For three years, beginning in 2007, the Indiana Secretary of State’s office conducted a Vote Center Pilot Program in Wayne, Tippecanoe and Cass counties. What was gleaned from that experiment was a successful, more efficient and more cost-effective model for running public elections.
Those results prompted the Indiana General Assembly to pass legislation in 2011 allowing all 92 counties in the state the option of moving from precinct-based voting to a vote center system. Precinct voting is geographical and registered voters are required to vote at a specific location based on where they live. Vote centers are a regional concept and allow registered voters the opportunity to vote at any center within the county that is convenient to them.
WE ARE ENCOURAGED that Elkhart County officials are close to moving forward with the vote center concept. A steering committee of 20 community leaders has been working hard to construct the framework for 24 vote centers in the county to be put to use for future elections. In the currently the county Election Board has runs and maintains 118 precinct polling locations, which requires an extensive amount of staffing and coordination.
“(Vote centers) give the voters more choice on where they can cast their ballot on Election Day,” Wendy Hudson, clerk of Elkhart County Circuit County, told WSBT-TV last week. “In precinct-style voting you have one precinct you’re required to cast your ballot. With vote centers, you can vote at any vote center in the county that’s convenient for you on Election Day.”
That means if you work in Goshen and live in Nappanee or Middlebury, you could vote during your break or lunch hour. It’s advanced technology that would make this possible. Instead of signing in and casting a paper ballot, registered voters would vote via an e-poll book, which is connected to a server that allows for real-time updates.