GOSHEN — Indiana continues to move toward modernization of its election process, and evidence of that was apparent in Tuesday’s Goshen Community School’s referendum.
Voters were given the option of utilizing a paper ballot on which they could fill in an oval in front of the “yes” or “no” options on the building project, or they could slip a small plastic ballot card into an optical voting machine which displayed the question on a screen. Voters could then select from a “yes” or “no” display.
Paper ballots are run through a scanner at the polling locations, which puts the vote totals on computer memory cards. The optical machines also place votes on memory cards. Those cards are placed into sealed envelopes at the end of the day by poll workers and then run through a counting computer in the election center staffed by the election board and its hired vendor.
That dual machine system at precincts may be replaced in 2014 by vote centers utilizing all optical machines, according to election board member Wayne Kramer.
“The key will be the voter poll books,” Kramer said.
Those poll books are where the names and addresses of eligible voters are kept. The reason poll books are key to switching to vote centers is that the centers would replace individual precinct polling stations, and the workers at those locations who flip through the books to check voter eligibility. Poll books in the future may be a laptop computer or a tablet device.
If a switch is made to vote centers, according to Kramer, a voter would be able to vote at any vote center in a county, even one distant from where they live. Poll workers would use electronic poll books to verify a voter’s registration and eligibility and voters would then be able to access their local ballots on the electronic voting machines. That means voters working in one location in a county wouldn’t have to drive back to their local precinct to vote in an election.