Voting centers open in L.A. County and across California before primary election

AZUSA, CA - OCTOBER 24: Voters work on their ballot at a In-person early voting place at Azusa Women's Club on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020 in Azusa, CA. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
Voters cast ballots at an in-person early voting center in Azusa in 2020. (Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times)

With California’s March 5 primary election less than two weeks away, Los Angeles County voters can now begin to cast early ballots in person at one of 119 vote centers that opened Saturday.

The ballot includes a long slate of statewide and local candidates and ballot measures, including party nominations for president and an open U.S. Senate contest to determine the top two finishers who will advance to the November election.

Read more: How to vote in California's March 2024 primary election

In California, county election offices were required to begin mailing ballots to all registered voters no later than Feb. 5.

Vote centers, which open 10 days before the election, are one of several options for voters to return mail-in ballots or vote in person through election day.

Voters can also submit completed ballots through the mail or return ballots at vote-by-mail drop boxes.

People who want to vote but missed the voter registration deadline can fill out a conditional registration form at a vote center in order to cast a ballot, which will be tallied after election officials confirm voter eligibility.

Read more: Where to vote and find ballot boxes in California 2024 primary election

The Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk said vote centers will be open daily from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. through March 4. Vote centers and polling places will open earlier on election day, with polls closing at 8 p.m. statewide.

At the urging of then-Secretary of State Alex Padilla, who now represents California in the U.S. Senate, state lawmakers expanded voting access under a law approved in 2016 called the California Voter’s Choice Act. The law permitted counties to mail ballots toall registered voters andrequired vote centers to open 10 days before an election.

The changes were made in response to historically low voter turnout in 2014 and part of an effort to make it easier for Californians to participate in elections.

As of Thursday, 22.3 million registered voters received ballots in the mail and more than 1.4 million have been returned, according to the California Secretary of State’s office. The vast majority of the returned ballots, nearly 1.2 million, were submitted by mail.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.