California Voting Location and Outreach Tool
Developed by the Center for Inclusive Democracy (CID) at the University of Southern California, this interactive web-based mapping tool is designed to assist California elections officials in the state’s 58 counties.
About This Tool
The Voting Location and Outreach Tool aids election officials in the siting process by identifying optimal voting locations and ballot drop boxes for half-mile grid squares across a county. Election officials are able to find specific locations for consideration in these areas using local knowledge of their county’s resources and needs. The Voting Location and Outreach Tool also provides visualization of demographic and voter data at the community level.
Currently, the Voting Location and Outreach Tool provides location modeling for vote centers (open 4 days and 11 days) and drop boxes for the 24 counties that have adopted the California Voter’s Choice Act, excluding Butte county
The Tool visualizes multiple types of community-level demographic and voter data as separate interactive maps for all other counties. Modeling of voting locations for the rest of California’s counties (except the all vote-by-mail counties of Alpine, Plumas, and Sierra) consistent with traditional polling place siting options (except for Butte county) is currently in development.
Note: The Tool sites the number of voting locations in the most recent comparable election publicly disclosed by the county elections office. The Voting Location and Outreach Tool’s purpose is to model the location of voting sites based on the number of sites that a county is required to provide, not to suggest what number of voting locations best serves a community.
What is the Voter's Choice Act?
In 2016, Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 450, known as the Voter's Choice Act (VCA), which allows counties to choose to adopt a new voting system. In counties choosing to adopt the new model, every registered voter is mailed a Vote-by-Mail (VBM) ballot, which voters can either mail in, or return at a ballot drop box or a newly established vote center. At vote centers, which replace traditional neighborhood polling places, voters can cast their ballots in person, drop off their completed VBM ballots, access conditional voter registration, receive replacement ballots, and access additional resources, such as language assistance and accessible voting machines. There are fewer vote centers than polling places by design and vote centers are open to voters for up to ten days prior to Election Day and available for all voters to utilize countywide. Voters can choose to cast their vote through the mail or at a drop box, and those desiring an in-person experience (e.g., using an accessible voting system, location convenience or for a sense of community) would have numerous days to do so rather than just one. Five of California’s 58 counties adopted the model for the 2018 election cycle—Madera, Napa, Nevada, Sacramento and San Mateo. The following counties adopted the VCA for the 2020 election cycle: Amador, Butte, Calaveras, El Dorado, Fresno, Los Angeles (LA county chose to not mail all registered voters VBM ballots in the 2020 primary), Mariposa, Orange, Santa Clara and Tuolumne. In total, 25 California counties are likely conducting elections under the Voter’s Choice Act in 2021.