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The Way Los Angeles Votes Is Radically Changing. Is Anyone Paying Attention?

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Voters try out new ballot marking devices at the L.A. County mock election at Salazar Park in East L.A. on September 28, 2019. (Al Kamalizad for LAist)
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Los Angeles voters will be asked to navigate a completely different way to cast ballots for the fast-approaching California primary.

Where and how the county votes is changing.

Is anyone paying attention? That won't be clear until in-person voting starts Feb. 22.

[Get all the info you need for the 2020 primary from KPCC + LAist's Voter Game Plan]

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When they've tried out the new equipment during mock demonstrations, many voters say they like the L.A. County-designed ballot marking devices, electronic poll books and multi-day vote centers -- instead of neighborhood polling places -- rolling out for the primary election.

But some worry sunny L.A. could be headed for a perfect storm of election confusion.

Candidates like Mike Garcia, who's running for Congress as a Republican in North L.A. County, are concerned voters will show up on election day to an empty community center or school gym where they usually vote and won't know where to go.

"That's what's keeping me up at night," Garcia said. "It's a six-lane memorial highway dedicated to confusion."

The county has invested in an advertising blitz to let voters know where and how to cast their ballots.

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But it's a significant behavioral adjustment for millions of Angelenos -- who've historically voted more in-person than by mail. That could change in 2020. The county is expecting over 60 percent of voters to mail-in ballots this year, a big jump.

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