A record number of people are expected to vote in the upcoming presidential election, and San Luis Obispo County is already rolling out a new way of casting and counting your ballots for city, county, and state races, with new voting machines.
They’re designed to make voting easier and more accessible for just about everyone at the polls, but especially for those with disabilities.
"The features of the new system, there are some additional features specifically designed for disabled voters that I think will make the voting experience easier for them at the polling place," said Tommy Gong, San Luis Obispo County Clerk-Recorder.
The improvements include special headphones for people who are hearing or visually impaired and the traditional voting machines have been replaced with tablets, which allow people to pick their candidates by touch screen or remote-control.
"That would be great. That would be perfect, perfect to make it more easier for us," said Raymond Castro from People First of San Luis Obispo.
Groups that advocate for people with disabilities, including Castro who has cerebral palsy himself, say these changes are a step in the right direction.
"We're thrilled that the city council and our government has decided this is a priority. It's one of our priorities, that we work on every day, helping those that we serve that they choose, and like Raymond said, getting out and voting like everyone else does is important," said April Lewallen, Vice President, North Central Coast Division of PathPoint.
Gong says last year there was a record number of voter registrations due to the governor’s race and he predicts an even larger turnout for the 2020 presidential election.
"Everyone is expecting, even overtopping what we had done in the past by leaps and bounds, so we are doing our best to try and prepare really for the voter interest and the level of voter turnout that will take place," Gong said.
Even though we don’t know yet who will be the Democratic presidential candidate, San Luis Obispo County says it will be ready for the race.
The new machines can be used now for people voting on Measure A, a proposed parcel tax in the Templeton Community Services District.