Currently, votes by county election boards in Indiana must be unanimous to pass because the boards are made up of the county clerk and appointed representatives of the county’s Democratic and Republican parties. What that means is the one member minority often carries huge sway — as in Monroe County, where Republican Judith Smith-Ille has voted against incorporating vote centers on several occasions.
Columbus State Representative Milo Smith, also a Republican, says keeping the unanimous vote provision was the only way to move the bill allowing counties the option of vote centers through the Indiana General Assembly. He says getting more counties on board may take a change.
“Maybe we should allow the majority to decide whether or not we have vote centers,” Smith says. “That’s better than making it mandatory. That still gives them home rule.”
But Smith says there may be a different solution posed in each of Indiana’s 92 counties. In Hendricks County, Clerk Cindy Spence says there’s support for vote centers, but not until after the 2012 presidential election and only for certain parts of the county.
“I could see implementing it for maybe the east side of the county – maybe central and east side,” she says. “But the west side is very rural. We would have to use the precincts for the west side. It just would not make sense.”
A report from the Indiana Fiscal Policy Institute shows every county in the state would save money using vote centers, with the cost of holding an election cut by more than half in some counties.