Last Thursday, we had the opportunity to meet with Jeff Klein, Manager of Voter Education, Outreach, & Community Relations at the Los Angeles County Registrar – Recorder/County Clerk. From the robust information packets he prepared for us, to his engaging talks about the various initiatives that the Los Angeles County Registrar is currently undertaking, we could easily see Jeff’s passion for his work. With the current voting system under a historical overhaul, our discussion with Jeff couldn’t have been more insightful for the civic engagement and voter turnout program that the 2017 VOICE Fellows are planning to execute.
During the discussion, Jeff shared details about the VSAP (Voting Solutions for All People) — a voter-initiative project developed to address an aging voting system and an increasingly large and complex electorate. As the largest jurisdiction in the US, Los Angeles County has contracted IDEO, one of the leading design consultancies in the nation, to create not only a new voting system, but also a holistic voter experience that would hopefully increase the voter turnout rate. The project took off several years ago and pilot testing of the system is in progress with plans to roll out the new voting centers for the 2020 elections.
Per the overall objective of the fellowship program, we were really intrigued to hear how the new system was coming along. But we were also interested in hearing about the Registrar’s efforts in reaching out to voters and getting their feedback on the new system. “We can’t do it alone,” Jeff said. “We need the help from town halls and organizations like CAUSE to not only spread the word about the new voting system, but also to see what [voters] had to say after experiencing it.”
At the end of the lunch, one thing that Jeff has undeniably left us with is excitement: excitement for the incoming changes in the voting process and the subsequent effects. Not every voter may find voting to be exciting, but I believe the key is to find those areas of ‘excitement’, such as ensuring that people are not afraid of changes in the voting system and getting new and younger generations of voters to start voting early. The key to increasing civic engagement will definitely be finding out what makes people excited to vote, rather than making them feel forced to.
About the CAUSE VOICE Fellowship:
The Voter Outreach & Immigrant Community Engagement (VOICE) Fellowship (nee CELF Fellowship) is designed to connect APA immigrant communities to civic engagement opportunities. In this intensive fellowship program, fellows actively engage and build trust with APA immigrant citizens to support the community’s self-empowerment and civic engagement.