

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The reporter can be reached at 583-2427 or lbrown@selmaenterprise.com.

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