BURBANK, Calif. — During the pandemic, COVID fears didn’t stop Howard McBroom from voting. In fact, it led him to vote by mail.
“It makes voting so much easier,” McBroom said.
This year, he’s planning to go the more traditional route and he will cast his ballot at a polling place. But he’s happy to see the automation of vote-by-mail ballots as a permanent option for registered Californian voters.
“It’s definitely an option that many people need. Because a lot of people have trouble getting to a polling place. A lot of people don’t have time to go and vote. They have jobs and families,” he said.
During the 2020 general election, about 78% of voters voted by mail in Los Angeles County. That’s more than 3.4 million ballots. According to the Los Angeles County Registrar Dean Logan, only 21% of voters in the county went to a traditional polling place to vote.
“2020 was a record high voter turnout. That was a presidential election. Even in spite of the pandemic, we had record voter turnout. Unfortunately, primary elections typically don’t see that same level of participation,” Logan said.
There are 400 ballot drop boxes throughout LA County where vote-by-mail ballots are collected by the LA County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk daily, Logan said. The ballots then begin with a signature verification process to prepare for ballot counts after 8 p.m. on election day.
“We do what’s called an extraction. We remove the voted ballot from the envelope. So that separates the ballot from the identity of the voter. That guarantees a secret ballot. Then those ballots are reviewed to make sure there aren’t any errant marks on them or damage to the ballot or anything of that nature,” he said. “Once those are cleared, they go to our tally center, where they are scanned in and ready to go.”
For McBroom, voting isn’t an opportunity he’s willing to pass up.
“I believe that it is a civic duty of every citizen to vote because voting is at the very heart of democracy. Without voting there is no democracy, period,” McBroom said.
Ballot drop boxes and vote centers will remain open until 8 p.m. on election day. For a list of locations near you, visit lavote.gov.