Goshen News, Goshen, IN

February 11, 2014

Elkhart County Commissioners approve vote centers

By JOHN KLINE
john.kline@goshennews.com

---- — GOSHEN — Elkhart County Commissioners Monday gave their official blessing to the possible transition of the county to a Vote Center concept for future elections.

The move follows a similar approval by the Elkhart County Council this past Saturday.

During Saturday’s meeting, Elkhart County Clerk Wendy Hudson indicated that the County Election Board needed a signed resolution supporting the change from both the council and commissioners before it could officially file the plan with the state.

Hudson first introduced the topic of vote centers during the annual Elkhart County Commissioner/Council Leadership Summit in February 2012. According to Hudson, legislation was signed in 2011 that gives any county in Indiana the option of becoming a Vote Center county.

Under such a program, all 117 of the county’s traditional polling places would be eliminated and replaced with a minimum of 13 new vote centers equally distributed throughout the county. Hudson noted that vote centers would be open to all eligible voters in the county, allowing voters to cast their ballots at the vote center most convenient to them, regardless of the precinct in which they live.

Given the large number of variables involved in converting to a vote center system, the Election Board recently held five public hearings to determine whether conversion to such a system is feasible for the county and its voters. The board’s final hearing on the topic was held Jan. 28.

With the final public hearing now over and approved resolutions from both the council and commissioners now in hand, Hudson said the final step in the process falls on the Election Board itself, which must vote unanimously to proceed with the conversion process before the plan can be filed with the state.