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Vote Centers Get Support From County Clerks

Monroe County officials are crossing their fingers in hopes that a bill allowing all Indiana Counties to use vote centers is passed.

polling place

Photo: Courtesy:: Flickr, Jennifer Grimes

A bill making its way through the state legislature would allow all counties in the state to start using vote centers.

Monroe County officials are crossing their fingers in hopes that a bill allowing all Indiana Counties to use vote centers is passed. The bill has already gotten the go-ahead from the Senate and is making its way through the house, but last year a similar vote center bill made it just as far, only to be vetoed by Governor Mitch Daniels.

Cass County was one of the pilot testers for the vote centers, which are centralized places where people can vote on election day no matter their precinct, and so far County Clerk Beth Liming says she has only good things to say.

“There are really no cons what so ever,” Liming said. “I mean when you’re talking anywhere from the convenience to the voter to the money savings for the county it’s a win situation all the way around.

Liming said a survey conducted by the area’s League of Women Voters, shows the average voter waited in line at vote centers for only about 15 minutes. Liming also said in Cass County’s total voter turnout has increased and the county’s election costs have been cut significantly. But 2010 was the final year of the pilot program meaning that if a bill at the state house isn’t passed  this session, Liming will have to revert to the old system using traditional precincts for the May primaries and she says that will cause a jump in her expenses.

“I’ve got a quote laying right here on my desk now for more equipment and I’m just hanging on to it as long as I can and hoping to not have to purchase more equipment,” Liming said. 

Statehouse officials say the goal is to get the bill passed in time for the primaries.  In Monroe County, Clerk Linda Robbins said once the bill passes the next step would be for the county’s election board to unanimously approve its use.  Some vote center opponents have expressed concerns that the placement of vote centers, on Indiana University’s campus, for example, might give one candidate an advantage over another, but Robbins said she doesn’t think that would be an issue.

“I don’t know that we could say that we would garner more Democratic votes from IU than we would Republican votes from somewhere outside Bloomington Central,” Robbins said.

Robbins said election boards would make decisions about that.  Back in Cass County, Liming said voters haven’t been concerned about the potential advantage one candidate might receive but instead have been pleased about the increased ease of voting.

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