Counties across California are gearing up for the 2020 elections and voting systems will be getting a makeover.
With concern for election vulnerability, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla is requiring all counties to change voting systems by next year.
With that update, some local counties are also looking for ways to make voting more accessible for people with disabilities.
Living with cerebral palsy makes things like signing your name difficult.
That’s why Raymond Castro’s John Hancock is a stamp.
“All we do is we put our signature stamp on it and we don’t have a problem with voting,” said Raymond Castro, who lives with cerebral palsy and is chairman of People’s First.
As chairman of People’s First, a self-advocacy group for people with disabilities, Castro helped get a state law passed, so that people unable to physically sign their name can use a signature stamp.
The Santa Barbara County clerk-recorder says election officials are re-vamping their voter experience and finding ways to electronically deliver ballots to people requiring assistance.
“To deliver a ballot over the internet to somebody who may be disabled that has a computer that allows them to mark the ballot and then they print out that ballot, print out an envelope and they mail that back to us,” said Joseph E. Holland, Santa Barbara County clerk-recorder-assessor and Registrar of Voters.
The county is also looking to add accessible voting machines at every polling place.
“Oh that would be good,” said Castro.
The PathPoint vice president says services like these help their clients live the life they want.
“Anything that helps them vote whether it’s by mail, in person or with assistance, we support that,” said April Lewallen, vice president of PathPoint. “It’s important that they have a voice in politics.”
2020 comes with another mandatory change– new, more secure voting systems.
10 counties including Santa Barbara County asked for extensions.
However, the county clerk-recorder says it was a protective measure and fully expects to meet Padilla’s deadline.
“We did put in a backup plan if anything went wrong but we don’t expect anything to go wrong,” said Holland.
He says the upgrade is estimated to cost the county $3 to 4 million and can receive matching funds from Prop 41 passed in 2002.
On top of a voting system upgrade, Santa Barbara County voting officials are also looking to add a new central count system and electronic poll books at polling places.
If counties don’t comply or get an exemption, voting officials could face legal action by the state.
KSBY reached out to the San Luis Obispo County Clerk Office and did not hear back, however, they did not ask for a deadline extension.