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Davis

Davis, California

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Yolo County to transition to the California Voter’s Choice Act Model

By this year’s June election, Yolo County will adopt a voting system that aims to make voting more convenient

By SOFIA BIREN — city@theaggie.org

 

The California Voter’s Choice Act (VCA) was passed in 2016 to modernize voting in the state . The model outlined in it requires that ballots be mailed out 28 days before Election Day. Voters can then submit their ballots by mail, in a drop-box or in a voting center that is open ten days prior to election day, according to the California Secretary of State website

As of 2020, 14 counties have adopted the model outlined in the VCA. Yolo County will be part of the 12 counties who will be adopting the VCA this year in time for the California Primary Election on June 7. 

In a press release, Yolo County stated they are “working on fully transitioning to the model of conducting elections under the California Voter’s Choice Act.”

Prior to this, Yolo County adopted a modified VCA model during the 2020 Presidential Election and the Gubernatorial Recall Election in 2021, according to Yolo County Chief Election Official Jesse Salinas. 

In the modified VCA model, voting centers in Yolo County were only open for four days, rather than the full 11 days in the official VCA model. Salinas said that Yolo County planned to adopt the VCA model in 2022, but the pandemic forced officials to adopt measures which would make voting in the Nov. 2020 election easier and safer. 

“We were trying to redesign the model for the November election, and that’s why we transitioned into this model,” Salinas said. “Because we can do a VCA-like model but we can’t stay open the 10 days prior, […] we were trying to make it a more reasonable amount.

The November 2020 Election saw a record increase in voter turnout in UC Davis and Yolo County. In the 2016 presidential election, Davis student turnout was 43%, but in 2020 the turnout rate was 75.7%. This prompted UC Davis to win the Best in Class Award in the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge.

The effectiveness of the VCA-like model was also clear in Yolo County according to Salinas.

“Of all registered voters we typically have a 76% turnout rate,” Salinas said. “In the November 2020 election, we had an 83% turnout rate.”

Salinas said he is proud of the increase in voters because it shows that although the county did not use a full VCA model, the turnout rate has been the highest it has been when compared to data from the past 30 years. In comparison, the state of California had an overall voter turnout rate of 70.8% which is the highest it has been since the 1952 election. 

The push for more convenient elections is coming to realization with the Voter’s Choice Act. In a press release, California Secretary of State Shirley N. Weber stated this model will “provide eligible voters more convenience and flexibility.” 

In part of this push to make elections more convenient for voters, the Yolo County Elections Office partnered with grocery stores in the county, most notably Nugget Markets in Davis. According to Salinas, Nugget Market had such a positive experience with the drop-boxes that they plan on making their stores in other counties available for drop-boxes in future elections. 

During the November 2020 election, over 50% of voters in Yolo County used a drop box. In addition to drop boxes, the VCA calls for readily available voting centers during an election. Under this model, one vote center is required for every 10,000 registered voters. At a voting center, voters can register to vote, receive assistance in another language and drop off their ballots up to 10 days before the election.  

More information about the Voter’s Choice Act is available on the Yolo County Elections Office website and on the California’s Secretary of State’s website

 

Written by: Sofia Biren — city@theaggie.org