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Lawmaker May Consider Bill To Ease Vote Center Transition

A prolonged debate over vote centers helped lead to this week’s paper ballot counting snafu in Bloomington.

Milo Smith

Photo: Bill Shaw

State Rep. Milo Smith (R-Columbus) says he may consider filing a bill changing the rules for adopting vote centers.

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.

Stan Jastrzebski

WFIU/WTIU News Senior Editor Stan Jastrzebski spent time as a reporter with WGN Radio in Chicago and as an editor at Network Indiana, an Indianapolis news service. Stan is the winner of awards from the Associated Press, the RTDNA, the Indiana Broadcasters Association and the Society of Professional Journalists. He hosts WFIU's Ask the Mayor and anchors WTIU's InFocus.

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  • Ccoques

    Exactly when has Ms Smith-Ille voted against vote centers? She has actually expressed support of the concept, although she’s been quite critical of the specific plan, in my opinion unfairly so. I don’t think she ever voted against them, though.

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