The Herald Bulletin

October 16, 2013

Viewpoint: No vote centers in Madison County

By Lonnie S. Weston Anderson resident

The Herald Bulletin

---- — We should see red flags all over the proposed new voting centers. When was the last time anyone in the government tried to make voting more accessible to the voter. Now we want to spend around $100,000 so we can vote early in convenient locations. Other states trying this experiment are creating long lines that have made elections in Florida and North Carolina newsworthy.

When I questioned the election board about the purpose of the new voting center. Their response “the goal was to get 100 percent of the voter turnout.” Just before answering my question the election board stated that the results before and after voting centers was about the same in the four Indiana counties that have vote centers. The election board stopped short and didn’t say the same voters were voting because they were different voters, younger, more mobile and affluent voters, because the older voters are disenfranchised by this new system requiring some to drive 20 to 30 miles to vote. Voters without access to affordable transportation may find it difficult to vote.

In some states that have early voting it seems to be working, in others not so well. Florida and North Carolina vote centers have been plagued with long lines from the start of their questionable experiment election procured. This includes the pilot counties in Indiana. In Florida, even with long lines the state legislature reduced the days of early voting at vote centers in half. We assume the reason that Florida’s legislators and their governor reduced the early voting days was lack of early voting. This experiment to make voting more accessible has turned out to be outright voter suppression. There is no provision in the vote center law that will prevent Indiana’s Legislature for doing the same thing here, cutting 16 days of early voting down to eight days at some time in the future when it suits their propose. With their super gerrymandered majority, they will do as please.

The Madison County election board has never been accused of being proactive concerning making it easier for the voters of Madison County to vote. For whatever reason, the election board in Madison County maintains the same precincts year after year, some with long lines and some with only a handful of voters all day. In my precincts, I am required to vote at polling place outside my precinct’s boundary, while at the same time another precinct’s polling place votes in my precinct. It would be a start if the election board would take into consideration travel time and transportation cost in the present system.

In 2008, if you wanted to vote early you had to pay to park and then stand in long lines that snaked around inside the Madison County courthouse standing in lines for hours and no alternative was ever implemented to reduce the long lines.

Why spend $100,000 on electronic poll books when the results from the pilot voter centers counties are questionable? In the Indiana pilot counties, vote centers’ turnout is “about the same” and some counties have seen a reduction in voter turnout.

Lonnie S. Weston is a citizen member of the Madison County Vote Center Committee.