By Russ Willis
---- — A recent Viewpoint on vote centers made some statements on the proposed vote center proposal to be decided by the County Election Board on Nov. 5 that need to be addressed with facts and full explanations and not distorted by scare tactics and partial definitions.
The question as to when was the last time anyone in government tried to make voting more accessible to the voter is easily answered with the adoption several years ago of "mail-in" absentee ballots.
The statement that the County Election Board has never been proactive making it easier for voters to vote may be true but I would ask is that because the Democrats have controlled the Election Board in this county for over 40 years? Now that the Republicans are in the majority on the Election Board, County Clerk Darlene Likens is proposing vote centers that were approved for all counties by the Legislature two years ago.
I believe stories of alleged problems with vote centers in other states, which no verification was provided, were mentioned to create uncertainty and scare people into questioning the proposed change. More relevant to us are the facts outlined on the Indiana Secretary of State website by the Indiana counties that have vote centers which detail the overwhelming acceptance of vote centers in those counties, as well as testimonials of voters, county officials, and people who work the polls. All of the above mentioned have nothing but positive things to say about vote centers.
Where there previously had been long lines waiting to vote, those are greatly reduced. Vote centers will provide voting in convenient locations for two weeks before Election Day in grocery stores and shopping locations. These centers will be open as late as 8 p.m. and on Saturday and Sundays. The statement of having to drive 20-30 miles to vote is simply not true. The early vote centers and those on Election Day will be located geographically to serve voters in all areas of the county. There will even be a mobile vote center that will move around to different locations in the county for two weeks to allow people to vote. As more people realize they can vote early — up to two weeks early — the number of people voting on Election Day will be reduced thus a shorter wait.The one-time expense of the new electronic poll books will be offset by the reduction of expenses for polling locations and the number of election officials on Election Day. Then in subsequent years there will be an even larger savings of tax dollars in reduced costs realized every year. Cost savings while making voting easier and more accessible to everyone is a win-win situation.
Madison County can continue to operate with an outdated election system or move into the 21st century, while saving tax dollars and making voting easier and so much more convenient for everyone in our mobile society today.
Russ Willis served on the Election Board subcommittee that created the Vote Center proposal.
The vote The Madison County Election Board will meet at 1 p.m. Tuesday in Room 110 at the Madison County Government Center, 16 E. Ninth St., Anderson, to decide whether to adopt the voting centers proposal.