New voting system coming to Fresno County

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Fresno County voters will need to adjust to a new system in 2020.

In a 3 to 1 vote Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors approved the Voter’s Choice Act — moving from precinct specific polling places to centers open to all voters. 

Supporter said it will make it easier for people to vote. 

“The behavior of Fresno County voters has been changing, meaning that the trend is more voters are choosing to vote by mail,” Fresno County Clerk Brandi Orth said.

Adopting the VCA also means all registered voters will receive a mail-in ballot. It also swaps 268 precinct specific polling place with 50 voting centers — expanding where people can cast ballots and for how long.

“10 will be open for 10 days prior to the election, and another 40 will be open three days prior to the election and all 50 will be open on election day,” Orth said. 

The move was not without opposition. Some raised concerns over the new model potentially being difficult and intimidating for seniors, others raised cyber security concerns. 

The new system, with fewer machines, is projected to save $1.6 million upfront, but has a higher overhead during elections. 

“The increased days of voting assistance centers being open and the additional amount of ballots being mailed to all voters,” will add up to an increase of a little more than $130,000 per election Orth said. 

“We won’t make everyone happy, but we’re going to do our best to increase access to the voting process and I think that’s really paramount to a robust democracy,” she said. 

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