It's time to try something different with elections in Madison County. That's particularly clear after the paltry 16 percent turnout of registered voters for Tuesday's primary.
Madison County had a good plan to encourage more voting — the regional voting center concept that has been adopted by 17 Indiana counties, with more expected to climb on board — was studied and proposed here.
Then politics intervened.
Former Madison County Commissioner Paul Wilson had been enlisted to draft a proposal for voting centers, and he came up with a good one. While it would have reduced the number of voting sites from about 80 to 25, it would have enabled all voters in the county to cast ballots at any of the sites — instead of having to cast ballots at a specific precinct. Limiting voters to one precinct can be a pain for people who have to work early or late in another part of the county or have other tasks to attend to during the day.
Recent past elections in Madison County have included 28 days of early voting at the courthouse and opportunities for absentee and traveling board voting. The voting centers proposal would have made early voting and Election Day voting easier.
The proposal called for the same opportunities for early voting at the courthouse and for absentee and traveling board voting, but it proposed adding four early-voting sites that would each be open 16 days, including three weekends for each.
In addition, the voting centers proposal would have created a traveling early voting site that would have spent 16 days, including weekends, visiting various locales in the county at pre-appointed times so that residents could vote at their convenience.
The purchase of about 50 poll-site computers would have been necessary to track voting and make sure that people were not trying to vote at more than one site. These computers would have cost the county about $96,000, according to Wilson.