A new report by Michael D. Byrne from Rice University, revealed that the new voting system set to debut in Los Angeles County for the California primaries facilitates voter verifiability.
The study, published on January 7, 2020, analyzed the mock election held in September 2019 in which Angeleno voters had their first opportunity to use the VSAP technology.
One the most relevant findings was that 51% of voters observed by the researchers did review the choices printed on their paper ballot prior to casting it. Moreover, this verification was not taken lightly by voters. “…timing data strongly suggests this review was not merely cursory. Voters who verified their ballots averaged 2 minutes and 10 seconds longer to vote than voters who did not,” reads the report.
It is important to clarify that the printed ballot produced by VSAP has the same length as a traditional paper ballot and is not a mere summary.
Acknowledging that a mock election like this one may not provide an ideal venue to reach a definite verdict regarding the verifiability of ballot marking devices, the author believes the study does provide grounds for cautious optimism. During the same mock election, voters of all ages were asked their opinion. Their testimonials can be seen in this video.
Los Angeles County is set to debut its revolutionary voting system the election cycle beginning March 2020. In addition to the ballot marking devices, VSAP brings several other innovations. Traditional polling locations will be replaced with 11-day and four-day vote centers. Instead of being restricted to one polling location voters will now be able to cast a ballot at any one of 1,000 locations throughout LA County. Also, an interactive sample ballot will allow for voters to pre-mark their choices on their mobile device anywhere, anytime. The voter then brings their device to a vote center where they scan it into the VSAP machine. The machine then prints a paper ballot showing their choices in human-readable text. All these changes will make the election more inclusive.