What is the Voter’s Choice Act?
Approved by California lawmakers in 2016, and established by SB 450, the Voter’s Choice Act (VCA) expands voters’ options for how, when and where they cast their ballots. The VCA is an optional law which allows counties to decide if they will transition into the new voting model. In 2018, five counties pioneered the new law: Madera, Napa, Nevada, Sacramento and San Mateo. In 2020, nine additional counties will have a new and modern voting experience under the VCA: Amador, Butte, Calaveras, El Dorado, Fresno, Los Angeles, Mariposa, Orange, Santa Clara, and Tuolumne.
- Watch this new video on vote centers
- Read our handy one pager from our Easy Voter Guide about the new ways to vote
Why the change?
State policymakers and election officials hope to increase voter participation by providing voters with increased flexibility to vote when and where is most convenient for them. For example, voters in participating counties will be able to vote on weekends, at any vote center in their county, and by mail without requesting a mailed ballot in advance. The new process also modernizes California’s elections and recognizes the growing preference voters have for mailed ballots. Overall, the Voter’s Choice Act gives voters more options so they can choose when, where and how they vote.
Is my county switching to the Voter’s Choice Act?
In 2020, fifteen counties will conduct VCA elections: Amador, Butte, Calaveras, El Dorado, Fresno, Madera, Mariposa, Napa, Nevada, Orange, Sacramento, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Tuolumne. Los Angeles County is also implementing a modified version of the VCA. California’s other counties may choose to implement the VCA in the future. Officials in each county will decide whether to adopt the VCA model.
What is the timeline for implementation of the Voter’s Choice Act?
Throughout the summer and fall of 2019, counties must hold public meetings to receive input on their Election Administration Plan (EAP), publish a draft EAP and post for public comment and form two public advisory committees: a Language Accessibility Advisory Committee and a Voter Accessibility Advisory Committee.
Counties will submit their Election Administration Plans to the California Secretary of State for approval at 120 days before the March Primary Election.
How will the new voting process work?
In all VCA counties, except in Los Angeles County, every registered voter will receive a ballot in the mail one month before the election. In Los Angeles County, voters will receive a ballot in the mail only if they are a permamnent vote-by-mail voter or if they have requested one.
How to vote under the Voter’s Choice Act
Every registered voter in participating counties will receive a ballot 28 days before Election Day. You have 3 ways to return your completed ballot:
- Mail your ballot
- Drop off your ballot at a secure ballot dropbox
3. Visit any vote center in your county to drop off your ballot or vote in person
What is a Vote Center?
Most neighborhood polling places will no longer be used for voting. Instead you can vote at any vote center in your county. At a vote center, you can:
- Vote in-person.
- Drop off your completed ballot or get a replacement ballot.
- Vote using an accessible voting machine.
- Get help and voting materials in multiple languages.
- Didn’t register in time? At vote centers you can sign up and vote on the same day all the way through Election Day.
How can I get involved?
All types of community leaders and organizations can help make the VCA a success by
- Serving on a VCA advisory committee
- Participating in planning meetings
- Joining your local Voter’s Choice California hub
- Helping voters in your community prepare for the Voter’s Choice Act
- Providing feedback about your voting experience
Where can I find out more info about my county?
Learn more about the Voter’s Choice Act and how it will impact you using county specific info by looking up your county elections office.