New voting system shows elections matter

Yesterday’s vote by the Board of Supervisors to establish Voting Centers in Orange County offers us another compelling example of why elections matter.

The proposal by Registrar of Voters Neal Kelly to replace our outdated polling place system with more convenient Voting Centers is not unique to Orange County. Other California counties have found that voting centers not only increase voter turnout, they save money. When Mr. Kelly’s proposal was before them in 2017, the Board of Supervisors unanimously rejected it.

Secretary of State Alex Padilla said at the time he was “surprised” by the decision and deeply disappointed. OCEA then published a column in support of increased voter participation and critical of the Board’s decision.

More than a year later, the landscape has dramatically shifted. In 2018, OCEA members worked hard to elect Supervisor Doug Chaffee to the Board. Supervisor Chaffee supports fair wages and fair treatment for working families. A groundswell of activism saw many changes at the federal level and brought a new scrutiny to decisions made by local elected officials.

Yesterday, the Board heard from dozens of activists advocating for change in our outmoded voting system; a change enthusiastically supported by Supervisor Chaffee. The result—a unanimous vote to support Mr. Kelly's voting center initiative.

This change would not have happened without the efforts of OCEA members to elect Supervisor Chaffee. The overhaul of the County voting system will save an estimated $29 million and increase voter turnout. Registered voters will automatically receive a mail ballot beginning in 2020.

In less than two weeks, OCEA members in the 3rd Supervisorial District will decide on another new Supervisor. OCEA has endorsed former Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez because of her long record of support for working families. The election is March 12 but voters in the 3rd District can cast their ballots right now by mail, or by dropping them off at OCEA for delivery to the Registrar. Starting Friday, March 8 you can also vote at any one of four Voting Centers in the District.

We know that strengthening democracy is our individual and collective responsibility and only helps working families. We have made great strides standing together for change. Let’s keep that momentum going and elect Loretta Sanchez to the Board of Supervisors.

We can do this.

Publication Date: February 27, 2019