By Jill LaVine.
Sacramento County is one of five counties in California to implement the Voter’s Choice Act (VCA), expanding voting opportunities for all Sacramento County residents. You might have seen the recent news or perhaps, received a postcard in the mail explaining the changes but if you haven’t, here’s what you need to know: Sacramento County residents can now choose when, where and how to vote.
In addition to Sacramento County, Madera, Napa, Nevada and San Mateo counties will also be implementing the VCA in the June 2018 election. For more information and to learn about how the VCA is changing voting in those counties, please visit the Secretary of State’s website.
The decision to implement the VCA in Sacramento County was based on several significant factors. We wanted to offer residents more access to voting, including additional accessible voting units for those with disabilities. Secondly, as Vote Centers will be replacing traditional polling places, we expect to see a reduction in provisional balloting as voters can now vote at any Vote Center in Sacramento County up to 11 days, including Election Day.
Additionally, more than 60 percent of registered voters in Sacramento County prefer to Vote by Mail (VBM) and that percentage increases with each election. As more and more voters are choosing this method, the new voting model reflects this growing trend by making VBM an option that every registered voter can take advantage of.
Two major components are changing with the new voting model. Beginning with the June 2018 election, all registered voters in Sacramento County will receive a ballot in the mail 29 days before Election Day and Vote Centers will replace traditional polling places. Here’s how it will work; once voters receive their ballot in the mail, they then have three choices for how to vote.
- Mail: Place the voted ballot inside the envelope provided, sign the envelope and return
- Drop Box: Place the voted ballot in any of the 52 secure Drop Box locations throughout Sacramento County. A complete list of locations can be found online and will be provided in the Sacramento County Voter Information Guide that will be mailed out prior to the election.
- Vote Center: Characterized as the most innovative feature of the new voting model, Vote Centers are universal voting sites that are open for up to 11 days, including Election Day and are located throughout Sacramento County. Voters who still want to vote in person can do so at any Vote Center, on any day that the Vote Center is open. Additionally, Vote Centers will have accessible voting units, modernizing the voting process for those with disabilities.
Implementing the VCA is a great opportunity for Sacramento County. Our goal is to increase voter participation, expand voting opportunities, provide faster election results and reduce costs associated with conducting elections. During the election, we will be able to track and evaluate voter turnout at Vote Centers and through Vote by Mail voting while also being able to identify which day had the most foot traffic at a Vote Center.
For more information about Sacramento County’s implementation for the VCA, please visit the Department of Voter Registration and Elections website.