Early voting centers open in LA County, including the Forum and Staples Center

INGLEWOOD, Calif. (KABC) -- Over 100 voting centers opened across Los Angeles County Saturday so voters can cast their ballots, the first opportunities for them to do so in person, ahead of Election Day.

There are 5.7 million registered voters in L.A. County and everyone received a ballot in the mail. Roughly 1.5 million of those ballots have already been returned. But, if you're waiting to vote in person, you can vote wherever you'd like including driving to the home of your favorite sports team.

Staples Center, the Forum and the Long Beach Convention Center are among the list of large venues across the region that will serve as voting centers starting Saturday through Nov. 3. Voting centers will be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, with extended hours on the day of the election.

On Oct. 30, another 648 locations will open across the county, including Banc of California Stadium and Dodger Stadium.

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Dodger Stadium has been closed to the public for months but now it is preparing to welcome voters who want to cast their ballots in person or simply drop off their mail-in ballot for the upcoming election.

"We want voters to know it is safe to come and vote. You don't need to make a choice between your health and safety and participating in the election," said L.A. Registrar-Recorder/County ClerkDean Logan.

Minutes before closing time at 7 p.m. voters were still showing up to cast their ballots at Staples Center.

"It was so imprtant to beat the rush and to let my voice be heard. This is a very pivotal time in our history so I had to come out and vote," said Tommy Coleman.

The county has also launched LA Free The Vote, an organization that encourages anyone impacted by the criminal justice system to vote. If you have a misdemeanor conviction or a felony conviction, but you're on probation or done with parole, you can vote.

"Mass incarceration obliterated the rights of many communities, particularly communities of color. If our society is to reckon with this history of racial discrimination, the issue of civic engagement and the right to exercise their franchise is fundamentally vital," said county Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.

In Orange County, dozens of people lined up Saturday morning at Laguna Niguel Regional Park, the lone vote center to open so far in the county. Others are set to open in the days leading up to the election.

You can find a voting center near you, based on which county you live in:

Los Angeles County

Orange County

Riverside County

San Bernardino County

Ventura County

The vote center concept replaces the traditional precinct system, which required voters to cast ballots at designated locations. Officials hope the new system will encourage people to cast their ballots early, reducing the possibility of long lines at polling places on Election Day.

Voters who've already filled out their vote-by-mail ballots can also drop them off at the vote centers.

City News Service contributed to this report.
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