Photo: Sage Ross (flickr)
Vigo County is the tenth county in the state to adopt vote centers as an alternative to precinct voting.
Vigo County residents will cast their ballots at vote centers beginning next year, after the Vigo County Council approved the initiative this week.
Vote centers are polling places open to any eligible voter in the county, instead of confining residents to specific polling locations.
Vigo County’s system will replace its 87 precincts with 18 vote centers. Seven of those centers will be open for early voting a week prior to the election, and one center will be open two weeks preceding the election.
“It’s more convenient for the voters, because they don’t have to go to a specific polling place in order to vote—they’re able to go to any vote center in order to vote,” says Vigo County Clerk David Crockett. “We were trying to get the polling places out of the schools because security in the schools, in our opinion, was an utmost concern. Not just the safety issue part of it, but the disruption part of it.”
Crockett says the centers will use touch-screen technology to replace paper ballots. And the county will save money by reducing the number of poll workers from more than 600 to 135.
Johnson County used vote centers in the last election.
Johnson County Clerk Susie Misiniec says downsizing to 22 vote centers was an organizational nightmare, but well worth it. She says the key is to design a voting system tailored to each specific county.
“What worked in Johnson County may not necessarily work, for example, in Vigo County,” she says. “The population majority is in the Northern part. So we knew we had to concentrate on that area and I know some areas that are really rural, some counties have rural areas, vote centers may not be for them. People may complain ‘I used to be able to go to my local church to vote and now you’re telling me that I have to go into town to vote,’”
Although transitioning from precincts to vote centers can mean longer lines, Crockett says there’s a way around that by not waiting until the last minute, or voting absentee to avoid the wait.
The following counties have approved vote centers: