News and Tribune

Homepage

May 3, 2014

Vote centers continue to grow in Indiana

Floyd is one of 16 counties using the new system

— More Indiana residents than ever can cast a ballot this year at “vote centers,” seven years after the start of the program that allows residents to vote at any approved location in their county, instead of one particular neighborhood precinct.

Residents in 16 out of Indiana’s 92 counties  — including Floyd — can head to designated vote centers during next Tuesday’s primary elections, up from seven counties in 2012.

Lawmakers approved pilot programs in 2007 and made the vote centers a statewide option in 2011. Counties with vote centers consolidate their polling locations.

Advocates say having fewer centers available to more people could save money and be more convenient for busy voters, but critics point out that also means fewer locations, which could be stationed farther away from the former neighborhood sites.

Phyllis Kelso, an 84-year-old resident of the Indianapolis suburb of Greenwood who voted early at a center Thursday, used to vote across the street from her house. The vote center closest to her is farther, but she said it’s worth it.

“It’s better for everybody,” she said. “The location doesn’t matter to me, just as long as I don’t have to stand in line.”

Indiana Secretary of State spokeswoman Valerie Kroeger said that some voters “seem to like the convenience” but that others just want to stick with traditional voting.

Part of the challenge is high upfront costs to implement the centers, some county officials said.

In Floyd County, during past elections, the Floyd County Republican Party and Floyd County Democratic Party would select about 300 poll workers.

“Now, we’re going to have about half of that number,” at the 10 county vote centers, Floyd County Clerk Christy Eurton told the News and Tribune for a previous report.

 The main change Floyd County voters will notice is that all their choices will be made by touching a computer screen. They will be given a chance to review their selections prior to hitting the submit button, then a receipt will print for the voter to feed into the ballot box.

However, Allen County opted not to make the switch, in part because of expenses, including up to an estimated $280,000 cost for hardware. The county also struggled with picking locations large enough and with enough parking to handle voters, and Elections Director Beth Dlug said Election Day data from the centers, as opposed to individual precincts, wouldn’t fit on tally cards used to count the vote.

Johnson County implemented vote centers in 2012.

“It’s an organizational nightmare, honestly,” Johnson County Clerk Susie Misiniec said. “A lot of counties still are struggling to get it adopted. I feel bad.”

Tippecanoe County — one of the first counties to participate in the pilot program — spent $15,000 for electronic poll books and $24,000 to upgrade its laptops. County Clerk Christa Coffey said savings from reduced workers exceeded upfront costs.

State Rep. Kreg Battles, D-Vincennes, called vote centers a “mixed bag.” Battles said urban areas are ideal locations, but spacing out centers in more rural areas could make transportation difficult and discourage voting. He cautioned placing potential savings on staffing above ensuring that locations are close to residents.

“I don’t think they are universally the solution to everything, nor are they universally a bad thing,” Battles said. “There are areas where they can and will work very well, (but) particularly in rural Indiana, we’re probably not going to see expansion.”

Misiniec, as well as Battles and Kroeger, said local control is key to vote centers’ success in the state.

“What works for Johnson County may not work for another county,” Misiniec said. “There’s no standard pattern. You have really got to develop your own plan in how to approach it.”

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
07_22_GCCS_Tech.w.jpg

Erin Klein, a nationally-recognized education blogger and Tom Murray, State and District Digital Learning Policy and Advocacy Director for the Alliance for Excellent Education in Washington, D.C., speak to a group of educators at Jeffersonville High School on Monday. They were just a couple of the big-name education personalities at the second annual Greater Clark Connected Conference.

LATEST NEWS POSTS
SOUTHERN INDIANA SPORTS

LOCAL OPINIONS
LOCAL FEATURES
EVENTS CALENDAR
ntxt alerts
e-EDITION
Clark County Readers' Choice
2014 4-H Fairs


Images from the Floyd and Clark County 4-H fairs

You Need To Know Now!
SEASONAL CONTENT
Big Four Bridge opens
Must Read
Facebook
Twitter Updates
AP VIDEO
Raw: Israel Bombs Multiple Targets in Gaza Veteran Creates Job During High Unemployment Raw: Cargo Craft Undocks From Space Station Widow: Jury Sent Big Tobacco a $23B Message New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts UN Security Council Calls for MH 17 Crash Probe Obama Bestows Medal of Honor on NH Veteran Texas Sending National Guard Troops to Border Hopkins to Pay $190M After Pelvic Exams Taped Foxx Cites Washington 'Circus Mirror' NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong Obama Voices Concern About Casualties in Mideast Diplomacy Intensifies Amid Mounting Gaza Toll AP Exclusive: American Beaten in Israel Speaks Obama Protects Gay, Transgender Workers Raw: Gaza Rescuers Search Rubble for Survivors Raw: International Team Inspects MH17 Bodies Raw: 25 Family Members Killed in Gaza Airstrike US Teen Beaten in Mideast Talks About Ordeal 'Weird Al' Is Wowed by Album's Success
MARQUEE TEXT ADS