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Delaware County begins the process to consider vote centers

By Stephanie Wiechmann, IPR News | Published on in Community, Government, Local News, Politics
Vote centers use the same electronic voting machines as precincts and add electronic poll books so a voter can vote at any location. (FILE PHOTO: Brandon Smith/IPBS)

Delaware County has begun a lengthy process to consider using vote centers in future elections.  IPR’s Stephanie Wiechmann reports.

Instead of having 50 precinct voting locations where voters have to cast a ballot in their specific precinct on election day, counties using vote centers can have fewer locations – but a voter can vote at any one of them.  This means a voter can use a location that might be closer to work at lunch time, but isn’t their designated precinct.  It also means fewer locations to staff with poll workers.

Delaware County’s draft plan suggests about 25 voting locations throughout the county on election day and two satellite voting locations – one on Muncie’s north side and one on the south side – that would be open for two weeks prior to election day, including Saturdays.

Lesia Meer, one of the draft plan authors, says final vote center locations will be decided by the board and political party chairs, with input from the public.  She says they’ll also take into account accessibility.

“It has to be ADA-compliant.  There has to have parking – enough parking, enough space.  And we added, if it’s in the city, it needs to be on public transit.  Because we were kind of amazed at the lack of public transit to the polling locations we have now.

County Clerk Rick Spangler says, even if vote centers were adopted, early voting would also continue at the downtown county building as it has in the past.

Read More: Indiana to double post-election audits

Election Board Chair Pete Drumm says Delaware County’s current election set-up is about the most expensive way to do it.  He’s excited to discuss the draft plan, but –

“We have a lot of work yet to do in order to have a final plan that can be adopted by this board.  But right now, we need to get this thing out to the public, so we can get comment back.”

That work is a process that includes several public hearings and public comment periods, resolutions for the county council and commissioners, and a required unanimous vote from the Election Board itself to implement vote centers for future elections in Delaware County.

Read More: Delaware County group asking community to back vote centers

Vote centers in Indiana have received bipartisan support and the Secretary of State’s office says 58 counties are using them or have approved them for a future election.

The Election Board also voted Thursday to increase election room and poll worker pay for the November election.  That move must also be approved by the Delaware County Commissioners and Council.