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After Ten Amendments Defeated, Vote Center Bill Moves On

It appears the first bill to reach the Governor’s desk this legislative session may be one authorizing vote centers in all Indiana counties. House Democrats ended a weather-worn week with a flurry of amendments to the Senate bill Thursday, only to see all ten defeated on a party-line vote. That leaves the legislation clean, or without change from committee. But Vincennes Democrat Kreg Battles wondered aloud about the wisdom of working to keep the bill unblemished.

“Why would we want to keep something clean that isn’t adequate? Why would we want to keep something clean that we can make better,” Battles said.

Under the bill, each county with more than 25,000 residents would be required to operate one vote center for every ten thousand people. During discussion on one amendment, a frustrated Pat Bauer threw the issue squarely at the feet of the Republican majority in the legislature which, in addition to having the inside track on creating vote centers, gets to decide how the state’s election districts will be redrawn.

“When the first bill that will reach the Governor’s desk is an election bill – a bill reaching there before jobs, any jobs are created – it really makes us suspicious,” Bauer said. “But turning this amendment down makes it not only suspicious, it shows it’s slanted and you care more about the next election than you do about jobs.”

The bill would allow each county to create its own rules for those polling places. That caused Indianapolis Rep. Ed DeLaney to worry about the possible maintenance of 92 different sets of rules. Among other changes, Democrat amendments sought to create a unified set of rules and mandate a period of early voting, but Republicans struck both measures down. The bill does say at least one vote center in each county will be open for early voting on each of the two Saturdays preceding an Election Day. In addition, the current rule mandating unanimous decisions by county election boards – which state law says must be bipartisan — would be preserved.

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