Big changes coming to elections in Madera County

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Madera County is hoping to increase voter turnout, but it is cutting the number of places to vote.

The county is one of 5 in California to implement the states "Voters Choice Act."

The act calls for fewer polling stations but keeps voting open for up to 11 days before the election. It also encourages voting by mail.

Justin White, the Chief Assistant County Clerk and Recorder explains. "What we have noticed in Madera County and throughout California is most voters are choosing to vote by mail and so we are seeing a significant drop in the number of polling places."

So instead of 40 polling places, Madera County will cut those down to just 6 and offer different ways to vote.

White says; "Every voter in Madera County is going to get a ballot in the mail they will have the opportunity to return it by mail, as 65 or70 per cent of our voters already do, if they don't like that option they can use a ballot drop box, and drop their ballot postage free in a ballot drop box...or they will be welcome to vote at a vote center, there will be six of them open throughout Madera County two of them will be open for 11 days and four of them will be open for four days including election day."

Voting centers will be in Oakhurst, Coarsegold, the Madera Ranchos, Chowchilla and two in the city of Madera. Drop boxes will be placed in 4 public locations, where ballots can be dropped off. The goal, by narrowing the number of polling places, but leaving them open for days and encouraging mail-in voting is to increase voter turnout. White adds; "It's certainly going to be more cost-effective and more efficient and it's going to give voters more opportunity to vote, we want to make sure every eligible voter has access to the franchise in Madera county and we think we will accomplish that throughout the voters choice act."

The changes will be in place for the June primary. The actual voting locations will be announced in May.
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