By MATT KOESTERS
The Clark County Board of Elections has released its pre-plan for implementing vote centers in the county, which would replace the precinct system currently in use.
“The most common questions we hear in elections [are], ‘Where is my polling place?’ or ‘Why can’t I just vote at the polling place across from where I work or where I drop off my kids for school?’” County Clerk Barbara Bratcher Haas wrote in an introduction to the pre-plan. “A common complaint we hear is, ‘I can’t make it back to the polls by 6 p.m. on Election Day.’ Vote centers address these common voter concerns.”
Under the current version of the plan, 10 vote centers would be open on Election Day. Any voter in Clark County could vote at any one of the 10 locations. Under the current system, voters can only vote at their own precinct on Election Day.
“Vote centers bring to bear new technologies to revolutionize the voting process,” the pre-plan states. “Instead of traditional precinct-based polling sites on Election Day, the vote center concept calls for vote center locations where any registered voter from any precinct can go to cast their ballot and retrieve their correct ballot style.”
The vote centers would also have specialized electronic poll books that would automatically update at all locations when a voter signs in at one.
Additionally, satellite vote center locations would be open for early in-person voting on specific dates. The Charlestown Civic Center would accommodate early voters on April 26 and May 3, 2014. The Old Brewer General Store in Borden would be open for voting on April 21 and 22; the New Washington Fire Department would be open for voting April 23 and 24; and the Clarksville Fire Department would be open for voting on April 25. All locations would be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The Clark County Board of Elections office in the Clark County Government Building, 501 E. Court Ave., Jeffersonville, would accommodate early voters in the 29 days prior to election day.
In addition to streamlining the voting process and making voting easier for citizens, supporters of the plan say the implementation of vote centers would save the county money.
“I’ve talked with Barbara Haas about this many times, and the cost savings to the county is something that we can’t pass up,” said Commissioners President Jack Coffman. “It would just be such a big cost savings to the county. It would streamline our system, and for that reason, I would say we need to do everything that we can to implement it.”
Coffman said that the exact amount the implementation of vote centers would save has not been determined, but pointed out that far fewer poll workers would be needed to administer elections.
County Council Vice President Brian Lenfert echoed Coffman’s sentiment.
“You are manning 10 voting locations instead of 50-some-odd that we have now,” Lenfert said.
The elections board will review the pre-plan and the public comments received at a meeting 5 p.m. July 31, in the county council’s meeting room in the County Government Building. For vote centers to be implemented in Clark County, the election board must unanimously approve a vote center plan, and the commissioners and county council must approve resolutions approving the plan by a majority vote.
Copies of the plan are available in the board of elections office at the Clark County Government Building, 501 E. Court Ave., Jeffersonville. To submit comments or suggestions about the plan, they must be submitted to the office in writing by mail or in person.