A new and robust batch of voting centers opened on Friday, with a goal of giving LA County voters hundreds of in-person options for where to vote or drop off a ballot in the waning days through Election Day.
The new centers add to the 118 that opened last weekend, bringing the total to more than 750 centers across a county of 5.6 million registered voters.
The latest batch opens as early voter turnout — in person and by mail — swells across LA County and the nation.
According to the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk’s Office, more than 2.1 million vote-by-mail ballots had already been received as of Thursday night, roughly five times the number that were returned by this point in 2016’s presidential election.
More than half of those ballots have been collected from drop boxes that are located across the county, according to the clerk’s office.
Another 149,000 votes had already been cast at early voting centers in Los Angeles County as of Thursday night.
In Orange County, more than 813,000 ballots had already been received by the registrar’s office as of Friday morning.
On Friday morning outside SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, about 50 people were in line — physically distanced — to vote at portable structures in the stadium’s parking lot.
The scene was played out across town at unique and new spots like Dodger Stadium and the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood and scores of community centers, school campuses, libraries and churches.
The centers themselves are meant to be a one-stop shop, where any voter, from anywhere in the county, can either vote, drop off their ballot, or register to vote.
Starting in the March primary, they replaced the traditional neighborhood precincts, where voters could only vote in one place on one day.
The hope is that there won’t be a flood of voters on Election Day itself, but that remains to be seen on Tuesday. Officials continue to urge people to vote early, but, like in March, things could be busy on Tuesday itself.
Still, elections officials say they are pleased with poll workers’ ability to resolve the kind of issues that plagued vote centers in March, leading to frustrated voters and long lines on Election Day.
The vote centers supplement a massive vote-by-mail push, required by executive order, state and county legislation mandating that election officials send vote-by-mail ballots to all registered voters in the state.
According to the Secretary of State’s Office, county election officials this year were authorized to begin opening and processing vote-by-mail ballots up to 29 days before Election Day, although no results can be released until after the polls close on Tuesday. In past years, counties could not begin processing any ballots until 10 days before an election. The rules were adjusted this year in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the anticipated surge in vote-by-mail balloting.
Although election officials are urging people to vote early, people who wait till the last minute can still get their ballots in. New rules this year allow the counting of any mail-in ballot that is postmarked by Tuesday and received as late as Nov. 20.
Officials have 30 days after the election to tally all ballots and certify the results.
“On Election Night, we will have a good picture of most contests, but the outcomes of close contests may take days or weeks to settle. This is normal,” Secretary of State Alex Padilla said in a statement.
Vote Centers will be open every day from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. during the early voting period. On Election Day, Vote Centers will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
To find one near you, visit https://locator.lavote.net/locations/vc?id=4193&culture=en.
City News Service and freelance reporter Josh Rosen contributed to this story.