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Officials To Hold Forums On New ‘Voters’s Choice’ Options

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Sonora, CA – A big change for some California voters, including those in the Mother Lode, has elections officials planning special public outreach meetings.

Tuolumne County officials are hosting two forums next Thursday, Aug. 29 to educate residents about plans for implementing modernized voting processes through The Voter’s Choice Act and gather public feedback.

Passed in 2016, the law, also known as SB 450, authorized all counties, beginning next year, to conduct any election by an all-mailed ballot with vote centers. The process was successfully established last year in five pilot counties, Sacramento, Madera, Napa, Nevada, and San Mateo.

While the new voting model will not be implemented statewide, Tuolumne County is among more than a dozen more counties that opted to enact new voting processes in time for the 2020 Elections. As reported here, Calaveras County elections officials recently announced plans to do the same and that they are currently interacting with advisory committees.

Forums will Address Accessibility Topics  

Next Thursday, Tuolumne County officials will host a forum on voting accessibility beginning at 6 p.m. It will be followed at 6:30 with a language accessibility forum. Both will be held in the Supervisors Board Room at the government center (2 South Green Street) in downtown Sonora. County Clerk/Auditor-Controlled/Registrar of Voters Debi Bautista shares that the public’s ideas, feedback, and participation in the process will be much appreciated.

She explains that the process changes in the works will include mailing every registered voter a vote-by-mail ballot to use if they so decide; providing centrally located full-service vote centers for those who decide to cast in-person ballots and convenient ballot drop-off locations. Her office will also provide same-day voter-registration and expedited results on Election Day.

Among the reasons to successfully implement the new model, according to Bautista, are making voting more accessible and smoother for everyone, increasing voter participation, and significantly reducing future election costs through the adoption of the streamlined processes.

State officials point out the growing preference voters have for mailed ballots. They also highlight additional merits of the new voting model, which provides voters in participating counties with more options. Among these is the ability to vote on weekends at any vote center in their county and by mail without requesting a mailed ballot in advance. Also, to ensure voter centers are conveniently located, participating jurisdictions are required to make efforts to have them accessible by public transit.

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