The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Local Business

October 4, 2013

Regional votes center proposal doesn't ignite public interest

ANDERSON — Despite two public hearings, Madison County Clerk Darlene Likens says she still doesn’t have a good feel for public sentiment about regional vote centers.

Both hearings — one in mid-September and another Wednesday night in Elwood — weren’t well attended, Likens said on Thursday, and no written comments about the proposal have been submitted to county officials.

“I don’t feel like we can vote on this one way or the other because we’ve not had enough feedback,” Likens said. “I just wish more people had submitted written comments.”

And voters still have that option.

Under rules established by the Secretary of State Election Division, now that public hearings have been held on the proposal, citizens have 30 days in which to submit written comments to officials.

A bipartisan work group of citizens, and elected and political party officials have been working since early June on a plan to implement vote centers for the 2014 election cycle.

Regional vote centers are growing in popularity here in Indiana and around the country because they can increase public engagement in the political process and can lower the cost of managing elections.

Currently, voters are assigned to cast ballots in specific precincts from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Election Day.

But using modern Internet technology and electronic poll books that can be instantly updated, voters could cast their ballots at any center on Election Day, or even before, through early voting.

Under a plan developed by the bipartisan work group, 25 vote centers would be open around Madison County on Election Day, including such locations as grocery stores, shopping centers, community centers, churches and town halls.

In addition, there would be opportunities for early voting at designated satellite centers for 17 days before Election Day, according to the proposal.

These centers would be located in Anderson, Elwood and Pendleton. In addition, roving vote centers would be opened in nine Madison County communities.

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